If your rabbit has diarrhea, that can be a little scary. Diarrhea is a sign of gastrointestinal problems and needs to be treated immediately by a veterinarian professional. But there are some things you can do at home to help your little friend get better.
The best food to give your rabbit is unlimited hay if they have diarrhea due to mucoid enteropathy, antibiotic-induced toxicity, stress, or poor diet. If your rabbit refuses to eat, certain leafy greens may be given. Additionally, your rabbit should be drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
If your rabbit has diarrhea, continue reading below to find out how to fix it.
Causes of Diarrhea
Before you decide what to feed your rabbit, you must first determine if what your rabbit has is diarrhea and if so, what has caused it. To make sure you know what you are treating your rabbit for, please take your rabbit to a veterinarian with rabbit expertise. Diarrhea is not common in rabbits and needs to be treated as soon as possible otherwise it may be fatal.
Intermittent Soft Cecotropes
The first thing you need to know about cecotropes is that it is not diarrhea and is actually healthy for your rabbit. If you see normal feces with other watery droppings, or if the droppings look like thick pudding or blobs, your rabbit has cecotropes. Rabbits actually need to eat the soft cecotropes to maintain good nutrition. Weird, I know. If you see your rabbit eating their droppings, they probably have cecotropes.
This type of dropping is important for a rabbit’s nutrition. In fact, rabbits cannot live without them. The cecotropes are full of bacteria and fungi that the rabbit naturally produces that are beneficial for them. If your rabbit’s cecotropes are more liquid than normal, they may have diarrhea.
For more information on cecotropes, visit The Scoop on Poop section on sandiegorabbits.org
This is a diarrheal disease that is fatal in most young rabbits. If your rabbit has mucoid enteropathy, their diarrhea will contain a lot of mucus with a gooey consistency. Although the cause of this disease is still unknown, some contributing factors may include stress, low dietary fiber, intestinal infections, diet changes, or antibiotic treatments. A proper diet will help prevent this disease from occurring.
Certain antibiotics should never be administered to your rabbit orally. Such antibiotics include penicillin, clindamycin, amoxicillin, lincomycin, ampicillin, and cephalosporin. These antibiotics will suppress the natural, healthy bacteria in your rabbit’s intestines and result in severe diarrhea. If your rabbit has diarrhea after administering medication given to you by your veterinarian, STOP giving them the medication and contact your veterinarian immediately.
An unbalanced diet is the most common cause of diarrhea in rabbits. Typically, your rabbit’s diet should be 80% grass hays. Common grass hays such as oat hay, alfalfa hay, Timothy hay, and meadow hay are the best options. These hays are high in the fiber that your rabbit desperately needs.
Other fruits and veggies are a good treat for your furry friend, but too much sugar will be harmful to your rabbit’s gastrointestinal tract. If your rabbit is eating too much sugar and not enough fiber, that may be contributing to their loose bowel movements.
Unfortunately, stress is a common contributor to making rabbits sick. Rabbits may feel stressed with small children handling them, or if other pets, such as cats and dogs, also live in the house. Because rabbits are prey animals, they may feel threatened with other natural predator pets around.
Rabbits may also feel stressed if they have changed environments. Any changes to your rabbit’s typical habitat may result in high levels of stress. Be aware of your sensitive friend to make the changes necessary to make them comfortable. If you have just acquired your rabbit, be conscious of their stress levels and give them time to adjust to their new surroundings.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pet rabbits in some areas of the world should get vaccines. To find out in what areas of the world this is necessary to prevent some very serious diseases, and what vaccines should be given, see my article all about vaccines for pet rabbits here.
Once you have visited your veterinarian and know what ailment your rabbit is struggling with, you can determine what to feed your rabbit. Consider the following suggestions if your rabbit does indeed have diarrhea:
Limit Your Rabbit’s Diet
Remove any feed, veggies, or fruit from your rabbit’s food bowl and give them unlimited grass hay full of fiber. If your rabbit is on a diet of pellets, keep the pellets in their bowl and increase the amount of hay they are given. Try different types of hay if they are not interested in the one you have given them.
Some people hesitate to give their rabbits unlimited amounts of hay, but the fact is, it’s incredibly good for them and it’s ok to provide them with as much as they want. My article all about providing unlimited amounts of hay in your rabbit’s diet (here) will also tell you which varieties of hay are the best.
Stop giving them treats. I know it can be difficult not to give in to their big eyes and fluffy faces, but the sugar could make the situation even worse.
Keep Them Hydrated
Make sure your rabbit is staying hydrated. With your rabbit not feeling well, dehydration can be a major concern. Change your rabbit’s water frequently. If your rabbit refuses to drink, try some of these tips for getting rabbits to drink water. If all else fails, they may need injections of Lactated Ringers Solution under their skin. Please take your rabbit to a trusted veterinarian for these injections.
Leafy Greens (Rare Option)
If your rabbit is unable or refuses to eat, get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. In rare cases, as directed by your vet, you may give your rabbit the following leafy greens to stimulate them to eat:
During Diarrhea Recovery
After so many trips to a veterinarian, limiting what they can eat, and the stress of the situation, your furry friend deserves some pampering. Here are a few things you can do to calm your rabbit to help them recover:
Having diarrhea is not a pleasant experience and your rabbit may have droppings or other messiness on its bottom or feet. Using baby powder and your fingers, gently remove and wash the soiled areas of your rabbit. If necessary, use a fine-tooth comb to remove the droppings. You may need to do this more than once throughout the recovery process. Dry baths are preferable as rabbits tolerate them better.
If their droppings and diarrhea are wet and smelly, a wet bath will be needed. To wash your rabbit, fill a sink with warm water and a small amount of shampoo specially made for rabbits. Gently, but firmly so that they do not hop away, lower your rabbit into the water. Lightly scrub the soiled areas of your rabbit until they are clean. Rinse the bubbles off and then towel dry.
If your rabbit struggles with a bath, consider a soft sponge bath with a washcloth. They may accept this form of bath instead of being completely submerged.
Monitor Your Rabbit
Whatever your veterinarian has prescribed for the recovery process, you will want to keep a sharp eye on your little friend. Make sure that they are eating and drinking and make notes if anything changes in their eating habits. Observe their droppings and keep your veterinarian updated.
A Clean and Stress-Free Environment
Regularly clean your rabbit’s cage and environment. A dirty environment can cause just as much stress as a noisy one. To make regular cage cleaning easier on you as the owner, see my article How to Keep Rabbits’ Cage Clean: 5 Tips That Work.
Keep your rabbit’s surroundings quiet and peaceful. Remove anything that may make loud noises, small children that may bug your rabbits, or any unfamiliar people. Rabbits are easily startled, so to make their recovery easier, make all the possible changes for them to be comfortable.
What Not to Feed Your Rabbit
There is a long, long list of what not to feed your rabbit, but here are some important ones that may seem like they would be okay for your little friend:
Though lettuce may be one of the first things you think of to feed your rabbit, it can actually cause runny stools, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Consider feeding them darker leafy greens like kale or romaine lettuce.
Believe me, I’m surprised too! But according to several rabbit experts, carrots are high in sugar and calcium that can be bad for your rabbit’s intestines if given in large amounts. Carrots should only be given as a rare treat.
Although apples are a fantastic, occasional treat, please make sure you have removed the seeds. They contain arsenic in the toxic level range for rabbits.
All parts of avocados are poisonous to rabbits. Under no circumstance should you feed your little friend an avocado.
All parts of a rhubarb should be avoided, most specifically the leaves. Serious kidney damage can occur from eating the leaves as they contain high levels of oxalic acid.
Although this is not toxic for rabbits, it can cause gas in their gut and make them bloated and definitely uncomfortable.
Anything rich in carbohydrates is terrible for your rabbit’s intestines. Avoid grains, crackers, rice, cereals, oat, potatoes, etc. Remember, your rabbit needs fibers, not carbohydrates.
This one should clearly be avoided. Milk, butter, yogurt, and all other forms of dairy can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in your rabbit’s intestines.
Meat and Eggs
Obviously, this is a bit of a no-brainer. Do not feed your rabbit any form of meat or eggs. Your rabbit does not have the digestive system fit to process any animal products or eggs.
- Do Rabbit Pellets Expire? What You Must Know – Could you be unknowingly feeding your rabbit bad food by providing expired pellets to your rabbit? This article will tell you how long rabbit pellets should last and how you can make them last as long as possible.