Understanding Bunny Health
Bunnies hide their illnesses - keep a close eye on your bunny's health!!
PLEASE NOTE: We can't even begin to cover all of the issues you might encounter, and we urge you to follow the links provided down on this page. These articles are kept updated as needed, and they are the best sources of information to use. Even if you think you know something to be true, it's still always a good idea to check if the Earth is still flat, y'know?
I will touch upon certain conditions which I have experienced, and I'll try to explain what some things mean. You will be the health advocate for your bunny (and a good help for your vet) and you need to stay conversant and current (as knowledge grows) so that you can guarantee your little friend the best care.
Rabbits will hide illness and/or discomfort for fear of attracting predators, so you must watch carefully to see if there may be any health issues. Not only can their health deteriorate very quickly, many times a problem goes unnoticed until it is too late. PLEASE educate yourself on rabbit health!!
The other reason I don't want to attempt any descriptions here is that I am linking to pages which are updated as needed. It's
As with any animal, fleas can become a problem with rabbits. Insecticides contain some of the most powerful poisons known to science, and they are extremely dangerous to almost all animals (including humans). If you try treating your bunny with any of the common treatments available, We recommend Revolution, which is a prescription-only, FDA-approved medication available only through a veterinarian - and is NOT a pesticide registered by the EPA.
DO NOT USE FRONTLINE!! - fipronil is the active ingredient and is extremely toxic and even lethal to rabbits. An easy way to remember this warning is that both are "F-words". Avoid the F-word!!!
Here is a very short list of just some of the problems you might encounter or discover, to give you an idea of what it means to care for an exotic animal like a rabbit:
If your bunny has stopped eating for close to 24 hours, has stopped pooping, is having difficulty breathing or suffering from heat, or is in any apparent distress, this could be a life-threatening situation!! Please contact your vet immediately!! Please also see the litterbox training page for information on some common issues you can detect based on your bunny's litterbox use.
Rabbits are prey animals, and so they will instinctively hide any weakness that may make them more vulnerable to a predator. Also, a sick rabbit may be rejected by other rabbits because instinctually they fear that the sick rabbit will attract predators to the whole group. Many times this means that people discover a problem with their rabbit's health after it has progressed quite a bit. Many people tell the same sad story that their bunny seemed just fine the day before, but in reality the day before the bunny was just hanging on, and now is crashing. You should take advantage of the opportunity to inspect your rabbit as closely as possible, as often as possible, as part of the grooming, handling and general contact you have with your pet.
Please also refer to the feeding page for information on foods that are safe and those that are harmful to your bunny. Other pages on this site with some health information include the
A rabbit's health can deteriorate very quickly with some conditions, so it is important that you catch health problems early on and seek proper veterinary care. Need a vet? You should also take your bunny for regular checkups just to make sure everything is okay, and to make sure you aren't missing anything important.
Remember - an unhealthy bunny is an unhappy bunny. Take care of your bunny and you will have an extraordinarily loving companion. If you don't get medical care for your bunny when it's necessary, then you are condemning a living being to suffer and possibly die.
Please also see the page on keeping your bunnies cool in the summertime
Kathy Smith was kind enough to give us permission to reprint her article on E. cuniculi - please take the time to read it.
Dr. Susan Browns Series On Small Mammal Health
Morfz Rabbit Reference's list of health and medicine issues
Morfz Rabbit Reference's list of health hazards
An excellent resource available in many languages, covering health/dental/surgical issues, feeding, biology, and medicine. This is a very thorough resource.
The Merck Veterinary Manual for Treating Rabbits
Dana Krempels's collection of articles on rabbit health
Dana Krempels's article on early detection of illness in rabbits
The RabbitHabit's set of links to useful articles on rabbit health
A must-have book for any bunny parent concerned about the well-being and good health of their rabbits.
The House Rabbit Society's very thorough resource on rabbit health and medical problems and treatments, including keeping them in good mental spirits.
The House Rabbit Society's medical FAQ - another must-read
Explanation of some dental problems some rabbits have
A good basic presentaton of rabbit anatomy
Specific to conditions:
University of Florida's page on mites that attack humans and very educational
An excellent article on identifying the symptoms and treatments for gastrointestinal stasis
Zooh Corner's article on dealing with GI stasis
An article on E. Cuniculi (sometimes called "wry neck" or "head tilt") and treatments
How to cool down an overheated bunny
Identifying bunny infections through culturing and sensitivity testing
Wisconsin State University's page on rabbit health - a very good reference
Fly Strike in Rabbits
The House Rabbit Society's article on fly strike
Morfz's index on fly strike
Galen's Garden's article on fly strike
Miami House Rabbit Society's artice on bathing a rabbit's messy bottom
Zooh Corner's article on what you need to know about your rabbit's mouth
SaveABunny's article on recognizing and treating bloat (info for vets too!)
An excellent article on Bloat (and the differences between bloat and stasis)
A short article on handling gas episodes with bunnies
An excellent article on the dangers of antimicrobial products in the household (this applies to humans, so imagine the effect it has on the bunnies and other animals)
The Long Island Parrot Society's article on harmful chemicals and airborne contaminants and the effects on sensitive animals (in this case, birds)
MediRabbit's table of analgesic drugs that are safe for rabbits