top of page

How to Recognise When Your Rabbit is Unwell

Rabbits are prey animals and will therefore hide their symptoms when they get unwell. This is a defence mechanism that remains in domesticated animals from their ancestors as in the wild a predator is more likely to go after an animal that is showing signs of weakness. 


Tummy pressing shows discomfort and possible pain.

This means we need to pay close attention to our rabbit’s habits and ‘body language.’ We want to pick up on any signs of illness early; remember because they will hide symptoms the changes in behaviour are usually very subtle and by the time illness is obvious its usually too late. This is why it is so important to be vigilant for how much the rabbit is eating, pooping, how much energy they have and what their normal body positions are on a daily basis.

This is another reason why annual vet check ups at the same time as when vaccines are due are important, especially for inexperienced rabbit carers as signs are usually missed.

Subtle signs can include .....

Please find below a list of illnesses and issues rabbits can suffer from. They are linked to pages with more information. We hope you find this useful. 

MyxomatosisThis is one of the three diseases your rabbit should be vaccinated against. 

Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD1 and RVHD2 also known as RHD1 and RHD2) - There are two strains of this and this is the 2nd and 3rd disease that your rabbit should be vaccinated against. Both of these and the myxomatosis vaccine are usually received as a single vaccine. 

Dental diseaseRabbits teeth continuously grow which can cause issues for them.

Digestive issuesRabbits have a sensitive digestion system and it can cause multiple issues if they are not fed the correct diet.

E. Cuniculi (Encephalitozoon cuniculi) - This is a parasite which can affect the brain or kidneys.

FlystrikeIf your rabbits are not kept clean flies are attracted to them to lay their eggs which can lead to fatal issues.

Respiratory issues - 

Urinary issues - 

Eye / Ear issues - Rabbits can suffer from weepy eyes and ear infections. 

Coat / Nails - It's important to keep up grooming to prevent matted fur, sore hocks etc, and is also a good time to check your rabbit(s) over for other issues. 

Weight Loss / Gain - This can be caused by a number of different things which will need addressing.

Post operative care

Rabbits are not great at regulating their own body temperature after an anaesthetic so we would advise if they are not house rabbits that they are kept warm inside for a minimum of 24 hours. Longer if your rabbit isn't recovering very well. 

If your rabbit has been neutered its advisable to keep them on soft bedding such as vetbed or fleece blankets this is to ensure animal bedding doesn't get stuck to their wounds. (Shavings should not be used with rabbits in todays modern care routines as it can be an irritant for their respiratory system and eyes).

Its important to try get your rabbits eating as soon as possible after a surgery, stress and pain can cause them not to eat which could lead to GI Stasis. Offer them any of their favourites to get them eating again, if they still choose not to by the end of the day its important to start syringe feeding them.

bit more info here

bottom of page