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Looking after sick rabbits and info on common illnesses
Looking after a sick or incapacitated rabbit
Make sure the rabbit has food and water close by. If its painful for the rabbit to move, it won't get up to eat or drink. Offer your bunny food and water now and then to encourage it to eat/drink.
The rabbit will also poop where ever it happens to be sitting. Make sure that the rabbit does not get a rash or skin irritation from urine on the skin. Gently wipe the genital area with a damp cloth. Remove any cecals from the bunnys fur and offer them to your bunny to eat. This sounds yucky, but rabbits need to eat the cecals. You may need to wash the rabbit's tail area if poops are getting stuck to the fur.
Most likely the rabbit will need a soft warm place to sit, where he/she can feel safe. Most likely this will be an enclosed space or next to a wall. Put towels, blankets, carpet etc. on the floor so the bunny has grip and is not on the cold floor. Block any draughts coming in under doors etc. You may want to use a WARM (not hot) heat pack or hot water bottle to keep your bunny warm after surgery. Most vets will put your bunny on a warming pad after surgery.
You may need to confine your rabbit if he/she has had surgery. Moving around may aggravate the wound and/or tear stitches. If he/she tries to eat stitches, you may need to use an Elizabethan collar. Also known as a bucket collar. Rabbits really really hate these. Bandaids (sticky bandages/plasters) worked really well to deter a rabbit from licking or biting at stitches. Check with your vet first to make sure its ok for your rabbit's wound. You can also use a sock as a body suit to stop the rabbit eating stitches.
If you have two rabbits you may need to separate them. Animals in pain usually prefer being alone, and other rabbits may lick at the wound and disturb the sick bunny.
Poopy butt is a condition where the rabbit's poops cease being solid round balls and are mushy and liquidy. Often the poops will stick to the fur around the rabbits tail and bottom. Poopy butt is usually caused by an upset in the rabbits diet. Try feeding more hay and pellets and fewer fresh veggies to see if it bulks up the poops. If it doesn't clear up in a day or two, take your rabbit to the vet. Normally rabbits have soft poops called cecals which are eaten straight away. These are different from poopy butt.
This is runny poo - if you see this, your rabbit has a digestive upset. You may need to seek veterinary advice.
This picture is of cecals. Normally they are eaten, but may be left if your rabbit is unwell. If you find a lot of uneaten cecals, you should consult your vet as your rabbit may have an intestinal problem.
Stasis is a condition where a rabbit does not eat or poop due to an upset in the intestines/stomach. If you notice your rabbit is not eating or pooping and seems dejected and unwell, contact your vet asap. This condition can be fatal, but with the right treatment your rabbit will be ok. This is a good reason to have your rabbits inside the house. It is much easier to see if your rabbit is unwell.
Head tilt is a symptom that can be caused by various conditions. The most common conditions are an ear infection, Pasteurella and Encephalitozoon cuniculi (commonly known as E. cuniculi or EC). Head tilt is often accompanied by loss of balance and eye rolling. An affected rabbit is generally unable to hold its head upright, and the head is tilted to one side. Either one eye, or both eyes will roll backwards towards the rabbits tail every few seconds.
If you suspect your rabbit may have head tilt, take the rabbit to a vet ASAP. If the head tilt is caused by an ear infection, the infection may spread to the brain. If the rabbit has EC, the next symptoms can often be paralysis of the limbs and severe loss of balance and muscle control, resulting in unstoppable rolling. If treated quickly, these horrific symptoms may be prevented, otherwise they are generally not reversable.
Generally it can be difficult to tell which problem is causing the head tilt, and most vets will provide medication to treat all three problems (Baytril, Panacur etc.). Further investigation, such as X-rays may be required to rule out ear infections.
Other rabbit care information:
What to feed rabbits
Cleaning, grooming and other rabbit care information
Vet / Spay Information
Dislocated hips in rabbits