Rabbits are living beings just like any other animal or even humans. They have the same biological functions, and despite being very small they can do most of the same things humans can do including communicate, form social bonds, have different moods, and feel things. This includes pain, which is a natural biological reaction to stimuli that injure or impair a living being.
Do rabbits feel pain? Yes, rabbits feel pain when they are sick or injured. They can sometimes be helped with medicine, but sometimes the pain is too much and they may die.
How Do Rabbits Feel Pain?
Rabbits feel pain through their nerves just like humans do. They have nerves all throughout their body that help control their movement and send sensory signals so that the rabbit can feel things such as being petted. When a rabbit is injured or in distress, the nerves in the area of interest send signals to the rabbit’s brain that something is wrong, which manifests as discomfort or pain. If a rabbit sustains a wound such as a broken bone or a cut, this disrupts the nerves and sends a pain signal to the brain so that the rabbit knows it has been injured. Pain is a signal to the body that something is wrong and it needs to be addressed, either through treating a wound or just resting.
Do Rabbits Feel Pain When They’re Injured?
Rabbits feel pain when they are injured just like any other animal. If they are dropped, stepped on, hit, bitten, or scratched, this will injure them and they will feel pain. Rabbits may be hurt by accident in their home or by predators out in the wild. They will feel pain in the area where they were hurt, which is caused by the disruption of nerves in the wound. This could come from a broken bone or a cut in the skin depending on the type of the wound. Rabbits may not show this pain because they are attempting to hide it, so if anything happens that may have injured your rabbit you should check for wounds immediately even if your rabbit doesn’t appear to be in pain.
Do Rabbits Feel Pain When They’re Sick?
Depending on the type of sickness, rabbits may feel pain when they are ill. If they are having digestive issues such as GI stasis or bloating, they typically feel pain in the stomach and abdominal area. If they have an ear infection, they may feel pain and pressure inside the ear and will scratch at the painful area. Rabbits usually don’t feel pain when they have ear mites, as ear mites don’t dig into the skin and only scratch the surface. This is one of the few ways you can tell if a rabbit is in pain. If they have a surface infection, they may also feel pain in the area of the infection. Disorders such as arthritis also cause pain in the joints due to swelling and dysfunction of the body. However, some types of sickness don’t involve pain due to their nature.
Do Rabbits Feel Pain When They’re Giving Birth?
While rabbits may feel some pain while giving birth, it’s not usually in large amounts and it won’t hurt the mother in the long term. If a female rabbit, or doe, appears to be experiencing a lot of pain while trying to give birth, something is usually wrong. Does usually don’t feel so much pain that it affects the birth. There may be a baby blocking the uterine opening, preventing her from giving birth, or there may be other issues with the birthing. If the birthing takes longer than an hour and she continues to look like she’s in pain, you should take her to a veterinarian immediately as there is usually something wrong.
Do Rabbits Feel Pain from Infections?
Depending on the type of infection, rabbits may feel a range of discomfort from infections. Sometimes they may feel mild discomfort such as itching or pressure from an ear infection that has not progressed to a severe degree, but once the ear infection develops it will cause more serious pain. Infected wounds will also itch and cause pain to the rabbit, especially when they are touched or put pressure on. Rabbits may cause themselves further injury if they have an infection due to scratching, especially if the infection is in their ear or an area they can’t see. Rabbits with folded over ears, called lop ears, are more likely to get severe ear infections.
Do Rabbits Feel Pain in Their Ears?
It may seem that because a rabbit’s ears are so thin, they wouldn’t be able to feel pain in them. However, rabbits actually feel an exceptional amount of pain in their ears due to how sensitive and important the organs are. A rabbit’s ears help regulate its temperature through blood flow and help them detect predators from far away. Injuries to their ears can cause rabbits a lot of pain and trouble. Rabbits can feel pain from injuries on the ears, ear infections, and noises that are too loud. They may make the injury worse by accident because they continue to use their ears and move them around.
Do Rabbits Feel Pain If You Hit Them?
Just like any other animal, rabbits will definitely be injured and feel pain if they’re hit or kicked. It’s important not to physically discipline a rabbit as they are very fragile and can be bruised or get a broken bone easily. They will also no longer trust you if you hit them because they will see you as a predator or threat that wants to hurt them. Being hit or kicked by a human is no different to a rabbit than being injured by a predator, so they will feel the same pain and fear in both situations. It may even cause them to go into shock because of the stress of the situation, which will often result in death.
When Else Do Rabbits Feel Pain?
Rabbits feel pain in the same ways and for the same reasons that humans do. Rabbits may feel small amounts of pain for mundane reasons such as pain in the stomach from overeating. They may also overexert themselves from playing too vigorously or running from a predator, which can cause strains or cramps. Rabbits may also feel mental pain or strain when they are put in shocking or frightening situations. This is much the same as physical pain and puts the rabbit under the same stresses as pain from a wound or sickness. Rabbits often feel mental pain at the same time as physical pain.
What Causes Mental Pain in Rabbits?
Rabbits may suffer from mental pain or shock if they are put into situations that frighten them severely. For example, an encounter with a predator could cause a rabbit to go into shock or even have a heart attack even if the rabbit gets away from the situation without being physically injured. Rabbits may also suffer shock and mental pain from being submerged in water or gotten wet because their coats are designed to keep them dry and they aren’t used to being wet. They will also feel mental pain if they are grabbed or chased by a human just the same as if they were attacked or chased by a predator.
A common situation that can cause mental strain is being trapped in a recliner when it is reclined. While this may seem like a rare occurrence, rabbits love to burrow and will dig into furniture and hide there. If you have any reclining chairs, it’s very possible that your rabbit could climb in between the mechanics and get stuck or be hurt when someone reclines the chair.
How Do I Tell if My Rabbit is in Pain?
It’s very difficult to tell when a rabbit is in pain. Rabbits are prey animals, so they hide their pain to protect them from predators and keep them alive. If your rabbit is in pain, it may not show any outward signs and it usually will not react if wounds are touched or pressed on. This can make it difficult to identify when your rabbit is in pain and what’s wrong.
However, there are certain ways to tell if your rabbit is in pain. If your rabbit’s behavior suddenly changes, this is usually a sign that something is wrong. A rabbit that is in pain will stop being as active and will hide in a familiar spot and refuse to come out. Rabbits in pain may also act aggressive without any warning.
Do Rabbits Make Noises When They’re in Pain?
Rabbits will sometimes make a noise in the moment when they are injured, but sometimes they will stay silent in order to protect themselves from detection. If they make a noise, it will sound like a high-pitched scream. Rabbits are known to scream when they are severely injured or frightened.
Rabbits may also grind their teeth loudly when they are in pain. Similar to humans, a rabbit in pain may clench its jaw and then grind its teeth due to the unpleasant nature of the pain. Because rabbit teeth are so rough, this causes a loud grinding noise that may almost sound like a cat purring. This tooth grinding is different than what’s called “tooth purring,” which happens in the opposite situation (when a rabbit is happy). Due to the surrounding circumstances, it’s usually fairly easy to tell which one is happening.
What Do Rabbits Look Like When They’re in Pain?
Rabbits typically won’t have a certain appearance when they are in pain except in certain situations and if they can’t possibly help it. Rabbits will instinctually hide their pain to keep themselves safe, so they won’t show any expression and they will try not to favor injured body parts. However, they may sit or stand in strange positions, hold up an injured leg, or curl around an injury to hide it if the pain is too great. You may also notice if your rabbit is hunched over or curled up due to a stomach issue. They will always try their best to hide their pain, so if you notice that your rabbit is hiding coupled with any odd positioning is a clue that it is in pain.
What Do I Do If My Rabbit is in Pain?
If you can determine that your rabbit is in pain, what you do depends on why your rabbit is in pain and how severe the pain is. If your rabbit is simply having some digestive issues due to overeating, you may choose to do nothing until it passes. You can also treat gassiness and bloating with certain medicines that can be purchased over the counter. If the pain and the situation are mild, you can usually wait it out and let your rabbit get over the pain.
However, if the pain is severe or the situation is an emergency, your best bet is to take your rabbit to a rabbit veterinarian. Not all vets can care for rabbits, so you may need to search if your area for vets that can. There are few severe situations in which you can help at home if you aren’t a trained medical professional or someone with extensive experience dealing with rabbits.
How Do I Help if My Rabbit is in Pain?
How you can help depends on the situation that your rabbit is in. Simple digestive issues such as gassiness can be eased with over the counter oral medications that you can give to your rabbit through a syringe. One such medicine is simethicone, which you can keep on hand to deal with minor issues. Small wounds that will heal up without medical help can be helped with prescribed painkillers if you have already purchased them. If your rabbit is in mental pain or shock, you may be able to help if you wrap your rabbit gently in a blanket and rub their ears. However, any severe pain due to serious injury or illness usually can’t be helped at home.
How Will a Veterinarian Help if My Rabbit is in Pain?
Veterinarians have access to a wide variety of tools such as painkillers, digestive medications, and surgery. Your vet will react differently based on the issue your rabbit is dealing with. For serious injuries or broken bones, your vet may put your rabbit under anesthesia and perform surgery. They will then usually administer painkillers after the surgery to help your rabbit deal with the pain. They may also administer antibiotics for infections that will help the pain over time by treating the source. They can give digestive medicines such as motility drugs and emergency food for gastrointestinal issues such as GI stasis or bloating, and therapeutic care for shock.
What is Analgesia?
Analgesia is another word for pain control. Veterinarians and pet owners used to believe that animals needed to have a certain level of pain in order to respect the injury and not injure themselves again, but recently we have realized that especially in prey animals it’s important to manage their pain and make sure they are not in pain. Painkillers should be administered to rabbits that are in pain due to injuries or sickness; otherwise, the risk of shock and death is much higher. Your rabbit is smart enough to avoid its injury so you should give your rabbit enough medicine to completely get rid of its pain and reduce its mental stress as much as possible.
Can Rabbits Die from Pain?
Yes, rabbits can die from pain as well as shock. Rabbits are very fragile animals and sometimes the mental strain is too much for them and they can die from severe pain. This usually happens when they are also physically injured or have an encounter with a predator that also causes mental pain and fear. If your rabbit goes into shock or becomes lethargic after an incident where they are hurt, stay with them and wrap them in a blanket. If their ears are cold, gently massage their ears until they are warm again. This may help your rabbit recover from pain and shock.
Can rabbits feel love? Yes, rabbits are believed to feel emotions such as love, fear, and happiness. If you bond with your rabbit and spend time together, it will form a social bond with you and will come to love you.
How should I discipline my rabbit? You should never hit your rabbit to discipline it. Rabbits do best with positive reinforcement, which means that you should reward behaviors that you want to see repeated and you should ignore behaviors that you don’t want to see.
Can rabbits be depressed? While there isn’t an equivalent to the human mental illness, rabbits can feel sad and down due to their circumstances such as not having enough room or not getting enough time to play.