How to Treat a Sick Rabbit

How to Treat a Sick Rabbit
How to Treat a Sick Rabbit

Sometimes your rabbit may get sick for many different reasons. In this situation, your best option is always to take your rabbit to a veterinarian that specializes in rabbits so that it gets the care it needs from a professional. However, sometimes you can’t reach a vet or you need to know how to care for your rabbit in the meantime.

How do I treat a sick rabbit? Treating a sick rabbit at home usually involves over the counter medicine and home remedies, as well as a lot of care and comfort.


How Do I Treat a Rabbit with an Ear Infection?

Ear infections are one of the most common health problems in rabbits due to how sensitive their ears are and how many folds of skin there are inside. You should be examining your rabbit’s ears on a regular basis to check for symptoms of an ear infection. Your rabbit’s ears shouldn’t have any scabs or dark buildup, only moderate amounts of ear wax that is a creamy brown color. If the ear infection goes unnoticed, your rabbit may develop a head tilt that will clue you in to the problem, but this also means the problem has gotten much worse.

Ear infections can only be treated by antibiotics, so you should always take your rabbit to the vet if you think it has an ear infection.  You can ease your rabbit’s symptoms in the meantime by gently lifting buildup out with a cotton swab (never a q-tip) or washing your rabbit’s ears out with a solution like Oti-Rinse gotten from any pet prescription service.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit with Ear Mites?

Ear mites may sound similar to an ear infection, but the symptoms will be much different. You rabbit will have sore spots and lesions by their ears where they have been scratching at one or both ears, and they will develop very dark buildup of debris in their ear.

Ear mites can be treated with medicines from the ivermectin family, with your best option being Xeno. Make sure to weigh your rabbit and measure out the correct dosage to avoid harming it. You should apply the medicine behind the ear where the rabbit cannot reach, and it will be absorbed into the bloodstream. You’ll need to do so multiple times to kill each generation of ear mites. If your rabbit is showing discomfort from the debris buildup, get a warm, damp cloth and press it to the debris to soften it, then remove it with tweezers. If you have any difficulty removing it whatsoever, stop and apply the cloth again as you can do severe damage to the skin of the ear by accident.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit with an Eye Infection?

An eye infection may occur on its own or as a symptom of other underlying diseases such as tooth problems. You’ll first notice that your rabbit’s fur is wet around the eyes and that there is crust or buildup on the eyelids and under the eyes. Your rabbit’s eyes may also be swollen or red.

Eye infections can only be fully treated by antibiotics, but you can treat some symptoms at home. You should clean the eye with a warm, damp cloth to get rid of any buildup of mucus under the eye, and then dry the damp areas. You can also administer eye drops appropriate for rabbits in order to keep the eye from drying out. You should still take your rabbit to a vet, especially if either eye becomes stuck shut.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit with Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is when a rabbit’s teeth become crooked or overgrown, and it can cause severe issues if the rabbit stops eating due to difficulty or pain. Malocclusion is easy to notice in the front teeth, as you’ll see that they no longer meet in the middle neatly. It’s more difficult to notice the disease in the back teeth, as they only noticeable symptom is usually that your rabbit stops eating, which can be symptomatic of many different things.

Malocclusion of the back teeth can only be treated by a vet with special equipment due to the difficulty of getting into the rabbit’s mouth and grinding down the teeth. Trimming front teeth is also best done by a professional, but it’s possible to do it yourself at home. You will need a pair of very sharp wire clippers, a towel, and some of your rabbit’s favorite treats. Calm the rabbit down and then wrap it tightly in the towel to restrain it. Hold its mouth open and wrap the wire clippers around the tooth then firmly squeeze. Do so in small increments until the tooth is the correct length.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit with a Tooth Abscess?

Dental abscesses cannot be treated at home and can only be treated by a veterinarian. To treat a tooth abscess, your vet will perform surgery on your rabbit’s mouth to access the abscess and drain it from the outside. Once it is drained, one of two post-surgery options will be chosen. The first option is for the wound to be left open so that you can flush the abscess site with antibiotic fluid prescribed by your vet every day. Your rabbit will be brought back once a week to check the progress. The other option is to pack the abscess with sterile material and then partially close the wound to allow monitoring. Your rabbit will also be brought back in weekly to check up on the status.

It’s best to avoid tooth abscesses rather than treat them. Your rabbit should have unlimited access to a hay such as timothy hay and should also be feed leafy greens on a daily basis. Eating the proper foods in the proper amounts will help prevent tooth abscesses by grinding down your rabbit’s teeth correctly and maintaining dental health.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit That Won’t Eat?

Rabbits may refuse to eat for a number of reasons, all of which are potentially fatal. Rabbits must eat frequently, and if your rabbit goes more than 8 or so hours without eating it can die. It’s important to address the situation quickly if your rabbit won’t eat. You should first find out why it’s not eating if possible. If you can’t figure out why, take your rabbit to the vet immediately.

Rabbits that aren’t eating can be held over by administering emergency food through a feeding syringe. You can make a homemade emergency food by mixing pellets with warm water until they soften and puff up. Then mix them into vegetable baby food or even a treat like canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mixture) to create a paste. You can also hydrate your rabbit with water or unsweetened Pedialyte given through the feeding syringe.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit with Gas?

A rabbit with gas may stop eating or sit hunched over due to the pain in its abdomen. Gas is fairly easy to treat if you have the right tools, but it can be dangerous if left unaddressed. For milder gas, you can administer simethicone through a feeding syringe to help your rabbit pass the gas. Rabbits have great difficulty passing gas on their own, so it’s important to administer medicine if you notice signs of gas.

You can also help your rabbit pass gas by gently massaging its abdomen with your hands or with an electric massager. You should lay your rabbit on its back on your lap or a flat surface with its head toward you. Gently rub your rabbit’s abdomen but be careful not to hurt its other organs. Your rabbit may be hesitant at first but will usually relax into the massage once they realize it is helping.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit with GI Stasis?

GI stasis occurs when a rabbit’s digestive system stops moving entirely, and it can cause death within hours if left untreated. A rabbit with GI stasis will stop eating and will usually become very lethargic and refuse to come out of hiding places. To treat a rabbit with GI stasis, you should go to the vet so the vet can administer motility drugs and get your rabbit’s systems moving again.

If you are not able to get to a vet immediately, you can administer emergency food or try to tempt your rabbit into eating fragrant herbs or wet leafy vegetables by pushing them against your rabbit’s mouth until it gets annoyed and bites them. You can also administer Lactobacillus acidophilus in the form of a powder or paste. This has an unknown effect that often helps rabbits survive GI stasis. Use non-dairy options or options made for horses, as these will be the safest products.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit That Won’t Move?

Rabbits usually refuse to move because of injury or acute sickness. However, sometimes rabbits are lethargic because they’re bored or it’s not their usual time to be active. Try engaging your rabbit in play during the dawn or dusk hours, when rabbits are most active. If your rabbit plays with you and is moving normally, you may simply need to give it more attention or give attention at the proper times.

If this is not the case, you should take your rabbit to a vet immediately. Injuries and acute sicknesses can’t be fully treated at home, and at best you can keep your rabbit alive until you are able to reach a vet. Check your rabbit for injuries or any obvious signs of sickness before leaving so that you have as much information as possible to give to the doctor.

How Do I Treat a Rabbit That’s in Shock?

Rabbits go into shock due to severely frightening events such as being badly injured, being chased or trapped, being attacked by a predator, or being startled. A rabbit that is in shock will have glazed over eyes and will not move. Its ears will be cold to the touch and it will not respond to stimuli. Rabbits don’t always survive shock, but to improve its chances you should not take it on a car ride longer than 30 minutes to an hour. This means you may not be able to reach your vet and will have to treat the shock at home.

The first thing you should do is wrap your rabbit loosely in a blanket and lay down next to it. This helps comfort your rabbit so that it can calm down. Then gently rub its ears to warm them up. You can keep doing this for as long as it takes for your rabbit to become responsive again, but be careful not to cause injury by rubbing too hard. If your rabbit comes out of shock, offer it food and water immediately, especially if it hasn’t eaten in a while. Monitor it very closely for at least 24 hours and be prepared for its condition to deteriorate again.

Should I Treat a Rabbit with Essential Oils?

Definitely do not treat any rabbit illness with essential oils. Essential oils are too concentrated for rabbits, and even oils from herbs that rabbits are usually okay to eat can cause issues due to the fumes and due to potential accidental ingestion. Some herbal oils may be okay in small amounts if used in locations where the rabbit can’t reach, but as a general rule don’t use anything that has not been approved by your veterinarian.

Don’t treat ear infections or ear mites with oils, especially not tea tree oil as it can be toxic even just on contact. Some home remedies recommend using oils to clean the ear, but any cleaning that needs to be done can be done with warm water. Essential oils, or even olive oil as is recommended by some sources, will not smother or kill ear mites and will not treat ear infections. These conditions can only be safely treated by the proper medicine.

Should I Treat a Rabbit with Products for my Dog/Cat?

Products for dogs and cats are vastly different from products for rabbits. Flea medicine for dogs and cats can actually kill rabbits if used on them, and the same goes for the types of antibiotics used on both species of animal. It’s very important to only use products made for rabbits or that are approved by your vet, as many chemicals can be fatal to rabbits that are fine for humans or other animals. Products made for horses are generally okay to use, but you should always check first before using anything not explicitly made for a rabbit. This is why it’s also important to find a veterinarian that specializes in rabbits or exotic animals, as other vet offices will not have the proper treatments for your rabbit and may even administer the wrong things out of ignorance.

Related Questions

How do I treat an injured rabbit? Injuries like cuts or broken bones need to be treated by a vet so that the injury heals correctly and you reduce the risk of infection. Find out as much about the injury as possible before going to the vet so that you have plenty of information to help them.

How do I find a rabbit veterinarian? Rabbit veterinarians are different than regular vets, and you will need to search in your area or ask at your local rabbit rescue for recommendations. Other rabbit owners in your area can also give advice.

When should I treat my rabbit at home? You should avoid treating your rabbit at home whenever possible unless you have extensive experience with rabbits. Minor issues such as slight gas or small scrapes can be treated at home, but any serious issue should be addressed with a vet.