What to Do When A Pet Rabbit Dies. 5 Things to Understand

What to Do When A Pet Rabbit Dies
What to Do When A Pet Rabbit Dies

Rabbits are perhaps one of the best pets you can choose to adopt and take into your home. They have unique personalities and can show love and affection in many ways. Our goal is always to do what’s best for them and be the most ethical pet owners we can possibly be.

With that being said, we need to perform certain due diligence when certain events that can take place. Unfortunately, the death of your rabbit is one of those events that will eventually take place. I know it’s not the most uplifting topic to dive into, but it is necessary to inform you about the steps that need to be completed.

The question I see arise frequently is simple. What do you do when your pet rabbits dies? After some research on the topic, here is what I can tell you.

So, what do you do when a pet rabbit die? First, you need to be prepared and capable of recognizing if your rabbit is experiencing symptoms that could indicate death is near. After the passing, you will want to either dispose of the bunny ethically or take to a vet clinic for proper disposal.

I plan on giving you a breakdown of exactly what I’m referring too so if you stick with me for just a minute or two, you will have everything you need to know about dealing, disposing of, mourning and handling your bunny’s death in the best possible manner. Let’s dive into it.


The Process of Handling Your Bunny Passing Away

When I write a blog post such as this one, I try and put myself in the reader’s shoes. I try and envision what may be taking place in your head. I want to help you in the best possible way. Especially in the circumstances such as this.

With that being said, I was thinking to myself, maybe your rabbit hasn’t passed away, and you are currently trying to distinguish a health issue, or your rabbit is acting a bit off. I know we probably those individuals who plan responsibly but perhaps your rabbit has not expired at this point.

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to cover more than just the disposal of your rabbit. For starters, writing a post on disposing of our pet rabbits’ bodies is depressing, so I wanted to shed some light on other factors to consider. That brings us to my first point.

Why Do Rabbits Die in The First Place? Item #1 To Understand

Unfortunately, rabbits can unexpectantly pass away or die from natural causes. When a rabbit dies unexpectantly, there is a wide variety of reasons or diseases that could have triggered the death. If your rabbit is older, you just are experiencing the natural causes form of death.

When this is the primary cause for death, your rabbits’ body simply doesn’t work the once did, and it’s his or her time to go.

Non-Natural Causes Deaths with Rabbits

If your rabbit is potentially ill and you’re worried about him or her possibly passing away, it can also be for reasons outside of natural causes. Diseases can target and impact rabbits easily. Sometimes this is just due to genetics, and sometimes it’s more likely to happen based on the environment the rabbit is currently in.

Any Steps to Avoiding These Issues All Together?

Yes, proper nutrition is vital with your rabbits. Providing balanced nutrition, allowing your rabbit to have time to become mentally stimulated and keeping up with rabbit hygiene can help your rabbit live a long healthy and life.

This can be something such as choosing the right foods for your rabbits (don’t use hamster or gerbil food) or even clipping your bunnies’ nails. These may seem like small things to keep your bunny living longer and healthier life’s, but it’s the small things such as love, affection, attention and proper care that go a long way toward a rabbit enjoying a rich and long life.

How Do I Know If My Rabbits Sick or May Die Soon? Item #2 To Understand

The next important item to have a full understanding of is the signs and symptoms you may notice when your rabbit may be close to passing away or at least recognizing that something is wrong. This is when most rabbit owners may be frantic and concerned and not sure what to do. Let’s look at some of the signs and symptoms you can be on the lookout for.

Lack of Appetite

Your rabbit no longer showing any enthusiasm or getting eager to can be one of the first signs you can watch for that indicate trouble or that your rabbit is ill or potentially dying.

It’s important to understand that just because your rabbit doesn’t have a healthy appetite doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to pass away.

In these situations, or all the situations, we list in this section, it’s important to speak to a vet and explain your rabbits’ symptoms. This will help give you a better idea at what the issue and give you a roadmap of what to expect in the immediate future.

Lack of Thirst

Like the food example, your rabbit suddenly not drinking or consuming any fluids is another sign that something is wrong, and you need to speak to a vet. Rabbits typically consume a fair amount of water, and unless something is majorly off, they don’t just stop.

Keep an eye on this and don’t be surprised if your rabbit has fallen ill to something more serious.

Lethargic or Slow Moving, No Spring in Their Step

We have talked about all the way’s rabbits express love and emotion towards us. We even have a blog post about it that you can see here. Your rabbit should be happy and enthusiastic when you are around, and you should be able to spot this behavior without much of an issue.

When your rabbit suddenly stops showing these signs, stays still, has slow and shallow breathing it can indicate that your rabbits time is coming shortly. Usually, inactivity and moving around is something that leaves the rabbits abilities first and sadly as much as I hate to say it, it often can indicate big trouble ahead.

Again, speak to a vet for confirmation and to check what may be wrong.

Major Behavior Shifts, The Bi-Polar Bunny

Your bunny suddenly entering big mood swings or having other behavioral issues is also a sign that death or severe illness may be near. Maybe your rabbit who has never bitten before is suddenly becoming aggressive or shifting moods frequently.

If this is the case, this usually indicates that something is majorly wrong.

Change in Body Temp and Vital Signs

This can apply to rabbits in the wild or domesticated rabbits. Change in body temp is going to be hard for you to notice, but this sign and symptom falls right into the issue and common symptom of lethargic and non-moving bunnies.

When your bunnies begin dropping in body temperature, breathing so shallow to notice or having difficulty even moving, it’s usually a sign that it’s time to head to bunny heaven. Most of you may have seen before with a wild rabbit in your yard or on your property.

I know I have. It’s when you find a rabbit laying down in the yard that already appears dead or possibly still sitting, but they have no fear of you. They just sit and remain still.

You could even have pet these rabbits that are close to death, they just don’t have any movement left in them. This is usually a sign that the end is very close for rabbit, unfortunately.

Now that we know the signs of when death may be near for your bunny, we need to cover what happens or to tell when death has already occurred. Here’s a breakdown that should give you a clear understanding of when your bunny has passed away.

How to Recognize If Your Rabbit Is Dead? Item # 3 To Understand

This part is the hardest. It’s easy to know if a rabbit has passed away, it’s just very difficult going through this with your rabbit. If your rabbit is near the end, they will usually be sitting or lay down on one side. They may begin changing breathing patterns rapidly and shake or get startled.

That’s okay, and it’s perfectly reasonable. If you can be with your rabbit in the final moments, it can sure go a long way towards comforting them and making those last few minutes that much better for them. Avoid scaring them even further if possible. Gently pet them and remain calm.

The suffering won’t last for long. Once your bunny has passed away, you can usually tell due to no more breathing, sprawled out, they may poop after death and movement will stop.

Now, that you have been through the hardest part of the process, it’s important to understand what to do next in the process for your bunny. Let’s move on to the disposal of your rabbit.

Disposing of Your Rabbit and The Next Steps Involved- Item #4 to Understand

Once your bunny has passed away, there is still some work to get done. We need to properly dispose of our bunnies and explain the death to family members or the children. Here are a few steps to help you through this process.

Speak to A Vet (Take Your Bunny to The Vet Clinic)

After your bunny has passed, you should take your bunny to the vet. It may not provide any answers to cause of death and no, they can’t bring them back to life, but it’s good to confirm the death, and your vet can help explain to you what to do next.

There is no need at this stage in the process to pay money for any test or further information. It likely won’t provide much if any info, cost you more money and ultimately will not bring your bunny back to life.

Some individuals often skip this step which is perfectly fine as thoroughly. Especially if you have owned other rabbits in the past. If you don’t need confirmation that your rabbit has passed away and you are sure, then you don’t necessarily need to speak to a vet before completing a proper burial for your rabbit.

Some individuals don’t like to spend the money in this part of the process, and if you happen to be one of those people, there is no shame in this, and you need to handle the death in a manner that makes the most sense for you and your family.

Consulting the vet is more of a tip and step you can take during the process if need be but not a set-in-stone requirement.

The Disposal of The Dead Bunny

Unfortunately, no matter how many great times you shared with your rabbit or maybe great memories your kids have with your pet rabbit, there always comes a time to say goodbye. That time is now, unfortunately. Your rabbit was a loving member of the family. It doesn’t deserve to be thrown to the curb or placed in the trash.

Not only is this unethical in general but can lead to other animals coming to scavenge the rabbit, other pests, awful smells and it’s just a wrong way to remember your rabbit. You can opt to use a vet clinic to incinerate your bunny cleanly and safely, or if you really prefer a burial at home, that’s perfectly okay too.

Make sure to place your dead bunny deep to avoid other animals potentially digging them up or causing other issues in your yard.

Moving on and Dealing with the Pain and Grief

Unfortunately, when you place your rabbit in the ground, you aren’t really at a stage yet where you will have entered the grief stage. This often takes time to happen and can typically hit you right after the burial or the final goodbye.

You need to move on but in your own way. Listen, I get it. Rabbits can live 8-12 years when domesticated and indoors. That’s a long time to have a best friend, a companion, and hell, even a rabbit that will sleep in your bed with you.

However, we all know the saying and its part of life. “All good things Must Come to an End.” It’s no different in this situation. Your kids may be devastated as well. It’s time to help them move on and start planning some actions to get us uplifted and ready to carry on daily life again.

So, how do we accomplish that?

More Bunnies Is the Answer! Item # 5 To Understand

Okay, I’m kind of kidding but also serious. More bunnies can be a great answer. If you have young children and have already explained the unfortunate news to them and you truly enjoyed being a rabbit owner, there is a simple remedy. Get another bunny!

Yes, I get it. No bunny can ever be the bunny that just passed away. That’s the beauty of it. That also means your bunny who hasn’t recently passed can never be the future bunny you are purchasing.

 Maybe this next rabbit has some incredibly unique and loving traits and can bring just as much love and fun to the family.

The point is simple. If you love rabbits, you love owning rabbits, and your family enjoys the presence of rabbits, then always have rabbits around. It’s not rocketing science here.

Yes, losing a rabbit is hard, but the easiest way to move on is to start nurturing and loving another rabbit and helping your kids and family move on.

Your first rabbit will always hold a special place in your family’s heart but with the unique characteristics all bunnies tend to show in the spotlight, I think you can reform that same love once again.

Putting It All Together, Rabbit Sickness, Death and Burials Can Be Hard

It’s never going to be easy losing a pet. We take the time and provide loving care for these rabbits for 8-12 years in many circumstances.

We have photo albums filled with pictures of the first day home or the first time our kids interacted with a pet which I understand as good as anyone that these are priceless moments that are often taken for granted.

Understanding your rabbit may be ill is only the beginning of the process and unfortunately, it never gets easier from that point on. It will remain difficult until the final goodbyes and even after the final goodbyes in many circumstances.

It’s like losing one of your closest family members. If you get back up and push through more fun and love can await you on the other side of this sad moment. Start looking for your next rabbit and get the family and kids excited about starting the process all over again. Something new is always fun.

What’re your recommendations for recognizing, dealing or providing a proper goodbye to our rabbits? Do you recommend doing anything differently than what we have discussed here today? Be sure to leave a comment below.