It seems one of the basic facts of life: sickness always comes. No matter what we do and how healthy we try to live, we always seem to come down with some ailment. Not surprisingly, this is true of our pets as well. Whether we like it or not, at some point we are going to have to deal with sickness.

The basic rule is to follow your veterinarian's orders. When you bring a sick rabbit to the clinic, the doctor should treat your pet (prescribe medicine, give a shot, or whatever), but the healing does not end there. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about any dietary changes or needs for the time following the visit. Then FOLLOW THOSE DIRECTIONS. A rabbit's diet can be changed without a lot of trouble; rabbits like sweet foods, and they will readily eat new foods if they are sweet, or sweetened with other foods (like added molasses or sucrose). Even medications can be given this way - by putting them in fruit jam.

If no drastic changes are to be made, then make sure that you continue to follow the requirements of the adult diet. Also remember these keys:

  • Be sure to provide fresh hay - this helps maintain digestion, and provides more exercise than calories.
  • Cleanliness is essential to good health - cleanliness should always be maintained.
  • Be sure all food is fresh and clean - do not offer old/dirty food or stale pellets (pellet life = 90 days).
  • Watch for weight gain/loss - weighing regularly is advisable.
  • Watch for water intake - variations from norm (300 ml/day or less if many greens are eaten) should be noted and you should consult your veterinarian.
  • Watch for food intake - variations from norm (loss of appetite or increased appetite) should be noted and you should consult your veterinarian.

Major Dietary Conditions

    Coccidiosis: This is possibly the top disease-related killer of all domesticated animals. It is a parasite infection of the digestive system, which leads to death. Proper sanitation of the cage and eating area will help to prevent this disease.

    Constipation: Same as in humans. It could be brought on by any number of things, but typically poor diet or dietary changes are the cause.

    Fur Chewing (hairballs): If you do not provide hay daily to your rabbit, he may take to fur chewing. Fur chewing leads to hairballs in the stomach, which in turns leads to fasting.

    Heat Prostration: Your rabbit is affected by temperature and climate. In the hot spring and summer months, he may become overheated. To help prevent this, be sure your rabbit has water at all times.

    Toxemia (Ketosis): Signs of this dietary disorder are listlessness and refusal to eat or drink. Prognosis is poor; toxemia often results in death. Pregnant females are very susceptible to this. Prevention is found in a normal healthy diet (preventing overeating or obesity), avoiding stress (i.e. drastic dietary changes) and providing good high quality food.

    Diarrhea: This may be caused by a variety of different things (too many greens, antibiotics, dirty food, bacteria, change in feeding, etc.). If this does not clear up very quickly (within a day), your rabbit needs to see the veterinarian.

    Wet Dewlap: An infection brought on by constant wetness of chin and forelegs. Using a water bottle instead of bowl will help keep your pet dry.