If a rabbit does not drink, various causes may be responsible.
Often the reason can be found in dental problems, digestive disorders or other health disorders.
Attention: Especially in small, young or old animals, the lack of supply quickly becomes dangerous.
Reason enough, therefore, to get to the bottom of this problem. That’s exactly what we want to do with this article. We will show you the most common causes for your rabbit not drinking and also give you proven countermeasures.
How important is the water supply?
Rabbits, like other mammals, depend on an adequate supply of water.
If your animal does not drink or drinks too little, this can have serious consequences.
These include kidney damage, excessively solid feces, or decreased resistance to pathogens. Lack of hydration can also lead to death within a few days.
You must therefore always make sure that your rabbit drinks enough, or takes in enough fluid.
If this is not the case, consult a veterinarian immediately!
He can, for example, compensate for acute dehydration with infusions and should, of course, also eliminate the cause of the lack of drinking.
What can cause your rabbit not to drink enough water?
In this section we have collected for you the most common causes that can lead to a refusal to drink.
1: Dental problems
The nail teeth of rabbits grow their whole life.
If enough roughage is available, the teeth can wear down and the growth is regulated. However, if they are misaligned or fed the wrong food, this is not the case. In this case, the teeth become too long and can make both eating and drinking difficult or even impossible.
Therefore, check regularly if your pet’s teeth are short enough and it is free from other problems.
These include, for example:
broken or split teeth
uneven wear of the teeth
In these cases, only correction by the veterinarian can be done. Often this requires anesthesia, for example, to shorten the teeth or, if necessary, to grind off tips.
Inflammations of the oral mucosa or tongue can occur in various ways. Injuries from pierced food are possible, as are gnawing on inappropriate materials or falls.
If a wound is present in the area of the mouth, it can become infected by viruses and bacteria. The resulting swelling and pain can prevent your rabbit from eating and drinking properly.
Normally, these infections are easy to detect:
Constant rubbing with the paws
Medicinal treatment may be sufficient in these cases.
If abscesses, cysts or severe tissue damage are already present, however, the therapy can be very lengthy and thus require some patience.
You may need to offer soft food during this time and give water directly into the mouth with a syringe without a cannula.
3: Limited mobility
Another possibility for why your rabbit is not drinking, or cannot drink, may be pain during movement. Injuries from falls can be responsible, as well as arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Keep a close eye on your pet!
If walking and cleaning seem to be difficult, among other things the necessary head position for drinking can not be taken. In these cases, painkillers are usually used.
In addition, your rabbit will need to be cared for in other ways while it heals. This may also include giving water and food with a syringe.
4: Digestive problems
Loss of appetite can occur with improper feeding, an infestation of worms or ingestion of toxic substances, as well as with constipation or obstruction of the intestines.
This may also be accompanied by reduced fluid intake.
Signs of digestive dysfunction include:
a hard stomach
Therefore, make sure you don’t change the food too quickly, avoid flatulent foods, and don’t allow your rabbit to ingest dangerous substances.
This includes not only poisonous plants or cleaning agents and medicines. Textiles or too much ingested fur hair can also be a problem.
5: Type of water supply
Some rabbits prefer to drink from a bottle, while others prefer a bowl.
Drinking bottles have the advantage that the water in them does not get dirty as quickly. However, algae formation can still occur.
Also, the litter does not get wet so quickly with intact bottles. In addition, the water level can be controlled very easily.
A disadvantage is, however, that the mechanism can be defective unnoticed.
As a result, even if you try to drink, your rabbit will not get enough water.
Likewise, the water can leak out unnoticed, so you won’t notice the lack of supply at first.
The bottles are more difficult to clean and also have a metal output. The drinking tube can therefore be gnawed by your rabbit and cause damage to the teeth.
A bowl or dish of water provides your rabbit with better and easier access to water. Even if there are problems with the teeth or gums, many animals can drink more easily this way.
The problem is that water in a bowl gets dirty more quickly, and the bowl takes up more floor space and can be knocked over or cause your rabbit to get wet. Therefore, make sure that the bowl is stable and change the water frequently.
Ideally, you should offer both options. This way your rabbit can drink more easily and has a reserve available.
Water rich food
If a rabbit does not drink, it does not always have to be alarming or dangerous. The cause can also be in the feeding. If you frequently offer your animal water-rich foods, such as cucumber or melon, it simply won’t be thirsty. Also, if there is a high proportion of grass and other green fodder in the diet, the supply of liquid is already ensured through this.
If you have concerns because your rabbit is (suddenly) drinking too little or not at all, see a veterinarian or veterinary clinic immediately.
Early examination and treatment are essential and can make the difference between life and death.
Immediate measures usually involve balancing the water supply. For this purpose, an electrolyte solution can be injected under the skin. It spreads throughout the body and is absorbed by the tissues.
The actual cause must also be treated. Diagnosis is easier if you can provide comprehensive and accurate information.
The following questions can help you:
- Is the appetite also reduced?
- Is urine and feces output normal?
- What food has your rabbit been fed in the last few days?
- Was there a risk of ingesting toxic plants or other harmful substances?
- Has your pet had a fall?
- Has there been any recent bad breath?
- How is the water offered?
- Does your rabbit tend to gnaw on bars or other hard objects?
This can already rule out some causes.
Before your rabbit stops drinking, there are a few things you can watch out for.
The following tips will help to detect problems early or even prevent them:
- always offer fresh water
Even if the water has not been completely consumed, you should change it. Otherwise, not only an unpleasant taste can develop.
Germs can also multiply in it, which leads to health problems.
- pay attention to cleanliness
Dirty water can make your rabbit sick and does not taste good. So clean the bowl or water bottle thoroughly.
Keep in mind that even with clean water, plaque can form!
- carry out regular controls
This allows you to quickly detect and treat inflammation or other problems. This reduces discomfort, increases the chances of success and reduces the duration of therapy.
- offer water-rich food
Green food and water-rich fresh food such as fruit and vegetables not only contribute to the supply of water, but also contain vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances as well as fiber.
Adjust the amount to the size of the animal and accustom your rabbit slowly to the fresh food.
Our extra tip: Drinking bottles cannot always be cleaned completely with water and a bottle brush. It works easier with dry, uncooked rice and a little water. Poured into the bottle as a mixture, closed and shaken vigorously, the combination removes impurities.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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