What Causes Excessive Thirst In Rabbits?
If you have noticed in the recent past that your rabbit is drinking a lot, this is no reason to panic.
In the summer, this can be a completely normal phenomenon that you should observe, but not immediately classify as a problem. The situation is different, however, when temperatures are low.
But first things first…
Causes of increased fluid intake in rabbits
If your rabbit is drinking a lot, there are many reasons for this.
High temperatures and low humidity are possible, as is diabetes or an infection of the kidneys or urinary bladder.
Depending on the cause, treatment by a veterinarian may be necessary.
It is very easy to determine if this is the case with your pet by observation. To do this, consider factors that may affect thirst.
water content of the food
increased demand due to pregnancy or gestation
In summer, when the air is warm and dry, or after running and playing for a long time, increased thirst is perfectly normal and does not require any action – except, of course, to offer plenty of fresh water.
During pregnancy, the female’s thirst and hunger are increased. Again, there is no need for concern.
It becomes problematic if the food has a very low water content. This can lead to diseases of the kidneys and urinary bladder. In addition, the risk of digestive problems is increased.
In addition to these triggers, disease-related causes can also be responsible for increased thirst – known in technical language as polydipsia.
Side effects of medications
Water loss due to diarrhea
Metabolic disorders and diseases such as diabetes mellitus
However, these triggers will cause other symptoms besides increased drinking. Your rabbit will then need immediate medical attention from a veterinarian.
11 common reasons why your rabbit drinks a lot
1: High temperature
In the summer or when the heating air is very warm, rabbits do not sweat, but they may begin to pant. In addition, the metabolism is accelerated and the body temperature increases.
Thirst is therefore also greater and serves to cool down.
As long as there is enough fresh and cool water available, shady and cool places, this is not a concern.
However, make sure that the rabbits are not in the blazing sun. This is because heat stroke can be fatal. Especially in rooms on the south side or under the roof, and outside in the midday heat, there is a very real danger of this.
Shade, hollows in the ground or cooling mats and air conditioning should be available as soon as 25 degrees Celsius prevail.
Also, air out only when it’s cooler outside and cover your windows with thick, dark curtains, foil or shutters. This will prevent the rooms from heating up as quickly.
2: Low humidity
Air conditioning, lack of ventilation and heated air all cause low humidity in the home. This dries out the skin and mucous membranes.
Nosebleeds, irritated eyes and increased thirst are the possible consequences.
In addition, the risk of infections increases because the mucous membranes can no longer fulfill their function as part of the body’s immune defense system.
Installing a humidity meter (hygrometer)
Since this problem can occur both in summer and winter, you should always pay attention to appropriate countermeasures.
3: Physical exertion
Running, hooking, digging, jumping and playing or gnawing on wood – increased thirst after physical exertion is perfectly normal and no cause for concern. If your animals have been very active in warm weather or in a heated apartment, their water requirements may increase considerably.
Countermeasures are not necessary here.
The opposite is true, because plenty of exercise trains the entire organism, improves blood circulation, is important for well-being and can, among other things, prevent overweight.
4: Water content of the feed
A low water content of the feed is not critical in itself, as long as the rabbit drinks enough water. This is absolutely necessary so that excess micronutrients, such as calcium, are flushed from the body.
However, if your rabbit tends not to drink enough, you will need to increase the water content of the food. Hay and greens should be the main ingredients. Grain feed and dry bread, on the other hand, are not suitable. Water-rich vegetables are also ideal.
These not only ensure successful flushing of minerals, but can also prevent obesity and disease.
Prolonged stress causes the heart to beat faster, breathing to accelerate and metabolism to rev up. As a result, more fluids are consumed and released through urine.
Besides offering enough fresh water, you need to take action in other ways.
Stress has a negative effect on the body, the psyche and thus on the overall health. Give your animals rest, pay attention to their behavior and prevent stress as much as possible. To do this, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at the body language of the animals, so that you can recognize fear or tension more easily and thus assign it to the respective trigger.
6: Increased water requirements due to pregnancy or gestation
During pregnancy and suckling, the mother animal’s body not only has to provide for itself. Nutrients and fluids are needed in greater quantities so that the young can develop healthily without completely depleting the mother’s reserves.
Identifying this reason for increased drinking early on can be difficult. Especially since there is always confusion regarding the sex in rabbits or an already pregnant female was purchased unnoticed.
Often the pregnancy is therefore noticed late, when the belly is very thick or the kittens are already in the world.
7: Side effects of medication
Increased thirst can also be attributed to medications that are used for treatment or prevention.
It is not possible to discontinue these, but you should inform your veterinarian if your rabbit is consuming large amounts of water despite a water-rich diet. If necessary, the medication can be changed or a check of the kidney values will be necessary.
8: Kidney diseases
The kidneys are excretory organs that filter the blood and remove certain components from it to be excreted from the body through the urine.
When the kidneys become diseased due to genetic factors, infections or overuse, they can no longer perform this function properly. This can result in an increased excretion of fluid or an insufficient amount of urine.
In either case, your rabbit may suffer from increased thirst.
Treatment by the veterinarian is required for both conditions. This includes an examination of the blood and urine, as well as an imaging procedure such as an x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan to check the kidneys.
9: Bladder infections
If you have a bladder infection or bladder stones and the associated frequency of urination, your rabbit may drink more.
The following are noticeable:
increased urine output
only small amounts at a time, or dribbling
blood in the urine
pain sensitivity in the abdominal area
sticky, damp fur in the genital area and on the belly
weak general condition
A veterinary treatment is urgently necessary to prevent worse progressions and an ascent of the infection into the kidneys.
For this, as with suspected kidney disease, a comprehensive examination must be performed to determine the cause.
10: Water loss due to diarrhea
When diarrhea is caused by improper or spoiled food, too rapid a change, infection or parasites, a great deal of fluid can be lost. There is even a risk of dehydration, which can be life-threatening.
So if your rabbit is suffering from diarrhea, increased drinking is normal and very important.
Nevertheless, you should immediately consult a veterinarian to avoid severe courses. Diarrhea is not only a loss of water.
11: Metabolic disorders and diseases like diabetes mellitus
In case of overweight, a wrong diet or even due to genetic predisposition, your rabbit can suffer from metabolic disorders or diseases.
In the case of diabetes, thirst is increased. In addition, there is weight loss, loss of appetite and fatigue.
Clarification and treatment by the veterinarian are essential. Otherwise, the disease can progress very quickly and take a severe course.
However, this can be avoided with appropriate therapy.
How much should a rabbit drink daily?
Per kilogram of body weight, a rabbit should drink 50 to 125 milliliters of water daily.
However, you should pay attention to the accompanying factors.
A rather quiet animal with a water-rich diet and little activity will drink less than an active rabbit that eats a lot of hay and also plays for longer periods in the summer.
It is noticeable when there is a lot of drinking or other symptoms despite a water-rich diet, little exercise and moderate temperatures.
How can you tell that your rabbit is drinking more?
Keeping rabbits in a species-appropriate manner means keeping more than one animal.
This makes it difficult to accurately notice and assign drinking amounts.
Nevertheless, you should note how much water you offer in the morning and how much is left in the evening. This will give you a reference point.
Observe your animals frequently.
You may also notice if one of your rabbits is drinking a lot and frequently.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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