Why Is My Pet Rabbit Not Eating?
If your rabbit does not eat, problems in the area of teeth or digestion are often responsible.
For the treatment the cause is of crucial importance, in order to be able to act against it purposefully and early.
Which 13 causes are often causal for lack of appetite in the rabbit we show you, including the appropriate treatment, here.
Cause 1: Too long teeth
As with all rodents, the front teeth in the upper and lower jaws grow throughout the rabbit’s life.
If the animal is not provided with enough suitable material to grind down the teeth, they can become too long.
In extreme cases, they bore into the jaw, cutting the gums and can also affect the bone.
The consequences are:
- Formation of pus
- excessive salivation
- bad breath
Treatment for too long rabbit teeth
Here the veterinary surgeon is in demand!
Even if it has not yet come to the point that they teeth have bent or created sores in the mouth, they interfere with eating and drinking.
This can quickly become life-threatening.
Therefore, immediately visit a veterinarian or a veterinary clinic if you notice the too long teeth.
Here, the teeth can be ground down or chipped off.
The procedure is simple and quick. However, a light anesthetic may be necessary to minimize stress and anxiety.
After the procedure, your rabbit should be able to eat and drink water as usual.
If this is not the case, you may need to assist by offering water in a syringe or bowl. For the first few days, cooked vegetables or vegetable porridge can be used as food. This way the stomach does not remain empty and digestive problems are avoided.
In addition, the animal can regain strength and regain its appetite.
Prevent long rabbit teeth
With a species-appropriate diet that includes large amounts of hay and twigs, your rabbit will have plenty of natural material to wear down its teeth.
Hard bread, grain feed and pellets are no substitute for this.
You should also check your rabbit’s teeth and mouth regularly.
Ideally, you should get your rabbit used to these examinations so that he is not afraid of them and does not find them stressful. For example, offer a carrot and press the lips slightly up or down. Alternatively, you can also look when you are cuddling the rabbit.
Cause 2: Broken teeth
Broken teeth can occur when your rabbit gnaws on materials that are too hard. This can be, for example, the bars of the cage, radiators or door frames.
The consequences are on the one hand pain and possible injuries.
Depending on how the tooth is broken, food intake and chewing may be much more difficult. Your pet will then avoid harder foods.
Due to a sharp fracture edge or tips that have developed, the gums may suffer injury. This also affects food intake and may even affect drinking.
In addition to these complaints, other signs may indicate the problem. Among them:
bleeding from the mouth
rabbit chews only on one side
avoidance of harder food
Treatment for broken teeth
If the nail teeth are affected, they will grow back over time.
Nevertheless, treatment by the veterinarian is advised. The vet can grind off sharp edges or pointed corners to prevent injuries to the tongue and gums.
In case of pain or a split tooth, other therapies may be necessary. At worst, the affected tooth may need to be severely shortened or extracted.
You may need to support the treatment with special foods.
These are porridges that contain all the necessary nutrients and can be licked up by the animal itself or administered with a syringe. However, this is usually only the case until the wound has healed or the tooth has grown back.
Prevent chipped teeth
Make sure the rabbit cage or hutch equipment is safe and suitable.
If your pet gnaws on the bars, the tube of the water bottle or other potentially harmful and dangerous materials, you must take appropriate protective measures.
Also, provide plenty of hay and twigs. This will keep your rabbit busy and take care of its teeth.
Cause 3: Misaligned teeth
Tooth misalignments are usually congenital and occur primarily in rams. In them, the entire skull shape is altered to produce the desired floppy ears.
However, this also affects the jaws and thus the teeth.
With age, such malocclusions can worsen, leading to problems with eating and drinking.
- food falls out of the mouth more often
- the animal chews crooked or on one side
- weight loss
- food stuck between the teeth
- bad breath
In extreme cases, the rabbit’s face may appear crooked because the jaws shift against each other.
Treatment of malocclusions
In order for the upper and lower jaws to lie on top of each other without any problems and for biting and chewing to be possible, the veterinarian has to grind down or even pull teeth if necessary. Even then, however, there is no guarantee that the rabbit will be able to eat enough food on its own.
It is important that the treatment is done early and that regular check-ups take place to prevent further and worse problems.
If necessary, you must provide supplemental and appropriate feeding. This can consist of vegetable mash enriched with roughage. Powdered hay or softened hay pellets are suitable.
Likewise, special food can be found for rabbits that cannot eat solids.
Optimally, the animal can eat the porridge itself from a plate or shallow bowl. However, it may be necessary, especially initially, to give it directly into the side of the mouth using a syringe without a cannula.
There is no sure prevention for congenital deformities. Nevertheless, you should carry out checks at the time of purchase and then at regular intervals. This will help to determine if the condition is worsening and to start treatment at an early stage.
In addition, it is useful to weigh the animal once a week and note the weight. This will immediately reveal any loss and appropriate countermeasures can be started, such as supplementing with special food.
Cause 4: Injuries to the gums and tongue
Sharp and pointed objects, such as plastic shards, edges, corners and wire or even sharp pieces of hay can cause small wounds in the area of the mouth. If these become inflamed, eating can become difficult.
Swelling and pain may even interfere with drinking.
Treatment of wounds and inflammations
Depending on the location and severity of the injury or inflammation, a visit to the veterinarian may be necessary. For minor wounds, it may be sufficient to disinfect the area and apply a suitable ointment.
In other cases, an antibiotic may be required.
Preventing sores in the mouth
Make sure there are no unsuitable materials in the rabbit’s cage or free run.
Check the mouth daily and consult a veterinarian at an early stage.
This can prevent more severe courses if injuries have occurred despite all caution.
Cause 5: Sore throat
Sore throats do not stop at rabbits.
They can cause difficulty in swallowing and thus make eating difficult. In addition, they affect the general condition of the animal. However, as a layperson and without the necessary medication, you will not be able to determine sore throats for sure.
Indications include, in addition to reduced appetite, noticeable swallowing, outside eating and drinking, tiredness and fatigue, and increased salivation.
Treat sore throat
Offer your pet chamomile tea, fennel tea and mint tea. Fennel honey in very small amounts can also be administered.
If the pain does not subside within a few days, a visit to the veterinarian is inevitable. Antibiotics, an appetite stimulant and, if necessary, special food in the form of porridge can strengthen the organism and support the immune system.
Preventing sore throat
The risk of sore throat increases when the immune system is weakened.
An unbalanced diet can produce this.
Likewise, being constantly cold or standing in drafts can cause a sore throat. The germs needed for this can be found everywhere.
However, whether the rabbit’s body can defend itself against them depends on the supply and how warm it is.
Cause 6: Sniffles
Unlike in humans, sniffles in animals are very serious. It puts a considerable strain on the organism, can develop into pneumonia and even lead to death.
Typical symptoms are:
reddened, watery eyes
fatigue and tiredness
increased temperature to fever
loss of appetite
coughing or rattling
Rabbit cold should be treated immediately by a veterinarian. Only through this and through supportive care at home, more severe courses can be prevented.
Treatment of rabbit rhinitis
In addition to the administration of medication by the veterinarian, you can take other measures to speed up the recovery and alleviate the discomfort.
These include the following:
Keeping warm: Avoid drafts and light a corner of the cage with a red light lamp. Make sure the floor is not cold or insulate the cage from below with a Styrofoam sheet placed underneath, a hemp mat, and by adding a thick layer of bedding.
Hydration: Due to the inflammatory processes, the mucous membranes are attacked and produce significantly more secretion. Therefore, provide water, tea and water-rich food.
Inhalation: To moisturize and care for the respiratory tract, you can place a steam bath with herbs, such as chamomile, next to the cage. Place a towel over the pot and over part of the cage so the rising steam is more concentrated. Also, ventilate sufficiently to keep the air in the room low in germs and prevent low humidity.
Cause 7: Flatulence
Changing the diet too quickly or certain foods can cause flatulence.
Rabbits cannot burp, but they can fart. However, by the time the air is expelled, the gases can exert considerable pressure on the surrounding tissues, causing spasms and thereby reducing appetite.
An important indicator of flatulence is a bloated, hard abdomen. Gurgling sounds may also be signs of excessive gas production.
Treatment of flatulence
So-called defoamers and digestion-regulating agents can be used to treat flatulence.
Sab Simplex RodiCare acute have proven to be effective. Sab Simplex has a dissolving effect and helps the gas to be broken down and eliminated more quickly. RodiCare akut has a generally regulating effect on digestion and can therefore also alleviate other complaints in this area.
Warmth and rest also have a relaxing effect.
Offer your rabbit fresh water, fennel tea and hay. However, avoid fruit and starchy foods for the time being. Fresh or dry herbs and fresh fennel are allowed.
Flatulence can usually be easily prevented by proper feeding.
Your rabbit’s diet should consist mainly of hay. This should be fresh and new, not dusty and not smell musty. It must be freely available all day, as well as fresh water.
In addition, fresh and dried herbs, grass, twigs and leaves, and occasionally vegetables.
Very small amounts of fruit may be given as a special treat.
Also, do not change the food abruptly. Rabbits are often used to being fed ready-made grain food or pellets. If they are fed a balanced and species-appropriate diet from one day to the next, the digestive tract will not have time to adjust.
Therefore, gradually reduce the usual feed and provide fresh hay with herbal supplements.
Cause 8: Constipation and intestinal obstruction
Just like flatulence, constipation or intestinal obstruction can also cause the rabbit to stop eating.
Again, the abdomen is bulging and hard.
It is also noticeable that hardly any or no feces are deposited. The possible causes for the digestive problems are feeding, lack of exercise and insufficient fluid intake.
It is also possible that your rabbit has ingested fabric fibers or too many loose fur hairs. These clump together in the stomach and can obstruct intestinal passage.
Treatment of constipation
Constipation should always be taken seriously, as it can result in intestinal obstruction.
Therefore, see a veterinarian immediately if your rabbit has great difficulty defecating or is unable to defecate at all. Antispasmodics, an enema, or manual defecation can correct the problem.
Surgical intervention may be required for intestinal obstruction.
Tea, feeding water-rich vegetables and fruits, and gentle massaging of the anus can relieve discomfort in mild cases. These measures are therefore recommended as adjunctive therapy.
Preventing constipation in rabbits
A high-fiber diet and sufficient fluids as well as exercise are crucial.
In addition, you should regularly check whether, how much and what kind of feces your rabbit produces. This will allow you to take appropriate countermeasures early on.
Cause 9: Diarrhea
Diarrhea can have many causes. From incorrect or spoiled food to infections and parasites, several triggers are possible.
Since the overall well-being suffers, loss of appetite is often one of them.
Treatment of diarrhea
Consult a veterinarian immediately if your rabbit suffers from diarrhea. Because of the loss of water and other associated problems and discomfort, diarrhea can be fatal.
It is therefore important to intervene in time!
How the treatment turns out depends on the trigger.
However, balancing the fluid balance is almost always necessary. Likewise, it may be necessary to first resort to gentle and at the same time feeding special food.
To calm the gastrointestinal tract, you can offer Moro’s carrot soup or herbs (find 15 ideal herbs for rabbits here).
Rabbits have a very sensitive digestion.
They are sensitive to food with a laxative effect, tolerate sugar and starch only to a very low degree and can quickly react with problems in the gastrointestinal tract.
Diarrhea caused by parasites cannot be prevented 100 percent, but you can certainly counteract infections caused by spoiled food, poisoning or incorrect nutrition.
Cause 10: Stress
Rabbits are flight animals that are easily startled and generally tend to be anxious.
If your rabbit is under prolonged stress, it can have a negative effect on its appetite. In this case, it is only active when the environment is completely calm.
Frantic fleeing is not uncommon either.
Tip: Learn the body language of rabbits to perfectly understand the animals!
Measures in case of stress
If you are unsure if it is stress or if there is a health problem, consult a veterinarian.
If it turns out that there is no disease or other health problem, you need to make the environment quieter for your rabbit.
Do not place the cage in a passageway or in a child’s room if it is noisy. Provide enough space for the animal to escape and hide.
Slowly acclimate the animal to you and the new environment. This will allow it to gain confidence and gradually get to know its territory. Be patient and never chase your rabbit.
Cause 11: Competition among rabbits
Rabbits need conspecifics.
However, in commercial cages there is often barely enough room for one, let alone two or more animals. This leads to aggression and defense of resources among each other. The dominant rabbit will win and can make sure that another animal will not approach the food and consequently will not eat or drink.
Treatment is not necessary in this case.
But you should make some changes in the keeping: Offer your animals enough space, distribute the food in different places and separate them on a trial basis if necessary.
Some rabbits do not get along with each other because of a considerable age difference or very different character traits. Even a very large shared cage or rabbit home cannot change this.
Cause 12: Infections
Infectious diseases can have a significant effect on appetite.
The rabbit is already weakened by the disease, so the lack of food intake becomes critical very quickly.
Treatment of infections
If your rabbit is not eating or drinking due to an infection, you need to see a veterinarian immediately.
In addition to treating the infection, it may be necessary to provide fluids and nutrients through an IV. Vitamin injections can also be used to strengthen and support the immune system.
It is also advisable to feed special food to prevent discomfort in the digestive tract.
If your rabbit will not lick it from a plate or shallow dish on its own, you can pour the liquid to mushy food into a syringe without a needle and insert it into the side of the rabbit’s mouth. Gently and carefully squeeze out small amounts of the food so that it is dispensed directly onto the tongue. This way the animal only has to swallow and can be “fed” in this way. Because with a little luck it gets appetite thereby and begins to eat independently.
Cause 13: Parasites
Parasites such as coccidia or worms can put a lot of strain on the digestive tract. This causes the appetite to dwindle.
With coccidia, a typical accompanying symptom is diarrhea. In the case of worms, white spots or even worm pieces are noticeable in the feces.
Treatment of parasites
A visit to the vet is inevitable!
It is ideal if you bring a fecal sample with you, which can be examined. Following this, a suitable means of control will be administered.
To avoid reintroduction of the parasites, you must completely change the litter and thoroughly clean all objects in the cage and in the free run.
Do not feed green fodder growing on roadsides or unprotected in the garden. Because of the excrement of other animals, this green fodder can contain parasite eggs or coccidia.
It is better to grow the green fodder yourself and to fence it off so that other animals do not have access.
When does it become dangerous that a rabbit does not eat?
Already after one or two days, life-threatening conditions can occur due to the lack of food intake.
This is especially true, but not limited to:
very young animals
with an already existing weakening
In addition, rabbits have a so-called stuffed stomach.
In order to keep the digestion functional throughout the day, they have to eat numerous small meals, i.e. stuff the food afterwards.
If the rabbit does not eat, the remnants of the previous food remain in the digestive tract and can cause excessive gas formation. In addition, the tissue can become damaged, inflamed and cause both pain and cramps.
So if you notice that your rabbit is not eating, have it examined and treated immediately.
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