Carolyn Crampton name

diet and health


I am not a veterinarian. If you have an emergency or medical need, the first thing is to call a good rabbit vet asap. Rabbit medicine is now so advanced that your best option is always to see a good veterinarian and usually right away. The House Rabbit Society at has lists of vets. Ask your vet if they have a lot of experience in rabbits.

medical info

Here's a link to the Merck Veterinary manual for rabbits.


Rabbits should not be off their feed or water more than 24 hours (and they must be eating a proper rabbit diet). Keep an eye on your pet every day to see if they are eating, drinking and eliminating. If not, call a vet right away.

Our vet said that brown or reddish urine by itself isn't that bad, but definitely a symptom of diet being off. So is loose stool. You could try another brand of pellets (though switching can itself cause problems). Cut out all vegetables, fruits, and treats for a while and see if that makes a difference. Watch for straining to eliminate in the kitty box. Make sure bunny is not eating something you don't know he or she is eating -- inspect their area for chew marks.

Rabbits redigest certain pellets of their poo. It's not the same and it has anoither clean path to reach the anus. Make sure they do not impacted around the anus. If they are, push bunny's butt into a small container of slightly warm water (like a yogurt or humus container or small bowl) and gently massage the area to remove any old dirt. Dry them as much as you can with towels or a cool hair dryer. Careful trimming may help. Don't ever submerge them in a sink of water.

not eating / force feeding

You can force feed your animal but it's not a substitute for the vet. The vet can inject some water under the skin on his neck to give him valuable liquids if he hasn't been eating.

The vet can sell you Critical Care which is a mix for force-feeding. In an emergency, mix a couple of rabbit pellets with clean, fresh, room-temperature water. Put some in an eyedropper-shaped item or a turkey baster. You can get large plastic hypos from the vets. Wrap bunny up like a burrito in a towel so he can't squirm. Gently but firmly turn him upside down so he is in your arms like a baby. Insert the eyedropper into his mouth slightly to the side of his two big front teeth.

If he doesn't swallow, talk gently and maybe walk around a bit while you are holding him. I've found that a tiny bit of force feeding or even getting some liquid in his mouth can make a huge difference when he is not eating. My Rabbit Health in the 21st Century book advises having a can of pumpkin in the house (no additives, just plain pumpkin). My vet recommended baby foods such as squash. Really the only thing that seems to work for me when my rabbits are not eating, other than force-feeding a thin slurry, is to find some really fresh organic veggies—such as cilantro, carrot tops, dandelions, parsley, basil, or watercress. The vet has gave me digestive enzymes to put on their food which also speed up the digestion. Oxbox makes digestive cookies.

probiotics, good for the immune system

You can now buy probiotics for rabbits from small pet select, all things bunnies, or other pet store. keep them refrigerated and have them on hand. Try feeding a capful of goat kefir to a sick bunny to boost the immune system. Goat kefir is easier to digest then cow kefir. I have also given probiotic, raw saurcraut. Blot it as dry as you can, chop a tiny bit with something that the rabbit will eat such as a kernel of popcorn.

for a sick rabbit

At the first sign of illness, watch them carefully and take them to the vet. Offer water. Are straining in the litter box, or spending a long time in there? Sometimes they may be lethargic. If they are weak, take them to the vet immediately.


They say that very loud grinding of teeth indicates pain. Like what rabbits do when you are petting them but louder and without petting.

more illness info at bottom of page


Feed your bunnies lots of Timothy Hay. It can't be too fresh -- keep it wrapped up and give a handful daily. They eat the best bits. Eating hay should help with hairballs. note: find timothy hay direct from the farm. You order by email or 800 number: American Pet Diner. Often, those that won't eat regular timothy, will eat the Oxbow-Orchard Grass hay readily. Hay makes a huge difference to their digestive system and bunnies need a good digestive system. You will notice their pellets look bigger, rounder, and drier.

Get the best pellets, I recommend Oxbow. You can buy them online from Small Pet Select. If they won't eat anything, try Science Diet pellets.

Rabbits should eat in percentages: 1/3 pellets or less, 1/3 timothy hay (alfalfa has too much calcium and too much protein), and 1/3 green and yellow vegetables. RabbitEars shelter recommended a very few pellets once at bedtime sprinkled in the hay so they have to forage for them. They should be eating mostly hay.

Rabbits digest their food twice. They eat the gooey, smelly pellets right out of the anus. If you see them with their head stuck in their belly they are fishing around for a pellet. Then they straighten out and chew it up wth a strange look on their face and their ears back. Umm good. Those pellets must taste really good to a bunny.


Check for the recommended list. They need the vegetables because they have fresh vitamins in them.

Common sense: in the wild, baby rabbits and hares drink mothers milk until a certain age and then eat a variety of greens including an occasional grain or fruit.

treats and poisons

Healthy vegetables can still be treats. Rabbits have 18,000 tastebuds on their tongue (we only have 9000) so variety and freshness is good, so are organics. Sweets including fruit to a minimum. For training, my vet said it's ok to give up to 6 raisins a day OR a piece of apple OR a piece of carrot. I say NO BANANAS EVER. Sugar will rot their teeth. (Bananas are good to hide pills in, if necessary.) Vegetables in large quantities cause a certain amount of diarhea, i.e, wet loose stool.

Bunnies like to eat flowers. Some flowers are bad for them so make sure you check the HRS list of poisonous plants . Rose hips are good (no thorns) and nothing is cuter than a bunny who runs up to you smelling like a gardenia. I feed my bunnies lavendar heads, rosemary, thyme, and basil, occasionally. Herbs are powerful, so be careful. Many houseplants are poisonous. Rabbits often will take a small bite of an unknown food and wait a few hours to see if it makes them sick. If not they will eat more. This still doesn't prove that it is safe.

Human processed food is bad for bunnies. They will eat lots of things...hard bread, oats, peanut butter, but it's not actually rabbit food and it will mess up their delicate systems. Chocolate is poison.

Also, don't take something out of your mouth to give to bunny. We have bacteria in our mouths that is not good for them.

age in rabbits

You can tell a lot by how long their nails are, their general condition, their teeth, and for males: balls drop at about six months. You can tell if it is an adolescent if it’s ripping up everything in your house, and trying to mount stuffed animals. Females mature about six months too.

old age

Rabbits can easily live ten years or up to 16 if they are healthy and happy. Older rabbits can be a great pleasure as they stop ripping up everything and want a lot of petting. They still need regular exercise to stay in good condition.

Don't let them overeat. Watch out for impacted pellets, changes in diet, and heavy breathing. Go the vet if you see any of these signs.


The vet can put bunnies in a 'nebulizer' which is like an aquarium filled with airborne antibiotics instead of air and they breathe them in for 30 minutes daily for a week. They can get a lot heavier dose through their lungs than through their stomach. Ingesting antibiotics makes them sick and kills that good bacteria.

Bunnies on antibiotics also need to have bunny probiotics, live yogurt, acidofolus, kefir, or raw cabbage. My vet recommended yogurt. Soak a bit of granola in it and let it dry or wipe some on their paw.

They can also be given a pellet from a healthy bunny. It has to be the eating pellet rather than the spent you may have to interrupt a bunny in the litter box to get it.

giving medicine

Wrap bunny up like a burrito in a towel, and tip him upside down, and inject the medicine into the side of it's mouth. The worst part can be just catching your rabbit at medicine time! It's a good reason to get your rabbit used to being handled. Sometimes the vet will give an injection of fluid in bunnies' shoulder to stop dehydration (or have you do it).

lop ear

Check the ears regularly for mites and scaliness you should be able to see in the ears. You will see them shaking their head or stratching their ears. The vet can give you a cleaner and medicine. Many lop ears have fungus infections in their ears. It will cause major problems with balance and hopping if left untreated.

matted fur

Scissors work, or try a dog clipper. Look for mats on the stomach and around the nether region. Groom your rabbits regularly. Some of us gently pluck at shedding fur. They will have mats on the feet if you don't trim the nails.


Fleas come in the house on our clothes. Your vet may give you Advantage which was rubbed on the back of the neck. We got the kitten formula and the 4 pound bunny only got a half dose, the larger bunny got a full dose. It worked after 1 or 2 applications.


Bunnies alwyas have mites on their skin. They shouldn't cause you any problem, but it probably wouldn't hurt to wash your hands after petting. When bunnies become ill or stressed, the mites will rise up. Mites can annoy humans too.

bed bugs

Bed bugs will be happy to thrive on your pet even after you have isolated your own bed. Isolate a cage for your pets at nightime. Check rabbit's ears daily to look for transparent eggs and remove them with castor oil and/or rubbing alcohol. Inspect their feet for live bugs. Inspect the undersides and proximity of litterbox, hay bales and other areas daily. Where ever you store the dirt from the litterbox will generate C02 and breed bed bugs. Get that out of the house daily! Use only natural bedbug sprays or methods such as the C02 traps. Peppermint oil will attract bed bugs into traps. Clove oil can be rubbed on ears and feet to deter bugs. Diatomaceous earth works, but is controversial for use around bunnies and bad for humans if it gets in the air or eyes.

eye infection

Rabbits can get thick white mucous on their eyes. Eye infections are serious. Take them to the vet! Many rabbits have to get their eyes removed...sometimes after teeth infections, but they can live happily without an eye.

cutting nails

Someone has to cut the nails regulary. Take bunny to the vet and have her show you how to do it. Some vets sell nail clippers which look more like scissors and are sharper than the kind the pet stores sell.

The house rabbit society recommends this method.

I used to use the burrito method but now put the bunny on the counter where there is good light and let him sit on a towel. Let him express his anger by ripping at the towel. Wear gloves and sleeves if necessary. Another method is to sit on the floor and have bunny upside down clamped between your legs with the head facing your naughty bits. It works well if you can get bun into that position. If you clip the nails frequently, bunny will get used to it. Give him a treat after.

tooth absess

Many bunnies have dental surgery for absesses and teeth infections. It's expensive. You'll have to administer probiotics. (see probiotics above)

teeth growing too long

A healthy bunny grinds their teeth down by chewing hay and such. One vet said every bun is different—sometimes tiny points on the teeth will bother one bun enough to make them stop eating all together or certain things. Others it won't. Some bunnies need to have their teeth ground down every 6 months.


Could be cancer or could be something else. Benign cysts are common. Take to the vet. Female rabbits unspayed have a tendency to get cancer. Female rabbits have a natural lump, the dewlap, under their chin. Check your female bunny's belly every now and then to screen for lumps. Cancer can come on really fast.


Bathing your bunny dries out their skin. The hair dryer dries out the skin also. If you must wash your bunny, give a sponge bath and towel dry real well. Stand them in just a little water. I think bunnies should be able to swim, but don't give them a bath. Bathing rabbits is dangerous as it's hard to get the temperature right, and whatever temperature you choose, they can faint.

Yet for a rabbit who is not cleaning himself, it is important to keep him clean and remove any impacted pellets from around the anus. I used a little bowl and just get the butt wet. Again, it's a good reason for getting your buns used to being handled.

a word about dying

It is advised that you should let the bunny see and sniff the dead body of a companion rabbit. So that they can understand "death". If it's not possible to do let your bunny see the deceased, spend a lot of time with him. In my town it is illegal to bury a pet outdoors, but the local 'pound' will dispose of your loved one for a donation.

Putting to sleep

It's better to be alive and not feeling well, than dead. Many people put pets to sleep way too early in my opinion. But consider it, if the rabbit seemed to be in pain (see grinding teeth).

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