How to Recognize a Rabbit Health Emergency

Part of the Rabbits For Dummies Cheat Sheet

You need to be familiar with your rabbit’s normal condition and behavior so that you notice when something is wrong. Bleeding is fairly obvious, but raspy breathing may be harder to detect and just as dangerous. Contact your veterinarian as soon as you see any of the symptoms in the following table.

Handle an injured rabbit gently so that you don’t hurt your pet further, and be sure to use a pet carrier when transporting your bunny to the vet.

Symptom(s) Possible Cause
Bleeding Injury (Apply pressure to stop the bleeding)
Blood in urine Uterine disease in intact female rabbits.
Inability to stand; staggering Severe illness
Paralysis Injury to the spine
Rapid breathing, raspy breathing, heavy coughing Illness or infection
Refusal to eat Serious illness or mild colic
Severe pain indicated by refusal to eat, teeth grinding, and limping Injury or illness
Straining to defecate or urinate Intestinal or urinary blockage
Swelling on body part that’s hot to the touch Injury
Teary, closed, red, or cloudy eye Eye injury or infection
Temperature significantly above or below 101–103ºF Chill or fever
Tilted head Injury, bacterial infection
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