Anorexia In Rabbits

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The pet rabbit is indeed a patient like the others, endearing and fragile at the same time, he can now receive the cream of veterinary care since medical care has structured and specialized to new pets.Like any lagomorph, this companion who feeds more frequently at night, in small episodes, can not stay long without eating.

Any anorexia of more than 12 hours will not be without consequences on his state of health. What is really hiding behind a loss of appetite prolonged, is it simply a problem of teeth? Why do you have to stay alert?

Any change in your lifestyle is a source of stress

The herbivorous diet of your rabbit makes it a delicate little being, which requires to find the right balance between its contributions in hay, herbs rich in proteins, in ready-to-use foods like the pellets or in vegetables and fresh fruits of which he is crazy. It’s all about food transition, season and quantities. Consider fully the eating habits of your rabbit and his lifestyle is essential, because its digestive system is quite special , its very fast digestion and nothing, can very quickly disrupt it.

So, of course, tell him what he likes to eat when you greet him at home so that you can modify the food you are reserving very slowly and gradually. Let’s not forget that this caecotroph, needs to collect and ingest its soft droppings rather at night, rich in vitamins B, to complete its food balance. It is good to give him access to these essentials and be careful not to clean them up systematically.

Sensitive to the slightest changes in your environment such as noise, work, the arrival of a new animal, your unusual absence, a sudden temperature change, a move … the stress has quick consequences on the digestive comfort of your rabbit, resulting in either bulimia (obesity) or refusal to eat . Here are two frequent origins to the loss of appetite which, if they are not very quickly identified, will give way to a vicious circle: the loss of appetite having complications on the body and which, in turn, provoke diseases that amplify and aggravate anorexia.

Complications of loss of appetite

In the wild, rabbits have a habit of feeding intermittently, a little during the day and often from dusk to dawn. The signals that should alert you are the following: either a decrease in appetite due to a lack of food for more than 12 hours , or an absence of drunk during the day (those who are not ingested), or difficulties in access or ingest food due to competition from another rabbit or embarrassment in its mouth.

Once your rabbit does not eat, some complications will quickly become a concern for this species, such as stopping the complete transit or a decrease in intestinal activity , hypoglycemia or hepatic lipidosis . Hospitalization without further delay is legitimate for the first part to seek the main cause of lack of appetite or difficulties to eat, but also to facilitate a resumption of transit, rehydration and food, assisted by the team veterinarian, such as a medical resuscitation.

To read also: “The diarrhea in the rabbit”

Are dental problems common?

The dentition of the rabbit is very particular, adapted to its herbivorous diet, with very tight lips commissures and particular germs because of the ingestion of its droppings. Therefore, any dental malposition, trauma or lack of wear of the teeth for lack of hay and grass in sufficient quantities can quickly become complicated. Dental pathologies including abscesses are one of the most common causes of anorexia , causing pain and are usually identified during clinical examination.

This examination will require on the one hand a slight sedation, often by inhalation to relax your rabbit, on the other hand the use of an otoscope to completely and meticulously explore his entire mouth. Regular monitoring and quality dental care are always recommended before facing an episode of anorexia that would justify hospitalization.

Foreign bodies or intoxication, think about it!

Little explorer rabbit, often at liberty in a suitable enclosure or in your apartment, he happens to be interested in other objects or plants which are not always advised to him. We observe foreign bodies such as pieces of straw, hay or tissues that can remain stuck between the teeth, behind the tongue … and poisonous plant ingestions , poppy, golden button, foxglove … or food plants that are sometimes less suitable, such as sweetclover (little yellow clover), plants that are not properly washed properly …

One of the first signs observed in this case is often a loss of appetite, sometimes accompanied by salivation and general depression, before giving way to a more complex clinical picture which then quickly evokes that of an infection or an infection. poisoning.

The sign of a more serious general illness

Behind a lack of appetite is often hidden something other than a simple problem of teeth or an embarrassment to the grip of food. It is often during a more complete examination , with blood, urine, radiographic and auscultation-palpation examinations , that the first signs of a systemic disease are detected and which affects the general condition of your rabbit. Therefore, it is recommended to hospitalize your rabbit at least for initial monitoring, stabilization of his condition with venous rehydration, assisted feeding, administration of pain treatments and research of the cause of his anorexia.

The benefits of hospitalization depend greatly on the quality of the facilities available for this species and the time that can be invested in care. You can help the care team on many levels:

  • by telling him all the events that could have had an impact on the good health of your rabbit;
  • by proposing the favorite and usual foods of your rabbit to facilitate his food recovery as soon as possible;
  • coming with his “rabbit companion” if however the separation can generate more stress during the hospitalization;
  • once the condition is stabilized, participate in frequent feeding sessions at times when the rabbit needs to eat more frequently, either in the evening or early in the morning, according to the habits of the medical team.

The hospital is highly recommended and return your rabbit at home is to delay until it has been stabilized, the origin of the disease has not been determined, that his treatment has not has been launched and its recovery is not reassuring. Indeed, a return too fast could mask complications, recurrences of loss of appetite and especially prevent you from detecting some signs of possible deterioration. With a good medical care, fast and adapted both in the treatment and in the time necessary for the recovery, the problems of your rabbit will very often know a positive result.


Dr. Corinne Lesaine


Graduated from the National School of Veterinary Services  (ENSV) of Vetagro Sup in animal welfare (from science to law) in 2018, after a doctoral dissertation on the protection of dogs in 1995 (Oniris). Professional veterinarian  and passionate about science, nature, health, protection and animal welfare, I offer my scientific communication consulting services and my experience as a veterinary specialist editor with many professional publications to my credit on health , nutrition, mediation and animal welfare.