If rabbits have access to clean drinking water, there is no need for you to make them drink water or babysit them for this. They are self-sufficient and hydrate their body by drinking water by themselves. So, if your rabbit is not drinking water, then this is a major cause for concern as it is not normal.
In case your rabbit stops drinking water, then ensure that it can conveniently access fresh and clean water at all times. If it is still not drinking, then hydrate its body by other means, like making it eat watery fruits and vegetables. Dehydration in rabbits is a point of concern and, if left unattended, can be really dangerous.
Sometimes, rabbits are a bit picky, and to make them drink water, you have to give them some extra attention and encouragement. But, it is not always the same thing; sometimes, it can be a sign of a major problem. In such a case, there is the requirement of immediate diagnosis. If left unchecked, dehydration can result in painful calcium build-up in the bladder, and even worse is the digestive blockage, such as Gastro-Intestinal Stasis.
- Signs Of Dehydration In Rabbits
- When Should You Contact The Vet?
- Reasons Your Rabbit Might Not Be Drinking
- Tips To Help Your Rabbit Drink More Water
- 1. Change The Water Distribution Method
- 2. Frequently Clean The Dishes And Bottles Used By The Rabbit
- 3. Use Purified Water
- 4. Ensure That Your Rabbit’s Water Is Fresh
- 5. Encourage Your Rabbit To Drink
- 6. Add Some Unsweetened Apple Or Carrot Juice To The Water Container
- 7. Feed Your Rabbit Fruits and Vegetables With High Water Content
- 8. While Giving Veggies, Leave Some Extra Water On Them
- 9. Add Some Herbs For Flavoring The Water
- 10. Use A Syringe Or Eyedropper
Signs Of Dehydration In Rabbits
Just like for humans, water is also a vital part of the nervous, circulatory, as well as digestive system of the rabbits. For the smooth functioning of their body, rabbits have to hydrate their cells by drinking a sufficient amount of water. Humans have the capability to survive for 3 days without drinking water. But, this is not the case with the rabbits. They cannot last for more than 24 hours without water. If the rabbit is small or infant, then the survival period is much less than 24 hours.
The amount of water that a rabbit should drink or need every day primarily depends on its size. But, in most cases, a rabbit should drink around 2 cups of water, i.e., between 50 ml to 400 ml.
Rabbits are calm and quiet pets who do not make a huge ruckus if they do not feel well or in pain. They are not amongst those animals that will demand special care or attention and seek you out. So, as a responsible rabbit owner, it is your duty to keep a check on your pet (how much water it is drinking?) and observe its behavior carefully.
Check for skin elasticity
If the rabbit is sufficiently hydrated, then its skin will be tight and elastic, and not loose. So, to check the hydration level, gently pull the rabbit’s skin from the area where it won’t hurt, like the back portion of the neck. In doing so, if the skin snaps back right into the place, it means that the rabbit is well hydrated. On the other hand, instead of snapping back in place, if the skin becomes loose and leaves a fold, the rabbit needs to be hydrated. In such a case, there is the requirement of immediate action on your part.
A rabbit can be lazy, but do not think of laziness and lethargy as one and the same thing. An extreme level of disinterest and lethargic behavior, than usual, toward the surroundings can be a sign of dehydration. So, it is necessary for you to keep a close eye on your bunny’s behavior. If it doesn’t seem like itself, take immediate action.
Water is essential for rabbits in order to get rid of and flush the internal body waste, impurities, and toxins out of the body. But, if their body is not properly hydrated, their urine will be darker than usual, and the smell will also be much more pungent. The amount of urination will also be much lesser than usual. All these things point out the fact that your rabbit is not getting enough water.
If the body is not hydrated enough, it is likely that the rabbit will not be interested in eating either. It is not necessary that dehydration is always the reason for losing appetite. But, the combined symptom of not drinking water and lack of appetite points towards dehydration.
Warm Body Temperature
To maintain its body temperature, the rabbit needs to keep itself hydrated. In case of dehydration, its body temperature will rise too high, which can be fatal.
The hot scorching summer weather and heat waves are the times when you need to be more careful about keeping your rabbit hydrated. It is because rabbits are unable to sweat to maintain their body temperature. Additionally, due to their thick fur coat, they are highly heat sensitive. So, to keep them healthy during such times, you need to take care of their water needs properly. In summers, rabbits drink more water than usual, so make sure that they have sufficient water available and also cater to their other needs. The heat in the surroundings makes the dehydration problem even worse. A hot rabbit with a dehydrated body and not drinking any water can be a significant cause of concern.
When Should You Contact The Vet?
If any of these symptoms appear and the situation is getting worse, it is time for you to take some action. It will be good if you are observant enough to notice the symptoms at an early stage. You can do something about the illness in such a case, and there will be higher chances of recovery. But it is not always possible to catch the symptoms in time, so you may need to take some urgent remedial actions to control the situation.
If, after trying your best, you are unable to get your rabbit to drink some water and there are no signs of improvement even after drinking water, then it will be wise to contact the vet. Do everything possible to ensure that your rabbit stays safe and healthy.
Reasons Your Rabbit Might Not Be Drinking
As we said earlier, some rabbits can be really picky. They might be avoiding drinking water because of some unusual taste which they do not like. There can be something inside or around their water container which might smell weirdly, and that’s why the rabbit might not be drinking anything.
In some cases, it is the way of distribution. Too young or too old rabbits might find it challenging to drink from vertical water bottles. In such a case, changing the water container might help.
Unwilling to drink water can be a sign of some health issue that you should investigate about. There can be chances that your rabbit is facing some dental problem, and its teeth could be painful or extremely sensitive. In such a case, they will avoid consuming or drinking anything that can cause them discomfort. You should check for any sores or bleeding in the mouth. If any, it is time for you to call the vet.
Tips To Help Your Rabbit Drink More Water
1. Change The Water Distribution Method
If you are using a water bottle or crock to make your rabbit consume water, try to change the method. Instead of using these, you can use a heavy, shallow bowl that your little friend can’t easily knock over. Using this can make your rabbit feel more natural as it replicates how rabbits drink in the wild. Additionally, it will be much convenient for them to locate it and understand its use.
2. Frequently Clean The Dishes And Bottles Used By The Rabbit
We have discussed earlier that rabbits are very picky and are bothered about strange and unusual smells. If you don’t clean and wash the dishes and bottles used by the rabbit, then there can be algae and bacteria build-up. Such a build-up will result in the bacterial scent, which the rabbit may sense and lose its interest. To avoid such a situation, it is wise to wash and sanitize your rabbit’s food and water containers as well as other things every other day. Also, keep in mind to rinse off the soap or sanitization from the containers properly so that their scent doesn’t bother your little bunny.
3. Use Purified Water
Usually, tap water works fine for the rabbits. But sometimes, some rabbits may find your usual water a bit off-putting. Hence, they try to avoid drinking that. In such a case, you can try using purified water and see if it works or not.
4. Ensure That Your Rabbit’s Water Is Fresh
It is good to change the water of your rabbit’s container daily and fill fresh one. If the water sits in the container for a long time, the rabbits can sense stale water and are less interested in drinking it.
5. Encourage Your Rabbit To Drink
Sometimes all you need to do to make your rabbit drink water is a little bit of encouragement. By showing attention to your rabbit, you can make it understand what you what it to do. You can prompt your bunny every now and then to drink water and check if they are feeling well or not. To make it drink more, you can reward some treats to increase its interest.
6. Add Some Unsweetened Apple Or Carrot Juice To The Water Container
To develop more interest in your rabbit to drink water, adding some tasty carrot or apple juice to the water can work. The pleasant smell of the juice can make the water seem like a treat to the rabbit. But ensure that the juice is unsweetened and add only a small quantity of it to the water. Sugar can be harmful to the health of rabbits, so make sure that you add no more than a teaspoon of juice. Usually, a few drops are more than enough.
7. Feed Your Rabbit Fruits and Vegetables With High Water Content
A higher percentage of a rabbit’s diet should be hay and grass. But, you can feed your rabbit fruits and veggies to treat it or give some extra vitamins that are usually not present in its regular meal. There are several fruits and vegetables which have got high water content. By feeding such things, you can indirectly make your rabbit drink more. Some common vegetables and fruits which come with high water content are:
- Mustard greens.
- Bok choy.
- Bell peppers.
Again, keep in mind to watch for the sugar content in fruits and vegetables. The high sugar content can make your rabbit sick, so feed only small quantities of sweet fruits and veggies.
8. While Giving Veggies, Leave Some Extra Water On Them
When you are giving your rabbit veggies, do not dry them out completely after rinsing. Once you rinse them, sprinkle some fresh water on them so that your rabbit can drink extra water without even realizing it. You can also find new and innovative ways to make your rabbit drink more, like making a lettuce leaves bowl or using celery as troughs.
9. Add Some Herbs For Flavoring The Water
Just like we used the juice to flavor the water, you can also add some herbs to the water container. Rabbits find herbs very tasty and delicious. Adding them to the water container will encourage your bunny to drink more. But, do remember to use only those herbs which are safe for rabbits, like:
(Note: Avoid giving your rabbit anything which comes from the families of chives and onions. These things are poisonous for rabbits and can be highly fatal.)
10. Use A Syringe Or Eyedropper
Using a syringe or an eyedropper is a last resort. In this method, hold your rabbit gently and calmly drop a few drops of water, using the syringe or eyedropper, onto the lips of the bunny. If it licks the water, then it is okay. But, if the rabbit resists it and shows no interest at all in drinking the water, then this, together with the symptoms of dehydration, can be a sign of some severe illness. In such a situation, contact a vet immediately.