Compared to what most people think, rabbits live a much longer life span. They may expect a lifespan of 8-12 years on average.
There are greater possibilities of preserving your rabbit if you can identify the early signs that might suggest anything more serious.
Even if you can do nothing, you can ensure that they don’t suffer. Is there any way to know whether your rabbit is severely ill or dying?
Signs that your Rabbit May be Dying
Below we have covered some of the signs that your rabbit may be dying. Depending on your bunny’s situation, it may exhibit one or more of these symptoms.
Breathing Patterns Are Distinct
When a rabbit is close to death, its respiration will be loud and frantic. When it does breathe, it may do so irregularly.
If you see your rabbit breathing slower, harder, with its mouth open, or making more noise or effort, it may indicate that your bunny is not well.
Rabbits are particularly vulnerable to “snuffles,” an airway infection that can be life-threatening.
Don’t let yourself be tempted to monitor your pet’s breathing; instead, call your veterinarian as soon as you notice any issues.
It is rare to hear a healthy rabbit exhale loudly. This is because rabbits solely use their noses to inhale rather than their lips to exhale.
This suggests that a runny nose indicates a more severe problem. The sound of a cold in your rabbit might be a warning of disease, perhaps one that is near to death.
Stressed rabbits will also inhale more rapidly. This includes hearing loud noises, congestion in a small space, and the presence of animals that are trying to get their hands on them.
See whether your rabbit’s breathing improves if you remove the sources of stress. As a result, a more significant underlying issue may be at play.
Loss of Apetite
You’ll notice a rabbit’s lack of hunger virtually every time they’re unwell, and it’s a very worrisome sign. The regular activity of a rabbit’s digestive system is critical to its health.
Therefore, if they aren’t eating, their condition can swiftly worsen. They are in danger of starving to death if they don’t eat for more than ten to twelve hours.
It is still possible for your rabbit to recover if you detect that it is not eating and take it to the clinic as soon as possible.
To cure your rabbit’s deficiency in appetite, the doctor will have to discover what’s causing it, which is a sign of many different conditions.
Among the most obvious signs is if it refuses to take its meal. Grass, hay, and green vegetables are essential to provide the dietary demands of rabbits. If your rabbit isn’t eating, there may be a health issue.
In general, you may anticipate an older rabbit consuming less food. It is not unusual for a developing rabbit to consume up to two times the food as an adult.
You shouldn’t be alarmed if your grown-up rabbit doesn’t seem to consume the same amount of food that it used to eat when it was young.
On the other hand, if your rabbit has lost its hunger, it might be unwell or on the verge of passing away. A rabbit’s appetite can be affected by various medical conditions, both physical and emotional.
A lack of desire to eat might be an indication of advancing years. Take your rabbit to the vet if you’re afraid it’s eating so little that it’s not getting the nutrition it needs.
Major Shift in the Way Your Rabbit Acts
You can tell whether a rabbit is very unwell by its behavior. As a rule, it’ll abruptly lose all of its vigors if it is about to die.
If you try to pet the rabbit, they won’t be interested in doing so, and they may not respond to your affection.
The rabbit’s coat may become dull and ragged if it loses interest in grooming itself. In other situations, the rabbit may abruptly turn against you.
In case they were previously friendly, the rabbit would unexpectedly snap at you if you approached them. Don’t take it personally since this is the outcome of their irritation when they’re in pain.
Are they engaging in typical social interactions? Shock or disorientation may be the cause of their decreased responsiveness.
You may blame a lack of blood flow to dehydration, organs, or a brain disorder like E. cuniculi for this deterioration in vitality. Alternatively, it might signify that they’ve had or are likely to suffer from a seizure.
Although the atmosphere may be comfortable, if your rabbit shakes despite the warmth, this might indicate shock. If terrified, a rabbit will likewise tremble as it nears death.
This dread might be a reaction to the rabbit’s symptoms, or it could result from an external stressor.
You may find yourself disturbed by a rabbit’s dying symptoms, but the rabbit may find them just as upsetting.
It’s possible to provide the rabbit with some comfort by covering it with a thin blanket. Do not, however, wrap the rabbit in the blanket. Consider giving it the freedom to roam if necessary.
Lethargy (More than Usual)
Rabbits are known for their busy lifestyles. Of course, individual rabbit activity levels can vary widely from one to the next.
If you spend time with your rabbit, you will realize how much hopping and running around your pet should be doing at any one time.
You’ll also get a better idea of regularly active your rabbit. Your rabbit may show signs of death if they get indifferent about fun and refuse to engage in any physical activity.
A sudden lack of energy might be an indication of stress. A more relaxed environment, devoid of stresses such as extreme heat and noise, can help determine the extent of your rabbit’s sluggishness.
If your rabbit starts playing again, stress is likely the cause of their sluggish behavior. In this case, the rabbit may be really unwell or perhaps dying if it still refuses to move.
You may use a syringe to provide little quantities of water to it while it’s covered in a blanket.
Do not try to compel your rabbit to drink. You don’t want to cause any further harm to your rabbit by letting it suffocate.
Not Drinking Water (or Drinking Less Water)
Water is essential for rabbits to survive. They may drink through a water bottle or a dish depending on the rabbit.
You should, however, call a veterinarian if your rabbit’s water bowl isn’t being filled as frequently or if you don’t observe them drinking when they usually would.
In hot conditions, dehydration may be lethal in a matter of minutes.
Ailments of the Skin
Rabbits are excellent at maintaining their cleanliness.
A bunny that isn’t feeling well, on the other hand, will not pay much attention to grooming. In contrast to a healthy rabbit, a sick rabbit may have matted or oily hair.
A lack of attention to the animal’s fur might indicate a skin issue. Several skin illnesses can affect rabbits. These include parasite disorders, skin cancers, and infectious infections.
In some cases, these diseases can result in fatal outcomes. In addition to bald spots, dandruff, and flaking or scaling of the skin, these disorders can cause your rabbit’s skin to become inflamed.
Noiseless vocalizations are not typical in rabbits.
The screams they can produce are unnervingly high-pitched. You’re likely to hear a rabbit cry when it thinks it’s going to die or if it’s in severe agony.
Myiasis is a potentially lethal skin ailment for rabbits. A rabbit’s fur is infested with flies that lay their eggs there.
Several factors might lead to this, including feces or urine on the rabbit’s hair, wetness, or the rabbit’s scent gland producing more pheromones than usual.
Hatching of the fly eggs causes the release of larvae. As a result, the rabbit’s skin will be eaten by maggots. In as little as 24 hours, your rabbit might die due to this.
If your rabbit’s skin is covered in dampness, pee, or excrement, it might be an early indicator of death. The most alarming sign that your rabbit is dying is the presence of larvae on its skin.
Consult a veterinarian right once you discover maggots or eggs on your rabbit. You may already infest your rabbit’s skin with larvae, so it’s not enough to merely remove the obvious ones.
Antibiotics are used to treat myiasis. However, if the rabbit’s ailment isn’t discovered in time, it might still die.
Urine with Blood Clots
The presence of blood in a rabbit’s pee is unusual, and it’s always a bad omen. In rabbits, who have not been spayed, uterine cancer is a common sign.
It is pretty uncommon for a bunny to recover from cancer once it has progressed to this stage.
An infection in the urinary tract or a severe form of bladder sludge is a less common cause of blood in the urine.
As a side point, crimson urine does not always signify blood in the system. Most people have red urine, although it’s also usual to see golden yellow or orange.
Antibiotics can also induce crimson urine in rabbits, but this is more common. Looking for crimson splashes or spots of scarlet in the otherwise clear pee is what you’re after.
Also read: Why Does Rabbit Pee Smell so Bad?
Not Pooping as Usual
Like a rabbit’s decreased hunger, a decrease in fecal production is a worrying symptom because it’s an indication of intestinal stagnation.
Even within 24 hours, a rabbit that stops making as much excrement might get quite ill. A dying rabbit’s pee or feces may show signs of alteration.
In the case of waste, be alert for any changes in the substance’s consistency, color, or smell. The presence of bloodstains in urine indicates that something is amiss.
You could have gastrointestinal stasis if your rabbit refuses to defecate at all. Poor health or illness can cause the digestive system to become sluggish or sluggish.
When a rabbit does not eat much, the digestive system slows down, which typically happens. Your rabbit’s refusal to eat may be linked to this warning that it is not getting enough nutrients from its food.
To be able to eat, a rabbit must have a moving digestive system. If your rabbit hasn’t urinated or defecated in more than six hours, you may require veterinary care.
It is common for a rabbit’s decreasing health to include diarrhea or overly lost feces. In addition, it’s a symptom that you’re getting dehydrated.
During the last moments of a rabbit’s life, it is not uncommon for it to violently defecate all over the place.
Vital Signs Have Changed
In the last stages of a rabbit’s life, its signs will begin to fall outside the norm. Heart rate and temperature are two of the most critical indicators of an animal’s health.
You may use a thermometer to determine the rabbit’s core temperature. Counting and using a timer allow you to keep track of the animal’s heart and respiration rates.
Open the rabbit’s mouth and lightly push against the gums surrounding its teeth to measure capillary refill time. Pressure causes the color to lighten.
Capillary refill time refers to the amount of time it takes the gums to return to their usual color when you release the pressure from the mouth area.
If your rabbit’s signs suddenly alter, it’s time to consult a veterinarian.
Having a Low Body Temperature
Its signs will also change in the final stages of a rabbit’s illness. A low body temperature and fast breathing are typical symptoms of this condition.
The average body temperature of a rabbit is 101-103 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pulse rate of 150-300. When the rabbit is lying down, the breathing must be one breath in two seconds.
You can tell a lot about a rabbit’s health by looking at its ears. You may check your rabbit’s pulse by pinching its long vein. You’ll notice a pulsating, rabbit-like feeling in your chest.
You may get a sense of a person’s core temperature from the temperature of their ears. Chilly ears are a sign of a lower-body temperature.
Rectal thermometers may be used to read your rabbit’s core temperature precisely.
Also read: How Do Wild Rabbits Stay Warm in the Winter?
They Feel Chilly
Rabbits have a difficult time keeping a consistent internal temperature.
A person’s circulatory system works overtime to ensure that vital organs like the lungs, heart, and brain receive adequate blood flow during stress and difficulty breathing.
Their ears, paws, and nose may feel chilly to the touch.
Diarrhea is a more prevalent symptom in newborn rabbits. Rabbits who were not adequately weaned from their moms are more prone to this.
About eight weeks after birth, rabbits should rely on their mother’s milk for nourishment—this aids in the improvement of their immunological and digestive systems.
Toxic diarrhea and even death can occur in severely malnourished rabbits or who were weaned too young.
Because of this, breeders are often prohibited from separating newborn rabbits from their mommies before the age of two months in most countries.
Adult rabbits can suffer from diarrhea. This is generally caused by ingesting a dangerous substance, which can be fatal.
Also read: Can Baby Rabbits Drink Cow Milk?
They Don’t Seem to Be Moving as Quickly Now
Rabbits are known for their vivacity. Even when they aren’t at their best, they tend to potter about grazing even when they are most lively.
You should be concerned if your rabbit isn’t greeting you when they typically would and isn’t focused on moving around much.
Spasms in which a rabbit’s body shakes violently are common in the latter stages of its life. This appears to be a good match, at least at first glance.
Any neighboring items or walls may be struck by the rabbit when they have one of these fits. To ensure the rabbit’s comfort, you must clear a significant floor area and place a blanket on it.
Your rabbit may suddenly become uncoordinated or lose control of its limbs. Despite its best efforts, it won’t walk in a straight line.
It is common for rabbits to seek shelter beneath any cover they can locate when they reach this stage. A sick prey animal’s natural reaction is to hide, but this may create difficulties to identify and soothe your pet.
During the last stages of a rabbit’s life, it is common to drool.
If the rabbit hasn’t been drinking much water, it might spit up more saliva than you’d anticipate from such a little animal.
Drool from the rabbit can soak into its fur, but it may leave a mess. Your rabbit may drool due to a bloated face or mouth.
A rabbit with light yellow, white, or blue gums may be suffering from a different ailment.
Change in Litter Box Using Habits
You may notice a change in your rabbit’s litter box habits while they’re sick. When your rabbit can’t contain their pee, this might be a contributing factor.
When a rabbit has to go to the toilet, getting up and going to the box of litter might be pretty unpleasant. In addition, you may notice that your rabbit isn’t consuming its cecotropes very well.
High-protein rabbit feces known as cecotropes can be found in the anus of rabbits. Squishy poops, that’s what it looks like. If your rabbits are healthy, they should be able to consume them, and you must see them less frequently.
Cecotropes are more common in rabbits that aren’t feeling well or who aren’t able to bend over correctly.
Limbs Become Paralyzed
They may become paralyzed at any given time. More often than not, it occurs in the rear legs of older, frail rabbits. However, you can paralyze a rabbit’s ability to move at any time.
While some rabbits can return to their pre-injury state, others can have their lives partially paralyzed.
Because of the seriousness of the injury or neurological condition, this may not recover as quickly as it usually would.
In these instances, the rabbit’s life expectancy is expected to be short.
What to Do When a Rabbit Is Dying?
There are instances when you can do nothing more for a rabbit close to death but console it. First, it’s critical to establish how serious a problem you have.
A quick trip to the vet and a dose of medicine may often save the day in situations that appear hopeless. Don’t quit too soon. You can still succeed.
There are specific steps you can take to aid your rabbit’s peaceful demise when the time comes:
- Take care of your rabbit’s needs. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature for your rabbit (usually in the mid-60s), provide them with a warm blanket, and assist them in maintaining a clean environment.
- You should ensure that your rabbit has access to all of the necessities they require. Your rabbit will be more content if they have access to a large amount of hay and leafy greens, pellets, and a water dish.
- Give your rabbit some love and attention by stroking it. Pet and massage your rabbit if they request it. If they don’t, you may still keep an eye on your rabbit and speak softly to them to keep them distracted.
- If your veterinarian has recommended pain medicine for your rabbit, ensure they take it.
Ensure that they are in a serene setting.
There should be no distractions, such as loud music or a commotion.
Care for your rabbit begins from the moment it is born and continues until it dies.
Knowing your rabbit’s habitual behavior and looking for these indicators will help you recognize when the rabbit is dying and provide it with the care, it requires right up until its final moments.
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