Cleaning up after my rabbits is a chore I’ve gotten very used to.
Usually, it’s easy as they use the litter box for number one, and well, their number twos (aka poop) are fairly easy to clean since the little ball-shaped droppings are firm, and I can vacuum them up.
Yeah, rabbits poop all day, and they tend not to do that in their litter boxes. But since the poop is so firm and doesn’t smell, it’s no problem.
That’s until recently when my rabbit began leaving soft and slightly smelly blobs all over my carpet!
Unsure of what to do, I rushed my Fluffles to the vets for answers.
Why Is My Rabbit’s Poop Soft?
Rabbit poop should be firm and round.
When rabbits’ poop becomes soft and deformed, it can indicate they are stressed and on a diet that’s not balanced.
Bacterial infection, worms, illness, or overhydration due to stress contributes too. Smelly poop can also indicate their droppings are unsafe to touch.
Soft Poop Vs Cecotropes
There is a distinct difference between the glossy, soft droppings that rabbits make during the night (known as cecotropes) and soft poop.
Cecotropes are part of a rabbit’s digestive cycle, and they have to eat their cecotropes to ensure they fully digest vital nutrients.
While cecotropes are soft, they are normal to rabbits. However, soft poop is usually not glossy, and there is a definite distorted shape to them.
Causes of Soft Rabbit Poop
The vet explained that there are a few causes for rabbits to start passing soft stool instead of the healthy round, semi-hard pellets that are normal for rabbits.
Very Young Rabbits
Very young rabbits may have runny or slightly soft poop if they are weaned too young.
Without the essential mother’s milk, they need from the doe, they can struggle with gut health, which can cause soft or slimy poop.
Lack of Fiber
When a rabbit has too little fiber in their diet, it may struggle to regulate its digestive processes, which can cause them to pass too much water with its stool through its colon.
The rabbit can pass soft stool since their poop will absorb the extra water.
Incorrect Dietary Balance
If a rabbit eats too much fiber or too many carbohydrates, it can cause the microflora balance in its gut to become upset.
The result can be that harmful bacteria take over their digestion, causing water loss and even diarrhea.
Rabbits can also get worms if they are in contact with other wild rabbits or share drinking water with wild rabbits.
If your rabbit doesn’t get treated for worms (when they have them), they can suffer gut damage, which affects the stomach lining and mucus layers of the digestive tract.
The result of worm damage may be either constipation or too much water being excreted with the poop, causing squishy and malformed poop.
Illness or Injury
Rabbits can easily become sick if their immunity is compromised by stress.
An ill bunny will suffer a shut-down of its digestive systems if they don’t get the help they need.
Fever, diarrhea, and water loss because of a virus or bacterial infection can prove fatal.
A rabbit that has dental issues may easily suffer fever, and they may not chew as finely as they should, also creating a larger food mass that passes to the colon.
The result may be larger than normal fecal pellets that may also be soft.
Sometimes, the only sign you get is soft poop when your rabbit starts to sicken.
Respiratory infections can trigger soft stool as the rabbit may have mucus dripping into their stomach, coating the food that gets digested into soft and slimy pellets.
Rabbits don’t handle stress well. A stressed rabbit is a sick rabbit.
Whether your rabbit is stressed because they are ill or getting ill because they are stressed, the symptoms can include soft or slimy poop that is odd-colored or mushy.
Stressed rabbits will also stop eating correctly, and your attempts to lure them back to their main food with a few tasty treats may exacerbate things more.
Healthy hay to munch on is the best food for a worried rabbit. The fiber and chewing will help your rabbit relax and pass normal stool.
Rabbits can experience a physical trauma that may cause their digestive tract to stretch or perforate, creating soft or half-formed fecal pellets.
Being run over by a vehicle, knocked over by your large family dog, or squished by the bedroom door can all lead to physical damage that may only show in the rabbit’s poop.
Too Much Water
A stressed or worried rabbit may stop eating and drinking, but some may overeat or overdrink in an attempt to self-soothe.
The result can be either GI stasis or runny poop or very soft poop that almost disintegrates on contact.
What a Healthy Rabbit Eats to Make Healthy Poop
Rabbits need to follow a very precise diet of fiber-rich hay, fresh vegetables and leafy greens, the occasional fruity treat, and clean water.
Many rabbit owners overfeed rabbit pellets, which are not fiber-dense and contain loads of carbohydrates.
The cause of this is obesity, and rabbits may start to develop soft and malformed stool.
When rabbits have too many carbohydrates in their diet and not enough fiber to clean their gut, they can suffer an unhealthy bacterial bloom when their natural gut bacteria go out of whack.
Rabbits should eat fiber-rich hay-like Timothy hay, orchard hay, and good-quality grass hay, which must make up 80% of their diet.
The rest of their diet should be 10% veggies and leafy greens and 5% pellets. The remaining 5% is reserved for treats.
When a rabbit eats a diet that is unbalanced, it will develop digestive upset, which can lead to GI stasis, a serious condition that can cause the rabbit’s gut to stop passing food.
The rabbit can become constipated, or it can start developing a watery gut, which may make soft poop.
While stress and diet can really cause an upset rabbit tummy, there are other causes for soft poop too.
Also read: What Causes Rabbits to Have Diarrhea?
Other Rabbit Lifestyle Choices for Healthy Poop
Soft rabbit poop can be the result of stress-causing factors like moving, spending time with new people, and being caged for prolonged periods.
The result of being handled too frequently, picked up or held unsafely, or fed incorrectly can all contribute to a poorly functioning gut.
To ensure your rabbit has healthy poop, provide them with healthy lifestyle options.
Make sure your rabbit has enough roughage in their diet, that they have access to clean water, several toys to help them destress, and that they get enough physical activity to stimulate their gut.
Staying up to date with your rabbit’s vaccinations, deworming, and healthy living conditions can help ensure your rabbit is healthy and will make nice round and dry poops.
Getting enough exercise, sunlight, air, and leafy greens can help your rabbit regulate their hormones, stimulate cellular health, and maintain a healthy digestive system.
Rabbit Soft Poop FAQs
What do I do if my rabbit’s poop is soft?
Rabbits that have soft poop may suffer the beginnings of diarrhea, so be sure to get your rabbit to the vet if you notice they have soft poop.
If your rabbit is dehydrated due to water loss, your vet may place them on an intravenous infusion of electrolytes and water to counteract the loss of fluid.
What foods give rabbits diarrhea?
If your rabbit has been following a balanced diet, its stool should be normal.
A healthy rabbit will make semi-dry fecal pellets that are round and evenly shaped.
When rabbits eat too many carbohydrates, rich, sugary fruits, and fatty foods, they can become ill and develop diarrhea.
What should healthy rabbit poop look like?
Healthy rabbit poop should be formed into round pellets.
The pellets will be firm to the touch, but when you squeeze on them with your fingers, they may break apart. The inside of the fecal pellets is dry and looks like hay.
Turns out, my rabbit had picked up a virus from some wild bunnies that had been playing along the outside of my backyard fence. Luckily, my vet was able to treat it immediately.
If I hadn’t been alert and noticed the soft poop, chances are that the underlying cause of the soft poop may have slain my rabbit.
Since rabbits are such sensitive animals, every hour counts when their immune system is under attack by a virus or bacteria.
What does your rabbit’s poop look like, and how do you protect them?
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