What Causes Rabbits to Have Diarrhea?

Diarrhea in rabbits is not an uncommon health problem, especially in baby rabbits (kits).

There are a few different causes of the problem, including viral infections, parasitic infections, diet, stress, and so on.

It’s important to identify the cause of the problem so that you can treat it appropriately. This article discusses each cause in detail and treatment options for them.

In addition to that, it shows you how to identify whether your rabbit has diarrhea or another condition.

The Various Causes of Diarrhea in Rabbits

While there may be some extreme causes of diarrhea, such as infections, long-term problems like stress and diet can also be responsible.

So, it’s important to continuously monitor your rabbit’s health.

This way, you can determine if there’s a problem sooner than later.

This is also important because diarrhea can be life-threatening for rabbits.

Parasitic Infection

One of the most common parasites that cause diarrhea among rabbits is coccidia.

In addition to diarrhea, it can cause weight loss and potential liver failure. However, don’t be alarmed because that latter symptom is only in extreme cases.

Another parasite that can cause diarrhea is called Cryptosporidium. However, this parasite is only really found in very young rabbits.

How to Treat a Parasitic Infection

You should take your rabbit to the vet as soon as you notice any symptoms discussed above.

The symptoms can get worse, or your rabbit can suffer from severe dehydration.

You’ll need to administer medication to your rabbit to treat a parasitic infection. Make sure to follow the vet’s prescription for the correct medicine and dosage.

In many cases, cholestyramine is used to treat the toxins that parasites create. However, you should follow what your vet says because they’ll be able to provide an accurate diagnosis.

Viral or Bacterial Infection

Rabbits are susceptible to infections. This is more so among kits because they have underdeveloped immune systems.

How to Treat Viral or Bacterial Infections

In most cases, your vet will prescribe antibiotics to your rabbit to treat a bacterial or viral infection.

They will also show you how to administer the medicine so that your bunny returns to full health.

Don’t Try to Self-Medicate Your Rabbit

You should not try to give any type of antibiotic to your rabbit. There are some antibiotics that can be harmful to rabbits.

Such antibiotics can even kill the good bacteria in the rabbit’s intestinal tract.

Therefore, its digestive system will be compromised, allowing bad bacteria to adversely affect its health.

So, never try to self-medicate your pet. Go to a qualified, experienced, and trustworthy vet instead. Never make compromises on your pet’s health.

Ways to Prevent Diarrhea in Rabbits

You can also prevent your rabbit from contracting infections through a number of ways, including

  • keeping the environments they spend time in clean (make sure to clean their litter regularly)
  • Spaying and neutering them so that they stay healthier in the long term

Stress

In case you didn’t already know this, rabbits can get stressed very easily. In addition to that, the effects of stress are a lot more significant in rabbits than it is in humans.

Therefore, stress can lead to diarrhea and possibly other health conditions.

High-stress levels affect its digestive system, causing it to malfunction. Stress-induced diarrhea is real and can be highly dangerous.

So, keeping your rabbit stress-free is vital to its survival—not just its well-being.

You can limit the stress your pet feels by identifying aspects that can trigger it. So, here are some potential stress triggers.

Other Pets or Children Can Cause Stress-Induced Diarrhea

You must understand that rabbits are often prey to various larger predators in the wild.

Therefore, they feel threatened in the presence of other pets like cats and dogs.

Keep Your Rabbits in a Separate Room

If you have a cat or dog in your house, you should try to keep it away from your rabbit.

In addition to that, make sure that the rabbit’s hutch is not accessible by other pets.

In many cases, dogs or cats chase rabbits, even if they don’t intend to cause harm.

Such behavior can cause rabbits to feel threatened and stressed.

Monitor Your Rabbit’s Playtime Out of the Hutch

If you have other pets, monitor your rabbit’s playtime and exercise time.

This way, you can prevent it from interacting with your cat or dog.

At the same time, babies can also be a stress trigger for rabbits. Children don’t know how to correctly handle a pet.

So, they may chase it or pull on its fur without realizing the harm they’re causing.

So, keep your children away from your pets to avoid potential problems.

Abrupt Environmental Changes Can Cause Stress-Induced Diarrhea

You could also stress your rabbits if you make abrupt changes to their environment.

That, in turn, could result in stress-induced diarrhea. So, you should try not to handle them or a lot or move them out of a cage.

If you have to change the cage for any reason, make sure that you try to make it look and feel like the previous one.

Gradual changes will reduce the chances of stress-induced diarrhea.

Look for Other Symptoms of Stress

Another common symptom of high stress in rabbits is self-mutilation. So, rabbits will often start to pull out their own fur because of stress.

You can, therefore, notice clumps of fur in their hutch if this is the case.

You’ll also notice unevenness in the way the fur is missing from their bodies.

Rabbits shed seasonally in normal situations, and it’s a gradual process.

So, you can look for bald patches to determine if there’s a problem regarding stress.

Diet

Diet-related diarrhea is possibly the most common cause out of the others.

Your rabbit needs a balanced diet with a significant amount of fiber.

Feed Your Rabbit Various Types of Grass Hay

Enough fiber prevents your rabbits from experiencing loose bowel movements.

So, try to ensure that its diet consists of about 80% of different types of grass hay. These include:

  • Alfalfa hay
  • Meadow hay
  • Oat hay
  • Timothy hay

Avoid High-Sugar Diets

High-sugar diets can result in diarrhea in rabbits.

This is because the sugar can upset its stomach and cause diet-related diarrhea. So, only give your rabbit a banana or carrot every now and then.

Avoid High-Carbohydrate Diets

You should also avoid a diet that mostly comprises pellets. Pellets are high in carbohydrates, which could cause diarrhea.

How to Identify Whether Your Rabbit Has Diarrhea

In many cases, another condition among rabbits called cecotrope can be mistaken for diarrhea.

Diarrhea is loose or watery stool. Your rabbit won’t expel hard round stool while it has diarrhea—only liquid.

It also has a very strong odor that you can quickly identify as abnormal. Also, look for traces of liquid poop on your rabbit’s behind.

That’s a common symptom of diarrhea.

What Is Cecotrope?

Intermittent soft cecotrope is a less harmful condition. It occurs when your bunny’s diet is not well-balanced.

You can speak to your vet about the measures you should take to fix this.

Also, with cecotrope, your rabbit will expel soft poop at some points. However, its poop will be regular at other times.

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