Why is my rabbit losing weight? A rabbit losing weight is a immoral sign. A rabbit should maintain its body weight throughout its adult life. If your rabbit is losing weight, then it is an indication of an underlying health problem or the way you care for it. It is always troublesome when you notice that your rabbit is losing weight.
However, if you take the right action by either adjusting its diet or giving it the proper treatment, your rabbit is likely to regain the weight it has lost. Generally speaking, rabbits are slim. But a rabbit is not adequately nourished; it will become too skinny.
Although not all the causative reasons for your rabbit losing weight can be cured, most of them can be effectively managed, thereby improving the health of your pet.
There are many reasons as to why a rabbit can lose weight. Some rabbits might have suffered malnourishment when they were young, or loss of appetite, which leads to less intake of nutrients and calories, parasitic attack, and some diseases such as dental, gastrointestinal, metabolic, musculoskeletal, cancer and cardiovascular.
Most of these diseases involve a lot of pain that makes it hard for the rabbit to feed or a buildup of toxins in the rabbit’s body, which affect different organs thus making the rabbit not to feel hungry.
Why is my rabbit losing weight?
Besides that, there are other reasons why a rabbit might lose weight, for instance, if activities are going on near the rabbit’s house such as loud noise, a barking dog, or playing children. These activities can make the rabbit anxious and not be able to eat.
If your rabbit loses more than 10% of its body weight, then that is a severe indication of significant health problems. When the weight loss is accompanied by muscle atrophy, it is referred to as cachexia, and it requires immediate medical attention.
As we have already indicated, weight loss might be due to different reasons. Depending on the underlying cause and an underweight rabbit will have the following signs:
- Rough and dull coat.
- An emaciated look – the backbone will become prominent, also the ribs and pelvis.
- Presence of uneaten food.
- Fewer faucal pellets and they can be dry, misshapen and smaller
- Lethargy – it does not move around as much.
- Having pain – the rabbit will have a hunched appearance, it will be reluctant to move, it cannot be able to stretch itself, the eyes will be partially closed, grinding or chattering of its teeth.
- The abdomen will appear caved in – the belly of a healthy rabbit is ever smooth, and it does not show a difference between the last abdominal activity and the rib.
- An unusual level of activity such as searching for water and food if it is not adequately fed.
Noticing the loss if weight earlier can help prevent many serious health problems. Therefore, as a caregiver, you should always monitor your rabbit’s habits. For instance, if you notice that your rabbit is not eating for more than 24 hours, you should be concerned. Continued lack of appetite can lead to life-threatening conditions.
Diagnosis of Weight Loss
If you cannot ascertain by physically examining the rabbit why it is losing weight, then you should take it to a veterinarian for further examination. The veterinarian will ask you questions about the health history of your rabbit to try and find out the underlying factor for weight loss. Sometimes the causative factors might be the lifestyle and not diseases. It might be poor diet, the housing location, or other stressors such as mishandling by kids or disturbance from other animal companions if any.
Sometimes the veterinarian will proceed to perform a full workup diagnosis, which includes a complete blood count, radiography, analysis of the urine, and serum analysis. These diagnostic procedures will help to find out if there are any serious diseases such as cancer, liver diseases, a dental problem, and some chronic infections.
Other diagnostic procedures include examining for abnormal gas buildup, signs of respiratory infection, excessive salvation if it is a dental problem, signs of dermatitis. If the rabbit is female, the vulva can be examined for any discharge, which might be an indication of pyometra.
Treatment of Weight Loss
The underlying factor will determine the treatment that your rabbit will be given for weight loss. The following are some of the underlying factors and there possible treatments:
- Dental disease – If your rabbit is found to have a dental problem, then it will be given a dental procedure. It will be given a corrective dental treatment under an anesthetic condition.
- Improper diet – If your rabbit is found to be underweight because it is not getting a proper diet, then the veterinarian will discuss with you the appropriate diet that will help your rabbit to gain weight. Also, the food should support the gastrointestinal health of your rabbit.
- Pain – If the underlying factor for your rabbit’s weight loss is pain, then the veterinarian will give an appropriate pain reliever. The most recommended pain reliever for rabbits is opioids or NSAIDs.
- Fluid Therapy – If your rabbit is found to be suffering from dehydration, then it will be given fluid therapy to help rehydrate the gastrointestinal contents. The fluid treatment may be administered orally or intravenously or subcutaneously.
- Medication – For chronic health problems such as some kinds of cancer, renal disease, or cardiovascular disease, then your rabbit can be put under medication. The medicines are intended to improve your rabbit’s health condition and to support the diseased system.
Home care for an underweight rabbit
If the veterinarian finds your rabbit to be suffering from some illness or its injured, he will prescribe for you how to care for your rabbit at home. It is critical to remove any stressor from the rabbit if you want it to gain weight. Fresh grass clippings are good for the rabbit.
Besides that, a proper diet is inevitable for the well-being of your rabbit. Apart from that, ensure that you do not feed your rabbit with a lot of processed pellets if its underweight. Give your rabbit the right food that will help it to gain weight.
Ensure that you increase the amount of fiber that you give to your rabbit. Some of the foods that are laden with fiber include green leafy plants and grass hay. However, do not overfeed it with green leafy plants because they might contribute to weight loss. A diet high in fiber helps to reduce any health complications and dental problems.
Also, if your bunny is underweight because it has a slow eating habit, then consider feeding it separately so that it will not be interrupted by others or the food being finished by others before it can eat enough.
Apart from that, if your rabbit is ageing or ill, then it is paramount to give it a special diet that will help it to gain weight. For instance, besides the grass hay, you can feed with a measured amount of pellets.
Most importantly, ensure that your rabbit gets enough exercise. It is always assumed that less active bunnies with gain weight, but on the contrary, inactivity can lead to weight loss. Inadequate exercise leads to a decrease in muscle mass. Therefore, ensure that your rabbit gets sufficient exercise to stimulate the muscles.
How to gain a rabbit weight?
It is advisable to weigh your bunny regularly. This is essential because:
- It will help you to monitor how it is regaining weight
- You can be able to know when your rabbit starts to lose weight before it becomes a serious problem and take the necessary steps to prevent it
Weighing a rabbit is simple. You can use the kitchen scales to know the weight of your bunny. The following are some of the methods that you can use to weigh your rabbit.
- Please put it in a bowl and then put it on the scale. If it remains calm for a few seconds, you can get the weight
- Please put it in a carrier and then place it on the scale
However, before you use either the bowl or carrier to weight the rabbit, know the weight of the carrier or container first. When you know the weight of the bowl, you can subtract from the final reading when you have placed the rabbit inside.
Foods to Feed an Underweight Rabbit
It is paramount for an underweight bunny to eat more food to make up for the lost weight. However, ensure that you give it about 85% of grass hay besides other foods. But if your rabbit does not like green hay, then you can provide it green leafy plants and fruits.
You can also increase the number of pellets that you feed per day. There are different pellets in the market, go for one that has more protein (14% max). However, avoid pellets that contain a lot of nuts and seeds because they have high carbohydrate content. Also, ensure that the pellets do not contain animal fats.
Most importantly, ensure that you give your rabbit a high fibre diet. A high fibre diet will help your rabbit to regain its weight within a short period.