BEHAVIOUR CARE

Why Is My Rabbit Not Drinking?

All living creatures need to stay hydrated. You may think that placing water out is all you have to do. You might even be thinking that when the rabbit is thirsty enough it will drink the water. That is not always the case. There could be different reasons why the rabbit is not drinking water. All animals can be finicky about their water. A good example is my black lab. She will not touch the water if I have simply added water to what was already in her water dish. She needs the water to be changed out.

This is quite understandable. Imagine being given one glass for water, you do not rinse it out, but keep adding water to what is already there. This means that backwash, food from your mouth area, dust and dirt from the air, animal fur floating down all builds up within that glass. Does not sound very tasty or refreshing does it? I know this is hard to get whoever has the chore of feeding and watering the pets to understand. Hopefully, maybe, they are reading this article.

There could be plenty of reasons why your rabbit is not drinking besides the water being dirty. There could also be something wrong with your furry bunny. The reasons could be caused psychologically or could be a medical reason. Here is a list of a few reasons, there could be many more though.

  1. The water may taste funny. Sometimes, when a family is connected to city water, the water may taste like chlorine or even worse. What you can try to do is to clean out the water bottle or the bowl and refill it to see if that will help.
  2. The water may be too cold or too warm. Yes, rabbits can be finicky creatures. They like the water to be the same temp as the air. This means they do not want ice cold water and they do not like the water to be too warm. The best way to phrase it is to say room temperature water is what a rabbit prefers.
  3. Dental issues may be preventing them from drinking water. Rabbits have sensitive teeth. They may have a problem with a tooth. This can only be fixed by a professional.
  4. The water dish is dirty. The rabbit is picky, they want a clean dish. Again, refer to the earlier example given. Wash the dish or water bottle and refill it to see if that helps.
  5. The rabbit feels as though he is hydrated. It could be that if the rabbit just ate some leafy greens, they feel like they have gotten enough water, so they will not drink. In this case be patient and keep an eye on the rabbit.
  6. Depending on where the rabbit lives, there may be another source of water they are drinking from. Maybe a pipe with condensation, or another dish of water somewhere within reach.
  7. The rabbit may not feel well. He or she may feel sick for some reason. Many times, this will stop a rabbit from drinking water.

Again, those are a few possibilities, but there could be many more. If cleaning the water dish or water bottle does not help, consider the food the rabbit recently ate. It may have been those leafy greens which are one food that helps with hydration.  Keep in mind that human or animal, rejecting water is not normal behavior.

Dehydration

Dehydration is not good for anyone or anything. All living creatures need water. There are ways that you can check to see if your furry rabbit is becoming dehydrated. Some of these include:

Tight skin

If the rabbit’s skin is tight when you pull the skin lightly around the neck, he or she is likely dehydrated. If the fur and skin go back to place quickly, they are okay. Keep an eye open to watch how much water is being drunk.

Urine is foul smelling

If you can smell the urine more than usual, that is a sign of something being wrong with your rabbit. Not only is the smell of the urine stronger, it will be darker in color also.

Loss of appetite

If you notice that your bunny is also not eating, that is a sign of illness or another problem. The issue is, when they are not drinking water, their body will begin to not function properly. They will not be able to eliminate what is in their body, so they will also stop eating.

Lethargic or Listless

If your rabbit seems to just lay around, no up and hopping, no playing, it is time to go to the vet. Something could be very wrong when they become lethargic and listless. They will become clumsy, disoriented and always be tired. Dehydration affects the energy level of living things.

What you need to know is that when your rabbit is dehydrated, they could die. It is most important to find a way to get them hydrated immediately. The quickest way to do this would be to take your rabbit to the vet and they will put an IV fluid drip into the rabbit.

Other methods that you can try yourself at home would be to use an eye dropper and slowly try getting the water into your rabbit’s mouth. This could take a long time, but it is something that must be done. Fill the dropper or syringe with fresh water, put it at the corner of their mouth inside and give a controlled shot of water. A few drops worth. Give the rabbit a chance to swallow it. Then give him or her more water the same way. If the water just runs out of the mouth, take the rabbit to the vet immediately for the IV method.

Tips and Tricks

Sometimes it is possible that the rabbit just needs some encouragement. Maybe having the water bottle is something new and they are unsure of how to use it. There is a tip that you can use that will likely help. Smear the end of the water bottle tip with banana. Do not jab the tip into the banana, as this will block the opening. The smell of the banana should be enough to coax your rabbit into drinking the water. However, be sure to wipe off any of the banana itself so it does not get rotten on the tip. This will keep the rabbit from using the water bottle.

Due to their sharp teeth, the rabbit could damage the sipper straw part. If this has happened, it may have caused them pain so they are now avoiding it. Try switching to a metal dripper on the water bottle. This will prevent any chance of damage that leads to pain.

Make sure to change the water in the dish or water bottle a few times throughout the day. Just like we do, a rabbit prefers fresh water. If it is dirty, or smells they will not drink it.

Another trick is to place fresh leafy greens near your rabbit. Fresh greens are loaded with water. If you can get your rabbit to eat the fresh and leafy greens, that will help with some hydration.

Rabbits are known for drinking plenty of water. If you do notice that your rabbit has lessened in the amount they drink or stopped drinking their water, it is time to find out why. This is not something that you can put off until later. Ask yourself if the rabbit is an indoor rabbit, is there another source of water available to them. They have the freedom to move around the home, so check for a dog dish, the cat dish. Condensation coming off the toilet tank that they are drinking. Any of these may be the culprit of why they are not using their water bottle or dish.

If there is none of those available, put some fresh greens into the hutch by your rabbit. The leafy greens have a high water content and may give the hydration needed.  Placing drops of water on the leafy greens may also help. It may not seem like much but water drops on top of the greens will be of some benefit, and give you a chance to possibly determine the issue. It could also be that the rabbit may have just eaten some leafy greens, which would mean they do not feel the need for hydration.

You can also supply both means of water to your rabbit. Give them a dish of fresh water and also offer a water bottle for them to drink from. Since they are finicky creatures, they may decide that they prefer one over the other.

However, it is immensely important to take your rabbit into the vet immediately if none of these suggestions work to get hydration in. Rabbits are too small to risk giving them time to pull out of it and decide to drink water. Rehydration is important and must be done quickly. Only the ver will be able to provide an intravenous way of supplying the needed hydration.

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