Why is my rabbit not eating?

Rabbit with food uneaten

When rabbits stop eating, it’s usually serious. As prey species, they’re hard-wired to carry on as if nothing is wrong, to make sure they don’t look weak to a predator. Although there are lots of different reasons a rabbit may stop eating, they’re often very sick when this happens and I recommend taking them straight to a rabbit-savvy vet if you notice a drop in their appetite.

 

What can make a rabbit stop eating?

Rabbits can stop eating for a variety of reasons. The most common is:

pain –

rabbits that are in pain will stop eating and go very quiet. The pain could be anywhere, and post-surgical pain is a common reason for rabbits to turn down food, although joint pain is also common.

Dental disease

This is another extremely common reason for rabbits to stop eating. Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously, which is a clever adaptation to the abrasiveness of their main diet – grass. However, rabbits consuming the wrong types of food, chewing the wrong way, or who were born with problems, can get overgrowing teeth. This causes pain in the jaw and ulcers on the tongue or the cheek which hurt every time the rabbit chews – it’s not surprising to see that they might stop eating! It’s important to get your rabbit’s teeth checked by your vet often to ensure that any problems are caught and corrected before too much damage is done.

Another common reason for rabbits to stop eating is due to a

digestive upset.

Rabbits have amazing digestive systems that can turn grass into energy, but things can, and do, go wrong. Those bunnies whose digestion isn’t quite right may also stop eating, or may become more choosy about which food they do eat. Rabbits that have eaten something they shouldn’t (such as inedible bedding or carpet) may get a blockage or ‘impaction’. This is very serious and can be tricky to move along, sometimes requiring emergency surgery.

Rabbits can also stop eating due to being

stressed.

Something as simple as a firework going off can upset them, so keep an extra close eye on your pets during firework season. Think about rabbit stress if you get a new pet, a new member of the family, or if there is a change in routine, and keep an extra close eye on them at these times.

 

How will I know if my rabbit stops eating?

Obviously, if you notice that food is being left in the bowl or hay left in the rack when it usually all goes, that suggests a change in appetite. It’s worth remembering, though, that this isn’t the only way to keep an eye on your rabbit’s appetite, and waiting until you notice food being left might be too late.

The best way to keep an eye on your rabbit’s appetite is by watching their poo! Rabbits poo around 300 times a day, and it’s important that you get to grips with your rabbit’s pooing schedule. A decrease in poos or a change in consistency of the faeces is the first sign of something being wrong. Faecal pellets that are smaller and harder than usual are definitely a sign that your rabbit isn’t getting enough food through their gut. Did you know that rabbits eat their own poo to have a second go at digesting the grass? Large, wet faeces may suggest that your rabbit isn’t eating his faeces correctly, which is often an early sign of something wrong.

 

Why is it serious if my rabbit stops eating?

Unfortunately, rabbits that stop eating quickly start to go downhill. The digestive system of a rabbit relies on constant input of small amounts of food, and when rabbits stop eating this very quickly shuts down. The gut stops turning over properly – also known as ‘stasis’ – and they may start to bloat. This is exceedingly painful and compounds the problem, as the pain causes the rabbit to eat even less. It quickly becomes a vicious cycle, so intervening early and getting appropriate medical help is essential.

 

How can I help my rabbit who has stopped eating?

The first thing to do is to take your rabbit straight to a rabbit-savvy vet. Gut stasis is extremely painful and they will need pain relief in order to start to eat again. They will likely also need some gut stimulants, and some rabbits may need fluids. If dental disease is the cause of the appetite drop, a dental operation may be necessary, although this may be postponed until they’re feeling a bit better. Feeding a recovery diet from a syringe is really important – this input of food reminds the gut to carry on turning over and starts the ball rolling again. This diet will need feeding every 2 hours during the day, so it can be quite hard work. Most rabbits with uncomplicated stasis will start eating again within a day or so – keep tempting them with tasty milk thistle and herbs until they’re voluntarily eating.

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28 thoughts on “Why is my rabbit not eating?

  1. Actually my rabbit is not eating more than 6-7 days… And moving his head like something has got stuck inside his throat whenever he is eating…. What should I do…. Neither he is eating nor He is drinking…I Cannot feed him anything… And main problem is something Is moving inside his Belly….. I could not understand what to do… How can I save my rabbit…. Please help me….

    1. This is an emergency – a rabbit who is not eating will rapidly develop gut stasis (to learn more about this, see here). Call your vet immediately as this condition is frequently fatal if not treated immediately, usually within 24 hours.

  2. My 1 year old rabbit has not eaten anthing since yesterday. He is normally very greedy, he won’t even eat his favourite treat. I moved his cage to the back of the garden 3 days ago, and also a cat has been coming in the garden. He is Just laying down out of site at the moment. His teeth seem fine..recently checked by vet. I’m worried about gut stasis as my last rabbit had this. I did wonder if he could be lonely? I know it’s not been long but I’m aware i need to act quickly if gut stasis is suspected. Having lost my last rabbit i do tend to over react..hence spending a fortune but my beloved boy is worth every penny. What can i do?

    1. Vet check now – whatever the cause, not eating is an emergency that will always cause gut stasis if it is prolonged.

  3. Hello, I have a Netherland Dwarf bunny, 2 year old. He is always happy and he always want to eat. We treat him very well. We woke up this morning and he doesn’t want to eat. Every morning he has pellets for breakfast and recently we add lettuce in breakfast but we give him less amount of pellets with lettuce than, and for dinner is the same. Meanwhile we give him little piece of banana or other fruit.
    So this morning we gave him pellets and lettuce (he loves it!!!) and he doesn’t want to eat. I try to give him piece of banana because that’s his favorite and he took it but doesn’t want anything else. I see that he can’t lay down in one place too long, always changing position. Looks like something bothers him. Also his urine was red but in one spot was yellow and he pee on the places where he didn’t before. I checked his poop but I didn’t see big difference. How can we help him? What should we do? I would really appreciate your help. Thank you in advance.

    1. A rabbit who won’t eat will die – so the most likely reasons are either that they were very sick before you picked them up, or they’re too stressed and scared of you to feed. You could try leaving food with them in a quiet, dark space away from humans; however, it would be MUCH better for them to be taken to a wildlife centre or, if legal in your area, released back into the wild.

  4. Dwarf rabbit is 6 yrs old not eating and moves around a little but not like he has gave him some lettuce and ate a little bit any worries

  5. Brought my rabbit to the beach and he ate a lot the first and second days but hasn’t eaten at all today. Could it be the change in location?

    1. Possibly, but whatever the cause, if he’s not eating its an emergency – call a vet ASAP.

  6. Took my bunny to the vets for toenail cut and anti mozzy injection. He also gave her worming medicine but she stopped eating so we didn’t carry on with the medicine (had another 2 days dose). She is a house bunny. She eats a bit of straw and drinks a bit of water but that’s it. It has been 3 days now. She does sulk but this is not like her

    1. Get her checked out again – stress can cause loss of appetite, but not eating properly for 3 days is a really bad sign.

  7. My rabbit has developed cystic calculi…I took her to vet 2 days bàck and got medicines. But she has stopped eating since then. I making her drink water and some food by putting it in her mouth and she is chewing it eventually after some attempts. What do I do?

  8. Hey my bunny is usually very feisty and protective but today she let me pet her and she didn’t eat her favorite treats. Later when I let her out to play she hid in the corner and kept changing her position and when she got up from her position she scratched a pillow then layered back down, she kept doing this for 10 mins, and wasn’t eating.

  9. Hello Pls so I went this morning to give my rabbit his morning pellets and he was acting kind of strange because he usually gets all happy when I feed him but today he didn’t so I thought maybe he was just not in the mood but then I just went to give him his veggies and he wouldn’t come out of his hidy house and he LOOOVVESS vegetables and I brought him inside because it might be to hot outside but he still wouldn’t eat. I called vets but they didn’t respond and the emergency vet is up but I can’t drive.

    1. Get advice from your vet or the emergency vet over the phone and if possible follow that advice – this is potentially a life-threatening condition.

  10. So while I was cutting the grass on my land my friend almost hit this bunny with a strummer and brought her to me. She’s about 4-5 inches long whenever she walks around. I decided to bring her home as her next got destroyed by the yard work. Now I went and got her pellets, and hay (the green stuff) to add onto her food, and I’ve gotten some KMR and heavily cream to give her milk if I need to, but she won’t eat anything. I’ve tried sprinkling water on her greens and putting it on my fingers to let her know it’s water and she just won’t eat. I know her stress must be high due to the fact her nest is gone and no mummy to be seen, I’ve called vets and none of them are answering in my area. If you have any additional advice please let me know. Thank you

    1. Try local animal rescues or sanctuary charities – they’re probably your best bet, because it sounds like this bunny needs expert assistance.

  11. Sir my domestic rabbit fell off from a height of 3 foot and is not able to chew anything, she is willing to eat but unfortunately she fails. There are no visual signs of damage though. Help me sir.

    1. Seek veterinary attention immediately – it sounds like she might have a broken or otherwise injured jaw.

  12. My one year old bunny has stoped eating, but only eats his carrots what does that mean? Should I change the food that I’m giving him to more greens?

    1. If he’s stopped eating most foods, he needs veterinary attention – the most likely cause is that his back teeth are misaligned or overgrown.

  13. I’ve got a new pet , after meeting him my bunny is not eating anything , its been 5 days , i am only force feeding him with syringe. He also has something curdy white coming out of his nose . My vet just gave him calcium and vitamin drops . He’s growing weak day by day. I am giving him crushed rabbit food mixed in water as in liquid diet .

    1. Get him back to the vet as soon as possible, as he’s clearly not responding to the initial treatment.

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