What Are You Doing Here?

Virtually every week, someone posts on my blog in a last ditch effort to save a poor bunny’s life. The story goes the same every time.

Their daughter just got a bunny last week or a couple months ago and he is now sick and dying. He has not eaten or pooped in a couple days and is now breathing his last breaths in their arms.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I write this because this is an all too true story. I have played out this story hundreds of times in the past couple years since I have published my book. I hear these desperate pleas from folks who are just starting out with their first pet rabbit and he is so sick that he is dying.

What I want to say right now if you are reading this searching for what to do to help your sick bunny, you need to stop whatever you are doing, call a RABBIT vet specialist and get your rabbit to the vet ASAP. Minutes and hours make a difference. If it is the middle of the night, you need to get your bunny to the vet and be there at the front door when the first person comes in. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.

By the time you realize or think your bunny is sick, he is very sick and possibly dying. Rabbits are prey animals and they hide the fact that they are sick from their owners. If you are not experienced with bunnies, you will not notice this until it is too late. If you rabbit is not eating and refusing his favorite treats, then he is sick and may be hours from dying.

You should have already found where the nearest rabbit specialist vet is located and have his phone number and address handy for these kind of emergencies. If you have not yet located your rabbit’s vet, you are wasting precious minutes doing something that you should have done before you ever brought a bunny home. I am not joking.

It amazes me that people will do everything that they can to avoid taking their bunny to the vet and then when they do, nine times out of ten, they go to the same vet that treats their cats and dogs. I am here to tell you from living this experience dozens of times, it is always going to end badly for the rabbit. Those precious hours that you delay avoiding that vet bill are what usually cost the rabbit his life.

The sooner an experienced vet starts the critical treatment for a sick rabbit, the more chance he has of surviving. An astoundingly large percentage of sick bunnies die at their dog and cat vets, because they simply do not have the experience or knowledge to treat a pet rabbit. You do not want to have your vet looking up treatments for your bunny on the internet as he lay there dying.

I hope you get the pervasive theme here. If you are not rushing your sick bunny to the rabbit specialist vet as soon as you learn that he is sick, there is a very good chance they he will die. You should know how to tell if you bunny is sick and check him every single day, if not a couple times a day for his health and welfare. One of the main reasons that indoor pet bunnies live so much longer than outdoor hutch bunnies is that their owners figure out that the indoor bunnies are sick so much sooner than the outdoor rabbits. The first time that most owners realize that an outdoor bunny is sick is when they find him dead in the cage.


Visit the nearest rabbit rescue website to you and contact them. They will know who the vets in the area are who are proficient at rabbit vet care. Ask them to rate the local vets if there are more than one.

Of course, this is a useless exercise if your rabbit is already sick and dying. You need to do this long before your bunny becomes sick.

Often, rescue websites will maintain an online list of local rabbit vets. The House Rabbit Society does this, so if you visit rabbit.org and then visit their local chapter website, you should find a list of rabbit vets for the area.


If your rabbit is not eating or pooping, then he is sick. It is that simple. Bunnies will not eat or drink if they are nervous or not feeling well. When they stop eating, they also stop pooping. This is why we clean their litter box every day. If you have not cleaned their box in three days, how will you know if the poop in there is from today or two days ago.

A good bunny owner checks his rabbit’s appetite and litter box once or twice a day.

If you suspect that your rabbit is sick, we will usually offer him his favorite treat. If he does not want it I do not panic, but it puts me on alert. I will usually try again in about ten or fifteen minutes to see if he will take it then. Rabbits live for their treats, so if they refuse them it is usually a very bad sign.

What I don’t understand is that at this point you need to be rushing your bunny to the vet. Instead, most people will start searching online for treatments or solutions to their bunny’s sickness. This is the worst possible thing that you can do because the longer a rabbit is sick, the more likely he will succumb to whatever it causing it.

It can be many different things that make a rabbit stop eating and pooping. It can be something as simple as nervousness to teeth to disease to improper diet to food allergy to respiratory issues to hundreds of possible reasons. This is why it takes a specialist to save your bunny. Rabbits are fragile exotic critters who need a special skill set to take proper care of them. The sooner the public learns this before getting one, the better it will be for the bunny and the family that brings them home, but mostly for the bunnies.

20 thoughts on “What Are You Doing Here?

    • You are preaching to the choir. I so wish people would do their homework, but instead rabbits are the number one impulse pet. People just see them in the pet store or at the swap meet and just HAVE to have them, even though they know nothing and have never had one before.

      • Hi, I’ve read everything about the bunnies on your page. The thing is, the mother was accidently killed and we had to at least try to save the babies. There were two about 10 to 14 days old. We woke up one morning and they were kicking frantically and their teeth were clicking once in a while. They would lay on their side and kick and we do not know the cause of this and it sadly ended in their deaths. If you could shed light on what it was, I’m curious to know so I can tell the vet in time or take sooner action.

        Much thanks,

        • I am not aware of any way to save bunnies who are that young when they don’t have a mother. I have heard of letting another mother nurse them, but if you don’t happen to have another mommy bunny who has just given birth, then I don’t know what you would do. Baby bunnies who are very young need to nurse to survive.

  1. The vet in town has some rabbit experience. Won’t spay but will neuter. Pretty sure its a girl by the double chin. Nearest expert is 2 hours. That’s a 4 hour round trip drive. I’d have to stop to eat & use the bathroom @ some point too. That’s 4 + hours bunny won’t have food water. Small car can’t see putting all that in a carry cage. They’re so sensitive it would seem more humane to just have her put down if something goes wrong. What’s your thoughts?

    • People have to travel like this all the time when they have a bunny in some rural areas. I would definitely locate he nearest rabbit rescue to you and ask the locals who the closest and best vet is. They may know something that you don’t, yet.

      If you stop every couple hours and set up and x-pen at a park or rest area and give the bunny a half hour to use the litter box and drink some water. Make certain that it is not too hot because temps over 80 degrees can become fatal for a rabbit. If it is hot, bring lots of frozen water bottles to use as “bunny air conditioning” to keep her cool.

      You do not want an inexperienced vet doing a spay so it is definitely the right thing to do, seeking out a bunny vet, even if it is a long drive. It is just a matter of whether you want your pet to live four or five years or twelve to fifteen years. If you love your pet, you want them to have the healthiest happiest life possible. At least that is what I promised my pets when I adopted them. Some people have a different idea of the value of a pet, so I cannot teach that to you. If you think a bunny would be better off living five years and then being put to sleep rather than an expensive long car ride, I cannot tell you any different.

      The Bunny Guy

  2. another fantastic article, helped me pass the time during the adverts, however i then spent another 30 mins on the website reading everything else 😀

  3. Excellent article- very strong message with no sugar coating, which is exactly what people need to get it through that rabbits need rabbit vets- BEFORE they get sick! I used to be a bunny parent that didn’t want to take my rabbit to the vet unless absolutely necessary because of the stress to him. Fortunately, that attitude did not cost him his life because I did take him to the vet when I knew he was I’ll. But as he got older and the vet visits became more frequent due to some various health issues, I learned that rabbits do get used to going to the vet! Mine will never love it, as I’m sure most rabbits won’t, but they aren’t terrified the way they are if they only go when on death’s door. Sometimes unpleasant things, such as checkups, bloodwork or dental exam or imaging must be done out of love for our rabbits even though they don’t like it- just like children.

    Also wanted to add that I bought your book and have just started reading it. I love it!!! Expert advice written from personal experience- it is my favorite rabbit book already ☺. Thanks so much for all your great knowledge and your passion for making this world a better one for our wonderful lagamorphs!

  4. Why am I here. I’m here because my bun had a blockage and needed surgery. I blame myself for not knowing enough. He is on the mend, day 5 post op and he is home. I’m trying to get him to eat more hay and I’ve ended up here. Along the way through your website… I’m no longer concerned about he’s red urine. I’m cutting back his kale and other high calcium veges, I’m brushing him twice a day, patting him correctly and have some hope that his mate will bond with him again. His mate took an aggressive dislike to his new vet smell. They are separated in play pens side by side. I have the carrier ready to go when he’s a little better. Thank you

    • I am so sorry to hear about your bun. I too have made all the mistakes that people make. Just this month, I waited too long to take a bunny who I felt was losing weight in to the vet. I almost lost her because she was too weak to handle the long car ride and sedation to be checked out by the vet. It ended up being a couple of bad teeth that he missed two months ago when we went in. The moral of the story is, never hesitate to visit your vet. I know the extra expenses are extremely hard to handle for those of us on a budget, but whenever you get the suspicion that your bunny needs to see a vet, he most always does.

  5. My husband got me an 8 week old lop about 2 weeks ago. I have been reading every since. Thank you for such an informative blog!
    I am so fortunate to have received such a sweet bunny. He loves attention of any kind, and will sit for long periods of time watching TV with me after he gets all his binkies out, as long as I pet him when he demands it. He even flops upside down and has allowed me to rub his belly. That was before I read they don’t like that, but he seems to.
    My question is this, my husband and I are going away for 4 days for Dr appointments. I planned to have Zaccheuas bunny sat by my adult son and wife who have one of the litter mates. They were caged together until 2 weeks ago and got along. Will they still be okay together? They have a two story hutch, so if there is a problem they could be seperated.

    • Hi, I hope it worked out for your bunny while you were away.
      Please always be careful.
      I have two blood brother lops who have been together since birth. There bond broke after they were neutered same day. Brought in together.
      I was able to bond them again a year later. Very slowly.
      After a week of supervised 6 hour binding days. I assumed they could be left to spend the night together. I couldn’t have been more wrong . I slept next tinted pen that night and I was thankful I did. At 3 am I heard weird noises, banging and a sorta of hissing cry. I jumped up to see my one bunny latched on to my mother bunnies ear. My first reaction was to clap super loud and yell no. He released his brothers ear and it didn’t rip. If I were to have pull them apart. It would have ripped his ear. The vet was able to sorta butterfly the clean rip with some ointment and gauze. It worked and my bunnies ear healed nice and fast. I wil never leave them alone again! I don’t think I can bond them ever again, but my house is separated where one lives in one half of my house and the other bunny in the other half of my house. Low walk over gates, but high enough they can’t jump or climb. They sleep together at the gates and still see each other all day. Please, noatyer how bonded you think they are. Make sure you supervise a lot longer before ever trying to leave them alone. I regret what I did and hope nobody else learns the hard way.

  6. hi, I was looking for some additional advice for my rabbit. He will not eat any hay. I’ve bought Timothy 1st cut, 2nd. Cut, 3rd. Cut, orchard grass hay, clover hay, meadow grass, oat and even alfalfa( not truly a hay), but he refuses.
    My vet told me to put all the hay out, water and nothing else. But my little guy still won’t eat .

    Two weeks ago he started a bout of GI stasis for 15 days. No BM at all. I hung in because he continued eating in his own. I had him in Metacam, Cisapride , Reglan injections, simethicone, Flagyl, critical care, oral liquids and a little probiotics . He final had a huge spree of BM’s from diarrhea to formed poop. He has lost so much weight. He was trying to literally eat everything in my house. I started giving him wet cilantro, parsley, dandelion, kale, carrot tops and organic spring mix. He only wanted the bananas from my cabinet. He clawed the cabinet door and I gave him a 1/4 slice and then he just kept scratching the cabinet. So i went out and bought him some organic butternut squash thinkin he needed something more than greens, but not all fruits. He devoured a few small peices and begged for more. He is STARVING. I know my vet is right as far as the hay, but he will not eat it. His weight is scaring me. And now he is starting to have the thunder storm belly sounds again. Which tells me things are taking a turn for the worst right after a two week bout of stasis . My bunny wants to live and I want him to live. What should I do about the hay situation ? I realize bunnies have to have hay for them to keep healthy and support the digestive track to keep away the stasis. He seems to be a megacolon bunny. He has never had a normal poop since 3 months old. His brother and adopted sister have no problem with hay or stasis.
    I am wondering if it’s truly Megacolon or his choice not tones that which then turns to stasis and he can never truly be healthy. He has been in pain off and on most of his life . It’s heartbreaking. He’s 3 yo.

    My vet wants to start Cisapride and Metacam again and maybe go back to the Flagyl. We need blood work, but in his condition . He is in no shape to have it done right now. I will take him right after I get his system stable. Probably next week . I will also ask my vet to culture his stool.
    If he is starving and I only give him hay, water and oral critical care . Will he die? I’m am so scared, but must be doing something wrong if he isn’t recovering. Please tell me your thoughts. I would truly appreciate them. Thank you

    • Sorry for the slow reply because I have been dealing with this exact problem for a few weeks. A megacolon rabbit will be hypersensitive to many different things, including (but not always) pellets, certain greens, and many treats. Megacolon rabbits tend to poop in big huge blobs sometimes as big as the end of your thumb. It is not cecotropes which are more like bunches of grapes. When mine is having a reaction to something she ate, she might have very wet poop or gas and discomfort.
      I have discovered a pellet from American Pet Diner that is like critical care with probiotics and vitamins in them. It is the powder formed into pellets. It is willingly eaten by my megacolon girl and it has helped keep weight on her. It is a heartbreak to watch a bunny wither away when they cannot absorb their nutrition. Mine has lot so much weight and through trial and error I found out where the balance is, which for her was removing a lot of the salads and focusing on dried foods like pellets, herbs and minimal greens. You boy may have a different formula that helps him.

      This problem is not understood enough by the vets. I have seen four different vets about this problem and none have been right on about it. Use your intuition and feed the bunny as much as you can to keep him eating and getting nutrition. If a food causes more bad poop, then don’t give that one again. Usually, you can find one or two things that become your staples. Then you can search for new things that work. The pellets I mentioned have been a huge help.

      I know the feeling of being alone and like you are making life or death decisions about a sick bunny. When it comes to rabbits, the vets do not have a lot of answers for these common issues. I would give this bunny whatever he safely eats, which is better than him eating nothing. For one bunny, it was carrot tops, but then in a few weeks they caused a calcium build up, so you have to watch them closely when feeding lots of one thing. Some veggies and foods cause a lot of urinary tract issues if feed a lot over time.

      Contact me by email if you need more food advice. I understand the frustration of dealing with this problem, since I have had a bunny like this for almost seven years now.

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