Urine - all about it!
What is it?
- A dehydrated rabbit will produce less urine than usual and it will appear darker and more concentrated with a stronger smell. Their ears may start to droop and the eyes will appear sunken. The body temperature can (at first) increase. The skin becomes dry and lose its flexibility. If you gently pinch the loose skin at the back of the rabbit's neck and it stays in a "tent," instead of springing back in a second, the bunny is probably severely dehydrated and in need of immediate vet care.
- Pedialyte or a similar electrolyte replacement drink for dehydrated children can be given to rabbits carefully with a feeding syringe or squeeze bottle. Gatorade can be given instead of Pedialyte to a dehydrated, anorexic (not eating) rabbit, but it has sugar and care should be taken to not give sugar to rabbits suffering from a bacterial imbalance in the GI tract. ('Poopy butt' or what appears to be diarrhea is symptom).
- Don't try and force a cold, lethargic rabbit to eat or drink. If a rabbit has not eaten in 24 to 48 hours and has a low body temperature, try to warm it up with a hot water bottle or a warmed sock filled with rice or beans. You can also give it some luke-warm water with a bit of diluted honey or sugar very slowly to avoid choking.
- As an alternative, Rabbits Online recommends a small amount of Nutri-Cal, a high calorie, vitamin-rich paste in a tube available from pet stores and vets. The calories will provide energy to the rabbit and allow its organs to start working properly, avoiding fatal hepatic lipidosis, or 'fatty liver disease', which can occur as little as 48 hours after the rabbit stops eating. More at risk are obese (overweight) rabbits or rabbits with high energy demands like pregnant does or nursing mothers.
- For those familiar with giving subcutaneous or ‘sub q’ fluids (under the skin), a small amount of luke-warm fluid can be helpful.
- Always make sure rabbits have clean water. A rabbit that can't drink won't eat.
- Dehydration is often a symptom of another ailment, so the root cause must be found.