Vet Info for Pet Parents

The Three Big Signs Your Rabbit Really Needs Vet Care

While it is a good idea to take your rabbit to the vet for annual checkups, not everyone does this. What you absolutely need to do, though, is keep an eye on your rabbit's health and be aware of signs that prompt vet attention is needed. With rabbits, there are three key signs that indicate your rabbit needs veterinary attention very soon because their life depends on it.

Maggots on Their Skin

If you see creepy, crawly maggots on your rabbit's skin, your first reaction may be to cringe. This is every bit as gross as it sounds, but you can't afford to waste any time saying "yuck." Maggots are the larval stage of flies. They eat the rabbit's flesh, causing a condition called flystrike. This is most likely to happen when a rabbit's fur is soiled due to loose stools or sitting in their own urine. 

Flystrike can be deadly, and it is really painful. Your rabbit needs to see the vet ASAP so the vet can sedate the animal and physically remove all of the maggots from his or her skin. Your rabbit will probably also need antibiotics for a few days to prevent the damaged skin from becoming infected with bacteria.


Rabbits should never appear lethargic. If your rabbit is laying down and does not seem interested in moving, even when you poke and touch them, then something serious is wrong. Lethargy is usually caused by an infection of some sort, in which case, your vet may prescribe antibiotics. It can also be caused by dehydration and overheating, which is rather common in the summer. In this case, your vet can inject fluid under the skin, rehydrating your rabbit. Most rabbits reach a point of dehydration where they won't drink on their own, so this therapy becomes necessary to revive them.


Rabbits are herbivores, consuming only plant foods. Since plants are not a very concentrated source of calories, rabbits need to eat a lot, and so they nibble almost constantly. If a rabbit doesn't eat for an hour or two, that's no big deal. But if they are not interested in eating for more than a couple of hours, and if they are not interested in eating even their favorite snacks and veggies, you can consider them anorexic, which means they need to see the vet. Often, this is caused by an intestinal blockage, which could be caused by a hairball, a lack of fiber in the diet, or having eaten a foreign object. The vet may recommend administering fluids, giving a GI stimulating medication, or performing surgery.

Rabbits are pretty hardy animals, but sometimes, they do become ill. Make sure you take them to the veterinarian if they do show the above signs of big problems.