A rabbit's digestive system is designed to digest hays, grasses, and fiber. Large amounts of sugary and starchy foods high in easy to digest carbohydrates can lead to serious medical problems. Grass hay is also essential in making sure the teeth in the back of their mouth don't become overgrown.

Encephalitozoonosis (E. cuniculi) in Rabbits

E cuniculi or Encephalitozoon cuniculi is a one-celled organism called a microsporidium. Rabbits can either become infected while they develop within their mother's uterus or by either ingesting or inhaling spores  passed in the urine from rabbits already carrying the disease. Ingested spores pass through the walls of the intestine into the blood where they then travel to other areas of the body. In some rabbits,the disease spreads onward to the kidneys, eye and brain.

Wry Neck/Head Tilt in Rabbits

Rabbits sometimes develop a head tilt that gets progressively worse until they roll uncontrollably when they try to move.  This condition is commonly known as "wry neck".  There are many different diseases that can cause wry neck such as an ear infection, a parasite known as Encephalitozoon cunniculi (often just called E. cunniculi or encephalitozoonosis), and others.  Depending on the cause, treatment is often quite successful if initiated early.  Sometimes the treatment arrests the underlying disease but the rabbit continues to have a head tilt.  Most of these learn how to live with their new view of the world and many gradually return to almost a normal posture.


Since a rabbit has to breathe through its nose, any medical condition that restricts or blocks the nose is life-threatening.  An infection of the nasal passages, also known as bacterial rhinitis, is often due to Pasteurella multocida but may be caused by many other species of bacteria. This infection is commonly known as "snuffles" for the congested breathing sound and watery mucus that drips from the nostrils.  It is part of an upper respiratory disease complex in rabbits which may include sinus infections (sinusitis), eyelid infections (conjunctitivis), ear infections (otitis), and trache

Giving Fluids

An ill rabbit may not drink enough water on its own to do well.  Your rabbit may be dehydrated if you see any of these problems: thick sticky saliva, crusty eyes, poor appetite, small amounts of dark colored urine, or hard dry fecal pellets.

In order to correct dehydration, extra water must be given to your rabbit.  Sometimes this can be done by helping the rabbit drink.  Some rabbits need to have fluids given by other methods, either by subcutaneous fluids, intravenous fluids, or intraosseous fluids.

Dental Problems

The image to the left shows a small molar spike within the mouth of a rabbit.  This bunny has started to eat less because that small sharp corner of this cheek tooth is starting to irritate its tongue.  If not corrected, this may create a painful ulcer on the tongue and lead to a crisis situation.


Rabbits often develop a cloudy appearance to their eyes.  The eyes may become cloudy on the cornea (surface of the eye), the lenses, or any of the chambers inside.  There may be many different causes for this disorder ranging from a parasite, Encephalitozoon cunniculi, to a corneal scratch or ulcer, cataracts, or various infections.  A rabbit eye can quickly get damaged beyond repair so any time you see a change in an eye, a health consulta

Basic Care: Rabbits

Insights into rabbit behavior

Most rabbits are gregarious animals that do better with a companion. However not all rabbits get along and some rabbits are best kept alone. Rabbits will thump their hind feet if they are upset and may hum when they are happy. Happy rabbits may jump in the air and kick or turn around.

Syringes - How Much Medication Is Needed?

Pets may be sent home with liquid medications.  An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective.  An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful.  Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective.  It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.