As water is essential to every living being, rabbits aren’t left out. They need it for several body functions, including digestion, absorption of nutrients, passing out waste, and regulating body temperature.
Because it passes out a lot of water during work, excreting, and perspiration, rabbits continuously need to take a lot of water to maintain their body water. Usually, a rabbit would survive some hours without food, but it could hardly go 24 hours without water.
Is Something Wrong With My Rabbit If It Refuses To Drink Water?
Yes, there is. Rabbits are brilliant animals, and even if they can’t say it, they understand how vital water is for their health. It’s unusual for them to go on a ‘drinking strike’ unless something is wrong.
There are a couple of reasons that could make your rabbit not drink water. Finding out would make it easier to determine what steps you should take.
Stress Or Fear
A stressed or scared bunny wouldn’t eat or drink normally. Your rabbit might be too distracted by something that makes it too stressed or afraid to bother even to eat or drink. As its owner, you should figure out why it is stressed or frightened.
If you aren’t sure, check for these signs. Try to see if your bunny is always on the alert, never relaxing, and always watching and hiding. It could twitch its nose uncontrollably sometimes or suddenly run into an enclosed space.
Many things could make your bunny scared; it could be that it sees a predator across the fence or through the window or hears a dog barking close by. It’s your responsibility to find what’s putting your beloved pet on edge.
Another issue could be the age factor. If you use a water bottle to feed your rabbits, a young rabbit may not know how to use it as their instinct is to drink from a puddle or a bowl.
If this is the case, you should put a shallow dish of water below the water bottle spout so it could be easier to drink for young rabbits.
On the other hand, older rabbits usually lack the strength to work their water bottle, so drinking is problematic. If this is the case, you might want to get a smaller, easy-to-use water bottle.
Gastrointestinal upset can also cause your rabbit’s refusal to drink water. In this case, you find that your rabbit isn’t eating well either.
Several things can cause your bunny’s digestive issues; contaminated water, pathogens like bacteria or viruses, parasites, toxic food like moldy hay, or food pellets.
Your rabbit’s tummy could also get upset during mating season, pregnancy, or nursing its kits. A gastrointestinal upset makes it difficult for your rabbit to ingest anything, so take it to the vet for a thorough check-up.
Other Water Sources
Before your rabbits’ refusal to drink from its water bottle or bowl sends your head spiraling down the different possibilities of dangerous what-ifs, you should also consider that your rabbit could be getting water to drink from other places.
Apart from the leafy greens (which contain some water, even though not enough to keep your rabbit hydrated), you feed your pet; if you let your pet roam free, it could seek out other places to get water.
In addition, if you have other pets like dogs or cats, your rabbit could be drinking from their bowl or a leaking pipe around the house.
Before you get unnecessarily agitated, first confirm if your rabbit has other water sources where it gets enough to keep hydrated. If there are, try eliminating them as they could cause health issues for your rabbit, especially if they are contaminated.
The water’s temperature matters for a rabbit and different rabbits prefer their water at different temperatures. You have to figure out to which degree your rabbit likes its water.
While most rabbits prefer drinking water at an ambient temperature (neither too cold nor too warm), young rabbits would prefer water at a warmer temperature as it is more similar to the warm milk provided by their mother.
They also tend to be more hostile to cold water than a warm one. Some older rabbits, too, prefer warmer water. The trick is to find out what water temperature your rabbit likes.
Switch to cold water if you’ve been giving your bunny water at room temperature before. If that doesn’t work, then you could try warm water. You should also consider the weather when giving them water.
If it is cold, then there is a high chance they would drink less cold water, especially if it is hard water. As such, offer them warm water when it is cold and cold water when it is warm.
Rabbits are very sensitive animals; it’s no surprise that all their parts, including their teeth, are sensitive. As sharp as their teeth are, they can be sensitive, hurting your rabbits.
Once your rabbit has a toothache, it will stop eating and drinking because of the severe pain. You’d also find obvious signs of distress on its face and movements. If this is the case, take your rabbit immediately to the vet to get checked.
The weather could also be why your rabbit isn’t drinking enough or no water.
Your rabbit could be too weak from overheating to get up and drink from its water bottle or water bowl, or it could be too cold, and it wouldn’t want to leave its warm, comfortable bedding to get to its water source.
Strange Smell Or Taste In Water
Rabbits are picky and sensitive about their food and water intake, so even a change in taste and smell in the water you feed them can turn them off. A rabbit wouldn’t drink anything that comes across as dirty.
As a pet owner, you should be attentive to issues. You have to make sure both the water and the water bottle are clean.
This will eliminate the possibility of a smell or taste in the water, and your rabbit will comfortably drink the water. If you recently changed their water source, ensure that the new source is as clean and does not bring out smelly water.
How Can I Get My Rabbit To Drink Water?
It’s not enough to know why your rabbit isn’t drinking water, you have to take it a step further by looking for how it will drink water.
Water drives essential functions in your rabbit’s body, and little or no water at all can be dangerous. Now that you’ve found out why your bunny isn’t drinking water, what do you do next?
- Try several methods to help your rabbit drink more water. Know the difference between when your pet is just being stubborn and not taking any water or it’s sick and needs urgent medical attention. For instance, if you have an ill bunny, you might want to make its water source more accessible. If it is too weak or too cold to get up and reach its water bottle or bowl, then it is most likely too far, and you should move it closer to it. If moving it closer still doesn’t work, try feeding it tiny drops of water using a syringe or eyedropper. Place the device at the corner of its mouth and push tiny drops of water into its mouth at intervals.
- If you are dealing with a stubborn bunny that refuses to drink water for no apparent reason, you need a different approach. Put some fragrant herbs, maybe basil or mint leaves, into its water bowl to attract it. Not only would some water get into your rabbit’s mouth as it tries to eat the leaves, but the scent of the leaves would also attract it.
- You could also serve your bunny some leafy greens as they contain some water. However, it’s not enough to keep them hydrated for long, so don’t rely solely on this method.
- You also have to make sure that the water you serve your bunny is fresh and clean with no strange smell or taste. This can be accomplished by regularly changing the water and washing the water bowl and bottle.
- Also, try serving your young or older rabbit warm water as they would be more accustomed to that.
- Lastly, to encourage your bunny to drink water, substitute plastic water and supper bowls for metal ones, as rabbits are known for tossing and chewing on their water bowls due to razor-sharp teeth. However, their teeth aren’t strong enough to chew on metal, so metal bowls will do.
Your rabbit’s water intake is crucial as losing even 10% of its body water without replacing it could be detrimental to its health.
You should therefore pay serious attention to the amount of water it takes. If there are no improvements after trying the steps listed above, you should take your pet to the vet for an IV fluid and a checkup.