Since the exact cause of death in pet rabbits cannot be determined without doing a post death exam, the cause can be anything from old age to disease. The most common types of death in rabbits are old age, stress, diseases, and infections.
Rabbits can become stressed about several different things and, in instances of severe stress, they can die. There are a few common diseases in pet rabbits that can cause their death, and some even cause sudden death.
Some infections are a result of your pet having a disease while others can be from cuts, scrapes or other injuries.
1 – Signs of Old Age
The first and most common cause of death in pet rabbits is old age. Since there are many different breeds of rabbits, their life span can range from eight to twelve years and some can live even longer.
Providing the correct care and diet for your rabbit will make sure your favorite pet won’t become sick and die suddenly.
If you have had your pet rabbit for a number of years, there are some signs of old age you can be on the lookout for such as greying hair, loss of eyesight, hearing loss, fatigue, mobility issues, trouble grooming, potty accidents, weight loss, overheating or shivering, and other health problems.
Common health issues in older rabbits include tooth decay and dental issues, sore hocks or feet, heart disease, respiratory issues, kidney dysfunction, urinary tract infections (UTIs), dementia, and, sadly, cancer.
Pet rabbits can have other problems related to old age so it is important they go to regularly scheduled veterinarian appointments, keep up to date on vaccines, and are played with often so their owners can tell when something isn’t right.
2 – Stress
Pet rabbits do not handle stress well. If they are in a situation that is severe enough, they have been known to die from stress-induced heart attacks. Poor nutrition, environmental stressors such as overcrowding or introducing a new pet into the family, or even giving your rabbit a bath can trigger stress in your pet.
Taking a bath can be extremely dangerous for a pet rabbit for many different reasons. Undried fur can cause hypothermia and if you are towel drying or using a hair dryer on your rabbit you may accidentally burn your rabbit’s sensitive skin. Both of these things can be extremely stressful for your rabbit.
Poor nutrition and even changing your rabbit’s diet can also cause a ton of stress in your pet rabbits. Rabbits constantly need fresh, clean drinking water and plenty of grass and hay to keep their digestive systems functioning properly.
Without fresh water and consuming too many pellets can cause your rabbit may become seriously ill. It is important to follow all feeding instructions to keep your pet happy and healthy.
3 – Common Illnesses
Besides the signs of old age, there are several different diseases our pet rabbits can get at any point in their lives. Disease prevention is something all people with pet rabbits should work at.
Your pet can be exposed to a harmful disease or illness just by interacting with another sick bunny or. You should also spend a lot of time with your pet rabbit so you know their normal personality and can tell when they aren’t feeling well.
Other ways to prevent diseases in your rabbits are to pay close attention to their diets and make sure your pet is up to date on its vaccinations. The correct diet, vaccinations, and making sure your favorite pet goes to the vet for scheduled appointments will help keep your rabbit healthy for a long time to come.
There are a few different diseases you should keep your eye out for in your pet rabbits. Common issues in rabbits include but are not limited to: overgrown teeth, Trichobezoars, and viruses such as Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic virus.
Overgrown teeth and Trichobezoars can be prevented through a diet of high fiber. Trichobezoars are also known as hairballs. Hairballs are common in rabbits because they groom themselves, but unlike cats they cannot throw up hairballs. It is super important your rabbit can pass the hairballs through their digestive system.
Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic virus are also known as infectious diseases and will be covered more in depth in the next section. They are typically more common in outdoor rabbits but indoor pets can sometimes become exposed as well.
4 – Infectious Diseases
There are four different common diseases that can cause infections in rabbits. These infectious diseases include Myxomatosis, Rabbit Haemorrhagic virus, Encephalitozoonosis, and Pasteurellosis. Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic virus are two of the most common infectious diseases in rabbit populations.
Myxomatosis is a virus that is transmitted to rabbits through mosquito and flea bites in Australia. This disease is fatal to pet rabbits and there is no known vaccination against it, which makes prevention extremely important.
A mosquito resistant rabbit habitat is unfortunately one of the only ways to prevent Myxomatosis in rabbits, so if you have an outdoor rabbit population it is very important to invest in a good rabbit hutch.
Rabbit Haemorrhagic virus is another disease spread in rabbits by mosquitos and is also commonly spread by fly bites. This disease is so prolific that there are four different known strains, making it extremely important to get your pet rabbit vaccinated against it.
Encephalitozoonosis is actually a parasite that can live in a number of different animals and pets and is spread from mothers to their offspring during pregnancy. It can cause severe symptoms such as seizures, cataracts, and difficulty walking.
It is very important to have your pet rabbit checked by a vet if your pet develops any of these symptoms so they can administer the proper treatment.
The last common infectious disease in rabbits is pasteurellosis, which causes upper respiratory tract infections. If your pet rabbit shows signs of pasteurellosis such as sneezing it is also important to make an appointment with your vet right away.
Without the proper treatment your pet can become severely ill and pass away. Although many rabbits can carry pasteurellosis, not all will develop symptoms making it another important reason to make sure you have regular vet visits.
Signs of a Dying Rabbit
There are a huge number of signs and symptoms you should never ignore in your pet rabbit because they can indicate a chronic illness or impending death.
Anytime your rabbit is displaying abnormal behavior it can be a sign that something is not right. Because of this, you should make sure you engage with your pet and spend quality time with your rabbit so you can tell when something is wrong.
Other common signs something is wrong with your rabbit include poor appetite, breathing problems, being wet, shock, or seizures. If your rabbit displays any of these symptoms, it is extremely important to take your pet to the vet to make sure they are okay and not dying.
There are many different reasons why your pet rabbit may get sick and die. It is important to take your pet rabbits to regularly scheduled vet appointments to get them vaccinated to keep them healthy.
Since pet rabbits are so delicate, there are a number of different signs to watch out for, ranging from old age, stress, common illnesses, and infectious diseases.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.