Darren explains how to recognise a rabbit emergency

April 14, 2022

Unfortunately, premature deaths in rabbits are common. Rabbits are prey animals in the wild and when individuals are weak or injured, they are very good at hiding their distress. They are also vulnerable to many ailments which often require our veterinary intervention at Molesey Vets.

Below is our Vet Darren’s list of the 10 most common rabbit health problems your pet may suffer from, what to look out for, and how they are treated.

First though, why not book a check-up for your rabbit to make sure they are healthy?

Book a Vet check-up

Common rabbit health problems

Dental issues

Very often teeth may be positioned incorrectly or can grow to an unmanageable length, leading to damage of the tongue, gums, or cheeks. Dental issues can affect your rabbit’s ability to eat, which after around 6 hours can lead to Gut stasis – a life-threatening condition. To solve the underlying dental problem, Darren or another of our highly skilled Vets may remove the rabbit’s incisors under anaesthetic.

GI/Gut stasis

This is a very dangerous condition that occurs when a rabbit’s digestive system slows down or stops completely. Bacteria builds up in the intestines and releases gas. This causes bloating and will have your rabbit hunched over in pain; they may also have their eyes closed with gritted teeth. Decreased eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating can also be signs of GI stasis. You should seek veterinary help immediately as we will treat your bunny with fluid therapy, pain relief, nutritional support, and motility enhancing drugs.


This could be an abscess, or a tumour so book an appointment for analysis. Depending on our findings, the lump may be removed or drained.

Ear mites

You will see scaly, crusty lesions in the ear, excessive itching, head shaking, and beige discharge in the ear canal. Seek treatment from our East Molesey veterinary team and avoid over-the-counter drugs as they could be toxic or even fatal for your bunny.

Respiratory problems

Respiratory issues are often diagnosed by fast breathing, or sometimes a blue tinge to the lips and tongue. This is a rabbit emergency so contact our Park Road practice as soon as you notice the problem.

Flystrike in rabbits

Flystrike mostly occurs during the warmer months and is caused by blowflies (green bottle and blue bottle are the most dangerous) laying eggs near the rabbit’s anus if the area is wet and covered in faeces. The maggots then feed on the rabbit’s flesh. If this happens, seek emergency veterinary help by calling 0208 979 1384. Your rabbit will need to be cleaned by a Vet, put on a drip, and monitored closely. Flystrike is extremely painful and often fatal but catching it early enough will greatly improve your rabbit’s chances of recovery.

Bites, wounds & scrapes

Make sure your bunny is vaccinated as they can get very ill from flea or mosquito bites. Insects can carry myxomatosis and R-VHD – both diseases have high mortality rates. If you see any open wounds or scrapes, contact us here at Molesey Vets as your rabbit may need antibiotics or surgery.

Head tilt

This condition is usually caused by bacterial infections of the ear or brain, but it can also be the symptom of a parasite invasion. To treat this problem, antibiotics, fluid therapy, and anti-inflammatory drugs may be given by our Vets.


If your rabbit has an episode of runny or soft stools, but is behaving normally, they should be ok. However, if the problem persists, or if they are covered in their own faeces, contact our Vets on 0208 979 1384. Your rabbit will be cleaned, a new diet may be recommended, and antibiotics or fluids may be administered. Leaving a rabbit covered in faeces can lead to flystrike.


It is common for rabbits to suddenly go into a state of shock due to temperature difference, poisoning, trauma, and other conditions. They will be limp, cold, weak, and very vulnerable to a heart attack or sepsis. Warm them up and contact our Vets immediately.

To ensure the best treatment for your bunny if they get ill, keep our contact details to hand. Pop our number in your phone if you don’t have it already – 0208 979 1384.

Booking a check-up can be helpful especially if your pet hasn’t seen a Vet in a while, as potential rabbit health problems can be spotted and dealt with earlier rather than later.

Contact us to book a Vet check-up

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