Every living thing needs water to survive. Your pet rabbit definitely needs enough drinking water every day. But if your rabbit is picky about how they drink water or they are sick, then your bun may not be drinking water at all.
So how long can rabbits go without water?
A rabbit shouldn’t go for 24 hours or more without drinking water because this will most likely be fatal for your pet rabbit. Being dehydrated causes your rabbit’s digestive system to slow down and organs to fail. Learn when your rabbit is dehydrated so you can take immediate action.
Discover more about what happens when your rabbit doesn’t drink enough water, what the signs of a dehydrated bunny are, and what you need to do.
What Happens If Rabbits Don’t Drink Water?
Just like with people, water also comprises a large percentage of the body of a rabbit.
Drinking enough water helps your rabbit’s:
- Organs to function well since their blood will be at the right thickness and flow rate
- Digestive tract to work by moving food along
- Body to flush out excess calcium, which can lead to bladder problems and kidney stones
Not drinking water causes your rabbit to dehydrate. They won’t be able to urinate and poop, and their gastrointestinal tract will become blocked.
Other health concerns also arise, all of which can be fatal.
Signs That Your Rabbit Is Dehydrated
There is a big difference if your rabbit is drinking some water versus not drinking any water at all. Not drinking any water is much more dangerous.
It’s essential to know when your rabbit is suffering from dehydration. Here are the signs:
Sign 1: Urine That Smells Bad
Rabbit urine generally doesn’t smell great. It is highly concentrated with ammonia.
However, if your rabbit is dehydrated, their urine smells even worse and the color will also be darker.
Sign 2: Tight Skin
Check if your rabbit’s skin is tight. Gently pinch the skin at the back of your rabbit neck.
If it snaps back into position, your bun isn’t dehydrated, but if it stays pinched, it is likely your bunny is dehydrated.
Sign 3: Little or No Appetite
If your bun is dehydrated, they won’t feel like eating because their body won’t be functioning optimally.
Sign 4: Fever
Take your rabbit’s internal temperature with a thermometer. If it is anything above 103℉, then your bunny has a fever.
Sign 5: Disoriented and Lethargic
A bunny that is dehydrated will have little to no energy. So your bun will just want to lay down, and if they move around, their movements will be uncoordinated.
Sign 6: Small Droppings
Your rabbit’s poop will be small and dark compared to their normal droppings.
What to Do When Your Rabbit Is Dehydrated
When your rabbit is dehydrated, the situation is an emergency. Follow these steps to ensure your rabbit will recover:
Step 1: Syringe-Feed Water
Don’t just place a full bowl of fresh water in your rabbit’s cage. This won’t hydrate your bun.
Rehydrating a rabbit is a slow and gradual process.
So to start, you can syringe feed your rabbit some water. Place a syringe full of water in the corner of your rabbit’s mouth and slowly push water into your rabbit’s mouth.
Let your bun swallow. Then let them rest for a while before syringe-feeding their water again.
Step 2: Take Your Rabbit to the Vet
Your rabbit will need intravenous (IV) fluids that only a vet can administer. So call and book an emergency appointment so the vet can help you get your pet rabbit hydrated as soon as possible.
You can give your rabbit water through a syringe after you’ve called the vet and if you need to wait for the vet.
But make sure your vet knows you have an emergency situation.
How to Get Your Rabbit to Drink Water
One of the first steps to ensuring your rabbit doesn’t dehydrate and suffer from related health issues is to ensure they drink plenty of water every day.
Some rabbits may refuse to drink water or stop drinking for some reason only they understand.
So how can you get your rabbit to drink water?
Tip 1: Give a Bowl and a Bottle
A bowl resembles how wild rabbits will drink from a water source in the wild, so most fur parents recommend giving your rabbit a water bowl with drinking water.
If your rabbit is picky, give them a bowl and water bottle so they can choose how they want to drink water.
You can also invest in an electric fountain so the drinking water doesn’t go stale.
If you have kits, use a shallow water bowl so the baby bunnies can’t fall in and drown.
Tip 2: Don’t Dry Leafy Greens
When you rinse the leafy greens you feed your rabbit twice a day, don’t dry these.
Leave the water droplets on the greens because this ensures your rabbit gets a little more hydrated when they eat the leafy greens.
Tip 3: Add Drops of Unsweetened Fruit Juice
Add half a teaspoon of unsweetened vegetable or fruit juice to your rabbit’s drinking water to entice them to drink more.
Try 100% carrot juice, apple juice, or pineapple juice and see what your bun likes.
Tip 4: Add Herbs
Adding herbs like mint or basil to your bun’s drinking water flavors the water. So it can also encourage your bun to drink more.
Your rabbit will try to fish out the pieces of herbs to eat and drink more water as a result.
How Often Do Rabbits Need Water?
Your rabbits need access to water the whole day, every day.
How much water your rabbit drinks depends on a variety of factors. Your rabbit will drink more if:
- They are a large rabbit breed
- It’s summer and hot
- They are young and growing
- They are very active
- Your bun eats more pellets and hay
In general, a 4-pound rabbit drinks a minimum of 6 fluid ounces or 180 milliliters of water a day. So a healthy rabbit should drink about 10% of its body weight in water.
The Last Drop
Water is essential, and it’s crucial that your pet rabbit drinks enough water every day. Encourage them to drink water by following our tips because this ensures your rabbit won’t dehydrate.
If you do see that your rabbit isn’t drinking water, check for signs of dehydration and take your rabbit to the vet ASAP.
And remember: your rabbit should never go 24 hours or more without water.