How to comfort a dying rabbit?

Categorized as Bunny Facts Tagged ,

Last Updated on July 29, 2022 by Rei Garnet

A dying rabbit can be comforted by providing pain medications, adequate food and water, lots of attention, a comfortable resting place, and keeping your rabbit’s temperature in check.

But, if your rabbit is screaming due to the intense pain it’s experiencing, you should talk to your veterinarian about euthanizing it. Rabbits will only show signs of weakness, like screaming, if they’re in extreme pain.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail how to comfort a dying rabbit:

Signs that a rabbit would inevitably die.

A black rabbit dying.
“Kitty on the Steps 1″ by tfangel is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The first step in comforting a dying rabbit is to first make sure it’s really dying and that it’s inevitable. Giving up when there’s a chance that your rabbit might recover should not be an option.

Signs that a rabbit would inevitably die:

  • Lethargy. While lethargy can be a symptom of a lot of diseases, a rabbit that’s near-death would show an unusual level of lethargy. It would stay in one place the whole day and would often refuse to move.
  • Lack of appetite. Rabbits would rarely refuse to eat. They require lots of fiber from hay for their stomachs to induce movement. So every time you notice a change in your rabbit’s appetite, you should always bring them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
  • Lying on its side. A rabbit that’s lying on its side while breathing heavily is a sign it’s near death.
  • Difficulty breathing. Rabbits that are dying will show signs of respiratory stress.
  • Changes in vital signs. A rabbit that’s dying would show changes in its vital signs. While rabbits normally have a heart rate of 180–250 beats per minute, a dying rabbit could have a higher or lower heart rate depending on the disease that’s killing them.

The best way to make sure that your rabbit is really dying is for a veterinarian to confirm it.

If you notice any of the signs above, you should still bring your rabbit to a veterinarian to make sure that death is really imminent.

Ways to comfort a dying rabbit.

A person taking care of a sick dying rabbit. How to comfort a dying rabbit?
“Hodge post op.” by Justin Snow is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

After you’re sure that your rabbit is really dying and there’s nothing anyone can do, here are the steps to make sure that your rabbit dies comfortably:

1. Provide pain medications.

The first step to making sure that your pet dies comfortably should be to make sure that their pain is managed. Ask your veterinarian for some pain medications to ensure that your rabbit passes away without feeling any pain.

Signs that your rabbit is in a lot of pain:

  • Aggression.
  • Screaming.
  • Tooth grinding.
  • Hunched posture.
  • Increased respiration.
  • Squinted eyes.
  • Lethargy.

Drugs like Buprenorphine could be used as a pain medication to help manage your rabbit’s pain.

2. Provide adequate food and water.

As rabbit owners, it’s our job to provide adequate food and water to our rabbits up to the very end. Even a dying rabbit would eat some food until it’s unable to because it’s their instinct to survive at all costs.

If your rabbit is unable to drink on its own, you can use a dropper to keep it hydrated. As for food, keep their bowl full and let them decide how much they want to eat.

3. Provide lots of attention.

Rabbits are social creatures, and they are happiest when they’re interacting with their loved ones, which includes you. Your rabbits would love you until the very end. You should do the same.

Play, cuddle, pet, and groom your rabbit if you want to. Some rabbits will become distant if they’re unwell. You should let your rabbit set the pace on how much attention they should get from you.

4. Provide comfortable resting place.

A rabbit that’s nearing death would spend most of its time in its hutch. Make sure that your rabbit’s resting place is clean so they can sleep and rest in peace in their final moments.

You should also provide proper bedding that’s not wet to make your rabbit even more comfortable. Rabbits don’t like sleeping on wet or moist surfaces.

5. Keep their temperature in check.

You should also keep your rabbit’s temperature in check to make them comfortable in their final moments. A dying rabbit’s temperature would fluctuate heavily during the course of the disease that’s killing them.

Normally, rabbits’ body temperatures range from 100 °F to 103 °F (38.3 °C to 39.4 °C). Depending on your rabbit’s condition, it might go over 39.4 °C (fever) or dip below 37.4 °C (hypothermia). In any case, you should bring your rabbit’s temperature to a normal range.

For rabbits that are having a fever, you can place a cold water bottle wrapped in a blanket near them. You can also place a fan near your rabbit to help them cool down.

Be warned though, some rabbits will get scared when they have never encountered the noise of a fan before.

To bring your rabbit’s temperature up, you can place a heating pad or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel near your rabbit. Be careful not to burn your rabbit.

How to tell if your rabbit is comfortable while dying?

There’s no definitive way to know if your rabbit is truly comfortable while they’re dying because rabbits evolve to not show any weakness.

Rabbits usually hide their pain until it’s too late. That’s why a lot of rabbit owners are often shocked by how fast their rabbits die.

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They just didn’t realize that their rabbits were already dying for some time now.

But, you can tell if your rabbit is in excruciating pain if they’re screamingRabbits would rarely scream because, in the wild, it would only signal a predator.

So rabbits will only scream when the pain becomes too unbearable. If your rabbit is screaming in pain, you should consider euthanizing him to prevent further pain.

Conclusion

You can make your rabbit comfortable while in the process of dying by giving lots of attention, cleaning their resting place, keeping their temperature in check, administering pain medications, and providing adequate food and water.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (September 16, 2022) How to comfort a dying rabbit?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-comfort-a-dying-rabbit/.
"How to comfort a dying rabbit?." Bunny Horde - September 16, 2022, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-comfort-a-dying-rabbit/

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By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.