How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Dehydrated?

Categorized as Bunny Health Tagged

Last Updated on July 30, 2022 by Rei Garnet

To tell if your rabbit is dehydrated, you have to look for its symptoms. The most common are dark or smelly urine, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and wrinkled skin.

The most common reason a rabbit gets dehydrated is when they have diarrhea. The other reason is neglect or not giving your rabbit unlimited access to clean water.

If your rabbit has unlimited access to water and you still suspect dehydration, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian. There could be an underlying cause that only a vet could properly diagnose.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail how you can tell if your rabbit is dehydrated:

Dark Urine

Just like us, dark urine in rabbits is a clear sign of dehydration. It’s a bit hard to detect the color of your rabbit’s urine, because sometimes red urine can be mistaken for dark urine.

You can tell the difference between normal urine and dark urine by the smell. Dark urine that’s caused by dehydration has a stronger scent of ammonia.

Check to see if your rabbit’s water is still fresh. Sometimes rabbits will refuse to drink when they don’t like the smell of water.

If your rabbit is still not drinking after replacing its water, bring your rabbit to a veterinarian. Your rabbit might be suffering from issues only a vet could detect.

Wrinkled skin

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“Sick rabbit” by ctrlw is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Wrinkled skin is another sign of dehydration. You can test for dehydration by gently pulling a little bit of skin at the back of your rabbit’s neck. If the skin stays in place for a few seconds, it’s a good indicator that your rabbit might be suffering from dehydration.

If your rabbit has a constant supply of water and is still not drinking, check whether its stool is normal or watery. Your rabbit might be suffering from diarrhea or digestive issues, causing it to refuse to take fluids.

Bring your rabbit to a veterinarian because your rabbit might be suffering from digestive issues only a vet could detect.


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“Hodge post op.” by Justin Snow is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Fever accompanied by dehydration is a serious issue and should be looked at by a veterinarian. Bring your rabbit to a veterinarian if your rabbit has a fever, regardless of whether or not your rabbit is dehydrated.

Fever can be caused by a lot of things. The only way to know for sure is to go to a veterinarian.


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“I’m so tired” by jpockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Just like us humans, when we’re dehydrated, rabbits also feel sluggish or have lower energy levels.

Make sure that your rabbit’s water is still clean and drinkable. Remember that your rabbit’s water should look like what YOU yourself would drink.

If it looks dirty, some rabbits would be reluctant to drink it because of the smell.

Lack of appetite

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Another common symptom of dehydration is a lack of appetite. Lack of appetite is usually accompanied by lethargy, where your rabbit doesn’t have enough energy to eat.

Your rabbit not eating is extremely dangerous and should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. A rabbit who hasn’t eaten in 12 hours could develop gastrointestinal stasis. GI stasis could lead to organ failure and death if not treated immediately.


The signs of dehydration in rabbits are dark and smelly urine, wrinkled or tight skin, fever, lethargy, and lack of appetite.

Make sure that your rabbit has access to an unlimited amount of clean, drinkable water that you yourself would drink. Your rabbit might not drink or only drink a little when the water has a foul smell.

If your rabbit’s dehydration is caused by diarrhea, it’s time to go to a veterinarian. Diarrhea in rabbits is extremely dangerous and can lead to death.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (September 13, 2022) How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Dehydrated?. Retrieved from
"How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Dehydrated?." Bunny Horde - September 13, 2022,
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Sources and further reading

  • Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
  • Lebas, F. The Rabbit: Husbandry, Health, and Production. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1997.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
  • Red Urine: Blood or Plant Pigment?
  • Gastrointestinal Stasis: The Silent Killer

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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.