Asking yourself: “why is my rabbit losing weight?” It isn’t normal or healthy, but there are many reasons for that. The most common is loss of appetite.
Learn more reasons for weight loss in rabbits and how to make sure your rabbit has a healthy weight. Read on!
Table of Contents
- Health issues usually are the causes of weight loss in rabbits.
- You can easily see the ribs of underweight rabbits.
- Rabbits can lose muscle mass because of a condition called cachexia.
Why Is My Rabbit Losing Weight?
Your rabbit could be losing weight for many reasons. Stress, infections, or even cancer could cause weight loss in rabbits.
They can also lose weight naturally when getting older. Rabbits lose a lot of their body mass as they get older, even if they eat the same amount of food as before.
Knowing why your rabbit is losing weight is essential to prevent the issue from getting more significant. As in the cause of a parasitic infection, not treating them soon enough will eventually lead to death.
READ MORE: How to Properly Take Care of a Rabbit?
Below are some causes of a rabbit losing body weight.
1. Rabbits Losing Weight Because of Digestive Issues
If your pet rabbit is losing weight and they have diarrhea, or their poop seems small and oblong, they may have digestive issues.
The food your rabbit eats may be too high in carbohydrates, or maybe there’s not enough fiber in their diet. By simply adjusting their diet, their stool will return to normal.
Another reason for diarrhea is viruses in the digestive tract. If your pet rabbit is left to roam the backyard often, it may ingest parasites by eating grass, flowers, and other plants found outdoors.
If you suspect this is the case, take your rabbit to the veterinary for further investigation.
As for the poop, there are two different types of what you would call rabbit poop. Normal rabbit poop appears to be round, dry, and crumbly.
The other type of “poop” is called cecotrope pellets. They are clusters of droppings that look like grapes. 
Cecotrope pellets are not round like normal rabbit poop is and will usually stick to each other.
Rabbits need to redigest cecotropes to get healthy bacteria and more nutrients. Other animals, like guinea pigs and beavers, also practice redigestion.
The process starts with regular food that passes through their digestive system.
Some nutrients from the food are not absorbed by the rabbit’s body and get pooped out, forming the cecotropes. The cecotropes are not feces per se since they are an essential part of the rabbit diet.
Rabbits are smart creatures and can distinguish between their regular poop and cecotrope pellets.
If your pet rabbit is not eating their cecotrope pellets, they are losing vitamins. If that happens, reduce treats like sugary foods.
2. Rabbits Losing Weight Because of Dental Issues
Maybe your rabbit has a dental disease that makes them eat less.
Check their mouth for any soreness, swelling around the jaws, or abscesses around the teeth. They may have overgrown incisors or molars. All of this will cause discomfort every time they eat.
Rabbits that have dental disorders may become aggressive if you try to open up their mouth. If this happens, it’s best to take them to the veterinarian.
Never try to force open their mouth, or they may harm you.
3. Rabbits Losing Weight From Stress
Stress is a significant factor that could cause your rabbit to lose weight.
Rabbits may become stressed when there are other pets in their home. If you have a dog or a cat in your house, these pets may be making your rabbit stressed.
Dogs and cats are curious creatures and often hang around the rabbit’s cage.
Because of their natural instinct, they will see anything more significant than them as a threat. Cats hunt and eat rabbits in the wild when they get a chance. So rabbits will be stressed every time they come around.
If it’s once in a while, the rabbits won’t suffer too much stress. But if the other pets keep coming around the rabbit cage often, prolonged stress could cause the rabbits to lose weight.
The same goes for children. They may go to the rabbit’s cage and start hitting it and making loud noises. This will, of course, cause the rabbit to be startled and stressed out.
If you notice your other pets and children are around the rabbit’s cage often, find another location to put the cage.
Another reason for your pet rabbit to become stressed is another hutch mate. Rabbits are social creatures and like to be around other rabbits. This gives them protection and security.
But if you pair your rabbit with a more dominant rabbit, they could get bullied and become scared. They will stay in the cage’s corner and won’t eat. This will lead to them losing weight.
4. Rabbits Losing Weight Because of Their Old Age
As the rabbit gets older, it will start to lose weight. This is usually from the decreased appetite, and it’s a normal part of the aging process.
If they are losing weight and not experiencing any of the causes above, you can try giving them more food than usual. If they don’t seem to be interested in eating, you can try to give them food supplements.
Extruded nuggets are specially made for senior rabbits to increase their food intake. Elderly rabbits should eat them to meet their daily dietary needs.
Feed them about two tablespoons of extruded nuggets twice a day.
Is My Rabbit Skinny?
But has your rabbit really lost weight? To see if your rabbit is too skinny, check its ribs. The ribs should not be showing at all.
If they are showing, like the knuckles of your hand, the rabbit is too skinny.
Simply look at their ribcage when they are still. Sometimes, you will need to gently pull their fur around their ribcage to see it.
Another way to check is to gently glide your fingers down their ribcage. If they are at their ideal weight, you won’t be able to feel too much of their ribcage, and it will be rounded, not sharp.
Rabbits Losing Weight and Muscle
When a rabbit starts to lose weight, it’s already a concern. When a rabbit also loses muscle mass, they have a health condition known as cachexia. 
Some symptoms associated with cachexia in rabbits are:
- Teeth grinding.
- Bad breath smell.
- Drooling from the mouth.
- Loss of appetite.
- Stomach bloating.
- Breathing is erratic.
Cachexia will cause the rabbit to lose both muscle mass and weight. Without treatment, this condition can cause the rabbit to die.
If there’s a sudden loss of muscle mass, take them to the veterinary for treatment.
Do rabbits get diarrhea?
Yes, rabbits get diarrhea, and it may become a life-threatening condition.
How can I get my rabbit’s appetite back?
Give them more fresh water and leafy greens and force-feed them if necessary. If nothing works, take them to the veterinarian.
If you are wondering, “why is my rabbit losing weight,” your rabbit is not healthy.
Whenever your pet rabbit loses weight, find out what’s causing it. Digestive issues, dental issues, stress, or oldness can cause this.
But if you are unsure, always take your pet rabbit to the veterinarian for an examination.
Treating these problems will make you have a healthy rabbit again!
So, did you visited a vet yet for your pet treatment? Let us know in the comments how it goes!
- 1. Irlbeck NA. How to feed the rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Animal Science [Internet]. 2001;79. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Nancy-Irlbeck-2/publication/237421088_How_to_feed_the_rabbit_Oryctolagus_cuniculus_gastrointestinal_tract/links/544678270cf2f14fb80f3fe0/How-to-feed-the-rabbit-Oryctolagus-cuniculus-gastrointestinal-tract.pdf
- 2. Loss of Weight and Muscle in Rabbits [Internet]. www.petmd.com. 2008 [cited 2022 Nov 15]. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/rabbit/conditions/digestive/c_rb_cachexia
My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
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