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Rabbit Scout

Raise Happier & Healthier Rabbits!

How Long can Rabbits Go Without Water?

Rabbit running inside his enclosure

A rabbit that quits eating or drinking spells danger. Hydration, in particular, is crucial to your pet’s survival. Without regular access to fresh drinking water, their health will start to fall.

Going for 24 hours without drinking water will be disastrous for most rabbits. Not drinking can lead to a certain organ failure. Take an immediate action at the first warning signs of dehydration, particularly during the summer.

If your rabbit is unwilling to drink, find out why. Observe closely and it’ll likely reveal the problem. It can be their bowl or bottle, your pet rabbit may not like the smell of the water, or it could be a dental problem.

Do Rabbits Drink Water?

Rabbits drink water. Regardless of whether the animal is wild or domesticated, even for us humans, water is an essential need. A rabbit that does not drink daily can be dangerous.

Like all living things, water makes up a high percentage of a rabbit’s body. Also, drinking enough water is essential for several organic functions:

  • Water keeps your rabbit’s blood flowing at a proper rate and thickness. This guarantees that your rabbit’s organs continue to work in optimal conditions.
  • Water helps your rabbit’s digestive tract process, making it easy for them to digest and excrete food.
  • Water flushes unnecessary calcium from your rabbit’s blood. This stops urinary incontinence and related health concerns, including bladder stones.

If a rabbit does not drink water, it can lead to dehydration. This will make urinating excreting difficult for your pet bunny, causingintestinal blockages that can be fatal.

Thankfully, rabbits are smart enough to understand that hydration is essential. Thus, if your pet rabbit is not drinking, there’s surely a reason why.

How Much Water Do Rabbits Drink Each Day?

How much your rabbit should drink will vary depending on the following factors:

  • How big is your rabbit? Larger breeds need more water to stay healthy.
  • How hot is the temperature? Rabbits drink a lot more in the summer and less in the winter.
  • How old is your rabbit? Young, growing rabbits require more water than older rabbits.
  • How active is your rabbit? The more your rabbit hops around and exercises, the greater her need to rehydrate will be. Slackie rabbits will work up less of a thirst.
  • What is your rabbit’s diet? If your rabbit maintains herself exclusively on dry hay and pellets, she’ll require more water. If your rabbit likes leafy greens, she’ll get some dietary hydration.

A normal, healthy, and happy rabbit should consume around 10% of its body weight in water. If your rabbit weighs 4 lbs., they should drink a minimum of 180ml of water every day.

A cup of water a day is more than enough to keep rabbits healthy. Don’t just give it to her once, though. Your rabbit’s water supply should be frequently topped up and changed for its safety.

You’ll also notice that all water bottles and bowls are bigger than 180ml. This is calculated. As rabbits prefer to live in pairs, vessels are provided for multiple pets. It also lessens the risk of an empty bowl or bottle for an extended period.

How Long can Rabbits Last Without Water?

A rabbit won’t last longer than 24 hours without water, especially when the weather is hot. On the other hand, a pet drinking a little, but not enough, does not pose danger. However, you should not let this drag on.

A rabbit will become dehydrated if she doesn’t drink adequate water. If your pet is reluctant to drink, you need to find out why so you can take immediate action.

How Long can Rabbits Survive Without Water in the Cold?

In the winter months, you will notice that your rabbit drinks less water. This is absolutely natural, and nothing to worry about. As long as she is still drinking at least some water, your pet is still safe.

The 24-hour rule is still in total effect during winter, though. Rabbits still require water when it’s cold outside and they will grow dehydrated without it. That’s because their thick fur coats still keep them warm.

Moreover, your pet’s body still requires water to function. A rabbit’s blood and internal organs do not control the ambient temperature, so they need to drink to survive.

How can I Prevent My Rabbit’s Water From Freezing During Winter?

One of the biggest difficulties with rabbit hydration during winter is frozen water. Rabbits can still cope well with sub-zero temperatures, but the water in her bottle or bowl may freeze.

Bottles are more prone to freeze in winter. This can lead to the ice expanding and damaging the vessel.

If your rabbit uses a water bottle, you should purchase a thermal cover for the winter months. It’s also recommended to use a bowl or dish during the winter as a safety precaution. Use a vessel that is deep enough, so that whatever it contains is less likely to freeze and turn to ice.

Wherever possible, stop the water from becoming too cold. Many rabbits do not like ice-cold water and would prefer something lukewarm.

How to Tell if a Rabbit is Dehydrated?

The most urgent and concerning effect of a rabbit not drinking water is dehydration. You must know the warning signs of this condition. Symptoms include:

  • Tight skin. Lightly pinch your rabbit’s fur around the skin of her neck. If it doesn’t quickly snap back into position, as though made of elastic, dehydration is possible.
  • Foul-smelling urine. The ammonia odor becomes much more pronounced if she’s dehydrated. The color of its urine will also be darker.
  • Fever. If your rabbit’s body temperature is higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit, she is in danger.
  • Lethargy and disorientation. Dehydration severely affects a rabbit’s energy levels. Your pet may also look uncharacteristically clumsy and uncoordinated.
  • Loss of appetite. If your rabbit isn’t drinking, her body will not be working properly. This will leave her unwilling to eat as well. This attaches an extra layer of danger to her condition.

Dehydration can be dangerous for rabbits, regardless of their age and current health condition. If you think that your pet is dehydrated, you need to take immediate action.

Why Does My Rabbit Don’t Drink Water?

There are several reasons why a rabbit would refuse to drink. These span from psychological to medical reasons:

  • The water tastes or smells funny. Rabbits are meticulous animals. If something tastes or smells different about her water, she’ll surely refuse to drink. Empty the bowl or bottle and clean it before refilling.
  • The water is the wrong temperature. Rabbits like water with the same ambient temperature. If her water is too cold or too hot, your pet will possibly reject it.
  • Your rabbit has a toothache. Rabbit teeth are delicate. If your pet is encountering dental pain, eating and drinking will worsen it. This needs to be fixed by a professional.
  • The water vessel is dirty. You’ll be required to regularly wash and clean your pet’s water bowl or bottle. If the vessel is unclean, your rabbit will not trust the contents.
  • Your rabbit seems hydrated from her food. Have you raised your pet’s leafy green consumption? If so, she may think that she’s already hydrated. Make sure to keep an eye on this condition, though. Food alone does not render enough water.
  • Your rabbit has an alternative water source. It’s always possible that your rabbit is sipping water elsewhere. She may have discovered a leaky tap or pipe in your home.
  • Your rabbit is sick. Vast arrays of illnesses make rabbits reject food and water.

A rabbit that doesn’t want to drink is not typical behavior. If that’s the case with your pet, something is definitely wrong.Even if your bunny is just being fussy, you have to take it seriously.

That’s because rabbits can be stubborn to the point of jeopardizing themselves.

How to Get a Rabbit to Drink Water

If your rabbit doesn’t want to drink water, you need to change your priority. This includes knowing how you can make your pet take more fluid:

  • Shift from a water bowl to a bottle, or vice versa
  • Carefully clean all water vessels so that they smell neutral
  • If your rabbit will not drink water from tap, purify it or purchase a bottled water
  • Make your rabbit’s water more encouraging with tasty additions

The last is arguably the most failsafe method. If your rabbit still refuses to drink, stir small amounts of unsweetened fruit juice into her water. She’ll soon begin to show an interest again.

Apple or carrot juice really works well. As soon as she starts drinking again, discontinue giving her the additional juice.

If you’re not cautious, you’ll end up back at square one. Your rabbit will stop drinking water again, squeezing out for more juice.

Also, ensure that you know the distinction between sugar-free and unsweetened juice. The latter will typically only include naturally-occurring sugars. These are rabbit-safe in small doses. A juice that is sold as sugar-free may carry toxic artificial sweeteners.

How to Rehydrate a Rabbit?

Rehydrating your rabbit is crucial, so it’s vital to seek help from a vet.

Don’t just present a large bowl of water and think that your work is done. Even if your pet laps this water up, it still won’t fix the problem. Rehydration needs to be a gradual and steady procedure.

The most efficient solutions are syringe feeding and intravenous fluids.

If you want to attempt syringe feeding, pick one up from a pet store. Load the syringe with water and set it in the corner of your rabbit’s mouth. Release the water in small, controlled bursts. Let your pet swallow the water and rest between drinks.

If your rabbit is still reluctant to drink or cannot swallow, take it to the vet immediately. Your pet will require IV fluids as this can be a crucial stage.

Is Tap Water Safe for Rabbits?

This depends on the area where you live. Tap water is usually safe for consumption by people and animals.

The CDC concludes the tap water in the USA to be among the safest in the world. But this does not mean that your rabbit will take tap water, though.

Your pet may detect treatment chemicals in the water by smell. Alternatively, she might be fussy and notice that the taste is not to her liking.

If this is the case, invest in a water purifier or opt for bottled water. It may seem expensive, but it’s worth it if it gets your rabbit drinking.

Should a Rabbit be Given Water in a Bottle or Bowl?

Each method has its pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know:

Advantage of Using Water Bowl

  • Your rabbit will always be able to notice and access her water.
  • Your rabbit can drink as much as she wants, at a pace that suits her.
  • A bowl urges to your rabbit’s instincts. In the wild, she would just lap water from a river or stream.
  • Bowls are more suitable for your rabbit’s neck. She will not have to bend herself to reach her water.

Disadvantages of Using Water Bowl

  • Various rabbits treat water bowls as toys. Your pet may just toss hers around.
  • The bowl must be cleaned regularly. Bacteria and mold may thrive in it otherwise.
  • Your rabbit may release her hay or food inside the bowl. This ‘corrupts’ the water in her eyes.
  • If you have two or more rabbits, they’ll instantly empty the bowl between them. You’ll need to top it up frequently.

Advantages of Using Water Bottle

  • If drinking from a bottle, your rabbit will only drink as much water as her body requires.
  • Most bottles discharge water when your rabbit licks the tip. This decreases the risk of spillage.
  • The water supply will last longer if various pets share a hutch. One rabbit cannot drink all the water, or tap over the bowl.
  • The water is less likely to freeze in winter, with the proper precautions. Invest in an insulated protection for the bottle.

Disadvantages of Using Water Bottle

  • Your rabbit may chew the tip of a water bottle. This could break or hurt her teeth.
  • Bottle discharges water slowly, one drop at a time. This may discourage a thirsty rabbit.
  • Water bottles need to be attached to a cage or hutch. This means your rabbit will need to reach to gain access to it.
  • Water bottles are very hard to clean. You’ll need to do so though, or risk bacterial increase.

Try both vessels and observe which one your pet appears to favor. After all, there is nothing wrong with providing either options.

Why Does My Rabbit Keep Nudging Over Her Water Bowl?

Many rabbits treat their water bowls as toys, and your pet may be one of them. This is also likely to happen when your pet bunny is bored.

Your rabbit may be concerned that her water is tainted. If your rabbit accidentally drops food in her water, she’ll tip the bowl over. Odd smells will produce the same result and she will no longer trust the water source.

It’s also possible that your pet is a unique rabbit that enjoys water play. She may be tipping over her bowl so she can make a lot of splash around. This will appear as an exception more than the rule, though.

The key here is to use a heavier vessel. Even a strong and determined rabbit will try to flip a full, ceramic bowl. The same thing goes if it is on an elevated shelf. Thus, this can be dangerous in one way or another.

If your rabbit is determined not to use her bowl correctly, shift to a bottle. You may need to teach your pet how to use this, though.

Teaching a Rabbit to Use a Water Bottle

Your rabbit may have seen a water bottle for the first time. Although a rabbit that was born in a pet store will surely be familiar with bottles.

To teach your rabbit how to drink from a bottle, entice them to try it. Dab something pleasing on the spout like sugar-free or Xylitol-free jam. This will stimulate your pet to lick the spout of the bottle. Your rabbit will immediately learn that this provides water.

Keep bowls in her hutch until your rabbit has comprehended using the bottle. Don’t give treats for too long, though. Your rabbit will grow, requiring it all the time.

Final Thoughts

Drinking water is even more important than consuming food. If your rabbit goes longer than 24 hours without drinking, then her health will be in danger. Never let things lead to this point.

Support your pet to drink regularly, and pay attention if she quits. No rabbit will voluntarily go thirsty. So, you should determine the reason behind why your pet is choosing not to drink.