Emergency and First Aid for Rabbits

An emergency pharmacy cannot replace a veterinarian. Nevertheless, you should be prepared for an absolute emergency. Read here how to react correctly to minor health problems and heat stroke – and how to feed your rabbit if it doesn’t want to eat.

You can treat minor health problems with rabbits yourself until your vet’s office hours. However, never wait longer than 24 hours before taking a rabbit to the vet. If your rabbit is in visible pain, is lying apathetically on its side, or is breathing heavily, you should contact an emergency veterinarian immediately!

Heatstroke in rabbits – react correctly

A common emergency in rabbits is heatstroke. Rabbits do not have sweat glands and are very sensitive to heat. At high temperatures and direct sunlight (e.g. a car ride, an enclosure without cool shade, etc.) they quickly suffer from heatstroke.

If the animals cannot avoid the heat, they react apathetically at first. Affected rabbits have shallow, labored breathing. In the further course, the animals suffer a shock, which can be accompanied by convulsions.

As a first-aid measure, the rabbits must be taken to a cool place immediately. There they can be wrapped in damp, cool compresses. A veterinarian gives the animals oxygen, an infusion, and a broad-spectrum antibiotic as quickly as possible.

Force-feeding – when the rabbit won’t eat

Sick rabbits that stop eating must be force-fed temporarily. For example, Critical Care (a powdered feed that is available from the veterinarian) can be mixed with water. A 1 ml syringe (without a needle) is used to administer the mash.

The rabbit can be held supine in the arm while the syringe is pushed behind the teeth from the side. The mashed food is slowly fed into the mouth. If your sick rabbit does not drink on its own, it must also be regularly given some water or possibly fennel tea.

This belongs in the first-aid kit of rabbit owners

Rabbit owners should have some additional feed in stock so that they can react as quickly as possible if the rabbit has symptoms. The following is recommended for an emergency pharmacy:

Critical Care

Critical Care is a feed used in the force-feeding of rabbits. Force-feeding is necessary when the animals stop eating due to illness or after an operation. Critical Care is available from the vet.

For administration, e.g. 1 level tablespoon of powder is mixed with 1.5 tablespoons of lukewarm water. If the mashed food is too thick, you can add lukewarm water until the desired consistency is reached. A rabbit weighing about 2 kg should be given about 1-2 tablespoons of mashed food about every three hours.

Bird Bene-Bac

Bird Bene-Bac consists of live, freeze-dried bacterial cultures found in the healthy colon. If the rabbit changes its diet, has diarrhea, or is stressed, the natural intestinal flora gets mixed up. Bird Bene-Bac can be used to try to bring the intestines back into balance. Rabbits get an amount the size of a pea twice a day in the event of acute diarrhea symptoms, and an amount the size of a lentil once a day if they change their diet or are stressed. Bird Bene-Bac is only available from the vet.

Sab Simplex

If the rabbit has gastrointestinal problems (e.g. flatulence), a few drops of Sab Simplex can be administered. The medication is given about 3 – 5 times a day, mixing between 0.4 – 1 ml with the same amount of water. Sab Simplex is also used in human medicine.


The supplementary feed Rodikolan can be given directly into the rabbit’s mouth or over the feed to support the digestive processes in the event of gastrointestinal problems (e.g. constipation). It contains, among other things, linseed and rapeseed oil as well as extracts from various medicinal plants. Rabbits receive 7-10 drops 3 times a day.

It is best to get advice from your veterinarian. When in doubt, always consult a veterinarian before giving him anything wrong.

Emergency cards for rabbit owners

The emergency card set for owners of small animals, birds, fish, and terrarium animals contains small stop signs that you can put on cardboard, cover with foil and attach to the apartment door. If something happens to you or a fire breaks out in your home, helpers will know right away that there are animals in your home to rescue.

Also included is an emergency card to keep in your purse or wallet. All you have to do is cut them out, fold them at the breakpoint, glue them together and fill them in. Should you have an accident or collapse unconscious, the card will certainly be found and your animal will not be left uncared for.

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