Pet rabbits age much, much quicker than other house pets. Though a bunny can live upwards of 10 years, most rabbits are considered “senior” by the time they are only 5 years old. Unfortunately, many are unaware of how to properly care for an aging rabbit. Here are a few tips and tricks for caring for a senior or geriatric bunny.
As a pet rabbit gets older, his nutritional needs will change. He will likely not require as much food as he may have previously, and he will likely be less active. Unfortunately, this can lead to obesity, which can lead to other additional health problems for the bunny.
In regards to their diet, an older rabbit can still be allowed access to unlimited hay, though their pellet consumption should be monitored. Veterinarian Holly Nash, of PetEducation.com, states that for every 6 pounds your rabbit weighs, he should be given 1/4 cup of pellets per day. Vegetables should also be provided and should be a minimum of 2 cups of vegetables for every 6 pounds of the rabbit’s body weight.
Signs of an Aging Rabbit
Many rabbits will suffer from arthritis as they get old. In a rabbit, symptoms or arthritis can include no longer using their litter box, difficulty or reluctancy to move, to groom or to use the litter box.
Owners should seek veterinary care if their rabbit is having any of these issues. Environmental changes may be necessary, such as providing softer bedding or adding additional litter boxes.
Health Issues Affecting Older Rabbits
Pododermatitis can also occur in an older rabbit who is overweight. Pododermatitis, also known as sore hocks, occurs when the foot suffers from hair loss, swelling, redness, or open sores. It should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian, as it can become severe and cause major damage to the bunny’s legs as well as his overall health.
Some rabbits may suffer from sores or skin abscesses as they age. These require veterinary care, as they can become serious infections that can extend down deep into the rabbit’s bones and tissues.
Lastly, the mouth of the rabbit should also be regularly checked by an owner or veterinarian. The rabbit’s molars and incisors grow throughout their entire life and normally, a younger rabbit would be constantly grinding these teeth down through gnawing on food or other items. However, when the rabbit gets older, he becomes less active and thus, the teeth continue to grow and can cause dental problems. These teeth either need to be regularly filed down or clipped by a trained veterinarian to prevent issues from occurring.
The Bunny Bunch S.P.C.R.
Indiana House Rabbit Society
Pet Education: Rabbits