Here are the 8 signs that show old age in rabbits!
Generally, the house rabbits have an average lifespan of 8 to 14 years. But exactly when do they become senior? The answer is, there is no fixed age after which a rabbit becomes elderly. However, a majority of rabbits begin to show signs of old age after 5 to 8 years.
The signs of ageing in these furry animals depend on a number of factors such as their size, genetics and the care he has received from his owner.
The most common signs of a rabbit getting old may include cataract or blindness, grey coat, hearing impairment, a lot of sleeping, mobility issues, grooming problems, less use of litter box, temperature sensitivity etc. Apart from these problems, old age may also bring a number of health issues such as respiratory problems, heart ailments, dental diseases, kidney problems or urinary tract issues. In the worst cases, cancer and dementia can also occur in elderly rabbits.
However, if your rabbit has received a good amount of care throughout his life, he may not be exposed to these diseases. But you’ll still notice the signs of old age in your rabbits after a certain time, they’re unavoidable.
We know it’s very hard to see your lovable pet getting older and struggling with their life, but you have to be strong and provide them with proper care to make their last few years or months more comfortable and easy.
With that in mind, here we are sharing the 8 common signs of ageing in rabbits. We will also discuss how you can help your senior pet.
The 8 Signs Of Old Age In Rabbits
- 1] They Nap More Than Usual
One of the more common signs of old age in rabbits is they sleep more than younger rabbits. If you’re noticing that your bunny is taking more naps or he’s sleeping for long hours, know that he is becoming senior. But there is nothing to worry about, it’s just a part of their life.
However, make sure that they have a soft pillow and thick bed to sleep on comfortably. A good idea is to provide them with multiple soft sleeping spots, so they can choose the one they like.
- 2] They Do Not Get Around Well
After getting up from a nap, rabbits generally become sore and stiff. There are chances that he won’t be able to hop or jump here and there. You’ll not see him racing around just like other young pets do. Older rabbits sometimes get arthritis, which makes their joints weak and they find it difficult to move.
If you notice such a problem in your bunny, take him to the wet without wasting time. Your vet will perform an X-ray to determine whether or not it is arthritis. If there is some problem, he will recommend the drugs to reduce pain and inflammation.
- 3] They Do Not Use Litter Box
If the arthritis is severe, your rabbit may get too stiff and may suffer a lot of pain. Due to this, he will not hop to the litter box. In general, rabbits like using their litter box, so a good idea is to make changes to its location so that your pet can use it easily. Apart from providing an easily accessible litter box, provide a good pile of hay on the top of it.
- 4] They Have Trouble In Grooming
Senior rabbits struggle to keep themselves clean and well-groomed. This is the reason, you’re more likely to notice dandruff-like flakes on their bodies, urine and faeces on the fur or legs, poop stuck to their back and bottom etc.
This happens because senior rabbits find it hard to bend, balance and twist around to groom themselves. In such situations, you can help them by brushing their fur, cleaning their urine or poop from their legs. You should also scratch them lightly all over as they can’t do it themselves.
Further, if your bunny is having dental issues, take him to the vet. Toothache can also make it hard for a bunny to groom himself. Moreover, senior rabbits are also likely to get fur mites. Check your pet and get the necessary treatment.
- 5] They’re Undergoing Weight Changes
Generally, the older rabbits tend to gain a lot of weight. This is because they eat the same amount of food but don’t exercise enough. Some rabbits become underweight as well due to not eating enough. For an older rabbit, it’s important to make necessary changes to his diet. But it is highly advisable to consult a vet before doing so.
If your rabbit has become obese, help him exercise and avoid feeding him high-sugar treats.
Weight gain will not only cause him trouble in moving but also expose him to a number of health problems mainly the heart disease. Further, if your pet is losing weight, increase the amount of good quality pellets in his diet to help him gain some weight. However, don’t overdo the pellets as it can cause digestion problems to the old bunny.
Make sure to provide ample amounts of hay for your pet to nibble, it helps to keep the digestive system on track. A good idea is to get hay-based pellets which offer the benefits of both worlds. If your rabbit is dealing with bladder sludge or urinary tract issues, consult your vet before adding new things in his diet and avoid feeding him calcium-rich foods.
- 6] They’re Losing Their Sight
As they get old, rabbits start losing their vision. Cataracts are very common in senior rabbits. They can even turn completely blind. But the fact is, rabbits understand these bodily changes and do well even when they get blind. However, it’s your responsibility to help your pet.
You can assist such pets by keeping their home the same way so that they know where to sleep or where to do other things. Avoid making any changes to their set up as it can increase their chances of getting bumped.
- 7] Their Coats Turn Grey And Thin
The fur coats of senior rabbits turn grey. Their hair turns whiter and thinner. Unlike the young bunnies, their hair becomes brittle and coarse. You might also notice excessive shedding of fur. While you can’t expect them to get a thick and furry coat again, you can help them by brushing their bodies regularly to get rid of fuzz.
- 8] They Become Sensitive To Temperature
Younger rabbits do well in all kinds of temperatures. They can even withstand freezing temperatures as they have great abilities to keep themselves warm. But this is not the case with older bunnies. They become more sensitive to temperature changes.
They can neither tolerate very high nor very low temperatures. If you’re noticing your bunny getting uncomfortable in sudden temperature changes, know that he’s getting old and keep the temperatures as per his likes.
So, these are the signs that show your bunny is getting older. While there is nothing you can do about it and you can’t bring his younger self back, you can definitely make his remaining life more comfortable and easy. To help you with it, here are some ways in which you can help your senior pet.
How Can You Help Your Older Rabbit?
1.Use Soft Rugs And Beds: Rabbits in general find it difficult to walk on slick surfaces such as linoleum and hardwood flooring. This problem gets worse as they get old because their muscles get weaker. So, to help them walk comfortably, provide a soft flooring for them. Place some soft rugs to offer good traction.
2. Keep An Easily Accessible And Low – Entry Litter Box: As we’ve already discussed, older rabbits avoid using litter boxes because they become stiff and their joint pain when doing so. But they love using their litter box, so keep an easily accessible box that has low entry.
Another thing you can do is provide a thick bedding or hay layer on the top of a litter box. This will not only offer a soft flooring but will offer extra traction as well.
3. Encourage Exercise: Senior rabbits often get obese due to lack of exercise. While you shouldn’t expect them to be very active, you should definitely encourage them to move around to keep themselves fit and healthy.
A good idea is to give them some toys to play or hide some treats so that they can search them while moving around.
4. Avoid Stressing Them: Don’t stress your bunny by making loud noises or doing something that scares him. Sometimes rabbits also get stressed after seeing frequent changes in their environment. So avoid changing the set up of their quarters frequently.
5. Offer Plenty Of Massages And Petting: Lastly, offer lots of massages and petting to your rabbit as he’d want you to spend your time with him. Don’t let him sit alone for a long time, it can stress your pet.
How To Help A Rabbit With Signs Of Old Age To Groom Themselves?
Follow the below points to help your pet grooming himself :
- Senior rabbits can’t groom themselves as they find it hard to move, turn and twist. You can help them by brushing their bodies regularly.
- You shouldn’t bathe your bunnies regularly if they’re keeping unwell. So, instead of a wet bath, you can give them dry baths by using cornstarch. Just take 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and massage it on rabbit’s fur. Comb their hair nicely to get rid of all the powder as well as dirt.
- Because older rabbits can’t keep their nails trimmed by digging and running around, you should do it yourself more often.
- Make sure your bunny is not suffering from any dental issues. Older bunnies in general are more prone to dental diseases, so take them for dental checkups at regular intervals.
- Keep the eyes of your rabbit clean by wiping them using a wet tissue.
Diet Adjustment For Older Rabbits
As a rabbit gets older, you’ll need to make necessary changes to his diet. But while doing this, make sure to consult your vet. Below are some basic adjustments you can make in your pet’s diet to keep him healthy and fit :
Pellets: Some bunnies tend to lose weight as they get older and therefore, they need some extra pellets to gain some good weight. However, don’t overdo pellets as they can cause digestion problems to your pet. Make sure to get good quality rabbit pellets and read the label well before feeding them.
Hay: Hay should be the main portion of a rabbit’s diet. A good quality hay keeps the digestive tract of rabbits on track. Timothy hay, oats hay and orchard hay are some of the best options to feed your bunnies. Encourage your bunny to eat more hay if he is losing weight.
Veggies: Older rabbits sometimes avoid eating veggies because of their dental issues. But lack of fresh food can cause many problems. So, make sure to feed enough leafy greens and vegetables. To help them eat the hard vegetables with ease, chop them finely. Also, don’t forget to wash the fresh vegetables and greens before giving them to your pet.
Water: Make sure your pet has enough access to clean and fresh water all the time. Keep the water bowls and bottles clean by washing them regularly.
That’s all about it. We have discussed the signs of old age in rabbits as well as the ways in which you can help them. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, take care of him a little bit extra by following the tips we’ve mentioned above. Also, to keep him in good health, take him to the vet at regular intervals.
While we recommend one-time vet visits per year for younger bunnies, a 6 monthly visit is suggested to the senior ones. Keep these things in mind and try to make the last few years of your beloved pet more easy and comfortable. You rabbit has offered you a lot of pleasure and affection by simply being there with you. Now, it’s your turn to keep him happy and healthy.