View Full Version : My bunny won't drink any water

Happy Hopping
16-06-2005, 09:47 PM
My bunny was sick back in Dec 29, turns out it is a bacterial infection of the kidney. The vet said his penis make contact with some baterica when he hops outside that day (it was a warm chinook day).

As of April, after 3 mth. of anti-biotics, he is fully cured from the bacteria. But during the past fw months of treatment, I have to handfeed him w/ baby food on the syringe (6 x 6 cc per 24 hr.), and handfeed him the pellet, among other nuts. As well, during this 3 mth. period, since he won't drink any water due to the bacterial infection, I injected 150cc of NaCl under his skin.

The vet said he is now used to being handfeed, so the following problems occurs:

1) He'll eat everything else on his own, like carrot, corn, spinach, all sorts of nuts etc., but not the basic pellet. That I have to hand feed him.

2) He won't drink any water.
Supposedly, the plan is to scale down to 125 cc of NaCl and scale down to handfeed him with 25 cc (3cc x 8 times thru out the day), and hoping that would induce him to drink the water on his own

That didn't work. He is now accepting 150 cc of NaCl under the skin, and 4 x 6 cc baby food. In other words, I manage to cut down the baby food from 6 servings to 4 servings, but if I cut down further, he stop eating the regular stuff, i.e., his diet suffers.

As far as the water is concerned, since April, I saw him drinking water on his own twice ONLY. There is no explanation as to the pattern. I try to use a syringe to handfeed him w/ 3 cc of water, hoping he'll get used to the water taste on his own, but he doesn't seem to like it.

Does anyone have experience a similar problem and has any trick to induce this rabbit back to drink water on his own? And back to eat pellet on his own?

This furball is 4.5 yr. old, a male 14.5 lb Flemish Giant, he is very indepedent, all those other rabbit food like spinach, carrot, (the ones that he likes), he doesn't need me to feed him, he jumps for it everyday.

As far as the bacteria is concerned, the urine test showed 100% all gone.

16-06-2005, 09:51 PM
Does he have a water bottle or a dish?

Try with a dish, one of my rabbits will only drink water from a bowl or a puddle.

Not sure about getting him off hand feeding, never encountered this.

Happy Hopping
16-06-2005, 09:52 PM
It has been a bowl of water all these years. Yeah I agree water bottle is bad news, it does NOT encourage rabbit to drink water.

16-06-2005, 10:13 PM
How about trying to add a vitamin/fruit drink to his water? Mine sometimes have a summer fruit or carrot drink added to their water.

Happy Hopping
16-06-2005, 10:20 PM
Wow...that's a new one.

Can you tell me more? I mean, are these just powder that you mix in the drink? Or 100% fruit juice in the market?

16-06-2005, 10:35 PM
Yeh, when mine have had operations I've always given them fruit juice.

Mine are partial to fresh apple juice that has been watered down. As for grape juice they can't get enough of it, only snag has been its got them addicted to stealing my grapes :lol:

16-06-2005, 10:59 PM
The only problem with fruit juices is that increased sugar in the diet of an already poorly bun could cause bad flora/bacteria to cause tummy upset. But if he'll drink it then it's better than nothing, but it should alway be diluted.

However, carrot juice would be a much safer way to get him to drink water as he already really likes it and his digestive system tolerates it. Changing the ratio from mostly carrot jucie and a little water in the begining to mostly water and a little juice, by increasing the amount of water day by day. This is just hit and miss ...... if won't drink one day go back to the previous ratio that he liked and after a day or two add more water again.

If you can afford it buy a juicer (for either the carrot or fruit choice) .... you can always use it youself too!!! ......that way you can be sure that the product is pure. A liquidiser/blender might work too as the soilds will sink to the bottom and after he gets through the yucky carrot juice he still has the lovely puree on the bottom!!!!

You could also think of adding probiotics to his diet, especially if you go for the fruit option.

17-06-2005, 09:23 AM
Adele adds a teaspoon of pure unsweetened apple juice to the water of her bunnies to encourage them to drink more. You could try adding a bit to your bunny's water. The natural sugars in apple should be alright (my continental giant has been ill but I have still given him apple all though his illness) as long as you get natural unsweetened juices. Pineapple is also recommended or even cranberry (good for UTIs).

With the pellets I put them in a treat ball and actually making him work for his food seems to encourage him to eat more (although with my boy he is very underweight at the moment so I have been leaving them in a big dog bowl to make sure he gets enough).

Have you tried putting him in a run in the garden and scattering the pellets on the floor that way he forages for them like a wild rabbit would look for food?

Also adding a probiotic such as Avipro Plus to the water will aid an ill bunny and make sure his gut bacteria aren't affected (you can add this as well as apple juice).

Just a note: the infection would have taken a while to track up to his kidneys so it wouldn't have started on the 29th if that was the first day he was diagnosed. It would have started by an infection in the urinary tract (inside the penis and into the body) possibly caused by an operation in that area or contamination with bacteria in some other way (and reduced urine flow allowing the bacteria to replicate), this would then have tracked back up to the bladder and eventually into the kidneys so it is possible he had the infection for a longer period before you noticed the symptoms as rabbits are prey animals they hide if they are unwell, so the straining to wee and inibility to wee may not have been immediately obvious.


17-06-2005, 09:37 AM
Sorry, only just come back on. Carrot juice mixed with a bit of his water, I only meant to add a small amount to his water, not give him a whole bowl of concentrated fruit juice! Otherwise you can buy from Bogena a liquid which you just pour a capful into the water. It may not be ideal longterm, but if it gets him drinking then surely that is a good thing. I will try and find a site that sells it.

17-06-2005, 09:39 AM
Here is the site which sells carrot drink.


Hope that helps


17-06-2005, 11:31 AM
I have problems getting Charlie to drink enough so I try anything and everything, Charlie also has to have a low calcium and oxalates diet so I have to be careful what I feed him.

My recent sucess has come from buying a juicer/smoothy maker - I drink lots of fresh juice and it is basically just the juice of fresh fruit/veg and water. My favourite at the moment is strawberry and kiwi, or strawberry and mango. Whatever one I make I put a few teaspoons of it into a bowl of water for the bunnies - they love it.

Veg wise Charlie can only eat fresh peas and coriander - I've blitzed both up in the food processor with water, and he'll drink some of that too.

If his calcium/wee thing is bad I soak his pellets in water too, but obviously I do this as little as possible cos the hard pellets are good for his teeth.

17-06-2005, 12:02 PM
I heard that pineapple juice added to water also encourages rabbits to drink because they love the taste of it. However, this is a very sweet, sugary juice and this should probably be fed with caution!

I was going to say use a bowl instead of a bottle - but already suggested!

Do you give him water from the syringe??? - sorry you've probably answered this before and I've just not seen it!!! When my Jasper was poorly he used to suck the water out of a syringe.

Science recovery is very good - available from your vet - it is a complete food, but also hydrates the bunny.

If your bunny is eating veg on his own this is good, because he will be getting some water from the veg.

I can't really think of anything else to suggest!

17-06-2005, 01:00 PM
If he doesn't eat pellets it is not a huge problem. I would just keep leaving them in the hutch, he might start eating them again at some point. If you make up with veg, he will be fine though.

You may want to just wet the vegetables before you give them to him. This will increase his liquid intake.

I must admit that when one of my bunnies was on a veg and hay diet only for about 18 months, his water intake was very little as he got it all from the veg.


Happy Hopping
18-06-2005, 12:15 AM
First of all, thanks to everyone for your input. The juice idea is brilliant, I'll try the Carrot drink first, then when my financial budget looks a bit better, I'll move to a blender or a juicer.

Conny: the ratio idea is excellent, I'll focus on that when I give him the carrot drink. Thanks a lot.

Caz: I'll see if the treat ball idea will work or not, but my guts tell me it probably won't. He is an indoor rabbit, hop around the house, and for whatever reason after he is fully cured, he is just not touching the pellet on the bowl. However, on that same bowl, he is eating the dry apricot, almond, banana clips, other nuts, etc. And the almond, dry apricot, are just sitting right on top of the pellet.

He also won't eat the almond, other nuts, banana clips if they were in small pieces. Small in a way that I can easily pick up with my hands, but say for an almond, it no longer forms the shape of an almond because his teeth breaks the almond apart. So the small pieces are a fair size. I don't care about the cost of these nuts, but I just want to bring it out as his behavioural problem, because he sure didn't do that before he was sick last year.

Caz, you are also absolutely right about the infection, it is virtually the same words my vet said. It was a Chinook day, and he went outside. We guessed that his penis must have touched something on the soil in my backyard, and as you said, there must be some bacteria on the soil. His diet drops two to three days later.

The problem was, he had this drop down on his diets a few times each year, because this goofball won't eat fiber (never eat hays), so when he eats too much soft green, his diet shuts down, so from Dec 31st or so to Jan 6, I gave him the usual treatment called Metoclopramide, which does work in the past. In the end, turns out it is a bacteria infection, so obviously the Metoclopramide is useless. The vet treatment starts on the Jan 7th, but the vet also thought it is his old usual problem, so blood test and urine test wasn't done until Jan 10th or so, which is when the anti-biotics is given instead. But he is fully cured, the urine test shows that.

Lind80---thanks for the link. I never know such a thing exists.

Vianne--the syringe is only there to simulate his drinking of water, hoping he can get back used to the taste of water because he won't drink it in the first place.

Lurchergirl-- I did wet the spinach and carrot as much as possible, so he can pick up some water there.

I have problems getting Charlie to drink enough so I try anything and everything, Charlie also has to have a low calcium and oxalates diet so I have to be careful what I feed him.

BevBunny and anyone: This is a "Catch 22/Chicken and the egg" question:

He won't drink the water, say we put carrot juice in the water bowl, so how did you make him notice the bowl of liquid is now carrot juice or apple juice or whatever? I would bet if he is willing to taste it, he'll know the juice tastes good, and go for it from that point on. But how do we make him notice that it is juice not water?

Because the bowl of water is sitting right next to the bowl of pellet/nuts.

I suppose if he can smell, you think that might make a difference?

Happy Hopping
21-06-2005, 08:02 PM
My mind wasn't thinking straight about the juicer.

Since Jan 2005, it costs me $23.54 every 2 week for 2 bag of NaCl + IV set. They also charged me the injection itself for the first few times ($40). So I have spent over $300 already.

So why not get a good juicer that can break carrot into juice instead of ongoingly pay $23.54 per 2 weeks.

Today I ordered one, it'll be here in 3 weeks. It's a high 13,000 rpm juicer so it can really break down a carrot.