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Kidney disease in rabbits

Kidney Disease in Rabbits

Hello friends! Unfortunately, kidney disease occurs in many species, including our loveable lagomorphs. Therefore, we thought we’d discuss kidney disease in rabbits today. Also known as renal failure, keep reading to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment.

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What is kidney disease in rabbits, and what causes it?

Kidneys do essential work. According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidneys remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. These waste products and excess fluid are removed through the urine. The production of urine involves highly complex steps of excretion and re-absorption. This process is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.

Additionally, the kidneys perform the critical regulation of the body's salt, potassium, and acid content. The kidneys also produce hormones that affect the function of other organs. For example, a kidney hormone stimulates red blood cell production. Other hormones produced by the kidneys help regulate blood pressure and control calcium metabolism.

Renal failure or kidney disease causes rabbits to produce less urine. A second-order effect of decreased urine production is that kidneys cannot entirely do their job, negatively affecting the entire body. 

There are two kinds of kidney disease in rabbits, but both require immediate attention from your trusted exotic vetUntreated kidney disease is fatal.

Acute Renal Failure (ARF): sudden onset due to toxin accumulation or an electrolyte imbalance possibly caused by:

  • Blood infections
  • Heart complications
  • Poisons
  • Shock
  • Stress
  • Stroke
  • Trauma

Chronic Renal Failure (CRF): gradual onset, leading to kidney failure. It can occur in rabbits of all ages but is more prevalent in middle-aged and senior buns possibly caused by:

  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Cysts
  • Dehydration
  • Dental disease
  • Diabetes
  • Infections
  • Poor diet
  • Prolonged ARF
  • Trauma
  • Tumors
  • Urinary tract obstructions


Rabbits do an excellent job of hiding their illness as prey species. If your bun exhibits any symptoms below, please get them to the vet fast.

  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Heart complications (often in acute renal failure cases)
  • Inability to eat
  • Lack of stool or inability to produce stool
  • Painful or tender kidneys (when palpitated)
  • Seizures

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your veterinary team needs to perform a physical examination and multiple tests, including bloodwork and x-rays, to figure out why your rascally rabbit is bunder the weather. Once the results are back, both kinds ofkidney disease in rabbits are treated on an outpatient basis. 

Hydration is essential to mitigate kidney disease. Administering IV fluids, adding water to your bun's greens, and getting your loveable lagomorph to drink more water might be recommended by your vet. Medication and reducing the amount of calcium-rich greens your rabbit eats may also be prescribed.

Living with kidney disease in rabbits

By partnering with your vet care team, your bun can continue to live a long and hoppy life. While I haven't had a bun with kidney disease, earlier this year, we said goodbye to my best feline friend, Sydney. Diagnosed with CKD 18 months earlier, we monitored her kidney function with bloodwork every 3-4 months. Additionally, our vet had the lead clinic nurse train me in administering subcutaneous fluids. Purchasing an IV pole and ordering the LRS bags, needles, and tubing from our vet's online pharmacy made our lives much more manageable.

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DISCLAIMER: The links and information are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Small Pet Select of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.

VETERINARY DISCLAIMERWe are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.  If your pet is acting unwell, you have concerns for their well being, or before adding any new product, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

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