Pets are nothing less than family and so we make it our utmost responsibility to ensure that they have a balanced diet that includes both food and water.
A lot of times we are sure to be particular about what we’re feeding our pets and end up overlooking their water intake without realizing just how important water is for them. Water is the most common dietary element present in nature and the most vital nutrients of an animal’s diet are derived from water. Animals need water to survive! Maybe because it is so common, its importance is taken for granted.
Water is incredibly important for rabbits. It makes up a major chunk of their diet and thus being a responsible rabbit guardian requires that we pay attention to their water intake. But once you incorporate water into their diets, you’ll notice that your rabbit seems to be drinking quite a lot of water which makes you question just how much water should you be giving you a rabbit? And is it possible to give your rabbit too much water that it can eventually kill them? We’re here to answer your questions and lay your worries to rest.
Rabbits and Water
To put things into perspective, a rabbit’s body is two-thirds water! Water is incredibly important for rabbits since it helps in the digestion of food, nutrient absorption, and waste removal from their system. Water is also needed to regulate your rabbit’s body temperature at a range of 102 °F to 103 °F which is considered normal.
Rabbits also lose water quite a lot and are constant. They lose water in their breath, perspiration, and breathing. So for their body to work normally, they need a constant intake of water to replace what they lost and to form more blood and new tissue.
Your rabbit is more likely to die from not having enough water than from lack of food. They consume around three times more water than food. Rabbits can survive even if they lose one-half of their body protein and all their body fat. However, if they lose even 10% of their water capacity, that can prove to be fatal for them. Your rabbit can miss feeds and survive but if they aren’t given freshwater for even a day they can die.
So not having enough water is more dangerous than anything for your rabbit.
Now having said that, we must warn you that there is a chance that your rabbit is facing excessive thirst and this is known as polydipsia. It is important to be able to recognize the symptoms and know what to do if your rabbit is facing excessive thirst.
Polydipsia and Excessive Thirst in Rabbits
A rabbit suffering from polydipsia is most likely to be suffering from excess urine or polyuria. This goes hand in hand with an increase in how thirsty your rabbit feels and how much extra water they are taking in. You’ll have to first figure out why your rabbit is increasingly thirsty and then you’ll be able to diagnose and treat any disease your rabbit may be suffering.
The most obvious question is how much water is normal water and how much urine is a normal amount of urine in a rabbit? Typically the water intake is measured as 50-150ml/kg a day. And by that calculation urine output should be at 120-130 ml/kg per day. However, if you think that you aren’t able to calculate water output and urine then there are other ways to determine if your rabbit is drinking too much. For example, their water bowl may empty much quicker than usual. The color of your rabbit’s urine will also change and that is a determining symptom as well. Sometimes the water intake changes with factors such as a change in food or change in a climate so it is always a good idea to keep that in mind when consulting your vet.
Other symptoms of polydipsia include:
- A change in appetite could be either an increase or decrease
- Either not passing enough stool or having diarrhea
- Grinding teeth
One major reason for excessive thirst can be dehydration and thus should be kept in check. Other reasons can be diabetes or a pancreatic tumor known as insulinoma. Kidney diseases including bladder stones and liver diseases can also be the culprit. Less scary reasons could come down simply to behavioral issues such as marking their territory. The former is much more serious and will require immediate treatment. If let go for long, it can result in severe illness and even death in your rabbit and thus should not go untreated.
Your vet will be able to diagnose the underlying causes and provide treatment accordingly. However, there are always symptoms to look out for.
Is your rabbit dehydrated?
If your pet is dehydrated the skin on the back of its neck will be loose when pulled. Healthy and hydrated rabbits’ skin will snap back to its original form.
Is your rabbit suffering from diabetes?
Symptoms include polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia which basically is an excessive increase in the diet. However, the main symptom that can only be determined via a blood test by the vet is high blood sugar which is also known as hyperglycemia.
Most common symptoms of a liver disease
Symptoms of liver disease will include:
- Weight loss and appetite loss
- Your rabbit’s eyes and mouth becoming yellow which is indicative of jaundice
- Loose stool
- Neurological issues such as loss of coordination
So while rabbits need a lot of water to stay healthy, if they’re drinking too much water, that’s not a good sign either. Polydipsia itself isn’t fatal for rabbits, rather it is an indication that there is something wrong with your rabbit that needs to be treated. A lot of the underlying causes of polydipsia such as renal failure could turn out to be fatal if not treated immediately. If you are concerned about the water intake, visit a vet!