Last Updated on May 6, 2023 by keno
The older a rabbit gets, the more care and attention they need to live a healthy and happy life. Caring for your senior rabbit entails providing them with a proper diet, care, and housing, ensuring they exercise, as well veterinarian checkups. Average and miniature rabbits are considered seniors when they’re 6 to 8 years old since their life expectancy on average is 10 to 12 years. Larger breeds on the other hand start to show signs of old age when they’re around 4 years old, due to their slightly shorter lifespan of between 5 to 8 years.
Signs of an aging rabbit
When a rabbit starts getting older, their physical appearance changes, and their energy level also gradually decreases with time. Below are the common signs that your bunny is aging.
- Thinning fur: Your senior rabbit may start to lose fur around its ears and eyes and other regions normally have less fur.
- Less activity level: Older rabbits tend to be less active and prefer resting and sleeping over playing or exploring.
- Decreased muscle mass: As age catches up with a bunny, they naturally start losing muscle mass, and eventually get weaker over time.
Caring for a senior rabbit
1. Balance diet
When rabbits grow old, their nutritional needs tend to change. As a result, it’s vital to make sure that your bunny gets a balanced diet that comprises mainly fiber, substituted with veggies and a limited amount of pellets. As rabbits age they tend to eat less. For this reason, you need to introduce different kinds of hay such as timothy, meadow, oat, and orchard.
Avoid feeding them sugary snacks as it can lead to obesity or dental issues. For treats, we recommend the nutritious kind, nonetheless, at a minimum level. Lastly, ensure that your senior rabbit has 24/7 access to clean water.
2. Regular exercise
Although most senior rabbits are not quite as active as their younger counterparts, they need regular exercise to stay healthy. It’s therefore advisable to provide your rabbit with a large play area they can exercise or move around in. In addition, also provide your rabbits with play toys and activities that will keep them mentally engaged. Chew toys, digging boxes, or tunnels are recommended since they encourage a rabbit’s natural behavior.
3. Health checkups
Once your bunny starts to show signs of aging, increase vet visits annually to at least twice a year. This involves eye, ear, and dental checkups. The latter more so overgrown teeth is quite common with older rabbits. This is mainly because, as a rabbit gets older, the less likely they’ll be interested in chew toys. This as a result has the potential for developing dental issues such as overgrown or misaligned teeth, causing pain while eating, which leads to appetite loss. Monthly rabbit teeth checkups are necessary to ensure that your pet’s dental is in good condition. If you find any teeth anomaly a trip to the vet is always recommended.
Additionally, a veterinarian may also look out for skin infections, parasite infestation, or behavioral changes such as lethargy and loss of appetite. Considering that older rabbits are more prone to health issues, it’s advisable to schedule regular checkups even when your bunny appears to be in good health. This will help prevent any potential health issues since your bunny will receive early treatment.
4. Conducive living space
Older rabbits tend to be less active and may prefer a slightly smaller cozy living space. Senior rabbits unlike young bunnies tend to have a hard time regulating their body temperature and may prefer a warm and comfortable place to rest in.
You can make their enclosure comfortable by providing a hideaway they can burrow into such as a tunnel or cardboard box with hay bedding. An ideal temperature for senior rabbits should range between 50 to 75 o F. Ensure that your rabbit’s housing is well insulated to keep them warm in cold weather. Additionally, make sure that their housing is well-ventilated and away from direct sunlight to prevent overheating.
In terms of flooring, it’s always a good idea to place rugs and carpets around your house as well as provide your bunny with padding for their feet. This is usually helpful considering that a lot of senior rabbits suffer from arthritis. Not only does a soft surface provide traction for your pet’s feet, but it also makes it easier for an older rabbit’s fragile joints when hopping. In addition, also use a litter box having a low entry to make it easier for use for older rabbits with weak muscles.
Lastly, stress is another factor that senior bunnies need to avoid. In other words, their environment should be secure and peaceful, away from noise or anything that might scare your rabbit. Rabbits are more prone to heart attacks especially as they age with severe ones causing fatalities.
5. Assisted grooming
Since older rabbits may have a hard time grooming themselves properly, they may require your assistance to stay clean. This entails brushing their fur with a fine tooth comb and dry bathing them using cornstarch. Gently massage it on the dirty fur regions the brush it out. Avoid using water to bathe your bunny. For soiled or matted fur near their rear end, use a wet clean towel to wipe off the dirt if you must.
Clipping your older rabbit’s nails is also something you might want to consider doing more often than you would for younger bunnies. Overgrown nails normally hinder a rabbit’s movement by failing to provide traction as well as constantly getting caught in carpets, mats, or rugs. This is mainly because senior rabbits are less active and may fail to trim their nails naturally through digging or engaging in other physical activities.
Keeping your senior bunny’s eyes clean is another task you need to partake in. This entails wiping gunk buildup as well as looking out for any infections or abnormalities that require veterinarian care. Click on the link to find out more about unhealthy rabbit eyes, signs, and symptoms
The older a rabbit gets the more attention they need. Socializing your rabbit provides mental nourishment as well as helping to prevent boredom. Unlike younger bunnies who prefer participating in physical activities, seniors prefer petting and gentle back massages. Spending quality time with them in a relaxed state will not only build a bond between your rabbit, but it also helps prevent stress.