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Runny poop can be a sign that your rabbit is seriously ill, but it can also be a side effect of changing diets, or just a sign that a particular fruit or vegetable doesn’t sit well with your rabbit’s digestive systems.
Take your rabbit to a vet
If you notice that your rabbit has a poopy butt, take them to the vet asap.
It could well be nothing to worry about, but diarrhea in rabbits can be fatal. they can get dehydrated quickly and need subcutaneous fluids.
Make a note of anything that you’ve given your rabbit that’s out of the ordinary and write it down. In times of panic we often forget to mention things and kick ourselves about it later.
Don’t bathe them – butt bath only
Bathing really, really stresses rabbits out, so butt baths are the wettest you can get them.
Sometimes a damp paper towel is sufficient to get them clean enough that the rabbit can clean their own butt, but sometimes you have option than to clean them up completely with a cloth and some warm water.
Don’t add soap to the water – rabbits have incredibly sensitive skin, so even pet shampoo isn’t a great idea, especially if they’re already feeling under the weather.
Ensure they have the correct diet – keep a food diary
We’ve noticed that rabbits often become more sensitive to certain foods as they get older, so sometimes they might not have actually changed what they’re eating, but their stomach flora just can’t deal with it as well.
However, a change in diet can lead to poopy butt. High amounts of fruits and pellets can cause poopy butt, but so can a sensitivity to a certain veggie.
If you get a rescue rabbit, always try to introduce new foods gradually – especially vegetables, which are a prime suspect for sudden poopy butt.
Your rabbit may not be sensitive to the food per se, they just might not have the right stomach enzymes to deal with it. As you gradually change their diet, their stomach bacteria will adapt too.
I have a whole article on feeding rabbits here, but the general rule of thumb is that their diet should be 85% hay, 10% veggies, and 5% pellets.
Your rabbit will tell you that it’s 50% pellets, 30% veggies, 20% hay, but I assure you, they’re incorrect.
If poopy butt persists, you can cut out pellets all together (please don’t tell your rabbits I said that). It really really works, because pellets are quite rich and can promote overactive stomach flora.
It can take a while for the stomach to reset itself, but it’s a great way to curb poopy butt if it’s becoming an issue.
A pellet-less diet is perfectly healthy for a rabbit – if you give them a variety of veggies they can easily get all the nutrients they need from veggies and hay.
The only thing to watch out for is that when you (gradually) reintroduce pellets, they become OBSESSED with them.
To avoid having to ruin your rabbit’s life and eliminate pellets again, limit the number of pellets to half of what you’d normally give them, so 10-15g per kilo of body weight.
Encourage them to eat more hay
It can be pain trying to get your rabbit to eat their hay but it is so so vital to them. Not only does it keep their digestive system running smoothly, but it helps to grind down teeth and prevent future dental (and general ENT) issues in the future.
I have a post on getting rabbits to eat more hay here, but a few things to try are:
- Trying a few different types/brands of hay so your bunny can pick a favourite
- Hiding treats in the hay, like cut up kale, or even their regular pellets
- Giving them hays toys, such as a toilet roll stuffed with hay.
If I’m honest, the toilet roll stuffed with hay thing has never been a hit with any of my rabbits, but lots of people swear by making hay fun.
I don’t think I’d have eaten more broccoli if my mum had shoved it in my doll’s house, but I suppose I’m not a rabbit.
Make sure you’ve bunny proofed the kitchen properly
So I know we’re told over and over that rabbits are herbivores, but no one’s told rabbits that.
Sure, they’re designed to eat plants, but we’re designed to eat fruit and yet are more than capable of eating 9 hash browns, 8 onion rings and a fake meat burger (that’s what I’m having for my tea, and I’m excited).
If you drop food on the floor (toast crust, meat crumb, cake) your rabbit may eat it. Then they might develop a taste for it, and start trying to thieve food off your plate (don’t laugh, I’ve been there).
The occasional bit of human food is unlikely to cause any harm, but we all know how single minded rabbits are when it comes to food. Keep food out of their reach if at all possible.
Don’t let them share food with any other animals (or kids!)
Rabbits don’t know (or care) that cat food and dog food are not for rabbits, so keep an eye out on any chancers or scavengers. Also, rabbits can learn incredibly quickly who’s a good person to cosy up to.
If I have a slice of toast, I can eat it in the living room undisturbed. If my boyfriend has toast, Holly is all over him, begging for crumbs because they can spot a soft touch a mile away. He has to distract her with romaine, which just makes her beg more.
Make sure your kids/family members are aware of how important it is that rabbit’s stick to their own dinner.
Keep the fur on their butt clean
Just brushing it sometimes takes care of this, especially if you do it every couple of days, but you can add in butt baths too if you’d rather.
Butt fur matts up quickly, especially if it’s being glued together with poop, so keeping up with a regular brushing schedule can help keep it clean.
Little and often is the key here, rather than waiting for their butt to get gross.