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Why Is My Rabbit Not Drinking Water?

Just like every other living and breathing thing on this earth, rabbits need water for survival. If your rabbit stops eating or drinking, they are in danger.

Hydration is critical for any animal, but without your beloved pet hydrating itself, their health will suffer. When your rabbit hits 24 hours without drinking water, it can lead to organ failure. This will be fatal for most rabbits.

Action is needed immediately when there are any signs of dehydration.

If you are seeing your rabbit refusing water, you need to find out why. Observe your pet closely for clues to reveal their issue. Then, seek help to ensure your rabbit survives.

If you don’t know what to look for, here are the signs and reasons why your rabbit isn’t drinking water.

Why do rabbits need water? 

Regardless of whether the animal you’re caring for is wild or domesticated, water is an essential need for their survival. When your rabbit doesn’t drink daily, it is harmful to its life.

Here is why your rabbit should be given water every day

Why do they need water?

The simple answer is that all animals need water to survive and keep their health in tip-top shape. But let’s get to the science of it. Water makes up a large percentage of a rabbit’s body.

Further, drinking water is essential for several organic functions:

  • Water will keep your rabbit’s blood flowing at an appropriate rate and thickness. This will result in your rabbit’s organs working to their best ability. 
  • Water helps with the digestive tract and helps move food, eventually leading to the bowel and urine exit. 
  • Water helps flush built-up calcium from the rabbit’s blood. This will help prevent urinary issues and other related issues, including bladder stones. 

If your rabbit is not drinking water, the number one worry is dehydration. Other issues will follow suit as well.

A rabbit who is not getting enough water will have problems urinating and defecating, which will result in blockages. This will rapidly cause a fatal condition. 

Luckily, rabbits are smart enough to know that hydration is essential and will drink on their own when needed. Wild rabbits tend to stay near water sources to ensure consistent hydration.

If you notice your rabbit not drinking water, there is a reason why. 

How much water does a rabbit need to drink?

A lot goes into determining how much your rabbit needs to drink. Just like humans, for optimal health, depending on your age, gender, and weight, there is a certain amount of water you are supposed to consume. Here are a few things that you need to know before determining how much water your rabbit consumes. 

  • How big is your rabbit? Larger rabbits need more water to stay in optimal health.
  • How warm is the temperature? During the summer, rabbits should be drinking more, and during the winter, they should be drinking less. 
  • How old is your rabbit? Young rabbits require more water than older rabbits. 
  • How much energy does your rabbit have? The more your rabbit is active, the more it needs to rehydrate. Lazy rabbits won’t work up such a thirst. 
  • What is your rabbit’s diet? If your rabbit eats more dry food like hay or pellets, it will need more water. If you feed your rabbit more leafy greens, these contain more water, so your rabbit won’t need as much.
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A happy and healthy rabbit should be drinking around 10% of their body weight in water each day. For example, if your rabbit weighs 4 pounds, they should be drinking 180 ml of water a day.

A cup of water is more than enough to keep your rabbit healthy. Don’t forget that your pet’s water needs to be changed and topped off regularly to ensure the water is fresh. 

How long can my rabbit last without water?

24 hours is the limit a rabbit can go without water. If the weather is warm, the timeline is shorter due to the immense need for hydration. You need to determine if your rabbit is receiving some water or no water; both are very different.

If your rabbit is drinking some water, but not a lot, this is not as immediately dangerous. However, no water is dangerous to your pet.

It is essential to determine why your rabbit isn’t drinking water, or the result will be fatal.

Why is my rabbit not drinking water? 

Rabbits not drinking is not a typical behavior; if you are worried that your pet is dehydrated or not getting enough water intake, you need to figure out why. 

Reasons my rabbit is not drinking water

There are a few reasons your pet may not be drinking water. They range from psychological to medical reasons; here are a few:

  • The water could taste or smell funny: Rabbits can be fussy animals; if something tastes strange or smells different in their water, they will not drink it. You have to clean out the water, and even the bottle or bowl, then refill it. 
  • The water could be the wrong temperature: Because rabbits like water that match the ambient temperature, they will refuse to drink the water if it is too hot or too cold. 
  • Toothache: Because the rabbit’s teeth are sensitive, they could be experiencing a toothache while eating and drinking. This would need to be fixed by a professional. 
  • Water bottle or bowl is not clean: You need to clean out the bowl or bottle regularly. If it is dirty, your rabbit will reject the water. 
  • Hydrated from food: If you feed your pet leafy greens, they are already hydrated from that. But you want to keep an eye out; food isn’t enough to provide complete hydration. 
  • Other water sources: Your rabbit may have another water source; there may be a leaky tap or pipe that they are getting their water from. 
  • Your pet rabbit is sick: There are various ailments that your rabbit could have to reject food or water. 

Remember, your rabbit rejecting water is not typical behavior; there is something wrong with them if they are. 

How to tell if your rabbit is dehydrated

The number one concern for rabbits is that they are not getting enough water and can become dehydrated. But how can you tell?

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There are a few warning signs to watch out for. Here are a few: 

  • Tight skin: You want to pinch your pet’s fur around its neck gently. If the fur doesn’t automatically snap back to position, your pet is most likely dehydrated if made of elastic. 
  • Foul-smelling urine: Your rabbit’s urine will become more prominent in smell when they are dehydrated. It will also be darker in color, as well. 
  • Your rabbit has a fever: If your rabbit’s body temperature seems above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet is in danger. 
  • Lethargy and disorientation: Dehydration could affect your rabbit’s energy level. Your pet could become clumsy or disoriented. 
  • Loss of appetite: When your rabbit isn’t drinking, their body will not function properly. They will eventually stop eating as well, which adds extra danger to the situation. 

When your rabbit becomes dehydrated, it can die; your rabbit needs to be rehydrated immediately. 

How to rehydrate my rabbit

This is crucial once figuring out your rabbit is dehydrated; you could always seek your vet if these tricks don’t work out. Placing a bowl of water in front of your rabbit will not solve the problem.

This is a slow and steady process and most effective if using a syringe to feed your pet fluids. You can pick up a needle sizable enough to feed your rabbit from any pet store.

You want to fill your syringe with water and place it at the corner of their mouth. Start by releasing the water in small, controlled bursts.

Let your pet swallow and rest between bursts. 

If your rabbit is having issues swallowing the water you provide, take them to the vet immediately. Your pet requires IV fluids.

If you are at this stage, you need to get your rabbit some help. 

How to encourage my rabbit to drink water

Sometimes your rabbit may need some encouragement to drink from the water bottle you provide them. There are a few tricks and tips to help your rabbit drink to prevent dehydration. 

  • Banana: Try smearing a small amount of banana onto the sipper to help to coax your pet to drink. But be sure to wipe the leftover banana off to avoid it from rotting. Once your rabbit is using the bottle on its own, you can stop applying the banana. 
  • Metal vs. Plastic: Get a metal sipper rather than a plastic one. Rabbits have sharp teeth, they can damage plastic ones. 
  • Freshwater: You want to provide fresh water daily and wash the bottle regularly to avoid bacteria growth.
  • Leafy greens:  leafy greens provide some sort of hydration, the more you feed them, the better off they are when it comes to staying hydrated. Be sure to wash your greens and serve them wet.


If your rabbit is not drinking enough water, they are in danger and could result in significant health issues. Be sure to watch your pet’s water intake to ensure that they are receiving the proper fluids.

If this is an ongoing problem, you may want to consult a rabbit-savvy veterinarian about your pet’s health.