First aid for rabbits

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Wound care

If your rabbit has an open cut on their body, you can do the following at home:

  1. Make sure the wound has stopped bleeding. If it has not, use a sterile gauze to apply constant and firm pressure. If the bleeding has not stopped after 5 minutes, please proceed to an emergency veterinarian immediately.
  2. Rinse the wound with sterile saline solution if there is debris such as a fur or dirt.
  3. Disinfect the wound with a disinfectant such as diluted Betadine or chlorohexidine.
  4. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment such as plain Neosporin (no Plus with steroid-based pain relief).

If the wound is minor and surface level, monitoring at home should generally be okay. Make sure it scabs and heals without any other signs of infection such as redness, swelling, and pus.

If the wound is large or on a sensitive area like the ears, it is likely a good idea to make an urgent veterinary appointment for additional stitches or glue for better healing.

If the wound was caused by another animal like a cat or dog, especially with saliva, please visit your veterinarian to receive antibiotics to prevent further infection and possible abscessation of the injury.

The following are a few helpful articles on first aid wound care for rabbits:

Please see First aid kit for rabbits#Wound care for a list of supplies.


Rabbits that eat too fast without chewing or try to eat a sticky object and struggle to swallow can be prone to gagging and choking. Common food culprits include small pellets and fruits like bananas, blueberries, and grapes.

Gagging can be observed when a rabbit pauses, squints their eyes, and makes sudden ear motions momentarily. Lop rabbits will raise their ears to a helicopter position. Radar-eared rabbits will lay them against their back. If you notice your rabbit gagging on a certain food, it should be scatter-fed, cut or mashed into smaller pieces, or removed from feeding entirely for their safety.

u/sneaky_dragon. (2023). French Lop gagging while eating pellets
u/Scared-Ad-3692. (2023). Radar-eared rabbit wincing and gagging on a banana peel
u/bibo1117. (2023). Lop rabbit gagged while eating a blueberry
Bobo Ellie Buns. (2023). Lop rabbit chokes while eating vegetables
My Fuzzy Animals. (2021). Rabbit chokes while eating a banana

Rabbits that are choking will likely display some of the following symptoms:

  • Respiratory distress - lifting their heads up in the air to try and breathe around the blockage.
  • Making gurgling and whistling noises.
  • Excessive mucus production and drooling out of their mouths.
  • Throwing their heads around and pawing at their face to try and dislodge the food.
Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group. (2023). Choking in Rabbits
Sizzle Comedy. (2022). Rabbit choking while drinking water
Mickki Langston. (2019). Rabbit Choking Example
Dancing Rabbit. (2015). A rabbit 25 minutes after a choking episode. NOTE: Rabbits should be immediately rushed to a veterinarian for supportive care after a choking incident.
holladeb. (2014). A subtle choking rabbit face

If you notice your rabbit is choking, this is an immediate emergency. Please do your best to dislodge the blocking food/object and take your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian afterwards for antibiotics to prevent infection from aspiration.

The following are some more pages with details on how to help a choking rabbit.

Tamara Adlin. (2020). Rabbit Choking First Aid: Bunny Hemlich Maneuver
Tamara Adlin. (2020). Heimlich for choking baby bunny rabbit
House Rabbit Society. (2016). Heimlich video clips from the HRS Rabbit Center Master Seminar Series

To prevent future choking incidents, especially with pellets, it is advisable to adjust feeding methods:

  • Use a puzzle feeder to slow down the rate that rabbits can gobble down foods.
  • Scatter feed your pellets on the floor instead of feeding them in a small bowl.
  • Switch to a larger pellet, like an extruded brand such as Science Selective and Burgess.
  • Water down the pellets to make them into a mash like Critical Care that may slow down consumption.
  • Cut fruits into tiny bites.
  • Have your rabbit checked out by a rabbit-savvy vet to make sure that dental issues aren't predisposing them to choking incidents.


E-collars (AKA elizabethan collars or ecollars) are occasionally used for rabbits to prevent them from chewing on stitches, incisions, or the rest of their body in general. Most of the time, a hard e-collar is not very practical due to the inability to eat their cecals and movement difficulty. Other alternatives made with socks and other objects are often more comfortable for rabbits.

Some more resources on using e-collars and alternatives for rabbits:

Rabbit Rescue Sanctuary. (2020). HOW TO MAKE A SOFT COLLAR FOR YOUR RABBIT
Somebunny Luvs Me. (2019). BUN E COLLAR
Kong Yuen Sing. (2013). Making an e-collar

Syringe feeding

When a rabbit needs nutritional support, assisted feeding with a liquid food in a syringe is often effective. Oral nutritional support provides calories, nutrients, electrolytes, and fluids as well as help to rehydrate stomach contents and stimulate normal GI motility. The recommended intake for recovery food is 50ml/kg body weight divided into 3-5 meals per day.[1]

Oxbow's Critical Care is what is commonly fed to rabbits requiring nutritional support. This product can be obtained from your vet or some pet stores and online retailers. Otherwise, you can use your rabbit's normal pellet feed and grind it to powder and mix 1:1.5 with water to form a paste for feeding. Any remaining formula may be refrigerated for 48 hours.[1]

Common rabbit recovery food brands include the following:

For further instructions and tips for syringe feeding methodology, see Medicating your rabbit#Syringe feeding.

An electrolyte solution is also good to have on hand in case of dehydration, and you are unable to give subcutaneous fluids.

While unflavored Pedialyte can be bought from most grocery stores, the following products may be more useful as they have been formulated for rabbits:

Bladder expression

Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic. (2020). Bladder Expression in the Rabbit

Further reading

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Keeble, E. & Meredith, A. (2006). Rabbit medicine & surgery: Self-assessment color review.