Poisoning in Rabbits

PetMD Editorial
May 24, 2010
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Intoxication in Rabbits

Ingestion of toxic substances has the potential for affecting many of a rabbit's body systems. Intoxication, the clinical term given to poisoning, may be due to eating poisonous substances, such as poisonous plants, or chemicals like rodent poisons, and lead. Intoxication can also occur as the result of inadvertent administration of drugs. Many antibiotics that are commonly prescribed to other mammals can be fatal to rabbits. Rabbits may also have adverse reactions to many common topical products that are safe for use in other mammals, like cosmetic soaps, shampoos, or sprays.

Symptoms and Types

  • Seizures
  • Digestive signs of intestinal inflammation
  • Loss of body temperature regulation – high or low
  • Lethargy, listlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression


Ingested toxins

  • Poisonous plants - especially for rabbits that graze outdoors
  • Some indoor houseplants can be toxic to rabbits
  • Lead poisoning - chewing or licking lead-containing household substances, especially painted surfaces or metallic objects
  • Anticoagulant rat poison
  • Inappropriate oral medications or overdose of medication
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Certain pain medications

Topically applied products

  • Flea collars
  • Organophosphate-containing products – products used for killing insects, on the body or in the immediate environment
  • Certain sprays and ointments used in high concentrations
  • Insecticides and pesticides – household or outdoor


You will need to give a thorough history of your rabbit's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues to the type of toxicity your rabbit is suffering from, enabling your doctor to treat the rabbit quickly, before the condition can affect the major organs. Otherwise, the diagnosis will come about in the course of a differential diagnosis, a process that is guided by deeper inspection of the apparent outward symptoms, ruling out each of the more common causes until the correct disorder is settled upon and can be treated appropriately.

The final diagnosis will be based on the clinical signs, and exclusion of all other diagnoses. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Confirmation of the diagnosis may be made by chemical analysis, but if your rabbit is having a severe reaction, your doctor will be working to find a solution for treating the symptoms before the condition can become fatal.

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