Does Your Bunny Drink Enough Water?
Rabbits are very smart when it comes to water intake. Rabbits never go on a “drinking strike” and decide one day to not drink water! When an owner tells us that their rabbit appears to be taking in less water from the bowl, start to look for clues as to the cause of the problem.
If a rabbit is not drinking as much water from its bowl but otherwise appears well-hydrated and is urinating normally, then this usually means the rabbit is getting water from other sources. Other sources could be a water bowl of another pet in the house. This is an important consideration when a rabbit has the ability to hop around
the home and visit the feeding stations of other pets in the house,
including dogs and cats.
Another thing to consider is whether the rabbit’s diet changed—are
you giving them food with a higher moisture content than before?
If the answer is yes, many times this leads to a decrease in water
intake from the bowl.
Rabbits can be finicky about the taste of their water; if this has
changed, they may stop drinking because they do not like the “flavor”
of the water, even though failure to drink water might make them very ill. This may indicate a problem with the water supply.
Has something changed the taste of the water? Is the bowl dirty or new; either condition can cause the water to taste different. Has the quality of water changed for any reason? Do you drink the same water? Does it seem different to you?
Another possibility is that dental disease is making it painful for your rabbit to drink. A veterinarian can perform an oral examination to be certain that no lesions are present in the soft tissue of the mouth or tongue and that there are no points from the cheek teeth interfering with movement of the tongue.
Like all animals, rabbits can survive for days without food, but the need for water is great; a rabbit can become very seriously ill after only a few days of not drinking water.
Most rabbits are able to regulate their own water intake without any need for human interference. They’ll drink when they are thirsty and get some water from their regular diet (leafy greens contain a lot of water). Every once in a while, however, you’ll find a rabbit who is a bit picky. They won’t drink enough and have a higher risk of becoming sick as a result. In these cases, there are a few things you can do to help your rabbit drink more water...
Don’t forget to clean all water dishes frequently to prevent the buildup of any bacteria that could be causing your rabbit to avoid drinking. You’ll also want to give them fresh water daily, so your rabbit doesn’t feel that the water has become stale.
The best thing you can do to encourage your rabbit to drink more water is give them a large bowl to drink from. This is a more natural way for rabbits to stay hydrated. If this doesn’t work, you can try spraying or soaking their favorite leafy greens in water before serving.
Things that you can do to be sure that your rabbit gets enough water are:
Thoroughly clean your rabbit's water bowl
Try giving your rabbit fresh water multiple times a day
Avoid warm water—room temperature or slightly cool water is best (no refrigerated water or ice cubes in the water)
Leave water on their daily greens when you rinse them
Add a few drops of unsweetened fruit juice to their water
Add fragrant herbs to their water bowl (basil or mint work well)
Try purified or bottled water