Rabbit Renal Disease

Rabbits get renal disease! It is surprisingly common and relatively under diagnosed!

There are two forms of kidney disease in rabbits;
  • Acute disease –  secondary, deadly and fixable
  • Chronic disease – eventually deadly and unfixable, but manageable – think Chronic kidney disease in cats!
So how do your know if your rabbit has renal disease?

Acute disease

Acute renal disease occurs suddenly, and is a secondary condition. Your rabbit may present with acute renal disease when a deadly or serious condition is present, such as a gastrointestinal obstruction. This happens as rabbits are prone to acidosis, the combination of dehydration and acidosis will compromise your bunny rapidly.

Your bunny will be flat, possibly even anuric and needs intense supportive care with fluids intravenously. Whilst fixing the root cause!

With acute kidney disease – look for sick rabbits, with isothenuric urine and elevated BUN and creatinine.

Fluids and fix your rabbit now!

Chronic Disease

Your chronic kidney disease bunny may be slowly lethargic, polyuric, polydipsic, inappetant. Think cats with chronic kidney disease! Unfortunately with rabbits, urine concentration may vary in rabbits with chronic kidney disease, you should rule out urinary tract infections, other differentials for kidney disease and other disease!
Helpful tests for diagnosing chronic kidney disease include – radiographs to rule out nephroliths, ultrasound to assess kidney health and urinalysis to assess USG and presence of bacteria.

Dietary management is also important, limit high protein and calcium whilst wetting greens prior to feeding. This means avoiding lucerne hay and pellets!

The prognosis is poor for your chronic bunny, but ACE inhibitors such as benazepril and aggressive intravenous fluids with an appropriate diet can prevent rapid deterioration.

Hop to it!


  • Varga, M. Textbook of rabbit medicine. 2nd Ed. Butterworth-Heinemann. 2013.
  • Harcourt-Brown, FM. Diagnosis of renal disease in rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract. 16(1);145-147. 2013.