Urine Scalding is something that can occur with any rabbit, no matter how healthy you think your rabbit is. This can be due to age, an illness, or physical disability. The important factor is that this is resolved relatively quickly as Urine Scalding can escalate and become quite serious.
You’ll often see when your rabbit urinates, their tail will raise and they’ll sit with their legs further apart, this is to avoid their urine from soaking their fur. Sometimes your rabbit will still get urine on their fur and this isn’t a problem as long as they can clean themselves without issue.
However, rabbits that are sick or are physically impaired will have issues cleaning themselves and also urinating correctly which can lead to covering their bottom half with urine.
When Urine Scald isn’t treated, it can lead to dermatitis, flystrike, or dry skin which can lead to cracks and infections.
What are the symptoms of urine scald?
Urine Scald requires regular checking to keep on top of, especially during the summer, as this is when flystrike is most likely to occur. Symptoms you can look out for are:
- Balding Spots on your rabbit’s bottom
- A Foul Smell
- Constant scratching or biting
- Wet patches on their tail, bottom, and belly
- Red skin inflammation
- Dry rabbit skin and cracking
What causes Urine Scald?
It’s important to remember that your rabbit having urine scald doesn’t necessarily mean you’re neglecting your rabbit, Urine scald can be something that is missed by owners as your rabbit can hide pain fairly well.
Osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as arthritis is an extremely painful joint disease that impacts a lot of creatures, including ourselves. Due to the shape of a rabbit, Arthritis can make grooming often difficult and painful.
This disease will impact your rabbit’s hips and leg joints making twisting extremely difficult and as a result, making it hard for your rabbit to wash properly.
Whilst Arthritis cannot be cured, it can be managed via medication and lifestyle changes.
Bladder Stones / Bladder Infection
Urinary issues can be a key cause of urine scalding, including urinary tract infections, Bladder stones, Bladder sludge & uterine cancer. Unfortunately, they all have their own symptoms and problems which we go into further detail in their own posts.
If you have female rabbits, we highly recommend getting them spayed as this lowers the risk of developing uterine cancer significantly.
This may sound backward, but dehydration can lead to a UTI which results in urine scalding. This is why it is crucial that your rabbit is constantly hydrated, if you’re unsure, check the bunny’s urine. Brown urine typically means they are dehydrated and need some water or fresh greens.
If your rabbit is having issues with their feces, they may have a dirty bottom which can result in urine scalding as they develop matted fur. Over time, you may find your rabbit has hair loss due to the urine scald and poo which will burn at their skin leading to infections.
If your rabbit has diarrhea, we highly recommend reaching out to a veterinarian as this may be due to a gut infection, parasite, tumor, or dental disease.
To avoid potential skin conditions & infections, we recommend cleaning your rabbit’s environment every few days, this is because wet bedding and toilets can be a home for flies and varying other bacteria that may speed up infections and urine scald.
If your rabbit’s enclosure is dirty, or cluttered, they will likely not want to clean themselves.
Rabbit obesity is something that occurs in many households and occurs when your rabbit’s diet isn’t regulated. A healthy weight is something that can be easily resolved by encouraging exercise as well as a dietary change.
If your rabbit is obese, we recommend visiting a local veterinarian who can help create a strict diet plan to assist with healthy levels of weight loss. You should never change your rabbit’s diet drastically as they will need slowly changing.
How to prevent urine scald
You can prevent urine scald easily if caught early, regardless of your rabbit’s physical condition bathing and regularly grooming your rabbit can be done as a home remedy.
- Perform regular checks – This can be difficult if your rabbit doesn’t like being handled, but with enough trickery, looking at your rabbit’s bottom and belly can be done easily. If your rabbit is able-bodied, try holding up a treat and having a quick feel to make sure there’s no matted fur or moisture. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to take your rabbit to the veterinary for a quick checkup or rap your rabbit up in a burrito to check.
- Litter train your rabbit – Rabbits are incredibly smart, which means they can be trained to use a litter box. Ensure their litter box is big enough to not only let poo and pee in peace but also move around freely. This litter box should be cleaned regularly to avoid flystrike and bacteria build-up.
- Bath your rabbit– This isn’t a typical bath, domestic rabbits don’t like to get wet, and doing so can send them into shock. However, we do recommend giving your rabbit butt baths if they have a dirty bottom. This will be no higher than 2-3 inches tall and should be lukewarm. You will need to use a rabbit-safe, hypoallergenic, non-medicated shampoo.