Aging Rabbits: When the End is Near

By now your rabbit is very old. You've had several amazing years with your beloved pet and nobody wants to deal with what comes next. It hurts. It's hard. And it's okay to be upset.

Getting a Fading Rabbit to Eat

Struggling with a rabbit that is fading away, from illness, age, or any other ailment, often comes in the form of eating. It is very common for rabbits who are close to the end to stop eating entirely.

So how do you convince a rabbit to eat? At this point, you're more concerned about their health than their long-term nutritional needs. Most rabbits will devour a small bit of bread if they are capable of it. Others are willing to munch down their favorite greens until the very end. If your rabbit has a mouth issue, try chopping their favorite vegetables very finely. This will help tempt rabbits with tooth rot or mouth abscesses into eating, at least, for a little while.

Eventually your rabbit will stop eating. This is natural. They will lose weight and may stop drinking as well.

How to Know It's Time

When your rabbit refuses all food and there is nothing that your veterinarian can do, it is time to say goodbye. A rabbit will starve to death in a short while if they cannot or will not eat. Nobody wants that end for their pet.

What to Expect from The End

If you choose for at-home euthanasia there are a wide variety of methods to do this. We will not cover them here but suffice to say, any meat rabbit website can instruct you. This is very difficult for many pet owners to do to their friend. If you can manage it, kudos to you. For the rest of us, it's time for a final veterinary visit.

Your vet will allow you to hold your rabbit if you want. You do not have to be present for euthanasia if you cannot cope with it, though if you can it is truly a final kindness for your rabbit. The veterinarian will inject your rabbit with a tranquilizer that sends your bunny off to sleep. Then the vet will give a second injection that stops the heart. Your rabbit may gasp or kick rapidly as their heart stops. This is normal and it is not your pet in pain or peril. The nerves work overtime when they sense the end coming and this is just their reaction. Your pet has passed and does not feel these movements. Our condolences.

Coping

It is likely that you will have your pet cremated or take them home to bury them. As we stated at the beginning of the article, it's okay to be sad. Give yourself permission to be upset. Take your time to heal from the loss of your pet. Many pet owners who have lost a pet will find comfort in adopting or purchasing a new one some time down the road but it's okay if you don't, too.


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