If your rabbit’s urine is bright red, this does not automatically equate to blood. In fact, most of the time, red urine is perfectly natural. A plant pigment in various foods can cause red urine in rabbits.
If clear urine is ‘flecked’ with blood, then your rabbit is urinating blood. It’s more concerning than a stream of red pee. It’s likely a bladder infection, and a course of antibiotics will solve the problem.
My Rabbit’s Urine is Bright Red
When your rabbit’s urine is deep red, your first thought may be that she’s bleeding. This is possible, but unlikely. Red pee is more common than you might think in rabbits.
The likeliest explanation is that plant pigments have dyed the color of your rabbit’s urine. Certain foods will affect the shade of rabbit pee. While we picture healthy urine as being yellow, rabbit urine can be brown, orange, or red.
If you spot red urine in your rabbit’s litter tray, take a wait-and-see approach at first. You will likely find that it changes color again within 24 hours. If so, you have nothing to worry about.
If your rabbit’s urine is consistently red for two or three days, you should continue to monitor the situation. This still does not mean that she’s bleeding, though. Your rabbit may be stressed or dehydrated. Both these conditions lead to darker pee than usual.
If you’re worried about blood, take a magnifying glass to a urine sample. Blood in rabbit pee is hard to see. You’ll be looking for small flecks of red in otherwise different-colored pee.
What Foods Cause Rabbit Urine to Turn Red?
Foods that are red in color often lead to red urine. But some other ingredients and plants can have the same effect, though. Common foodstuffs that lead to red wee in rabbits include:
- Red cabbage or red lettuce
- Beetroot leaves
- Cranberries, strawberries, lingonberries, or raspberries
- Red bell peppers
- Pine or fur needles
Certain medications, most notably antibiotics, can also dye a rabbit’s urine red. If plant pigments are causing red pee, it won’t last longer than a day or two.
Testing for Blood in a Rabbit’s Urine
If you remain worried that your rabbit has blood in her urine, there are three ways to check.
- Ask a vet. A vet can test for blood in the urine, but it’ll take time and cost money.
- Use a dipstick. Apply the dipstick to a urine sample. The color will change if blood is present.
- The Kastle-Meyer test. If you are comfortable with chemistry, you may wish to attempt this at home. As ThoughtCo explains, it involves testing a urine sample with hydrogen peroxide and a Q-Tip. Like a dipstick, the Q-Tip will change color is blood is found in the urine.
My Rabbit is Urinating Blood
If your rabbit has blood in her urine, it’s known as hematuria. This is not a disease in itself. Rather, it’s an underlying symptom of something else.
There is a wide range of explanations for blood in a rabbit’s urine. Usually, it’s a short-term infection. In such instances, your pet will be uncomfortable, but the problem can be solved. Common explanations for a rabbit urinating blood include:
- Pregnancy. If your rabbit is female and unspayed, could she be pregnant? The vulva of a pregnant rabbit swells, which can lead to bleeding. As miscarriage could also explain the blood.
- Excess Dietary Calcium (aka Hypercalciuria). If your rabbit’s urine is also sludgy or chalky, she is consuming too much calcium. This is having an effect on her internal organs.
- Trauma. If your rabbit has experienced trauma, she may be bleeding internally. A fall from height is the likeliest cause of this.
- Urinary Tract Infections. UTIs are the most common cause of blood in rabbit urine. Female rabbits of middle age are prone to UTIs. These can be painful for your pet, but they’re easily treated with antibiotics.
- Cystitis. This is a bladder infection, caused by inflammation in the urinary tract. Female rabbits can be susceptible to this health complaint. It will be treated with medication.
- Urolithiasis. This is the medical term for stones that have formed in your rabbit’s urinary tract. They must be dissolved through diet or medication, or there is the risk of a blockage.
- Nephrolithiasis. Similar to urolithiasis, this ailment is the formation of solid stones. Usually, nephrolithiasis relates to the kidneys.
- Endometrial Venous Aneurysm. This involves vein in the urinary tract swelling and growing oversized. A hysterectomy will usually be required to treat this condition.
- Polyps and Lesions. Sometimes, cancerous lesions and polyps can attach themselves to a rabbit’s bladder. A vet will perform a hysterectomy to remove any trace of cancerous cells.
How to Treat a Rabbit That is Urinating Blood
Treatment for your rabbit’s bloody urine will depend on the cause. Remember, blood in rabbit pee is a symptom, not a disease. The first thing you’ll need is a diagnosis.
Once you have this, follow professional healthcare advice for a treatment plan. In emergency medical cases, immediate surgery will be required. In others, you can help your rabbit through diet or lifestyle changes and prescribed medication.
If your rabbit has experienced physical trauma, scans will need to be performed to assess the damage. Find a rabbit-savvy veterinary surgery that has the appropriate technology.
A vet will attempt to stem internal bleeding, but it may not be possible. It depends upon the severity of the damage. It’s better to err on the side of caution and protect your rabbit from falls.
If your rabbit has been consuming too much calcium, you need to change her diet. You’ll notice a chalky residue in the urine, or sludgy, milky pee. If changes are not made, bleeding will follow.
Remove pellets from your rabbit’s diet. These are made from alfalfa hay, which is high in calcium and low in fiber. An adult rabbit will not miss pellets. They have little in the way of nutritional benefit.
Take a look at the hay that you feed your rabbit, too. If you use alfalfa hay, switch this for timothy hay. Rabbits can eat as much timothy hay as they like. It’s pure fiber, and has no harmful effects.
You’ll also need to review the leafy greens that you feed your rabbit. Spinach, kale, and lettuce are all high in calcium. Offer these foods sparingly, and never combine them in the same bowl.
These dietary changes, coupled with more exercise, will clear up your pet’s hypercalciuria. All the same, ensure that no further damage has been done to your rabbit’s body.
Urinary Tract Infection or Cystitis
UTIs and cystitis are treated with medically prescribed antibiotics. The House Rabbit Society lists the antibiotics available to rabbits, and how they are administered.
Do what you can to prevent these concerns from becoming ongoing. Stress and unsanitary living conditions are frequent causes of UTIs. Keep your pet calm, and clean her hutch regularly.
Be aware that many antibiotics turn a rabbit’s urine red. The medication is not increasing the bleeding in your rabbit’s urinary tract. This color is a natural side effect of the treatment.
Bladder or Kidney Stones
If your rabbit’s bladder has kidney stones, they’ll need to be dissolved. The easiest way to achieve this is by encouraging your pet to drink more water. If she exercises more, she’ll be thirstier.
Alternatively, tempt your rabbit into using her water bottle. Smear something sweet, such as a little jam, on the spout. This will be irresistible to most rabbits. Once she starts drinking, drastically reduce your rabbit’s calcium intake.
If this does not help, the stones are too large to dissolve. This means that a vet will need to remove them surgically. Like all operations on small animals, there are risks involved in this. Avoid letting the stones grow large enough for this outcome by taking early action.
Are Female or Male Rabbits More Likely to Pee Blood?
Female rabbits are considerably more likely to urinate blood than males. This is because many healthcare concerns with this symptom are related to reproductive organs. Rabbits do not menstruate, though. Do not assume that bleeding in female rabbits is natural.
If a male rabbit is urinating blood, it’s likelier to be an emergency. This suggests that your rabbit has experienced trauma or has a significant health issue.
With female rabbits, blood in the urine is nothing to ignore. It will require more nuanced testing. There is a chance that your rabbit will recover with medication. Always be prepared for surgery.
You can minimize your rabbit’s risks of health issues by getting her spayed. It’s advisable to spay a female rabbit at your earliest convenience. Ideally, do so before she goes into season. This reduces the risk of health concerns later in life.
There are other advantages to spaying a rabbit, too. She will become calmer, and more affectionate. She is unlikely to experience a phantom pregnancy. Above all, she will be more comfortable.
Remember the golden rule if your rabbit’s wee is red. If it’s a stream of pure, bright red, it’s likely a plant pigment. If it’s clear with small traces of red, it’s more likely to be blood.