How to Comfort a Dying Rabbit

A rabbit may be a foreign pet choice for some, but for others, there could be no better companion than […]

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A rabbit may be a foreign pet choice for some, but for others, there could be no better companion than this. Pet rabbits can be around for years, creating strong bonds which make it difficult for owners to say goodbye. When your rabbit is dying, how can you comfort it?

The different ways to comfort a dying rabbit include giving your rabbit your undivided attention, stroking your rabbit, giving your rabbit plenty of food, water, and treats, and placing your rabbit in a quiet and dimly lit area to help them stay calm.

Rabbits are lively, curious, quiet, neat, and easily loved pets whose fur makes them all the better. This may be an unlikely pet choice for some, but for those who have welcomed a rabbit into their home, they quickly become part of the family. Although rabbits do have a long lifespan, there does come a point when their time must come to an end. If you sense that your rabbit is dying, read below to find some of the best ways to comfort them during this time.

Give Your Rabbit Your Undivided Attention

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When compared to pets like dogs especially, rabbits may, at first glance, seem to come off as pets that are relatively solitary. This may leave individuals thinking that these pets aren’t too keen on affection, or simply are not the type of animals that cares too much about it. However, rabbits who have acclimated to their owners and have been with them typically find physical affection to be incredibly calming, making it something they may crave when passing.

If your rabbit is dying, be sure to give them your undivided attention by staying close and tending to their needs. Rabbits, just like many other tamed pets, grow very used to having their owners around. Therefore, be present for your rabbit and give it company as it navigates through this process. 

Some owners may think that their rabbit is unaware of their surroundings when they are in the final stages of life, but rabbits have a very heightened sense of smell. Due to this, even if they are fading, they will likely be able to smell your presence, which may offer them a little more peace when they are at their end. Stay near your rabbit and offer them your undivided attention to keep them calm and company.

Stroke Your Rabbit

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When rabbits are younger, they may be quick to avoid your hand in order to run along to their next adventure, after all, no baby bunny has time to sit! However, as rabbits grow older, they tend to get more comfortable with the thought of being a pet and will allow their owners to sit with them and stroke them as they nibble on a treat or snooze away in their cage. If your rabbit is fond of being pet, this can be a great way to comfort them at death.

If your rabbit is dying, take time to stroke it in a way that will be conducive to comfort and calmness. To pet your rabbit, lightly move your hand across its back in a way that goes with the growth of their hair. Avoid patting or rough petting, as this may startle them and cause alarm. 

If your rabbit was very happy to be pet before they began fading, it is likely they will enjoy this even when they are in this period of struggle. If your rabbit was not previously fond of petting but you notice that they seem to want you nearby, gently try to pet them and see if they welcome the motion. If your rabbit remains calm, does not increase its breathing, and keeps its body relaxed, this may be just what it needed.

However, whether your rabbit was happy to be pet or not previously, if you notice that when you touch your pet its body goes rigid, its heart rate increased, its breathing begins to quicken and becomes more shallow, or it immediately tries to dodge your touch, calmly take your hand away and allow them space. Every rabbit is different in death, but some prefer solitude which should be given if they are emitting obvious signs of this need.

Give Your Rabbit Food, Water, and Their Favorite Treat

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Rabbits are incessant snackers, drinkers, and eaters and make a name for themselves in this way because they will typically gobble up just about anything they are given. This makes it easy for owners, as they don’t usually have to worry about their food and water intake, but when a rabbit is dying, is this something you still need to think about? If your rabbit is heading towards its last moments, look below to find out what they need for food and water.

To comfort your rabbit when it is dying, be sure to give them plenty of available food, water, and treats for them to nibble on if they feel so inclined. Rabbits may refuse to drink or eat before death, but always be sure these items are nearby if they get an inkling to hydrate or graze.

As far as food and water go, rabbits, just as all other animals, greatly need both to thrive. Especially important though is their need for water. If rabbits go longer than 24 hours without water, it can lead to hydration which can cause serious bodily decline. However, if you know your rabbit is dying, they may have no desire to drink or eat, but if they do randomly need to quench their thirst or grab a small bite, they need those items close and fresh.

If your rabbit is refusing to eat what you typically feed him or her, you may want to try giving it its favorite treat. Treats are to be dispersed periodically when they are healthy, but if your rabbit is dying, giving them something they love is something that should be done without a second thought. Place the treat near their nose so they are able to smell it even when they are unaware and this may lead to them grabbing a few bites and filling their bellies.

Put Your Rabbit in a Dark and Quiet Space

When you first brought your rabbit home, you may have noticed that they were very sensitive to loud noises, as they would jump or scurry with the slam of the door or a high-pitched giggle from a small child. With time though, your rabbit likely got used to the sounds of your home and really became rather comforted by the hustle and bustle of people coming in and out. When a rabbit is dying though, is it better to keep them away from such noise?

Another way to comfort your rabbit when it is dying is to move its cage to a dark and quiet space. During death, rabbits can be very sensitive to noise or heavy commotion and they need to be kept as calm as possible. Therefore, keep the area quiet and dimly lit to induce a peaceful setting.

The first thing you need to consider is the quiet of your home. If you are living alone or there are only a few of you in your home, there may not be a need to move your rabbit to another area, as you can easily change the way you move about to accommodate the need for quiet. If your rabbit is in a home that has quite a bit of noise though, take them somewhere with less traffic, like an unused bedroom, where you can shut the door and give them a bit of peace.

You should also consider placing your rabbit in a dimly lit area as well. Light can work as a stimulus, which can cause them to feel rather panicked when they are in their last hours. If you notice that your rabbit seems bothered by light, either partially shade their cage (allowing plenty of ventilation), or move them into a room where you can control the lighting. Dim the lights and give them enough to see without the room being completely lit up.

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