Rabbits need to urinate, just like you and me and even our other pets. But unlike us, a rabbit’s urine can vary in color depending on various factors such as health, hydration, and even diet. This makes it difficult to know if your bunny needs immediate medical attention or has just eaten some greens with plant pigments that stained the urine.
Normal rabbit urine ranges in color from pale yellow to red. Pale yellow to amber orange is the norm for a healthy rabbit, however. If your rabbit's pee is dark brown, pink, white, streaked with red, or contains sand-like particles, it's best to consult a vet. If you see your rabbit straining to urinate with no or red urine, see a vet immediately; this is an emergency.
In this blog, I'll help you identify the different rabbit urine colors and help you decide if they warrant a vet visit or not.
Keep reading to learn more about rabbit urination.
RECOMMENDED READING: MASTER BUNNY CARE
Bunny pee can be anything from pale yellow to red and everything in between. This can come as a shock to many new rabbit owners and pet sitters. The main reason bunny urine has such a range of colors is diet.
If your rabbit's diet contains a lot of carrots, spinach, alfalfa hay, or other veggies high in beta-carotene plant pigments, you may notice dark orange or red urine. However, beta-carotene isn't the only thing that can change rabbit urine. The calcium in spinach and alfalfa hay can also change the color of bunny urine white.
It's important to keep in mind that bunny urine is naturally a bit cloudy. This is because rabbits get rid of excess dietary calcium through urination. It's important to note that a high-calcium diet can lead to health problems such as bladder sludge.
It's important to monitor your rabbit's urine over a period of time. Bunnies urinate around two to seven times daily, and each can yield a different color. It's also important to monitor your rabbit's water intake.
Bunnies often produce dark, concentrated urine that appears brown in color during the first cold snap as winter sets in. This color usually indicates dehydration due to the lack of drinking water. Like humans, bunnies don't feel like drinking much when cold.
However, if your bunny has dark brown urine for more than a day, a vet visit is on the cards. Here's a more in-depth explanation of rabbit urine colors.
Rabbit pee can tell you a lot about the health of your pet. Keep reading for a short explanation of each urine color.
Urine that ranges in color from light yellow to orange is an indication that your rabbit is healthy, at least as far as kidney function is concerned. This also means that your bunny is drinking enough water and eating a healthy diet.
Rabbits drink about 50 to 150 milliliters (1.6-5 oz) of water per kilogram (2.2 Ibs) of body weight every day. They also continue to eat a range of different food items every day, which means the color of their urine is always changing.
This does mean that they can have a few strange colors in their urine throughout the day, such as light brown, red, and even white.
White urine in rabbits is normal within limits. If you recently fed your pet a meal high in calcium-rich foods such as spinach and alfalfa, you can expect to see cloudy white pee in the litter box due to the presence of calcium.
Keep a close eye on your bunny. If you notice your rabbit passes a thick white substance, is straining to urinate with no success, has sand-like grains in the urine, or has streaks of red in the urine, it could be a sign of bladder disease. If you see any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
By Jmarchn - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Red pee can be normal depending on if it's caused by plant pigments (beeturia) or blood in the urine. Here are a few things to consider before you take your rabbit to the vet.
Your rabbit's diet plays a big part in urine color. If your rabbit eats foods rich in beta carotene, like raspberries, strawberries, and beet greens, you're more likely to see red urine.
Other times, a sudden temperature change from hot to cold during fall can cause red urine in rabbits. This happens due to your pet not drinking enough water and should clear up in a few days.
You can increase water intake by feeding wet, leafy greens, adding some flavor to your rabbit's water, or simply changing the water to lukewarm water.
If your rabbit is sick and on antibiotics, there is a chance that your pet is feeling too sick to drink. THis can cause the urine to turn red or even brown as dehydration sets in. Encourage more water intake by feeding wet, leafy greens and water-rich foods like cucumber.
Antibiotics also change the way your rabbit digests food. This change can also affect urine color.
If you have an unspayed female, it's always a good thing to check for any issues with the urinary system and reproductive tract. Blood in the urine can be a sign of various conditions such as urinary tract infections, uterine cysts, polyps, or abortion.
If you notice your rabbit urinating outside of the litter box, passing sludge, passing actual blood, or appearing to be in obvious pain, contact your vet for an appointment as soon as possible.
Your vet can determine if it's a urinary tract infection, sludge, or something more serious by taking a urine sample and doing X-rays.
Brown pee in rabbits is usually a sign of dehydration. This color of urine doesn't warrant an immediate vet visit, but you should definitely keep an eye on your pet and try to increase water intake. Here are a few simple ways to do just that!
You can't force a bunny to drink, but you can increase water intake with a little twist. Feeding freshly washed greens (still wet) is the quickest and easiest way to get some water into your bunny. The leaves themselves also contain water and quite a few other nutrients your bunny needs to stay healthy.
It's much easier for a rabbit to drink from a bowl than it is to drink from a bottle. Because it's less effort to drink from a bowl, your rabbit will drink more and, as a result, urinate more, which reduces heat stress and dehydration issues.
Generally, rabbits love fresh, cool water. If your bunny isn't drinking enough, try to remove the bowl and add a fresh bowl of water. The change in bowl and fresh water will draw your rabbit's attention and hopefully encourage drinking.
You can add a little flavor to your rabbit's water as a last resort. Add a few drops of unsweetened, 100% apple or carrot juice to the water to encourage your bunny to try it. Make sure you don't add too much since your rabbits may develop diarrhea due to the sudden increase in sugar.
Also, make sure to change the water again to pure fresh water for the next day. Your rabbit might become dependent on having the juice in the water and refuse to drink normal water, so don't offer this treat unless absolutely necessary.
Red urine doesn't always mean your rabbit has an infection or worse. In most cases, this color is caused by environmental factors and diet. If you suspect your bunny has actual blood in its urine, though, make sure to take your rabbit to see a vet immediately.
Blood in your bunny's urine is called Hematuria. Hematuria is a condition where an injury or infection allows red blood cells to enter the bladder or urinary tract. The blood is then passed in the urine when the rabbit uses the litter box.
If you're unsure if your bunny's red urine is blood or pigmentation, it's best to take a urine sample to the vet for examination. The vet can tell you if it's really blood and can find the source of the bleeding to determine treatment.
Hematuria could be present if your rabbit is suffering from the following conditions:
Bladder sludge due to a high-calcium diet
Injury to the kidney compartment
By Joel Mills - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Bunnies are generally quite healthy, but that doesn't mean they can't get sick. Here are two of the most common urinary health issues in rabbits.
Bladder sludge, also called hypercalciuria or hypercalcinuria, is a result of too much calcium being filtered out of the bloodstream and into the kidneys and bladder of rabbits. This calcium forms a thick substance with the consistency of heavy cream or, in rare cases, toothpaste.
Sludge is similar to balder stones, but the excess calcium thickens into a paste without forming stones in the kidney. This painful condition prevents the rabbit from emptying the bladder properly, which can lead to more problems.
Bladder stones, on the other hand, can be life-threatening. Stones form when the calcium carbonate deposit in the bladder hardens into a chalky stone. These stones can get stuck in the kidney collecting ducts, ureters, and, in some cases, in the urethra, causing a complete blockage. This is more common in male rabbits and is a medical emergency.
These conditions can often be identified by looking at a rabbit's urine. The first sign is a sand-like deposit or a thick, creamy paste in your bunny's litter box, usually accompanied by straining or blood in the urine. To determine the extent of the damage caused by the stones, however, your vet will need to do x-rays and bloodwork.
Difficulty in peeing
Peeing more than usual
Urinating outside the litter box
Blood in the urine
Sand-like crystals in the urine
Loss of apatite and depression
Inactivity/lack of exercise
Excess calcium in the diet
Lack of appropriate toilet area or litter box
If the rabbit only has sludge or extremely small stones, the bladder can be flushed to remove the depost. In some cases, however, the calculi have grown too large to flush. In this case, surgery will be required to remove them.
A bacterial culture should be done to determine if any underlying infection is present. Bladder stones tend to damage the bladder's lining, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow.
Urinary tract infections, called UTIs, happen when bacteria enter the bladder due to an injury, bladder sludge, or general poor health. These bacterial infections cause the bladder to swell due to inflammation, which can be extremely painful. Here are a few symptoms to look out for.
Loss of weight
The appearance of a thick sludge in urine
Blood in the urine
Injury to the urinary system
Lack of grooming
Bladder sludge or calculi
Unsanitary potty areas
Increase in hydration level through water consumption
Increase in vitamin C intake
Rabbit urine isn't normally harmful to humans. Urine from healthy rabbits contains no bacteria or any other dangerous pathogens. If your rabbit shows signs of a UTI or any other bladder disorder, there is a chance that bacteria could grow.
When your bunny's immune system is compromised, there is always the risk of developing an Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E.Cuniculi) infection. This pathogen can be found in all rabbits but is usually suppressed by the immune system. It's important to note that E. Cuniculi is a common cause of renal disease in rabbits.
This pathogen could be potentially dangerous for immune-compromised humans. Children and elderly people are also more likely to be affected by E. Cuniculi. Therefore, avoiding contact with rabbit urine is best if you fall into any of these categories.
No, creamy or thick urine is a sign of sludge. When rabbits consume a large amount of calcium in their diets, they excrete the excess in their urine. This could lead to a buildup in the bladder, which causes the urine to appear creamy, or, in severe cases, the urine may be the consistency of toothpaste.
Cloudy urine in rabbits is completely normal and caused by unused calcium being excreted in their urine. You'll also notice that rabbit urine dries white instead of clear, like a dog or cat. However, if you notice blood in the urine and sand-like grains, it's time for a vet visit.
Yes, it does. Rabbits are efficient in absorbing calcium from their diet. As a result, lots of unwanted calcium will be excreted in the urine, causing it to turn milky. As the urine dries, the calcium deposit will stay behind, turning into a white powdery substance on your floor.
Thick, white, dark brown, and blood-tinged urine are abnormal in rabbits. These colors can indicate problems like bladder sludge, dehydration, or a UTI. Normal rabbit urine ranges in color from pale yellow to red. Unfortunately, red urine caused by plant pigments could make it quite difficult to identify blood in a rabbit's urine correctly.
Keep a close eye on your bunny, as red urine may indicate a more serious problem. Call a vet if you notice straining or unusual behavior when urinating as soon as possible.
In summary, normal rabbit urine is expected to range in color from yellow to orange. In some cases, red urine can also be considered normal as long as no blood is present. This color is usually caused by pigments in your rabbits' food.
Brown, white, creamy, and blood-tinged urine is abnormal in bunnies. These indicate more serious issues like dehydration and calculi in the urinary system. If you notice abnormal urine, make sure to look out for problems such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and sludge. These conditions are extremely painful and can also claim your rabbit's life.
If you're unsure if your rabbit is healthy, the best option is to call your vet. It's also important to keep an eye on your rabbit's poop. Painful health conditions can cause your rabbit to stop eating, which could lead to GI stasis (a condition where the gut stops moving).
If your bunny is prone to bladder problems, try to reduce the amount of calcium-rich foods you feed and opt for water-filled greens instead. You can read our article on what to feed your bunny.
Ackerman, Sandi; Deeb, Barbara, DVM. “Red Urine: Blood or Plant Pigment?” House Rabbit Society, https://rabbit.org/journal/3-1/red-urine.html.
Brown, Susan, DVM. “Bladder Stones and Bladder Sludge in Rabbits.” House Rabbit Society. https://rabbit.org/2006/09/urolithiasis/
Susan Brown, DVM. "Bladder Stones and Sludge in Rabbits." Veterinary partner, https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=6048312
Krempels, Dana, Ph.D. “Urine Scald: A Symptom of a Greater Problem.” University of Miami Biology Department, www.bio.miami.edu/hare/urinary.html.
“Rabbit Bladder Problems.” Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-bladder-problems/