Rabbits may live in cages, but just like dogs and cats, they still need regular vet care to maintain their health. Most rabbits should be spayed or neutered when they are young, and then they'll need annual checkups to ensure any signs of illness are detected promptly. However, as a rabbit owner, you should also be aware of signs that your rabbit is in distress and needs to see the vet ASAP. Here are a few of those signs.
Rabbit poop should always be fully formed. Loose stool can be a sign of any number of ailments, from a bacterial infection of the digestive tract to dehydration. The stools can also attract flies, which could lead to an often-deadly condition called fly strike. Take the rabbit to the vet who can diagnose the cause of loose stools, administer subcutaneous fluids if needed, and prescribe antibiotics if an infection is to blame. Sick rabbits often stop eating and drinking, so if you don't seek vet care, your rabbit may simply become more and more dehydrated to the point of exhaustion and eventually death.
If you see maggots on your bunny's skin, this is an emergency situation. As mentioned before, this is a sign of fly strike. The maggots can quickly eat away large portions of the rabbit's skin, which can be very painful and lead to serious infections, and eventually death. The sooner you get to the vet, the better. The vet will have to physically remove the maggots, treat the wounds, and probably shave your rabbit's fur to encourage quicker healing.
An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in or under the skin. It may feel like a bulge or pimple. You might see an abscess anywhere on your rabbit's body. Not all abscesses are an emergency, but it's difficult to know which ones are and which ones are not, so you should let the vet make the call. The vet may need to drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading.
If you suddenly notice that your rabbit is tilting its head to the side, this is indicative of a condition called wry neck. It is sometimes caused by an ear infection. Other times, it is caused by cancer. In either case, it does require prompt vet care.
Local animal hospitals can be the top resource for a healthy bunny. Talk to them to learn more about these and other signs your rabbit's health is suffering.