Since rabbits tend to live in cages, sometimes their owners assume they don't need veterinary care in the same way as cats and dogs. But this is not the case. Sometimes, bunnies do become ill and require professional care from a vet. Here are the key signs you need to take your bunny to the animal hospital.
Maggots on their skin.
If you see maggots on your rabbit's skin, this is not just a minor annoyance. It is a major health emergency. Your rabbit is suffering from a condition called flystrike. Those maggots are the larvae of flies, and if you don't act quickly, they will eat your rabbit's skin, leading to extreme pain and death. A vet can properly remove the maggots and, if needed, prescribe antibiotics to prevent subsequent infection.
Loss of appetite.
The food that bunnies eat — hay, vegetables, and even rabbit pellets — is fairly low in calories. As such, rabbits need to eat a large amount of food to satisfy their nutritional needs. So, a rabbit won't avoid eating for long. If your rabbit seems to have lost their appetite, something is wrong. They may have a respiratory infection or a digestive ailment. It's important to have the vet take a look, and probably administer fluids before your rabbit becomes dehydrated and their condition declines even further.
Nasal discharge is often accompanied by sneezing and sniffling in rabbits. When your rabbit displays these symptoms, they're almost always ill with an infection called the snuffles. It's caused by a specific type of bacteria called Pasteurella. Your bunny needs specialized antibiotics, and perhaps also fluids, in order to recover. The snuffles can lead to pneumonia if left unaddressed, and pneumonia is deadly. So, take your bunny to the animal hospital sooner, rather than later, for symptoms resembling the snuffles.
If your bunny's eyes look red, swollen, or unable to be opened, they could have an eye infection or an eye injury. Either need to be treated ASAP or else your bunny might lose its eye. A good rule of thumb is that eye problems should always be treated as emergencies — in any animal.
Bunnies need to see the vet, too. Not all animal hospitals will care for bunnies, so call around to the ones in your area to see who does. This way, you'll know where to take your pet when there's an issue.