Rabbits and Arthritis

Rabbits like us can develop Arthritis, its important that you know what to look out for and how to give your rabbit the best chance to avoid developing Arthritis.

Signs of Arthritis

  • Messy bottoms – Rabbits with arthritis are unable to clean themselves effectively due to loss of mobility (messy bottoms can lead to fly strike)
  • Issues with balance
  • Moving slowly
  • Favouring certain legs
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Struggling to move their back end/ legs
  • Difficulties in moving positions
  • Difficulties in getting in or out of a litter box
  • Struggling to climb/ jump for example going up or down stairs

If you notice any of these symptoms take your rabbit to a rabbit savvy vet immediately.

Why do rabbits develop Arthritis?

Age As rabbits get older like us they develop conditions related to age. This is no different for animals making them more likely to develop age related illnesses such as Arthritis.

Obesity Rabbits who are overweight or obese are predisposed to conditions such as Arthritis. The extra weight that they carry puts increased pressure on bones and joints. Overtime this increased pressure damages the joints and can lead to Arthritis.

Genetics Due to their genetic make up some rabbits are predisposed to developing Arthritis.

Injury If your rabbit has injured their spine or legs they can overcompensate by using their uninjured legs more. This like obesity puts additional pressure on the joints of their good leg. The increased pressure over time can lead to Arthritis.

Can I prevent Arthritis?

In some cases Arthritis can not be prevented as it is either linked to age or genetics. However, there are steps that you can take to ensure that you give your rabbit the best chance to avoid developing Arthritis.

  • Make sure that your rabbit is being a fed a balanced diet. A good diet will prevent your rabbit from becoming overweight and therefore lessen their chances of developing Arthritis as a by-product of obesity.
  • Exercise and plenty of space to run around will keep their bones and joints healthy and strong.


Rabbits with Arthritis will need veterinary treatment. The treatment offered will be primarily to treat the symptoms of Arthritis and to help manage pain and inflammation.

Only use medications and treatments provided to you by your vet.


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