If your bunny's urine is milky, that means he's got more calcium in his diet and his system than he can use. Most likely, that's caused by consuming too much alfalfa. Even if you don't feed alfalfa, a legume, as a fiber source in hay, it's the primary ingredient in many commercial rabbit pellets. Young and growing rabbits, or nursing does, need the extra calcium alfalfa provides. Typical adult rabbits do not.
According to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in most animals extra calcium not required by the body isn't absorbed from food, but that's not the case with rabbits. Their bodies absorb that extra calcium. Although you're seeing some of that calcium excreted in your rabbit's milky urine, there's more of it still in his bladder.
Urinary Tract Issues
Rabbits can suffer from urinary tract issues because of excess calcium. Symptoms include milky or cloudy urine, which also appears quite thick. Your rabbit might make frequent trips to the litter box, hunching over while peeing because of pain. He might stop eating and start grinding his teeth, a sign of pain and discomfort. Urinary tract issues are veterinary red alerts, so take him to the vet as soon as possible.
Excess calcium causes bladder stone formation in your rabbit. This sludgy material can block his urethra, making it difficult or impossible for him to pee. Your vet takes a urine sample if your rabbit can pee, or inserts a catheter into his bladder to collect a sample if your bunny seems blocked. She can analyze the sample for calcium carbonate crystals under her microscope. If your rabbit is completely blocked, he might require surgery to remove the stones.
Keeping your rabbit's urinary tract healthy and his urine the right shade means feeding him the right diet. Besides having fresh, clean water available at all time, a rabbit needs hay 24/7 to keep his gut moving and his continuously growing teeth worn down. Give him timothy or grass hays for this purpose, not alfalfa. You should also feed him greens, but introduce each type slowly. If you don't use pesticides on your lawn, he can eat small amounts of fresh grass and dandelion greens. Other favorites include carrots, celery, leaf and romaine lettuce, broccoli and kale. Try to find timothy-based commercial rabbit pellets. If feeding alfalfa pellets, ask your vet about the amount you should feed your bunny. Most rabbits receiving an otherwise balanced diet with plenty of hay don't need pellets. Your rabbit also needs plenty of exercise to stay at the right weight. Obese rabbits are more prone to urinary tract problems.
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Is Your Bunny Healthy?
- Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association: Biology of the Rabbit
- Pet MD: UTI Problems and Bladder Infections in Rabbits
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Rabbit Care
- eXtension: Urinary Tract Diseases in Rabbits - Urinary Tract Infections
- eXtension: Choosing Hay for Your Companion Rabbit
rabbit image by Zhuk from Fotolia.com
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.