How to Do a Rabbit Health Check At Home (in 6 steps)

rabbit health check (in 6 steps)

Looking after rabbits means more than just providing them with food and a cozy place to live, it also involves keeping an eye on their well-being through regular health checks. No, we’re not talking about the annual vet visit – that’s still a must. We’re talking about a simple, routine check that you can do at home on a weekly (or sometimes daily) basis.

By taking the time to examine your bunny, you can get familiar with what’s normal for them and what’s not. From checking their teeth for overgrowth to feeling for unexpected lumps, these routine inspections can be vital in maintaining your rabbit’s health and happiness.

Remember, these at-home health checks aren’t a replacement for professional medical care. They’re your way of staying ahead of the game and catching any signs of illness early.

rabbit eating and pooping IN LITTER BOX
Checking your rabbit’s litter box daily will help you understand the size and amount of poop that is normal for your rabbit.

Step 1: The daily litter box check

When you’ve got a bunny, keeping an eye on their litter box is super important. One of the first places you will see signs of health issues is the litter box because a change in their pooping and urinating habits is easy to detect if you keep an eye on their litter box every day.

  1. Poop Check: You want to see a bunch of round, dry pellets—all about the same size. Are there any poops that are suddenly smaller than usual or deformed? What about any mushy poops or a sudden increase in cecotropes? Could be a sign something’s off. (Learn more about what to look for in rabbit poop)
  2. Urine Check: Normal bunny pee can range from yellow to a reddish brown (yep, totally normal!). But watch out for any sludge residue, as that could be a result of bladder problems (if it’s pure white, that’s a calcium deposit, which is normal). Also, pay attention if your rabbit is suddenly peeing outside the litter box. This could be a sign that your rabbit is having incontinence issues (or they could be protesting a dirty box if you haven’t cleaned it in a few days) (Learn more about rabbit urine)

Step 2: Observe your rabbit’s general behavior

Your next step is to watch how your rabbit behaves. On a daily basis, you should familiarize yourself with your rabbit’s normal behavior. This way, you’ll be able to immediately tell if something is off. 

You see, rabbits have the tendency to hide the symptoms of their illnesses, making it more difficult to tell when your rabbit is sick. Observing their behavior every day will help you notice those subtle signs that something is off.

What are the rabbit behaviors you’re looking for?

  • Are they lethargic? Normally, your rabbit should be lively and curious. If they’re showing a distinct lack of energy, that could be a signal that something’s not right. (note: it’s normal for rabbits to sleep a lot in the middle of the day, but they are usually active in the morning and evening)
  • Are they itching more than usual? Sure, rabbits groom themselves, but if you notice an uptick in scratching from their normal behavior or if there are signs of skin irritation (redness or bald patches), that’s a heads up to pay closer attention.
  • Is your rabbit limping? If you spot your bunny limping, this is an immediate flag. It could be a minor injury (like a broken nail) or something that needs a vet’s eye.
  • Are they eating as much as usual? Rabbits are pretty consistent with their food intake. So, if your bunny isn’t munching away as much as normal, that could mean health concerns.
  • Do they come running for treats? Rabbits love their treats, and if they’re not perking up when you offer one, it’s worth looking into. I always do a treat check before going to bed at night to be sure my buns are feeling good before I go to sleep.

Learn more about how to tell if a rabbit is sick

Step 3: Pet your rabbit and feel for any bumps or cuts

While you’re spending time with your bunny, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking their health. When you pet your rabbit, use it as an opportunity to do a casual health scan.

Gently stroke your rabbit to keep them relaxed. As you pet, check for any matting or trapped hair, particularly if your rabbit is a long-haired breed. Mats can sometimes harbor debris or even hide skin issues.

Run your fingers under the fur and along their body. You’re feeling for any unusual lumps or bumps that weren’t there before. You can also feel for any cuts or abrasions? Their skin should be clean and free of sores.

rabbit cheek teeth check
Massage around your rabbit’s cheeks to feel for any bumps or abscesses.

Step 4: Check your rabbit’s teeth

Proper dental care is crucial for your rabbit’s health. It’s one of the most common health issues that domestic rabbits face. Their teeth grow continuously, so without the proper diet, they can end up growing too much, causing your rabbit to struggle with eating or cause an infection.

There are three steps to check your rabbit’s health at home:

  1. Check your rabbit’s cheeks: While petting your rabbit, apply gentle pressure to their cheeks to give them a cheek massage (most rabbits enjoy this). Feel for any abnormal bumps or abscesses along the jawline. Observe the rabbit’s behavior for any signs of pain when you touch certain areas.
  2. Check the front teeth: Position yourself in front of the rabbit while petting them and gently pull back their lips to reveal their front teeth. Look for signs of overgrown, uneven, or chipped teeth. Check the color of the gums; they should be pink, not bright red or purple.
  3. Check for other indicators of tooth problems:  Potential indicators of teeth problems include
    1. Excessive drooling
    2. Swelling along the jawline
    3. A change in eating habits, such as refusing hay
    4. Difficulty eating or dropping food repeatedly
    5. Showing interest in food but not consuming it
    6. Unexplained weight loss
    7. Loud teeth grinding to teeth clicking sounds
    8. Bad breath

It’s important to perform these checks regularly to understand what’s normal for your rabbit and to catch any potential dental issues early. If you notice any of the above symptoms or anything else unusual, consult with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment.

Sometimes bald patches appear as a result of excessive scratching. The rabbit may have fleas, mites, or even be stressed out.

Step 5: Check your rabbit’s eyes and ears

While you are observing your bunny, examine each eye closely. Your rabbit’s eyes should be bright and clear. A small amount of eye boogers is normal, but there should be significant discharge. Redness, cloudiness, or tearing could signal a problem. Sometimes, a bit of hay or dust can irritate their eyes, but persistent issues warrant a vet visit. 

Next, take a look at the inside of your rabbit’s ears. They should be clean and pink with no sign of crustiness or bad odors, which might indicate an infection or ear mites. To check the ears, you can gently fold back the ear and look inside. For lop-eared bunnies, it’s especially important to check for any abnormal signs due to their ears’ shape making them more prone to issues.

rabbit nail quick
Clip your rabbit’s nails on the section outside the nails vein (the quick).

Step 6: Check your rabbit’s feet and nails

You should also do occasional foot and nail checks to see if the nails need trimming and your rabbit’s feet aren’t sore. Long nails can snag or cause injury, so keeping them trimmed is best for your rabbit’s well-being.

For most rabbits, if the nails are longer than the fur on their feet, it’s time to trim the nails. If you have a short hair rabbit (mainly rex rabbits) you can wait a little longer or if you have a fuzzy, long haired rabbit (such as angoras or lionheads) you’ll probably want to trim them earlier. If the nails are starting to curl, it’s past time they were trimmed.

You should also check your rabbit for sore hocks occasionally. Sore hocks (also called pododermatitis) can happen when there’s constant pressure on the rabbit’s feet and tends to happen to senior rabbits, obese rabbits, and sedentary rabbits. Wire flooring can also cause sores on your rabbits feet. Maintaining a clean, soft living surface will help prevent sore hocks.

To check for sore hocks, you don’t have to do anything special. Next time your rabbit is sprawled out relaxing, take a minute to look at the heel of their back feet. Gently inspect the bottom of the feet for any signs of redness, swelling, or bald spots.


  1. Krempels, Dana. “Treating Sore Hocks.”
  2. Cotter, Mary. “Help! My Rabbit Is Sick And I Can’t Reach My Vet!”
  3. Parsons, Paige. “All About Teeth: Preventative Care & Dental Problems In Rabbits.”
  4. Praag, Esther van Ph.D. “Normal and Abnormal Fecal and Cecal Feces of Rabbits.”,
  5. “Rabbit Bladder Problems.” Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund,
  6. Somjen, Kim, DVM. “Rabbit teeth malocclusion – detection and treatment.” Bell Mead Animal Hospital, Feb. 3, 2016,

Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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