Caring for our pets and monitoring their health is part of responsible pet ownership. This is particularly true for exotic pets or small animals like rabbits, as their bodies and how they work can differ from those of more common pets. Urine is usually a good indicator of how well your pet is doing; it’s easy to see, is produced daily, and is normally a yellow-straw color in cats, dogs, and people.
In rabbits, however, the color of normal urine can be very different (and sometimes even alarming); it’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not so we know when to take them to a vet. This article will teach you what normal rabbit’s urine looks like and which colors are concerning, so you’ll know when they may be unwell.
However, keep in mind that this information is not a replacement for a veterinary exam, and if your rabbit isn’t well in any way, please contact your vet so they can get the treatment they need promptly.
Normal Rabbit Urine Colors
All of the following colors are completely normal for rabbits in most circumstances. However, in some situations, these colors could indicate a problem (which we’ve highlighted below), but for most rabbits, the colors are normal and don’t require veterinary attention.
Besides monitoring the color of your rabbit’s urine, keep an eye out for any other signs of illness that may indicate they are genuinely not feeling well, such as reduced or absent appetite, decreased or increased drinking, lethargy and inactivity, reduced defecation or absence of fecal production, and hunched, painful, or distended abdomen. All of these need urgent veterinary attention.
Rabbit urine that is clear and non-cloudy is normal and indicates that your rabbit is well-hydrated and drinking enough water. Rabbits get lots of water from the vegetables they eat, which helps hydrate them alongside the water they drink throughout the day. Clear urine is normal for this reason and will likely be a sign that they’re getting enough water from their diet.
However, if your rabbit displays other signs such as urinating more frequently, leaking urine (urinary incontinence), drinking excessively, and having clear urine, they may have an issue with their bladder or kidneys that a vet should check.
2. Pale Yellow
Pale, straw-yellow is another standard color of rabbit urine and is arguably the most commonly seen color. Pale yellow pee indicates your rabbit is well hydrated since the water they’ll get from their diet dilutes the urine to a paler hue. The urine should be clear and non-murky; if your rabbit has pale yellow pee that’s cloudy or murky, it is a sign that they could have mineral deposits in it. Cloudy urine is something a vet should check, as bladder stones or sludge can sometimes be a cause.
Sludgy bladder is when the normal calcium crystals in rabbit urine get retained in the bladder, building up gritty sediment that can irritate the bladder lining, causing pain and inflammation. In the case of sludge, urine can also seem quite thick, staining the rabbit’s back legs and causing straining and difficulty when passing urine.
If your rabbit’s urine is pale and seems excessive in amount or there is a change in the bunny’s drinking, appetite, or behavior, they should be checked by a vet. Dysfunction of the kidneys will cause a very dilute and pale-looking urine and may lead to increased drinking and increased urine production.
Rabbit pee that’s yellow to orange is also usually normal and is caused by your rabbit eating certain foods. Beta-carotene is a substance found in many veggies that rabbits love, including carrots and spinach, and it can give their urine an orange hue if large portions are eaten. The urine should change color back to normal in a few days, sometimes as long as 3-4 weeks, but orange could be the norm for your rabbit if they indulge in foods rich in beta-carotene regularly!
However, orange pee can also indicate slight dehydration in rabbits; monitor how much water your rabbit is drinking, how good their appetite is, and if they are behaving as usual and offer them veggies high in moisture to increase their intake. Good vegetables to increase hydration include celery and cucumber. Don’t give them too many since they can upset their stomachs. If you’re concerned about how hydrated your rabbit is, contact your vet as soon as possible.
Amazingly, even bright red urine can be normal for some rabbits! This can sometimes be alarming, but most often, red urine in rabbits is caused by a substance called porphyrin. Alongside porphyrin, there are other plant pigments usually from certain foods such as cabbage, broccoli, and dandelion that may change the urine color, particularly if the rabbit is not used to eating them.
However, some rabbits may produce red urine after seemingly unrelated changes, such as sudden cold weather or certain antibiotics. In addition, blood in the urine (hematuria) is a less common occurrence in rabbits and can look like specks of blood spread throughout the urine, especially at the end of urination, rather than a uniform clear red color, although this is also possible.
However, distinguishing true blood in urine from the presence of a benign pigment is not possible by plain eyesight and requires your vet to run some tests on the urine and check it under the microscope. If your rabbit is showing signs of urinary distress with red urine, such as straining to urinate or going very often, having a hunched or painful abdomen, or showing signs of general illness with lethargy and reduced appetite, you should take them to the vet. Alongside urinary issues, blood in the urine may indicate a disorder of the reproductive tract in female rabbits.
Brown urine can also be normal in rabbits. Sometimes urine can be pasty, beige or brown, which can again indicate sludge, and if it stains the back end and legs, it can easily be mistaken for diarrhea. As mentioned before, there is a great variety in urine colors and it’s very much dependent on nutrition and hydration. If you find your rabbit isn’t quite right, or has any of the previously discussed signs, it’s important to get them checked by your vet immediately.
Concerning Rabbit Urine Colors
The following urine colors are concerning and indicate that your rabbit might have a problem with their bladder, kidneys, or other parts of their urinary or reproductive system. If your rabbit has any of these colors showing up when they pee, or on the other hand, their urine is normal but they are not feeling well, showing reduced appetite, changes in drinking, and reduced fecal production, take them to the vet and get them checked out.
Rabbits have a great capacity for filtering out calcium from the blood when they need it. When the resorption of calcium by the kidneys has reached a maximum, excess calcium gets excreted as calcium carbonate in the urine, causing cloudy or sludgy urine. When metabolic demand for calcium is increased by growth, pregnancy, nursing, or metabolic disorders, less calcium is excreted and the urine appears clear.
Thick, beige urine in rabbits indicates sludge in the bladder. Bladder sludge is a thick paste that settles in the bladder, causing irritation and pain and often being mistaken for diarrhea since the sludge is very thick and almost brown! This color of urine is often accompanied by other signs of illness, including pain, straining to urinate, and urine staining on the legs. If your rabbit has thick, beige urine or exhibits these signs of disease, they should be taken to their vet for an assessment.
7. Dark Brown
Brown urine can sometimes be a normal color for rabbits, resulting in pigments being released by some of the foods they eat. It can also signify dehydration, which we discussed earlier in the article. However, dark brown urine (especially if it’s thick) can indicate a serious problem. Blockages of the urinary system (urinary tract obstruction), which stop the movement of urine from the kidneys to the bladder, or from the bladder to the end of urethra (and then outside), can present with dark brown or bloody, usually thick urine or inability to pass any urine at all, and are a medical emergency. Common causes of urinary tract obstruction include urinary tract infections (UTIs) or bladder infections that lead to swelling of the tissues, restricting urine flow and creating urinary stones and sediment that cause a physical blockage of the ureter or urethra. Signs include dark brown urine, hunching in pain, not wanting to move or difficulty moving, and peeing little and often (or not at all) but posturing as if trying to pee. This is an emergency, and your rabbit should be taken to the vet immediately.
8. Cloudy or White
Cloudy or white urine can indicate that your rabbit has excess calcium in their bladder from their diet. Rabbits need calcium to keep their bones and teeth strong, which they take in through food. Rabbits absorb all the calcium from their food and excrete any they don’t use into their urine, giving it this chalky white appearance.
Thin, clear, easily-passed or slightly white urine is usually an indicator of adequate calcium and not necessarily any other problems. A thicker paste-like white urine can indicate bladder stones or sludge buildup. This urine can dry to a semi-solid state, and it can be very difficult for rabbits to pass. If your rabbit has white or cloudy urine, take them to the vet for a check-up to discuss their diet.
If your rabbit has normal-colored urine with spots of blood inside, they may have true hematuria and need to see a vet. Blood in the urine can come from a few places, including the bladder, kidneys, or reproductive tract in female rabbits. Causes of blood in the urine can vary in rabbits, but the most common include:
Blood in the urine is usually distinguished from red-colored pee by a test as it’s not immediately obvious, so if your rabbit has been showing signs of illness and you see spots of blood in their pee, take them to the vet to be checked over immediately.
What Causes Concerning Urine Colors in Rabbits?
Most of the concerning colors of urine in rabbits are caused by a buildup of calcium deposits in the bladder or kidneys, which can form a sandy, gritty substance called bladder sludge. The sludge moves freely and causes many problems, including the potential to stop the movement of urine from the bladder and prevent the rabbit from peeing altogether.
Uroliths (urinary stones) can also form from these deposits, which need to be surgically removed as they cannot be passed. Some can be very large, and both sludge and stones in the bladder are painful. Other common causes of changes in urine color are dehydration and disorders of the urinary tract or reproductive system.
How Often Do Rabbits Normally Pee?
Rabbits usually pee around two to eight times per day, producing an average of 120–130 milliliter (ml) of urine per kilogram of their body weight in a day. It’s important to get to know your rabbit’s pee habits to tell if they’re not peeing enough or peeing (or trying to pee) too much. Changes in toileting habits are one of the most noticeable signs of illness in rabbits with urinary problems, such as straining to urinate or only producing small spots of urine at a time.
What Should I Do if My Rabbit Has Stopped Peeing?
If your rabbit has stopped peeing, you must take them to their vet as an emergency. Blockage of the urinary tract system is a severe and potentially life-threatening issue that can be caused by several things, including uroliths or sludge in the bladder or blockage and swelling of the tubes connecting the bladder to the kidneys. A complete blockage is rare, as partial blockages are typically caught before they progress. Male rabbits are more susceptible than females and adult rabbits are usually affected.
Rabbit urine comes in several whacky colors; luckily, most are normal! However, knowing what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to pee is essential since many illnesses can be caught early by looking at your rabbit’s pee. Alarming colors like red and orange can be normal and natural, but closely monitoring your rabbit’s urine and behavior for any changes is always best. If they show any even subtle signs of illness alongside changes in urine colors, take them to the vet for a check-up.
Featured Image Credit: katunes pcnok, Shutterstock
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