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OMG my rabbit’s urine is RED! Is this an emergency?

Yes we are back in the litter box today, where so many clues to the state of our rabbit’s health appear.

You went to the litter box an hour ago, and saw red.  Red orange urine! That can’t be good, right?  You’ve got a call in to the vet so see if you need to rush in, and now you are searching the internet for some ideas on what you might be facing.

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Don’t panic.

Rabbits rarely have blood in their urine, and even if they do, it is very hard to see.  That color you see in the litter box is most likely natural colors that are left over from digesting some veggies.  Veggies (such as carrots, broccoli, and dandelions) contain pigments, and during digestion, the wastes that go into the urine can carry color in a range of concentrations.  You may also see whitish urine, from an excess of calcium.  Any of these variations should go back to the normal pale yellow within a few days, no worries.

 UTI, urinary tract infection, blood in urine photo credit rabbitsonline

There are times when we DO worry about urine.

If the urine stays white or whitish for longer than a few days, you may need to change the diet to contain less calcium.  Calcium can build up, causing urine sludge and stones, and we never want that.  Stones are very painful, and sludge can cause urine to become as thick as toothpaste – and that can’t be any fun at all.  Can you even imagine how that feels?  There is not an easy fix, and you are looking at surgery to remove stones and catheterization (also under anesthesia) to clear out sludge. Ouch.

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photo credit Merck

If the urine is still yellow but very dark, possibly even brown, we start to worry about dehydration.  Is your rabbit showing any other symptoms of being unwell?  Still eating and drinking, still playing and moving around happily?  Still passing poo and caecotrophs with no trouble?  If not, call the vet.

If your rabbit is spending an unusual amount of time in the litter box, stop and watch.  Does it look like your friend may be straining (sitting quite still on the tips of the back toes, with tail high up in the air)?  You may be looking at the symptoms of a urinary tract problem, so do ring the vet.  If you see NO urine output, there may be a complete blockage, and this is an EMERGENCY.  Go right now.  Don’t even shut down the computer, just go.

We hope we’ve soothed your frazzled nerves about that red pee in the litter box.  Take a deep breath, and go dance with your rabbit.

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