What to do if you think your rabbit has been poisoned:
- Stay calm. Remove your rabbit(s) from the source of poison.
- Contact your vet for advice immediately; inform them when, where and how the poisoning occurred. If appropriate, carefully take the packaging, plant or substance with you to the vet. Be careful not to expose yourself to any harm.
- Follow your vet’s advice. If you are advised to take your rabbit(s) to the vet, do so quickly and calmly.
Never attempt to treat or medicate your rabbit(s) yourself. Some medicines for humans and other animals may be poisonous to your rabbit.
If the skin or fur is contaminated, wash thoroughly with mild shampoo and water, rinse well and dry.
Keep your rabbit(s) away from any other animals to avoid cross contamination.
Never ‘watch and wait’ in any case of suspected poisoning. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, act fast and contact a vet for advice immediately.
Preventing poisoning in rabbits:
Under the Animal Welfare Act all pet owners have a legal duty to provide for their pets’ needs, including the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Preventing your rabbit from coming into contact with poisonous substances and treating any accidental poisonings quickly and appropriately is an important part of responsible pet ownership.
In the home:
- Keep houseplants in containers placed where your rabbit(s) cannot reach them. Collect up any dropped leaves or petals.
- Keep pesticides, such as rat baits, away from the areas your rabbit(s) have access to.
- If treating your pets with insecticides at home, remember to separate them from other pets to avoid cross-contamination.
- Watch your rabbit(s) closely when they are running free indoors.
- Ensure housing and exercise areas are free from, and not overhung by, poisonous plants.
- Ensure your rabbit’s/rabbits’ water supply cannot become contaminated, and change it regularly.
Common rabbit poisons:
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is a specialist 24-hour emergency service which provides information and advice to veterinary professionals and animal welfare organisations on the treatment of animals exposed to toxic substances.
Some of the most common, potentially severe rabbit poisons reported to the VPIS are:
- Rodent poisons (called ‘rodenticides’)
- Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Rhubarb (Rheym spp)
- Foxglove (Digitalis spp)
- Glyphosphate herbicide products
Read more about these common rabbit poisons, their symptoms and treatment in our most common poisons rabbit webpage.
Other cases of poisoning in rabbits reported to the VPIS have included common household and garden plants such as species of Lily, Clematis, Rhododendron and Lily of the Valley. For more information about what substances are harmful to your rabbit speak to your vet.
Acknowledgement for this information is made to The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). The VPIS is not a public access service. However some helpful information for pet owners is available on their website.