Urine Scald In Rabbits: What It Looks Like, Causes, And Treatments

Urine scald, also known as urine burn, is a common health problem in rabbits that is often associated with improper living conditions, obesity, arthritis, or other health issues that prevent a rabbit from properly cleaning itself.

Urine scald happens when a rabbit’s skin remains in contact with urine for extended periods of time. The acidity of the urine irritates the skin, causing inflammation, redness, discomfort, and possibly infection.

This typically occurs around the hindquarters and underside of the rabbit. It’s essential to keep a rabbit’s living environment clean and dry to prevent urine scald. If a rabbit is unable to clean itself due to health issues, it may require additional assistance in staying clean.

Rabbit Urine Scald Causes

rabbit urine scald
Our house rabbit in her toilet box

Our rabbits were always kept indoors during the winter, in bad weather, and at night.

We had this toilet box for them which was lined with hay and which we would clean once or twice a week, depending on how much they’d been inside.

If we did not clean it frequently enough, their urine would soak up through the hay and get on their back feet leading to urine burn. We noticed this happening very early on and took our rabbit to the vet which is where we learned the problem and solution.

Treatment would involve gentle cleaning of the affected areas, application of topical treatments, and addressing any underlying health issues contributing to the problem.

Urine scald in rabbits can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

1. Poor Hygiene:

Infrequent or improper cleaning of the rabbit’s living environment, such as not cleaning out a litter tray or hutch frequently enough, can result in prolonged exposure to urine.

2. Obesity:

Overweight rabbits may have difficulty grooming themselves properly, leading to urine-soaked fur that can cause scalding.

3. Mobility Issues:

Conditions such as arthritis, injury, or paralysis can prevent a rabbit from moving away from urine-soaked areas, leading to prolonged exposure.

4. Urinary Incontinence:

Some rabbits may have issues controlling their bladder due to age, injury, or illness, which can lead to frequent urination and an increased risk of urine scald.

5. Urinary Tract Infections or Kidney Disease:

These conditions can lead to excessive urination, making it difficult for a rabbit to stay clean and dry.

6. Diarrhea:

Diarrhea can cause similar problems as urinary incontinence, as the excess moisture and acidity can irritate the skin.

7. Dental Disease:

Pain from dental disease can prevent a rabbit from grooming itself properly.

Prevention is key, and maintaining a clean living environment is essential for your rabbit’s health. If you notice signs of urine scald, it’s recommended to seek care promptly to address the underlying cause and treat the condition.

What Urine Burn Looks Like

Urine scald, or urine burn, in rabbits typically manifests as skin irritation in the areas that come into contact with urine.

Here are some of the signs to look out for:

  1. Redness and Inflammation: The skin around the rabbit’s hindquarters, underside, and genital area may appear red and inflamed.
  2. Hair Loss: Prolonged exposure to urine can cause hair loss in the affected areas.
  3. Wet Fur: The fur around the rabbit’s hindquarters may consistently appear wet or damp.
  4. Discoloration: The affected skin and fur may turn a yellowish or brownish color due to contact with urine.
  5. Pain or Discomfort: A rabbit suffering from urine scald may show signs of discomfort, such as reluctance to move, restlessness, or changes in behavior. They may resist when you try to touch the affected area.
  6. Sores or Ulcers: In severe cases, the skin may become so irritated that it breaks down, forming sores or ulcers.
  7. Foul Smell: In cases where the urine scald has led to a bacterial infection, there may be a noticeable bad odor.

Or if you are noticing rabbit pee on you after handling your bunny, this could also be an indicator that your rabbit has urine burn.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to seek veterinary attention promptly. Urine scald can be uncomfortable for your rabbit and may lead to more serious skin infections if not treated promptly.

Urine Scald Treatments

what is urine scald in rabbits
If you have a house rabbit, provide a clean toilet space

Here’s a general idea of what the treatment process might entail:

Home Care:

1. Cleanliness:

Regularly clean your rabbit’s living environment and litter box to prevent prolonged exposure to urine.

If your rabbit’s fur is urine-soaked, clean the area gently with warm water and a mild, rabbit-safe antiseptic soap, then pat it dry gently. It’s crucial to keep the area clean and dry.

Your toilet solution may not be ideal. Some folk even use automatic litter boxes for cats which have a self-cleaning features that can help prevent problems.

2. Barrier Cream:

You can apply a thin layer of a pet-safe barrier cream or ointment (such as one containing zinc oxide) to protect the skin from urine.

However, it’s always best to consult with your vet before applying any topical treatments.

Veterinary Care:

1. Medication:

If the urine scald has led to a bacterial skin infection, your vet may prescribe antibiotics. Topical creams or ointments may also be used to soothe the skin and promote healing.

2. Pain Management:

If the rabbit appears to be in discomfort, the vet may prescribe a suitable pain relief medication.

3. Addressing Underlying Issues:

If the urine scald is due to conditions like obesity, arthritis, dental disease, urinary tract infections, or kidney disease, the vet will work on managing or treating these underlying issues to prevent further instances of urine scald.

4. Fluid Therapy:

In cases of severe dehydration from excessive urination, your vet may administer fluid therapy.

5. Dietary Modifications:

If your rabbit’s diet is contributing to urinary or bowel issues, the vet may suggest changes to the diet.

Remember, while initial home care can help, urine scald is a serious condition that needs veterinary attention. Always consult with a vet if you suspect your rabbit has urine scald.

Urine Burn Prevention

In summary, urine scald, or urine burn, in rabbits is a painful condition caused by the continual exposure of the rabbit’s skin to urine.

This can occur when a rabbit’s fur becomes saturated with urine, leading to irritation, inflammation, and even infection of the skin in severe cases. The causes of urine scald are typically health or environmental-related.

Health-related causes may include conditions like obesity, arthritis, or urinary incontinence that make it difficult for a rabbit to maintain its hygiene. In other instances, it may be due to urinary tract infections or kidney disease causing excessive urination.

Preventing urine scald in rabbits primarily revolves around maintaining a clean environment and ensuring the rabbit is in good health. Regular cleaning of the rabbit’s habitat, especially its litter box or bedding, can help keep the rabbit clean and prevent the buildup of urine that can lead to scalding.

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