You are here:

Rabbits/Cottontail Rabbit


My little rabbit is 9+ years old. He has just recently started drinking large volumes of water and urinating similarly large amounts. Because he is very timid, I do not want to put him through too many frightening experiences so I feel that treatment options may be limited. Is there any treatment available for him if he has diabetes ?

Dear Judith,

Excessive urination and excessive drinking (polyuria/polydypsia or PU/PD, to the vet) is more often a sign of renal failure than diabetes in a rabbit.  The only treatment is subQ fluid therapy if he has bad days.  But a cottontail will likely not take well to that.  :(

Be sure to provide him with plenty of fresh water in a *crock* at all times, and let him manage his own kidneys for as long as possible.  Some people suggest that they've had success at improving kidney function with dandelion extract (which can be a diuretic), and some just give the bunny dandelion leaves in nightly salads.

But if this is renal failure, the only thing you can do is offer support and love and let him do the best he can.  Many bunnies manage to live for years on failing kidneys, and I hope he does, too.

The only way to confirm this would be via blood work and accompanying testing of the specific gravity of his urine.  But if his urine is copious and dilute, it probably means that his kidneys are not concentrating waste as they should, and he's compensating by drinking a lot of water to flush things out.  It's a good method.  But it will not last forever.

I hope he does well.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

©2016 All rights reserved.