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Rabbits/Holland Lop Sitting in Urine


Hello Dr. Krempels,

I hope you're doing well. I have a 23 month old N/M Holland Lop name Duke. Duke is very healthy and happy. He weighs just over 3lbs, has a beautiful coat, and great teeth. He's also a wonderful pooper. Two months ago, I went on vacation for two weeks. While I was away, Duke stayed with a friend who is very familiar with rabbit care, and has several rabbits of her own. He did very well with her. However, since coming home, he seems to be purposefully wetting himself and his hay. I've tried a lot of things to try and help the problem- got him a litter box twice as large, a hay rack, change the litter box daily instead of every few days- nothing seems to help. He currently has a huge (9x13) litter box with a hay rack hanging over it. Sometimes he pulls all the hay out of the rack just so he can pee on it. I don't mind the upkeep or the extra hay consumption (when the hay is dirty I always replace it). What is really worrying me is his bottom is so dirty and he's starting to scald on parts of his legs and he's losing fur. I've washed just his legs a couple times to get the urine off, but I know this is really stressful for Duke. I just don't know what else to do. He's had every blood and urine test under the sun and there isn't anything medically wrong with him. What do you suggest?

Thank you,


Dear Louise,

There is definitely something wrong with his urinary tract.  It could be an infection, bladder sludge, or urolith(s) (bladder stone).  But this is not a behavioral problem.  It's medical.

Has he had radiographs (x rays) to determine whether he has sludge or stones?  That would be highly recommended.  Also note that if he's had a urine culture and sensitivity test to check for infection, that many urinary tract bacterial pathogens are obligate anaerobes, and as such they are very difficult to culture (they die shortly after contact with the atmosphere).

A rabbit-savvy vet can check a sample of urine under the microscope to check for traces of blood cells and/or bacteria, but an anaerobic sample would be the best way for a lab to identify any bacterial pathogens present, and tell the vet which antibiotics would be effective against them.

If you don't already have a rabbit-savvy vet, please use the list here to find one close to you:

In the meantime, to prevent urine scald, you can use the butt bath procedure outlined here:

I hope this helps.



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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:

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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

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