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Why your pet rabbit may stop using the litter tray

Why your pet rabbit may stop using the litter tray

Q: My three-year-old dwarf lop house rabbit was perfectly house trained and used his litter trays with no any 'accidents' until he went into a rabbit boarding hotel for a weekend 18 months ago. After that, he continued to use his tray but occasionally urinated just outside it, too. Recently, he has done this far more often. A vet said he may be marking and suggested using bicarbonate of soda to remove any odour, which we tried, along with moving the tray, but there was no improvement. I'd be very grateful for any ideas about how to get our rabbit back on track.

A: With any breakdown of house training I always recommend ensuring that your rabbit does not have an infection. I presume he has been thoroughly checked over and a urinalysis done? It could be a possible marking behaviour, but a change of routine can also affect a pet's toilet habits. You do not say how often your rabbit is not using his tray, but that he is going 'just outside' it. Could it be that he is using the tray but, on some days, 'weeing' over the rim? A partly covered tray or one with higher sides may solve the problem. Otherwise, I would recommend going 'back to basics' and, for a period of time, restricting the amount of free area he has. Placing him in a more confined space such as a 'playpen' should help him get back into the habit of using his tray again.

Inga Mackellar, animal behaviourist

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