Why Do Rabbits Struggle When Walking?

Rabbits are well known for their strong hind legs, which they use for hopping. But sometimes things can happen that cause your rabbit to start limping and struggling when they walk.

Rabbit paralysis is a common problem for rabbits and can have many different causes, some of which are very serious and require immediate veterinary care. It is a severe condition that affects their ability to get food, water and bowel movements so it is vital to seek treatment quickly.

Vertebral fractures, luxations (dislocations) and arthritis are all conditions that can lead to hind leg weakness and paralysis in rabbits. It is important to ensure that caged rabbits are handled properly with their backs and hind legs supported.

Spinal disc degeneration and spinal osteoarthritis are also causes of hind limb weakness and paralysis in rabbits. These can occur suddenly or develop slowly depending on the severity of the condition.

Joint inflammation, which is seen in older and obese rabbits, can also cause hind limb weakness and paralysis as the joints become swollen and painful. It can be caused by a number of things including obesity, ageing and previous injuries to the joints.

Hip dysplasia is another common ailment that can lead to hind limb weakness and paralysis in your rabbit. It is a genetic disorder that can be passed down from one rabbit to the next, but it can be cured in most cases with veterinary treatment.


If your rabbit is stomping their hind legs, it may be trying to communicate to other rabbits in the area, or they could be feeling fearful. They will stomp in zigzags to try to spread their scent so they can confuse a predator.


If you notice your rabbit panting or breathing through their mouth, this is an indication that they are not getting enough oxygen in their body. Their normal respiration rate is 30 – 60 breaths per minute, but some rabbits breathe more quickly than this if they are hot or stressed.

They can also have problems with their nasal passages. A blocked nose can cause them to pant and struggle to breathe, but this can also be a sign of respiratory distress.

Inability to groom

If your rabbit cannot groom, they can suffer from a variety of diseases including skin infections and parasites. It can also be a symptom of other illnesses such as cancer and kidney disease.

Head tilt

Rabbits can develop a head tilt if they are not able to move their hind legs or if they have an infection in their spine or brain. It is important to seek veterinary attention if your rabbit has a head tilt, they will need pain relief and monitoring for any complications.

A bunny with a head tilt will usually appear distressed and they will be reluctant to eat. Often they will fall over and bump into things, as they can’t control their movements when they have a head tilt.