uti rabbits

Rabbit UTI Diagnostic Test from MiDOG

Has your bunny been hopping to the bathroom more often than normal? Or maybe you’ve noticed that their urine has an abnormal color and/or consistency? While these behaviors may seem more puzzling than concerning, they could actually be indicative of a painful and dangerous urinary tract infection (UTI).

Urinary Tract Infections in Rabbits

With the help of Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) technology, several recent studies have revealed that urine is not actually sterile, and the plethora of bacteria that inhabit the urinary system and are considered part of a normal, healthy urinary bacterial community [1]. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur in dysbiotic states, where pathogenic bacteria outgrow protective, healthy bacteria and ultimately wreak havoc on your bunny’s urogenital system [2].

One study reports that only approximately 25% of healthy pet rabbits experienced renal lesions caused by urinary tract disease, suggesting that symptoms may be difficult for pet owners to identify and treat [3]. Lower urinary tract disorders are particularly common in rabbits and are often compared with feline lower urinary tract disease due to similarities in presentation and predisposing factors [4].

UTIs can cause a significant amount of pain and increased need to urinate, and these infections are often caused by urine retention associated with large amounts of calcium deposits [4]. In nature, rabbits urinate frequently to mark territory and consequently void pathogenic bacteria. By contrast, in a domestic setting rabbits may not have the stimuli needed to mark territory; moreover, sedentary/overweight rabbits may hunch when they urinate and retain urine longer than normal [4]. Ultimately, this retention can cause sedimentation of urine within the bladder, producing thick, sludge-like excretions which may result in secondary bacterial infections [5].

While bunny UTI severity exists on a spectrum, the following UTI symptoms indicate that your rabbit may be suffering and needs to visit a veterinarian:

  • Pain in urination
  • Sludgy urine
  • Bloody urine
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Loss of litter training
  • Urine scalding
  • Hunched posture

Risk Factors for UTIs in Rabbits

Predisposing factors for UTIs vary between different countries due to loss of mobility (due to spinal, hip, or abdominal pain), a high calcium diet, loss of balance (due to middle ear disease, or encephalitozoonosis), and/or lack of social factors stimulating marking behavior [4, 6]. In general, female rabbits have been found to have a higher number of bacterial isolates than males, although this data was collected through a culture-based method [2]. Notably, while high calcium does not always translate to UTI manifestation, low calcium levels in rabbit food serve as a protective factor against the development of sludgy urine and related urine disorders [4].

Overweight rabbits are at a higher risk of lower urinary tract disorders.

Overweight rabbits are at a higher risk of lower urinary tract disorders.

Diagnosis & Treatment for Rabbit UTIs

The most common intervention for rabbit UTIs is a tailored antibiotic treatment plan, specific to the pathogens complicating your rabbit’s urinary tract [5]. Additionally, pain medication may also be prescribed depending on the severity of the infection. Sediment examinations and culture-based urinalysis have conventionally been used as diagnostic tools to inform an appropriate antibiotic treatment plan [4]. However, advancements in defining the rabbit urinary microbiome, complicated by antibiotic resistance are making it necessary for veterinarians to consider contemporary measures to identify and quantify the bacteria in your rabbit’s urine.

While research on the microbial characterization of rabbit urine is limited, the most commonly reported pathogenic isolates in rabbits with UTIs are staphylococci and Pseudomonas aeruginosa [7]. Additionally, because UTIs are often caused by fastidious anaerobes, which are bacteria that cannot survive when exposed to oxygen, culture-based studies will consequently produce a no growth culture in spite of there being clinical indications of a UTI [5].

New and Powerful Diagnostic Alternative

The MiDOG All-in-One microbiome test may provide the answer to the diagnostic conundrum that rabbit UTIs pose. Utilizing next-generation sequencing technology to detect and quantify all microbial DNA through untargeted and comprehensive sequencing and quantitative comparisons to reference databases, the MiDOG NGS technology provides a useful opportunity to shed light on the microbial makeup of your rabbit’s urine for clinical application. The MiDOG microbiome test is a microbial identification test grounded on scientific research that provides veterinarians DNA evidence for the guided treatment of rabbit infections, such as UTIs.

The MiDOG All-in-One Test has helped veterinarians to treat chronic UTIs in the past. Read one of our case studies here to learn more:

Link to case study: https://www.midogtest.com/urinary-tract-infection-case-study

MiDOG Swab Collection Kit for urinary tract infection for rabbits

Find out if your vet uses MiDOG before you book your next appointment!


[1] Melgarejo, T., Oakley, B., Krumbeck, J., Tang, S., Krantz, A., & Linde, A. (2021). Assessment of bacterial and fungal populations in urine from clinically healthy dogs using next‐generation sequencing. Journal Of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 35(3), 1416-1426. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.16104

[2] Reavill, D. R., & Lennox, A. M. (2020). Disease Overview of the Urinary Tract in Exotic Companion Mammals and Tips on Clinical Management. The veterinary clinics of North America. Exotic animal practice, 23(1), 169–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cvex.2019.09.003

[3] Smith, M. (2021). Diagnosing and treating urinary tract disease in rabbits. In Practice, 43(3), 143-151. https://doi.org/10.1002/inpr.28

[4] Urogenital Diseases. (2016). https://veteriankey.com/urogenital-diseases/.

[5] Krempels, D. Rabbit Urinary Tract Disorders. House Rabbit Society of Miami. Retrieved from http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/urinary.html.

[6] Suckow, M. A., Brammer, D. W., Rush, H. G., & Chrisp, C. E. (2002). Biology and Diseases of Rabbits. Laboratory Animal Medicine, 329–364. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012263951-7/50012-0

[7] Akinboade, O., Adegoke, G., Ogunji, F., & Nwufoh, K. (1981). Pathogenic microbes isolated from rabbit urine. Laboratory Animals, 15(3), 277-279. https://doi.org/10.1258/002367781780893821

[8] Diagnosis: Urine Scalding Dermatitis. (2005), 34(2), 24-25. https://doi.org/10.1038/laban0205-24

[9] Murray, B., Flores, C., Williams, C., Flusberg, D., Marr, E., & Kwiatkowska, K. et al. (2021). Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection: A Mystery in Search of Better Model Systems. Frontiers In Cellular And Infection Microbiology, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2021.691210

[10] Sobel, J., & Kaye, D. (1984). Host factors in the pathogenesis of urinary tract infections. The American Journal Of Medicine, 76(5), 122-130. https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9343(84)90254-7

[11] Zalewska-Piątek, B., Olszewski, M., Lipniacki, T., Błoński, S., Wieczór, M., & Bruździak, P. et al. (2020). A shear stress micromodel of urinary tract infection by the Escherichia coli producing Dr adhesin. PLOS Pathogens, 16(1), e1008247. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008247

[12] Sihra, N., Goodman, A., Zakri, R. et al. Nonantibiotic prevention and management of recurrent urinary tract infection. Nat Rev Urol 15, 750–776 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41585-018-0106-x

[13] Uthamanthil, R. K., Hachem, R. Y., Gagea, M., Reitzel, R. A., Borne, A. T., & Tinkey, P. T. (2013). Urinary catheterization of male rabbits: a new technique and a review of urogenital anatomy. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science : JAALAS, 52(2), 180–185.

Categories: Next-Gen DNA Sequencing Technology, Rabbits, Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

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Validated by Veterinarians

“Clients expect their veterinarians to stay up to date on all matters that affect the health and well being of their non-human family members. The current technique that we have used to determine the presence and antibiotic sensitivity of organisms causing disease in our pets is over a century old.

With the emergence of dangerous antibacterial resistance, it is critical that veterinarians are able to offer laser focused diagnostics and treatment. MiDog enables us to offer care that exceeds the typical standard of care.”

Bernadine Cruz, DVM, Laguna Hills Animal Hospital Laguna Woods, CA

“I love the absolute abundance and comparing the fungal with bacterial infection. I do not worry as much about getting a false negative urinary infection reading as I do with traditional urine cultures. Several times the same urine would culture negative but MiDOG would detect pathogens.”

Michael Morgan, DVMQuail Animal Hospital, Tustin, CA

“The MiDOG All-in-One Test is amazing, I would use it instead of culture and sensitivity.  Such rapid and detailed results, I will reach for MiDOG before culture next time!

Thank you very much MiDOG, for sharing the opportunity to try your technology.”

Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM, President of Forensic Veterinary Investigations, LLC – Boston, MA

The MiDOG All-in-One Microbial Test is our new gold standard of pathogen identification. The results are so accurate and valuable – especially with assessing both bacterial and fungal infections with the same sample.

Thank you MiDOG!”

Kathy Wentworth, DVM, Diplomate ABVP Canine and Feline Practice – PetPoint Medical Center, Irvine, CA

“The MiDOG staff was extremely helpful and supportive.”

Cathy Curtis, DVM – London, UK

“I have had great results using the MiDOG® Test. Compared to traditional culture tests, I am better able to target the treatment for dogs because the MiDOG® Test is so sensitive that it identifies all pathogens including bacteria and fungi, as well as antibiotic sensitivity.

The cost and turnaround time are about the same as a culture test, but I get much more data. The test has great performance and I believe the NGS technology will be a game changer for veterinarians treating dogs with lesions or other infections.”

Michael Kavanagh, DVM, Practice owner – Saddleback Animal Hospital, Tustin, CA

“It’s helpful to have an NGS spectrum because it gives you a broader insight of what’s happening and what might be going on.”

Richard Harvey BVSc DVD DipECVD PhD FRSB FRCVS – European Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology – Head of Dermatology, Willows Veterinary Centre & Referral Service – Solihull, England UK

“I have been using MiDog for over 4 years now and exclusively as my test of choice for all cultures for 3 years.  It is so great to submit a culture and feel confident there will be a result when it comes back, especially for urine cultures.  The reports were intimidating at first because they contain so much information.  After the first few, I am now quickly able to glance over it and pick out the highlights.  I can then come back later and pour over all the details.  I have been extremely pleased with my patients’ results using the test as well.  I don’t envision ever going back to traditional culture and susceptibilities again.”

Brian M. Urmson, DVM, Columbiana Veterinary Associates

“As an exotic veterinarian, there are numerous tests we have to consider to check specific bacterial and fungal organisms based on the species. MiDOG eliminates the need for many of these separate samples and provides definitive results quickly to help us treat our patients more efficiently and effectively. The lab is wonderful to work with and has never rejected our samples- they even processed a lizard toe we amputated and determined the cause of skin infection.”

Dr. Melissa Giese, Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital

“MiDOG’s diagnostic approach offers the unique ability to identify pathogens that evade traditional culture and sensitivity testing. I have found that adding a molecular based testing approach in the form of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) from MiDOG to my routine diagnostic cultures can be extremely helpful in the identification and diagnosis of uncommon pathogens in veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Wayne Rosenkrantz, Animal Dermatology Clinic – Tustin

“She [Dr. Krumbeck] really did a great job of making complicated concepts accessible and demonstrating the value of your services. I’m really looking forward to working with MiDOG on my research project!”

Dr. Yaicha Peters, Animal Dermatology Clinic – San Diego

“As a proud collaborator with MiDOG, I deeply appreciate their dedication to fostering partnerships between industry and veterinary experts. Their commitment to enhancing diagnostic quality for veterinarians is commendable. In my experience, their support has been invaluable, earning them a ‘Double A+, Triple Star’ rating. Their assistance has been faultless, contributing significantly to the success of my projects and studies. I eagerly anticipate our continued collaboration.”

Dr. Richard Harvey, BVSc DVD DipECVD PhD FRSB FRCVS; European Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology

“We’re seeing that, if we prescribe too many antibiotics or they’re taken too frequently, animals are developing inappropriate or pathogenic strains of bacteria. We’re also seeing that our antibiotics are just not working against them anymore… It’s a good example of why we need better diagnostic testing, like MiDOG, so that we’re selecting the correct antibiotic every time our patients have an infection.”

Dr. Alissa Rexo, DVM, CVA, DACVD, Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Dermatology

“The NGS technique as offered by MiDOG is wonderful because pathogens like Melissococcus plutonius, for example, are difficult to grow and keep alive in the laboratory. A standard laboratory cannot truly examine or even properly diagnose this pathogen in bee hives at this time. But with NGS, we can reliably diagnose it.”

Dr. Joerg Mayer, Entomologist and Microbiologist at the University of Georgia

“For me, as a clinician and as a researcher, I see the immense value in the product [the All-in-One Test]. I have had great success using MiDOG clinically, including identifying Mycoplasma in a 24 year old pigeon, a Nannizziopsis spp in a ball python from a large pet distributor, Mycoplasma and Fusobacterium necrophorum co-infection in a peacock, and to identify an abnormal gut GI in a technician’s dog that tested negative for everything else (but we were able to establish what was abnormal, and work toward fixing it).”

Dr. Jeremy Rayl – Veterinarian, Block House Creek Animal Hospital, Cedar Park, Texas