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What Does It Mean When Your Rabbit’s Pee Smells Like Ammonia?

What Does It Mean When Your Rabbit's Pee Smells Like Ammonia?

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Just like any other pee, rabbit urine can smell very strong, and this is usually due to ammonia. If you smell ammonia in your pet’s urine, then this must be removed at once. Your pet could be in danger of smelling ammonia, and this can cause terrible consequences.

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Quick answer

When you smell ammonia in your rabbit’s urine, then it’s likely that this is old urine, or the pee has been there for quite some time, and thus this must be removed or cleaned at once. High ammonia levels in your pet’s urine are dangerous because the ammonia fumes can cause respiratory damage.

Why is ammonia worrisome?

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Ammonia is from the action of bacteria on urine. Rabbits will excrete more nitrogen if this is fed with food high in protein. Nitrogen is converted by bacteria to ammonia, and this is used to feed bacteria. If you smell ammonia inside your rabbit cage, then you may be serving your pet’s food that’s high in protein. Or the smell could be a sign that you should change your pet’s litter or perform regular maintenance.

Ammonia fumes can cause lung damage and inflammation, and this can lead to the attack of bacteria known as Pasteurella multocida. In a study, there were no noted significant effects of ammonia when these were present at 57 ppm, but at 672 ppm, rabbits begin to experience discharge, redness, and cloudiness of the corneas.

Animals that were part of the study had areas of the lung that were affected by ammonia. Overall diffusion inflammation in the lungs is due to the excessive inhalation of ammonia found in the nearby environment.

Rabbits that are exposed to excessive amounts of ammonia daily may suffer from the reduced movement of the lining of the airways. The tiny hairs or Cilia that line the lungs brush against secretions and any inhaled debris in the mouth. Thus, cilia help the lungs stay clear. If cilia slow down or are destroyed due to the inhalation of ammonia, then the lungs won’t be able to clean the air that passes through. When air is not adequately cleaned, the rabbit may acquire infections or may suffer from pneumonia.

The smell of ammonia may not just be present in the rabbit’s hutch but may linger in enclosed areas like the den, bedroom, garage, barn, or kitchen. When a home is not adequately ventilated, then ammonia smell and fumes can build up. And usually, this is not just from your pet’s urine but also its feces or droppings. When ammonia fumes keep on developing inside an enclosed space, the fumes can’t escape. Levels of ammonia may quickly increase in the area, and this can make your pets suffer.

Aside from the lungs, the kidneys may also suffer. Conditions that affect the kidney, especially the tubes of the kidneys and the tubular cells in the organ, are also affected. The production of bronchial epithelial cells is also affected. Take note that these changes can happen to all animal pets and not just rabbits.

Ammonia’s effect on humans

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Increased ammonia levels inside a home or enclosed space can also have a direct effect on humans. A recent study has released important government guidelines regarding ammonia content in an enclosed space. The OSHA guidelines state that 50 ppm is permitted for ammonia for no more than eight hours of daily exposure. If there is increased exposure, humans and pets suffer extremely.

From 0 to 50 ppm, ammonia levels remain undetectable, but there are cases when ammonia may already be detected at this level; however, adverse effects may not likely happen.

From 50 to 100 ppm, humans may develop mild nose, eye, and throat irritation. Tolerance may be developed after two weeks of exposure, and this comes with no adverse effects.

In 140 ppm, humans may have moderate eye irritation when exposed less than two hours a day. This has no long-term problems.

From 400 to 1700 ppm, symptoms could worsen as the levels of ammonia start to rise. There may be moderate irritation of the throat, eye injury, and throat spasms. The airways may be affected, and thus there are problems with breathing.

From 2500 to 6500 ppm, humans may suffer extremely in just a half-hour of exposure to this severe ammonia level. Usually, sloughing of the lung tissue and death of the airways may happen. A person exposed to this extreme level may suffer from a severe lung injury, chest pain, lung spasms, and inability to breathe.

At 5000 ppm, a person may die from inhaling this very severe ammonia level.

Remove ammonia completely

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You must remove ammonia completely, and the only way to do this is to use a safe and natural method. Here are a few ways to get rid of pesky ammonia smell in your rabbit’s pee.

Use vinegar and water

Vinegar is very effective in removing odor and nasty smells made by ammonia. Compared to commercial cleaning products, this is safe because it’s natural, and you won’t have to worry about any fumes or chemicals which can further worsen your pet’s condition.

You may use vinegar on its own by placing it in a spray bottle and spraying the area where your pet usually pees. Locate the area where there is ammonia smell and remove the bedding and spray it with vinegar. Let the vinegar stay in the area for 15 to 20 minutes and then flush the area with clean water or rinse under running water.

You may also dilute the vinegar with water. Use a cup of vinegar in one bucket of water and use this to scrub the area clean. Let the mixture stay in the area and then rinse this with running water. Repeat the procedure if you still spot any smell. You may also use this solution to clean all the other areas where your pet stays.

You can use either plain white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Remove soiled bedding and replace this with new ones.

Use baking soda

Baking soda is effective in removing smells, stains, and dirt. It has strong odor-fighting properties that it is commonly used in cleaning home messes and smells.

You may sprinkle plain baking soda on the area where you smell ammonia. Let the powder remain for an hour or so and then afterward, vacuum it or sweep this away. You may try doing it again if you still smell something weird, or you still see any stain or dirt on the area.

And aside from using baking soda in powder form, you may add baking soda with water to make a paste. Apply this paste on the stain or pee mark where you smell ammonia. Let the paste remain in the area for at least an hour or so. Remove the paste with paper towels or tissue and wash the area with plain water and soap.

Baking soda and the mixture of baking soda and water is safe to use even on any kind of flooring. You can use this on a cement floor, wooden floor, or natural rock floor. Also, this won’t leave any residue so you can use it again and again.

Use commercial products

There are tons of commercial products used to remove ammonia smell and fumes for any pet. One such product is Bye Bye Odor. This is a safe and natural product that’s formulated to reduce and eliminate odors that are related to animal pee and poop.

This product uses natural methods to get rid of smell and ammonia. It uses microbes that breakdown the urea found in waste products. When urea is eliminated, ammonia levels are reduced. This solution will not just cover the problem but will also eliminate the source.

This product works under the concept that if there’s no urea, there’s no odor, and there’s no ammonia. These microbes will digest urea and other wastes before these are transformed into ammonia. The result, there’s no smell and no ammonia smell. Makers of Bye Bye Odor has released a very strong formula with a dense amount of safe microbes in their product. The job gets done fast.

Bye Bye Odor is safe for animals and people too. The microorganisms that are used to break down urea have been used for many decades in breaking down smells and nasty odors coming from different sources. It is also non-staining, but we recommend testing this to a small area on the floor and on the walls just to make sure.

To use this product, clean the rabbit hutch the usual way. When you’re done, dilute the product with water or use a concentrated solution, it’s up to you. Use this on the smelly area daily. Spray on wet areas and where the odor seems to remain.

After three to five days of continuous application, you will notice that there is a huge reduction of smells. Take note that once the container of Bye Bye Odor has been opened, you must use the remaining amount within 60 days.

Other rabbit smells that you should be concerned about

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Rabbits are not known to smell bad. Any unwanted smells from a rabbit are usually due to poor husbandry and cage maintenance.

Rabbits do not have body odor, unlike dogs, but if you smell something, then it is likely that your pet is sick or suffering from an infection. For instance, an ear infection in rabbits can have a musty odor. A male rabbit may also develop a musky smell when there’s a female around. And for any weird smell coming from any part of the body, take your pet to the vet at once.

Healthy rabbits may have odorless poop. This goes for its dry and wet poop. But if you notice that the poop is very watery, looking like cow feces and have a foul odor, then your pet may be harboring intestinal parasites or may be affected by another kind of illness. And if you notice a strong smell specifically from the feces, then you should have your pet checked at once.

Almost all smells that you may smell in a rabbit are from its urine. Rabbit urine has a distinct ammonia smell that’s strong right after it has urinated. Urine coming from a male rabbit has a stronger scent compared to females. Also, bucks use their urine to mark their territory, so expect them to pee a lot.

The rabbit litter box is the source of most of the smell. Cleaning this box, changing the bedding, and spot cleaning will all help reduce foul smell easily. Another thing is to train your pet rabbit early to use the litter box. Use regular litter instead of the scented variety because scents may have chemicals that can pose a risk to your pet’s health.

Don’t use pine or cedar as bedding. You may have used pine or cedar shavings as bedding before, but guess what? These are extremely toxic to pets, especially rabbits, hamsters, and mice. These two softwoods emit a chemical known as phenols, which can also affect the respiratory system and overall health of pets. Pine and cedar are also considered to be cancer-inducing. You may use other materials instead like paper, cardboard and hay or straw.

If the cage or the litter box is not maintained, then odor can quickly build up in these areas and cause ammonia fumes to accumulate. When left alone or overlooked, rabbit smell may be stronger than those created by a cat. Consider spaying or neutering your cat to manage the smell. When spayed or neutered, rabbits may develop a milder pee and may also stop male rabbits from marking their territories. And finally, if you notice that your pet is not peeing at all, take it to the vet at once. This may be due to urine stasis, the presence of urinary bladder stones, and many more. Pets that are spayed and neutered have a lot less odor even if they pee anywhere in your home or the enclosure.

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