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Common Rabbit Illnesses And Problems

Doctor making notes about rabbits health problems

Like other mammals, pet rabbits are susceptible to certain problems and illnesses. It is beneficial for owners to be aware of these potential problems so that they can do their best to prevent them.

Common Rabbit Illnesses And Problems

There are certain rabbit illnesses that pet rabbits are susceptible too, however, with proper care, correct diet, and regular handing and cleaning of the rabbit hutch, owners can prevent many problems. Some common rabbit illnesses include:

  • Overgrown claws
  • Malocclusion of teeth – This is where the teeth aren’t properly worn down. The veterinarian can file the teeth down if need be.
  • Abscesses – Particularly around the head due to tooth root infection.
  • Injuries due to falls, dog or cat attacks or not being handled properly by young children.
  • Furballs/hairballs – Furballs are fairly common in rabbits and cause lethargy and loss of appetite. When there is a large amount of fur in the stomach, and the rabbit can’t pass the hair, it can cause an obstruction in the intestines. Daily brushing and a high fiber diet should be enough to prevent hairballs.
  • Ringworm – A fungal infection that affects rabbits and results in circular areas of hair loss around the edges of lesions. Ringworm usually causes discomfort and irritation but is treatable with medications and topical treatments.
  • Snuffles – ‘Snuffles’ is an infectious disease caused by the Pastuerella bacterium. Symptoms of snuffles include nasal and ocular discharge and sneezing. Rabbit snuffles can potentially cause lung damage, ear infections and abscesses. Respiratory disease is usually as a result of a poorly ventilated rabbit hutch or too warn an environment.
  • Sore Hocks – Sore hocks in rabbits is when the rabbit develops open sores on its hocks as a result of sitting on wire flooring or very hard flooring. Soft bedding (eg: hay) and a clean hutch will minimize the risk of sore hocks.

Rabbit Parasites

Just like dogs and cats, rabbits can suffer from parasite infestation. Many are preventable or treatable with correct care. Owners that are concerned should consult the veterinarian. These rabbit parasites include:

  • Coccidiosis – Causes diarrhea and weight loss. This is usually seen in litters raised in unhygienic environments.
  • Rabbits can potentially become infested with cestodes (tapeworms), however, in most cases, infection doesn’t affect the host. Rabbits can also get roundworms.
  • Ear mites and fur mites. Ear mites can cause canker (inflammation or infection of the ear) in rabbits.
  • Myiasis is parasitism by dipteran fly larvae. Commonly seen in sheep, flies can lay eggs around the anus of a rabbit especially one who has suffered from diarrhea, as they are attracted to smelly animals. Not commonly seen in rabbits, especially if they are kept clean.
  • Pet rabbits can also suffer from lice infections which cause irritation, self-injury and in extreme cases, anemia (as a result of lice taking blood meals). Products such as Advantage© can be used on rabbits to control fleas and lice.

Owners should seek veterinary advice if their rabbit is showing signs or illness, is lethargic, off its food or any other signs.

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