Common Rabbit Diseases

Common rabbit diseases. Rabbits suffer from a variety of common ailments that can be easily recognised by the rabbit owner.

Rabbits suffer from a variety of common ailments that can by easily prevented by sensible measures. By having a general knowledge of these the rabbit owner can save money in visits to the vet as many conditions are easily treated at home.

· Abscesses are lumps that appear suddenly and are caused from fighting and from cuts and wounds sustained by sharp edges on feeders etc. The treatment for this condition is to clip the fur away from the wound, make an incision on the lower edge of this so that it can drain freely and then bathe with warm salty water or a mild antiseptic twice a day until it finishes discharging.

· Canker results from small mites that go inside the ear irritating it until causing a thin discharge which then forms a crust. The rabbit will shake its head and constantly try to scratch its ear. This can be treated with a canker lotion over several days. The hutch should be cleaned and disinfected.

· Coccidiosis is a distressing disease which rabbits develop by licking dirty feet or coats or by eating and drinking contaminated food and water. It appears in dirty hutches with unchanged bedding and unclean feed and water dishes. The rabbit loses weight and sits in a hunched position with its feet forward. There will be diarrhea with sudden weight loss. This disease causes large losses in the young rabbit but can be prevented with a coccidiostat in the pellets.

· Cold symptoms are sneezing and a nasal discharge. Usually not serious in itself the rabbit should still be isolated.

· Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the eye caused by bucks spraying urine, draughts, ammonia fumes, or a dusty atmosphere. An eye ointment available from the vet can easily treat this.



· Constipation usually is the reason for when a rabbit goes off its food and only produces hard dried up droppings. More greens should be provided to prevent this occuring.

· Heat stress will cause the rabbit to lie in a prostrate position panting rapidly. Keeping a bottle of water in the freezer and placing it in the cage near the rabbit can lower the temperature. Heat stress can occur suddenly and kill within only a few hours.

· Mastitis is an inflammation of the milk glands and often results from the teats being banged, often as the doe hops into the nest box to feed her young. A swelling will appear but an injection of penicillin will cure the infection.

· Mucoid Enteritis or bloat or scours is one of the main causes of death in rabbits. The symptoms are apathy, grinding of the teeth, squinting eyes and a loss of weight. Usually there is terrible diarrhea with a clear mucoid substance. The rabbit should be taken off pellets and fed only hay and given plenty of water to drink. After a few days the rabbit can be gradually re-introduced to its food.

· Obesity in over-fed rabbits results in breeding difficulties and affected animals may become sterile. Sudden death can also occur. Food should be reduced and exercise increased.

· Paralysis occurs in the hindquarters and is usually caused by injury such as dropping the rabbit or disturbance by other animals. There is generally no cure for this condition and the animal should be destroyed.

· Red Water is reddish urine caused by cold temperatures, feeding too many greens or carrots. Provide plenty of water.

· Snuffles is a thick white discharge from the nose accompanied with a lot of sneezing. It is caused by stress or bad ventilation in the rabbitry and is highly contagious and incurable. Affected rabbits should be destroyed as they will infect other stock.

Although it is necessary for the rabbits owner to recognise these conditions if in doubt a veterinarian should always be consulted.

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