become a breeder
Health and Medical Issues
The information provided is the opinion of Welsh's
Honeybuns based on our experiences and care as breeders. For any health
issues always check with your rabbit vet on questions regarding the proper
We have found the online Merk
Veterinary manual to be very helpful
What is it? - Puss filled wound caused by bacteria / staff/ and
other things like pasturella.
Symptoms - Hard lump under the skin, may ooze puss.
How do they get it? Previous wounds, receiving an injection which
becomes infected, pasturella, staff and other things.
Treatment - The wound must be kept extremely clean. Shave around
the area. Lance it with something steralized. Squeeze it firmly to get
out the puss. It will likely be very thick and you may need to use a lot
of pressure. Once you are sure the abcess is empty clean with peroxide
/ or terracleanse or / vanodine to steralize. Apply penicillin topically
on the area and into the wound. You can get it at feedstores - "TWin_Pen"Penicillin
G Benzathine and Penicillin G Procaine (labeled for cattle). IF you cannot
keep this clean it may need to be removed surgically.
Abscess behind the eye / Eye Bulging
is it? - Click here for
larger picture. The eye is bulging far beyond it's regular location.
Puss filled wound caused by bacteria / staff/ and other things like pasturella.
In this case it develops specifically behind the eye causing the eye to
bulge far beyond it's normal location.
Symptoms - Eye bulging way beyond what it should.
How do they get it? Previous wounds which become infected, pasturella,
staff and other things, molars/teeth growing incorrectly inward causing
an infection behind the eye.
Treatment - Antibiotics such as Baytril may be used. A vet needs
to look at this, dignose if the problem is actually an abscess rather
than cancer or some other problem and then prescribe what they think.
If this is caused by the molars it can be a lifelong reoccuring problem.
What is it? - A bacteria which can cause a rabbit 'cold'. Also
sometimes assumed to be 'snuffles'. Bordatella causes kennel cough in
Symptoms - Uncontrollable sneezing, a clear discharge around
the nose (looks like water) which can also be present on front paws from
the rabbit wiping their face.
How do they get it? Rabbits will not get viral colds from humans,
but can develop these symptoms due to bacteria already existing in the
rabbits system and other virus'. Stress to the rabbit is usually the cause.
This can be due to showing, extreme temperature/humidity changes, travel,
over-heating and many other things. It is highly contagious and is transferred
from one rabbit to another through particles sneezed or wiped onto something
which comes in contact with other rabbits.
Treatment - As with any rabbit disease, you should consult a vet
as soon as possible. Rabbits have very delicate immune systems and respiratory
problems can progress very quickly. It is also important that you know
what is causing your rabbit 'cold'. A vet can perform a 'culture' which
will identify the cause and the proper antibiotic. If you give the wrong
antibiotic you can strengthen the cause and wear down your rabbit.
include Baytril or Sulfatrim which are prescribed by a vet. We gave our
infected rabbits .5cc 2 times daily for 2 weeks. The rabbits weighed from
2 lbs to 4 lbs. In our case the baytril did nothing and the sulfatrim
cleared it right up.
Isolate the rabbit
from all other rabbits to prevent spread of the infection. Move the rabbit
into a cool, quite, low stress place.
the rabbit has touched which is in contact with other rabbits. There
are many different rabbit safe sterilizers sold online such as vanodine.
Or you can use 1/32 bleach/water (rinse off after it has dried).
(see Spinal Injury / Paralysis)
with a broken leg - Rabbits will inevitably get into some type of
injury where you have no idea how they managed to hurt themselves. Ours
was a broken leg. We went out to check the rabbits in the morning and
there was our doe with a broken tibia (bone between the hip and knee).
We took her to the vet who took some x-rays. She said if the foot had
been broken they could have simply wrapped it, given her some pain medication
and let it mend. But with this type of injury they would need to try a
splint or perform surgery. The splint would be unreliable and would need
to be changed and re x-rayed at least 4 times. They explained that a splint
is not helpful unless it is placed exactly right. If the rabbit dislodges
it, the splint could actually do more harm that good by putting pressure
in the wrong area, causing additional pain, or even holding the leg incorrectly
and preventing mending. A splint would be around $500. Overall they didn't
know if a splint would work and they recommended surgery. Surgery would
place a plate or pin inside the rabbits leg to hold it exactly where it
needed to be. Depending on how much medication they needed the price would
be between $800 and $1000. As always, with rabbits there is risk whenever
they go into surgery that there will be problems. They said it was also
a significant risk to the babies (the doe was 1 week pregnant). We were
at a completely loss. Although we completely understand people who decide
to pay for this type of surgery we just couldn't bring ourselves to invest
that much into this situation. We didn't want her to be in pain and we
asked the vet if there were any other solutions besides having to put
her to sleep. The vet said in this case it was possible to let her heal
on her own. According to the x-rays, the bone was right next to each other.
It was a clean break and was actually still touching. She was also able
to observe the rabbit the whole day and saw that the doe was eating and
drinking as normal. The doe was even moving around the cage quite a bit.
She said that if it were her rabbit, she would at least leave the rabbit
for a week or so before making a decision. If the rabbit continued to
eat, drink and act normal she seemed to feel that the rabbit wasn't in
terrible pain. The doe probably wasn't comfortable but we could give doses
of Children's Motrin to
help. You can also use Children's
Aprin. Do not use anything with Acetaminophen
such as Children's Tylenol.
She said the leg would mend but it wouldn't be as straight as if we had
performed surgery. We were told to keep her in a small cage so that she
wouldn't move around much. So we took her home - as is. Over the next
few days the doe continued to groom, eat and drink as normal. Within 2
days she was moving around her cage so much that we decided to take her
off the Motrin, in hopes that she could give the leg a little more rest.
It seemed to have almost no affect - she continued to favor the leg, but
to act very normal. Within a week she started gently itching her ear with
the bad leg. Within 2 weeks she was itching like normal with her back
leg. She would even stand on her back legs to greet us when we came to
feed her in the morning. To be honest we were very happy that she seemed
to feel so good but we were very concerned that she was using the leg
so much. 3 weeks later she had her first litter. Instead of a nest box
for her to hop in and out of, we make a 'nest' out of straw in the corner
of the cage. We were also concerned that she wouldn't have enough control
over the leg in order to keep the babies safe. She did wonderful though
and seemed to have no problems birthing, feeding or taking care of the
babies. After a month we moved her to a larger cage in order for her to
hopefully be less bored. Her leg is not entirely straight (slightly out
to the side) but she sits on it and uses it as normal. We are very careful
when we let her out and where we let her play. We make sure she is never
with other rabbits and that she doesn't get so excited that she starts
to run around or kick. We need to be extremely careful with the leg to
make sure she doesn't re-injure it. She seems completely happy and we
look forward to future litters from her.
What is it? - Coccidia is a protozoa which affects the rabbit digestive
system and or liver. This can be contagious to other rabbits depending
on how many of the parasite they ingest. This typically only affects very
young (4-7 weeks) or injured rabbits.
Symptoms - Very listless, limp rabbit. Mucus and blood in the rabbit's
stool. (if the mucus does not have blood and the rabbits stomach is bloated
you may have Mucous Enteritis) Very foul smelling
stool. Excessive diarrhea. Mucus/blood/diarrhea everywhere - it's an explosive
mess. This is extremely serious and will kill a young rabbit typically
with 24 hours.
How do they get it? - Rabbits regularly have a small amount already
in their systems. But if the rabbit is very young and something is introduced
which stresses their system (lots of new fruit), their immune system may
be overwhelmed. Typically however, rabbits come in contact with the protozoa
through infected feces. Then when they groom their feet they will ingest
the protozoa. A clean cage is essential for the health of your rabbit.
They may not even get sick, it depends on how many protozoa they ingest.
You must keep
the rabbit hydrated while they are battling this. (see dehydration
is used as prevention and for treatment. For prevention Corid recommends
5 mg/day for every 2.2 lbs of body weight given for 21 days. For treatment
of an effected animal the recommendation is 10mg/day for every 2.2 lbs
of body weight given for 5 days. http://www.corid.com/pdf/CORID20.pdf
. Or you can mix 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. Do not give less
than 5 days. It is also available at http://www.kwcages.com
use of 1% of sulphametha-zine (sulfa drugs)
in a mash may be effective, especially for the intestinal infection
via FedX) fed directly to them orally (as much as they will swallow as
often as possible) will also kill the protozoa. It is all natural and
you can use on any age rabbit without overdosing. It is somewhat expensive.
Your rabbit has
probably stopped eating. As your rabbit starts to gain its strength back,
put rabbit pellets in a small amount of hot pedialyte. This will cause
the pellets to expand and become soft. Then put the mush into an oral
syringe and feed as often as the rabbit will eat it.
Symptoms - If your rabbit has stopped drinking and peeing. If
skin 'stays' in one place when you pinch it together rather than
it immediately releasing back into place. If your rabbit has diarrhea.
How do they get it? - If your rabbit has been sick they are likely
dehydrated because they don't feel like drinking or they are in pain or
their body simply can't keep in the fluids.
Soak carrot tops
in water to entice them to eat and get the fluid. Offer them apples and
bananas, apple juice and pinneapple juice.
If they won't drink
on their own you will need to feed them with an oral syringe. (note NEVER oral
syring feed a rabbit on their back!! or they can easily breathe in the
liquid). These are
available at your vet or any pharmacy (baby syringe feeder). Feed them
unflavored children's Pedialyte.
This contains electrolytes and other things needed for dehydration which
are not contained in regular water. If you can get it fast enough you
can use Am-Tech rather than pedialyte (www.jefferslivestock.com),
an amino acid formula used to combat the dehydration and get them the
nutrients they need during severe illnesses. The important thing is
that you need to quickly get your rabbit hydrated by whichever method
they will tolerate.
If you don't have
pedialyte you can make your own ORT (oral rehydration
therapy) 1 cup
water, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (since their system
can be acidic when they are sick, this will help reduce that), 3/16 teaspoon
are too weak to drink, or extremely hydrated and need immediate fluids,
you'll need to get lactated
ringer solution from your vet. This is for
sub-cutaneus application (under the skin, not in the muscle or veins).
It will come with a needle, syringe tubing, etc. Your vet can show you
how to administer. I usually do about a golfball in size between the
shoulderblades for an adult (small holland sized) rabbit. There's not
really a risk of overdosing, but it can be painful for the rabbit if
you 'overfill' an area. Once that goes down in size I administer again
in a couple hours if they are still dehydrated. Do not reuse your needles,
they dull after one use and can be very painful for the rabbit. They
are also no longer steralized after use.
What is it? - Runny stool - usually smells much worse than usual
rabbit poop. Hair matted on the rabbits butt, poop caked in fur.
Symptoms - Can be accompanied by a listless rabbit, rabbit not
eating or drinking, very foul smelling stool, blood or mucus in stool.
How do they get it? - There are many many different potential causes.
Usually it is caused by a change in diet. This is less extreme and is
usually not accompanied by a lot of diarrhea. The stool may just be a
little looser than normal which will clear up in a few days. If the rabbit
is very young or old and the diarrhea is severe, a common cause is 'coccidia'
and mucoid enteritis. It can also be caused if a
rabbit is on antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill the bad and the good bacteria
in a rabbits stomach. This causes an imbalance in the digestive system
Isolate the rabbit
in case it is caused by sickness
the rabbit has touched including the cage
If you do not
see any other signs of illness it may just be an imbalance in stomach
bacteria, you can wipe some yogurt on their front paws. The rabbit will
lick it off and hopefully 'rebalance'. Or you can use benebac (or probac)
powder in their food to rebalance.
If the rabbit has
blood or mucus in the stool see 'coccidia' and
If the rabbit seems
listless or is not drinking they are very likely dehydrated.
This is a common side effect of diarrhea and you must help that immediately.
If the rabbit seems
fine and the diarrhea is not very severe then just keep an eye on them
and make sure they are drinking and eating. Typically this is caused by
a change in diet, or by fruit. You can give them probac rabbitmedicinechest.com
or benebac jefferslivestock.com
in their water which will re-balance their intestinal 'good' bacteria.
If your rabbit is on antibiotics you should definitely be giving them
one of those in their water.
the animals cage. If bacteria is the cause of their diarrhea you need
to make sure that is no longer present in their environment. (Vanodine is an easy, cheap and very effective disinfectant)
Ear Infection / Otitis Media & interna
What is it? - Pressure inside the rabbits ear due to a bacterial infection
which causes disorientation, head tilt, rolling in the cage etc.
Symptoms - Swollen, red, pussy area AROUND the eye. (if the eye
itself is bulging out you may have an abscess behind
the eye) Eye crusted in goop, eye sealed shut. When the eye is semi
open you may be able to see a milky whitish spot on the eye - or the whole
eye may look milky white (blind).
How do they get it? - We haven't seen where they get it from. For
us, it usually shows up in small babies once they move out of the nest
box. It can be caused by an infection, crowded conditions or by something
in they eye such as a piece of hay.
Gently cleanse the
eye with warm water to remove the puss/crust and to allow the eye to open.
Make sure you don't see anything in the eye such as a piece of hay. Use
terramycin eye gel 3-4 times a day until the eye no longer crusts over.
This has been very successful for eye infections for us and can be purchased
online at (www.jefferslivestock.com)
and other online feed stores. Usually we see results within hours of application.
Disinfect the cage
and area around the rabbit. (Vanodine recommended)
What is It? Blood sucking parasite on extrernal body
of the rabbit. Visible if you look closely.
Symptoms - Itching, scratching
Wash in origional
Dawn dish detergent
(blue). I have heard this will kill the fleas almost instantly. Safe for
the bunnies at any age.
Put a small drop
flea/tick medicine on their ear. Revolution
are also considered safe for rabbits although none are officially approved
in the US for rabbit use. Frontline
should never be used on rabbits.
OR give a dose of
Ivomec. 1% cattle injectable, .01cc (point zero one) per lb of rabbit.
I wouldn't recommend using on younger than 8 weeks. If you don't want
to use the liquid Ivomectrin you can use the paste for horses. 1/2 pea
size on the tounge.
There are many home remedies such as vinegar in a gallon jug with small
holes poked in the side. The flies go into the holes but cannot get
out. There are also automatic fly sprayers which work quite well.
They can be used inside or out and cover about a 10x20 area. They
spray a small natural fly repellent at regular intervals. It uses
natural pyrethrins. When used in medication directly on the rabbit,
pyrethrins have caused our rabbits problems. But we have not had issues
from the fly repellent used in the air. Many breeders that we know
also use this method. These systems are available at www.kwcages.com.
But the biggest control by far for our hutches, has been wood pellets
in the drop pans (or whatever you use to catch the droppings and pee).
There are special compressed wood pellets specifically for horse bedding,
but this is very expensive. You can use wood stove pellets - they are
the same thing. They expand when wet and keep the pans dry and odor
What is it? - When flies lay their eggs on rabbits. The maggots
hatch and can eat into the rabbit. Here is a good article on what to look
for and how to treat.
What is it? - There are many different types with many different
symptoms from different types of fungus'. This can be spread from one
rabbit to another.
Symptoms - Very hard small 'bumps' on the rabbits body. They will
be very small, only about 1mm in diameter. They are so hard they almost
feel like bone. These are actually scabs and diseased skin. It can also
show up as abnormal looking growths on the ears. It can show up on the
rabbits bottom and back along the spine. It can show up in the rabbits
ears and on the rabbits feet.
How do they get it? - It is usually caused from unclean conditions
which are moist and promote fungus growth. (or in our case was passed
to us from someone else's nest box) Usually a mother will have had traces
of the fungus and will pass it to her babies within the nest box. The
babies are less able to fight it and within a few weeks will have an outbreak
on their skin.
Isolate the rabbit
the rabbit has touched including the cage (this is to remove any fungus
still in the environment). Vanodine is
great for this (easy, effective and inexpensive)
You can use a topical
fungicide powder from any pharmacy. Just use the over the counter stuff.
Easy and usually works great.
Or you can soak
the area in properly diluted Terra Cleanse rabbitmedicinechest.com.
Terra Cleanse is
oxygen rich and kills bacteria and fungus. It won't hurt your rabbit and
is easy to apply to fur. Just use it in a spray bottle and make sure you
soak down to the skin. NOTE: When working with any fungus wear plastic
gloves. The 'bumps' will start to fall off within a week or so. Keep soaking
the skin every other day until the rabbit is fully recovered.
What is it? - Gas could be caused by many many things. Gas is
usually a result of something else - not the cause. It can
be a result of GI Stasis , hiccups,
wool block, change in diet, old age, intestinal
kink and many other intestinal problems. You will need to try and
find the cause if you are to avoid this in the future.
Symptoms - rabbit in extreme pain, rabbit grinding teeth,
listless rabbit, rabbit not eating or drinking, rabbit no pooping,
rabbit hiccuping, could have been preceeded by anorexia or massive
weight loss, distended stomach. (NOTE all of these symptoms can also
be a sign of other things)
Get to your bunny
vet! You will likely need an x-ray to see if there is a gas ball, and
if there are other things such as a blockage, or kink of the intestine
etc. ie if there is a blockage you will need other treatments.
Give baby gas-x
(symethicone). You can find it at any grocery store. Give a full oral
dose for a child. Follow the directions as you would for a child on
how often to administer. Its very safe to give and they love the taste
so it's not difficult to administer.
Your rabbit is
likely in extreme pain. If so- give them a dose of children's asprin.
NOT children's tylenol. This will help them hang on longer until the
gas ball is broken down and passed.
What is it? - A slow down of the digestive system resulting in
gas and blockage preventing digestion.
Stroke - REMEMBER HEAT KILLS! - Rabbits are very susceptible to heat.
Anything over 80° is dangerous. Over 85° is extremely dangerous.
If possible, you want to keep your rabbits in a cool place during the
day. If they must be outside in the heat, freeze a 2 liter water bottle
and place it in the cage next to the rabbit so they can lie against it.
Rabbits cool through their ears. A sign of overheating is your rabbit
running around frantically/uncoordinated in the cage. If you see this
and know your rabbit is in hot conditions, immediately move them into
a cool area.
Put a few inches
of cool (not cold) water in a small tub or sink. Gently place your bunny
in the water. Cup the water in your hand and gently pour it over the rabbits
coat. Pour the water especially over the rabbits ears - this will help
them cool down the fastest.
Head Tilt / Wry Neck / Encephalitozoon
What is it? - This can be caused by something as simple as an inner
ear infection or it can be caused by wry neck. Wry neck can be spread
from rabbit to another.
Symptoms - The rabbits head is tilted parallel to the ground or
even on the ground. The rabbit is disoriented, may be walking in circles,
rolling in the cage or thrashing in the cage. If it is an ear infection
this is caused by pressure on the middle ear which causes loss of balance
(see below). Wry neck does not seem to be painful to
the rabbit - just disorienting.
How do they get it? By coming in contact with the bacteria which
causes an ear infection or wry neck. Usually the rabbit is very young/old,
has been dehydrated or has been stressed due to weather, showing, overcrowding
or other stressful situation. Wry neck can be caused by many things. Stress
can cause a rabbit to sucumb to bacterial infections or subcomb exposure
to Encephalitozoon protozoa. This can be passed through the urine or through
dormant bateria on hay or other conditions where other animals have been.
Get to your vet
immediately! Have them check for ear infection which is very treatable.
If they do not see an ear infection then it may be
If you suspect wry
neck here is an excellent article on treatment
from Barbi Browns Bunnies
Disinfect all the
rabbits things with Vanodine (easy,
inexepensive and complete) .
In the future -
give your herd preventative doses of Ivomec every 4 months or so. Ivomec
1% injectable for cattle and swine - available at jefferslivestock.com.
.03cc per lb of rabbit via oral syringe. Or you can get the paste used
for horses. 1/2 a pea size dot on the rabbits tongue. Baytril is also
sometimes precribed but is found to be less effective is the original
cause was not a bacterial infection.
What is it? - Hiccups for an extended period of time (hours
to days). Rabbit hiccups are very fast and are often mistaken for seizures.
Babies frequently get hiccups. These are normal and happen often for
babies that are 2 weeks and younger, especially after eating. Certain
adults can also be prone to these but it is rare. If the rabbit hiccups
do not last for hours and hours, usually they will go away on their own
and are harmless. If your rabbit has them for long periods of time it
can be a sign of something else - or a result of something else. A vet
can do an x-ray to see if there are intestinal problems or gas balls
in the stomach (as a result of the prolonged hiccups). Rabbits which
were weaned improperly as babies can also be more prone to these as they
get older (as well as other digestive problems). Also
if you have corn pieces in your rabbit pellets this can cause gas and
intestinal problems. The x-ray is a picture of a rabbity taken in after
2 days of hiccups.
Symptoms - Could be preceeded by not pooping, eating or drinking.
If the rabbit shows
pain (grinding teeth, listless) you need to see a vet for an x-ray. See
if there is a gas ball, if there is another blockage causing the gas ball,
or to see if everything is normal.
Give a dose of children's
baby gas-x (symethicone) to combat air which may be building up. A regular
baby dose (usually a full syringe). Follow the instructions on the bottle
for how often to administer. Also remove any corn peices from the rabbits
food. You can offer them more greens and less pellets to see if there is
a change in the next couple weeks and less of a problem. If so - make the
change to the diet permanent.
is it - Click here for a larger clearer picture.
Often confused with vent disease this is specific to the anal region.
The vent is still clear, correctly colored and generally unswollen and
normal. Notice in the picture that the vent is clear, pink and normal.
The anal area is swollen, purple and scabby. Hutch burn is irritation
of the bottom and genitals from urine.
Symptoms - Swollen, red, irritated, chapped, raw bottom and genital
area. Fur may fall out around area.
How do they get it? Urine splashes back on the rabbits feet and
bottom. Usually caused by dirty cages/cage bottoms. Can also be caused
by wet/unine soaked conditions such as the corner of an outside rabbit
run on the ground. The urine comes in contact with the rabbit's skin and
causes a burn. This becomes raw and can become infected.
Clean and disinfect
(with something such as Vanodine
) and treat with neosporin.
Clean and dissinfect
the cage (again we recommend Vanodine. We have been using it for years
and it is an absolute must have for every rabbit breeder).
If you need to
give a your rabbit an injection here are some tips we've used and have
been given by other breeders. I always inject at the base of the neck,
I make a triangle where you lift the skin, and then inject in the triangle
You will notice sometimes it is a bit tight...and just push gently till
it gives. Pull back on the syringe to make sure you did not get a vessel.
If no blood then go ahead and inject the full amount. Use
the needle only once because they dull immediately. Use one needle to
get the medicine out into the syringe. Then use a totally new needle
to inject it into the skin. This makes it soo much easier and less painful
for the animal. Some times you just have to see someone else do it if
you have never done it before. I use 1cc syringes. Normally they are
$0.35 in price at vetline. You can clean and reuse them.
What is it - An infection in the mammary gland and nipple usually
on lactating or pregnant does. This can be passed from mother to babies.
Symptoms - Swollen, blue, hot to the touch nipple or gland surrounding
it. Sometimes accompanied by puss or colored, bloody, smelly discharge
from the nipple.
How do they get it?
See your vet for
GENTLY squeeze out
any puss from the area. Clean area with terra cleanse (http://www.rabbitmedicinechest.com)
or some other topical NON TOXIC cleanser. Be VERY VERY careful to thoroughly
remove the cleanser so the babies will not ingest it (unless it's diluted
Terra Cleanse, which there is no danger to the babies). Do this every
Remove the babies
from the mother and foster them to another doe if possible.
Mites (Ear) / Ear Mange
What is It? Mites feed on the dead skin and hair of a rabbit. Ear
mites will show up as black or dark 'dust' looking material in your rabbits
ear causing tissue and skin damange. It can get quite thick if left untreated.
You can see the mite with a microscope. This can be contagious to other
Symptoms - Black stuff in ears. Scabby ears. Loss of skin condition
and weight in rabbit. Rabbit constantly shaking its head and trying to
rub ears with back feet.
Baby oil or mineral
oil rubbed onto the ear 2 or 3 times a week for a couple weeks.
This will suffocate them. OR
You can make a soothing
ear lotion consisting of one part iodoform, ten parts of ether, and twenty-five
parts of olive oil, should be applied to the inflamed area, then repeated
a week or so later until the scabs have completely healed.
per LB of body weight given orally. 1 dose and then another dose 14 days
later. This will usually kill them completely with a day or so.
Here is more
Mites in Fur / Wool / Mange / Lice
What is It? - Fur mites are small mites which feed on the dead
skin and hair of a rabbit. They are sometimes called 'walking dandruff'
because if you look closely on your rabbits skin you can sometimes see
tiny flakes of skin moving (which is being carried or eaten by the mite).
You can see the mite with a microscope. This is contagious to other rabbits.
They can also be passed to humans if they mites are not washed off (always
wash hands thoroughly when handling rabbits) and if the mites come in
contact with water (if you wash the rabbit) they may migrate to the hands
and arms of the human.
Symptoms - Constant scratching or chewing by the rabbit, usually
on the inside of the hind legs, the shoulders or up by the neck (wherever
the rabbit can reach). Loss of fur on the shoulders and upper body. Visible
white dandruff on the rabbits skin. Small 'scales', scabs or dry flaky
skin on the inside of the rabbits back legs. If a human contracts these
it will show up as an extremely itchy red flaky rash. According to information
we have read, this will go away quickly. Although the mites can migrate
to humans, they don't 'like the taste' and usually leave in a short period
How do they get it? - Mites can be transferred from birds, bird
droppings, other wild animals or another rabbit. We have been told that
rabbits come in regular contact with the mites. Rabbits that are kept
outside or allowed to run around in the dirt and grass are more likely
to get mites. This is kept under control by the regular grooming of the
healthy rabbit. If a rabbit becomes unable to groom himself due to an
injury or being overweight, the mite population can quickly become out
of control. Usually it starts at the top of the neck right at the base
of the head since this is most difficult for the rabbit to reach.
Remove the rabbit
from his cage or pen. Sterilize the area and treat the entire area with
a product containing Carbaryl
(carbon based products used on mites and parasites for poultry and rabbits
If this is an outside run, make sure you treat the dirt as well. The mite
eggs can last for quite a few days after the mites are dead. Carbaryl
will also take care of the eggs. Make sure you also treat any wood or
hutch items as the eggs can live in the wood. Treat surrounding runs and
hutches. The mites easily move to surrounding areas. DO NOT GET THE CARBARYL
in any water sources.
There are several
ways you can treat the mites or lice on your rabbit. You can dust him
lightly with the Carbaryl powder, you can rub his fur and skin thoroughly
with Listerine mouth
wash (can sting if he has open scabs but is effective) and you can use
1 dose of Ivomectrin orally
( .03cc's per lb of rabbit. We use cattle/swine Ivermectrin 1% www.jefferslivestock.com).
We have used each of these depending on the situation. They have all been
effective. We also treat the outside runs with carbaryl. We have had no
further outbreaks of mites. Although it does come as an injectable, we
simply use an oral syringe and put the dose on the rabbits tongue. You
can inject directly into the skin of the rabbit but this stings and is
not necessary. You should see results by the next day. You should repeat
the dose again 14 days later in order to kill any more mites that have
hatched since the first dose.
For some temporary
relief while you are waiting the day or 2 for the Ivomec to work, you
can soak your rabbits fur/skin in Listerine mouthwash to give some immediate
relief (soak, leave for a minute or 2 and then wash off).
You can lightly
dust your rabbits fur with Sevindust
Never use FrontLine
(fipronil) flea and tick medicine! This can kill your rabbit. Never use
any type of dog prescription, many times these are dangerous for your
rabbit. We've seen many places recommend cat flea and mite treatments
(either in wipes or powders etc). DO NOT USE THESE. Although some may
be safe for your bunny, they are not tested for your rabbit and many contain
Pyrethrins. This can
cause severe seizures/stiffening/shock and can actually kill your rabbit
if he has a reaction.
with fur mites - We noticed the symptoms of mites on our injured Holland
(he had had limited use of his back legs since he was a baby) it was recommended
by a Petco vet and by several places online that we use cat flea and tick
wipes. We chose Zodiac 'Wipe Away' brand. We checked the ingredients for
anything unusual, we called the 800 ask-a-vet number on the box to inquire
specifically about rabbits. The vets there told us there should be no
problems and this should be safe for our 2.6lb rabbit. We used the wipes
on his whole body and face. We closely monitored the rabbit for several
hours and then put him back in the hutch. He seemed to stop itching almost
immediately. We checked him about 6 hours later and found him in a full
seizure. He then went stiff as a board - body fully extended, eyes fixed,
and lay on the bottom of the cage. We immediately put him into a small
tub of warm water while I got on the phone to the 800 hotline. We bathed
him quickly in diluted 'dove' soap - paying special attention to thoroughly
bathe his ears and head. I described the symptoms to the vet on call who
immediately said 'oh- he must be having a reaction to the Pyrethrins (bunnies
can also have the same seizure reaction to Permethrins).
That is something which can cause reactions in rabbits to varying degrees.
I asked them why they had said the product was ok for rabbits and they
said that sometimes rabbits are fine, but sometimes they do have a reaction.
(The ingredient on the box was Pyrethrin 0.116%) They said to bathe him
and watch him. If he continued to have stiffness or any shortness of breath
we needed to take him to an emergency clinic where they could administer
some sort of counter drugs. We called an emergency clinic and they said
the same thing - Pyrethrins were the cause (present in most cat flea and
tick treatments) and to keep a close eye on him for the next few minutes.
Miraculously, as soon as we finished bathing him he immediately relaxed,
started to breathe normal and started to look around. After a few minutes
more he started hopping around and rested in the corner of his cage. After
another 1/2 hour he began to eat and drink and seemed to be himself. We
keep him on a monthly dose of Ivomec and haven't had any problems with
Mucoid Enteritis Click
here to see picture of mucoid droppings
is it? A mucus-like inflammation of the intestinal tract caused by
either viral or bacterial infection, also called bloat, which affects
young rabbits usually 3-10 weeks old. It is not contagious.
Symptoms - Rabbit hunched rigid in the cage sometimes with the
head titled back. Loss of balance. Bloated stomach - you can sometimes
hear 'sloshing' and gurling in the stomach when you pick the rabbit up.
Constipation and/or small amounts of diarrhea. The diarrhea will have
gel globs in droppings and mucus covered soft droppings. Gel on their
bottom. No blood or green mucus in the droppings like with Coccidia.
Grinding their teeth (a sign of extreme pain).
How do they get it? - here is a quote from http://www.all-creatures.com/456013.html
"This condition involves disruption of the complex system responsible
for fermentation of non-digestible fiber in the diet. Factors involved
in enteritis complex include changes in diet, effects of antibiotics,
stress, and genetic predisposition to gut dysfunction. Diets high in sugars
or protein or low in fiber may cause changes in the fermentation process
in the cecum, leading to changes in pH and motility, which in turn lead
to enteritis. Additionally, some antibiotics that affect the normal bacteria
of the hindgut (penicillin, cephalosporin, erythromycin, clindamycin,
and lincomycin) allow overgrowth of bacteria found in the intestinal tract,
which can cause enteritis." It can be from overcrowding or overstressing
which causes constipation and a distruption in the fermentation process
of fiber in the gut. Stress can also be caused by change in temperature,
by bullying by other rabbits, showing, traveling, change in food.
For this disease
there is as yet no recognized control. It is painful and slow and they
do not usually recover. You should consider putting the baby 'down' if
you have this. If you want to try and keep them alive even though they
are in pain...replace their water with pedialyte for hydration and give
them plenty of carrots, green leaf lettuce/spinach and bananas/apples/papaya,
pinneaple juice, yogurt. Basically anything they will eat. They usually
will decrease the amount of pellets during this time.
To help prevent,
it is recommended that you include a broad spectrum antibiotic in the
water of the mother and of the babies as they grow older. We use Terramycin.
Steralize the cage floor before the babies leave the nest box, have the
mother and babies on a normal low protein and high fiber diet. Provide
hay to the babies to nibble on. This will help the digestive system keep
moving. Avoid overcrowding and stresses to the babies system such as extreme
changes in temerature.
Make sure you completely
disinfect the rabbits cage and toys. If it is caused by a bacterial infection
you need to make sure it is not still present. We use Vanodine for
all our disinfection (cheap, easy and a 4oz bottle makes at least 8 gallons
of disinfectant. Vanodine kills bacteria, virsus and fungus but is still
safe around the animal)
Not Eating / Wasting
What is it? - If your rabbit is not eating it's food, getting
Symptoms - Can feel the ribs and backbone quite a bit, not eating,
not pooping, sitting huddled in back fo the cage, diarrhea, not drinking.
How do they get it? - This could be the results of many things.
If the rabbit has had recent surgery often the antibiotics will cause
a loss of appetite. Diarrhea and other ailments can also cause loss of
appetite. Wool block, not drinking and other things are also a cause.
Make sure they are
drinking. If they get dehydrated they will stop eating as much. Carrot
tops soaked in water and pedialyte will help with that. Entice with treats
such as bananas and rolled oats or their other favorite treats. Most importantly
give nutri-cal (for dogs
and cats) which will stimulate the appetite and give much needed calories.
This will help get the weight back on when they're not eating their normal
food. You can purchase as most pet stores and vet stores or online for
about $4 a tube at vetamerica.com.
You can also use critical
care from oxbow hay http://www.oxbowhay.com/link.sp?page=critical-care
What is it? - If you have a lot of rabbits sometimes the order
can be hard to control.
Symptoms - your house smells like rabbits - your neighbors are
How do they get it? - Rabbits urine can have a heavy ammonia smell
which can get worse depending on what they eat.
Clean their cages
frequently. Use disinfectant on their drop pans. Use vinegar and water
dilution to get rid of excess smell. Put compressed wood pellets in
the drop pans. This makes a HUGE difference to smell. They expand when
they get wet and soak up the urine. It keeps the pans dry and smelling
nice. You can get bedding pellets or use wood stove pellets.
in their water. 1 dose is approx 5 pumps = about 1 tbsp. (so if you get
a gallon of bi-odor that makes 256 gals) Available at bunnyrabbit.com.
This is amazing stuff. It controls the ammonia smell from 'inside the
rabbit' and keeps it out of their pee and poo. Your bunnies and their
'messes' smell much less.
We also have used
Zap-It. You spay it on the pans and
cages or can use it on carpet etc. It uses enzyme producing bateria to
'eat up' the odor. It works really well. This can be purchased many places
You can also use
various air fresheners made for inside and outside. They can be automatic
or constant. Order eaters and order coverers. There are many kinds available
What is it? - Pinworms are tiny white (worm) parasites which can
live in the rabbit's digestive system. This is highly contagious to other
rabbits. These worms are specie specific and cannot be transferred to
humans from a rabbit. If you are unsure or whether your rabbit has them,
check the dropping and look for adult worms or put a piece of clear scotch
tape on the rabbits bottom, peel off the tape, and then look at the tape
for signs of pinworms.
Symptoms - Tiny (about 1/4inch), very thin, white-almost transparent
worms in the stool of the rabbit.
How do they get it? - Rabbits come in contact with the parasite
eggs which are eaten and then mature within the rabbit. The white worms
in the stool are actually the adult pinworms. Rabbits can contact the
eggs by touching anything infected from another rabbit and sometimes can
contract it 'in the wild' by running around outside.
Isolate the rabbit
the rabbit has touched including the cage (this is to remove any eggs
still in the environment)
17% (or Wazine is the same
thing) Liquid for 5 days (2 tbsps. per gal of water www.jefferslivestock.com)
and again in 2 weeks. Dose your whole herd 2 or 3 times a year. We have
also used this with great success and have used on rabbits as young as
What is it? - Rabbits are very sensitive to cleaners, pesticides,
fertilizers, improper medications and even some plants.
Symptoms - Siezures (rabbit hiccups can
sometimes be mistaken for siezures), full rigid body, blood shot eyes,
foaming around the mouth, screaming. These can also be a sign of heat
If you do not believe it is heat stroke then get to a vet immediately. A
full rigid body can also be caused by certain types of bacterial infections.
How do they get it? - House plants such as poinsettas, medications
such as flea and tick meds containing pyrethrins, eating fertilized grass
in the yard, cleaning their cage with bleach and not properly rinsing
Get them to a vet
What is it? - Often mistaken for blood, the urine will look uniformly
red / rust colored. This should not be confused with obvious blood / ribbons
of blood and bleeding in the urine.
Symptoms - bright orange rust colored urine
How do they get it? - It's caused by a pigment in the urine from
something the've eaten. It could be veggies (carrots), long flat bladed
grass, dandelions and other things. Nothing to worry about.
There's nothing to worry about. It's normal and will be like that every
time they eat that certain food. Totally normal.
RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Viral Disease)
What is it? - A highly contagious viral disease specific to rabbits.
It is not contagious to humans or other pets.
Symptoms - The disease seems to appear in three ways; the first
and most common is called PERACUTE and is simply a dead rabbit in the
cage from one visit to the next. The ACUTE form is represented by a lethargic,
depressed, off-feed animal that dies in the space of 1-2 days, shows incoordination
and signs of pain before death, and may show clear or bloodstained nasal
froth or discharge. A temperature of 105-106 degrees F may be present
upon initial examination. A small number (<5%) may survive up to two weeks
with symptoms including jaundice, diarrhea and mucous in the stool, but
this is much less commonly seen. The third form, called SUBACUTE or transient,
is much milder; the rabbit may show some signs of illness, then recover
and are immune. This is the most likely source of an asymptomatic carrier
animal, as infective material is shed in urine and feces for at least
30 days, and the animal itself may act as a carrier for far longer. This
form is most common in animals under 4 months of age, and less common
in older animals.
IMPORTANT NOTE - Not every rabbit death is attributable to VHD.
In fact, in the United States, if you have more than one rabbit and only
one dies, the chances are very, very slim that it would be a VHD-related
rabbit death. However, since VHD has been officially diagnosed in the
United States, it is now a disease that you should consider, especially
if you have multiple suspicious rabbit deaths or illnesses. Although this
virus is frighteningly contagious, there is no need to panic; rather,
when analyzing a suspect death, first eliminate the most common causes
of which you may be certain. Only if the profile fits should RHD/VHD be
seriously considered. Before truly considering
that your herd may have the virus, PLEASE
read the FACTSHEET which gives very detailed information.
What is it? - The rabbit can be in violent siezures OR can be
fully stretched out and rigid. Head back, limbs extended. NOTE:
this should not be confused with 'rolling' in the cage. If your
rabbit is rolling in the cage or falling due to imbalance see wry
neck or ear infection. Rabbit Hiccups are sometimes
mistaken for siezures.
Symptoms - Head back, rigid body (rigid body is definitely NOT
hiccups) , mouth usually open, eyes open and rolled back.
How do they get it? - This can be many things. Poison, Stroke,
Heat Stroke, Genetic, Viral infection, Bacterial infection and others.
If you suspect heat
stroke see heat stroke for treatment. If you believe
it is any of the other things you must get your rabbit to a vet immediately.
Genetic siezures are passed through certain lines of Lionheads. This
was more common in the 'imports' from other countries at the beginning
of the US breeding programs. Now that breeding programs in the US have
progressed this has mainly been eliminated. Bacterial infection requires
immediate antibiotics. Viral infection is usually incurable. Poison
needs to be treated immediately.
rabbits surroundings. If it has been caused by bacteria you will need
to eliminate the threat. We use Vanodine (cheap,
kills bacteria, fungus and viruses and is non-toxic)
Sore Hocks (Ulcerative Pododermatitis)
What is it? - Pressure to the skin from the wire floor or trauma
to the skin from foot stomping on the wire floor.
Symptoms - Chapped, bloody, cracked irritated foot pads, tiptoeing
How do they get it? - Excessive foot stomping, heavy weight, underdeveloped
foot pads, injury to the spine resulting in loss of movement in hind legs,
accumulation of urine soaked feces within the cage.
You need to get the
rabbit off the wire. Give the rabbit a solid board or mat to sit on. If
the foot pads are infected then clean and sterilize. Treat with preparation
H to reduce swelling and irritation. You may even wrap the foot
in bandages but typically the rabit will pull these off. The main thing
is to keep the wounds and cage very clean.
Snuffles / Pasteurella (a rabbit 'cold')
What is it? - Snuffles is a general term for a rabbit cold or upper
respiratory infection. Usually it refers to a condition caused by the
Pasteurella, but this is not always the case. It may be caused
by many different types of bacteria, bordatella,
allergies and sometimes even a virus. If left
unchecked it can progress to pneumonia. This is highly contagious to
Symptoms - include sneezing, white or green discharge from the
eyes, white or green opaque discharge from the nose, wet around
the nose and on the inside of the front paws (from wiping the nose and
face). You can sometimes hear wetness or congestion when the rabbit breathes.
How do they get it? Rabbits will not get viral colds from humans,
but can develop these symptoms due to bacteria already existing in the
rabbits system. Stress to the rabbit is usually the cause. This can be
due to showing, extreme temperature/humidity changes, travel, over-heating
and many other things. Snuffles is also highly contagious and is transferred
from one rabbit to another through particles sneezed or wiped onto something
which comes in contact with other rabbits.
Treatment - As with any rabbit disease, you should consult a vet
as soon as possible. Rabbits have very delicate immune systems and respiratory
problems can progress very quickly.
Isolate the rabbit
from all other rabbits to prevent spread of the infection. Move the rabbit
into a cool, quite, low stress place.
the rabbit has touched which is in contact with other rabbits. We use
Vanodine (non-toxic, inexepensive and kills viruses, bacteria and fungus
with just a spray)
Watch you rabbit
carefully. If your rabbits mucus is clear, they seem to be eating and
drinking as normal, they seem to be as active as normal, they seem to
be overall healthy they may not have snuffles. It may be some other infection
or even allergies. Make sure they are out of extreme temperature changes.
Do not put them on antibiotics unless you are sure of the diagnosis and
unless a rabbit vet recommends it.
Never, never allow
your vet to prescribe amoxycillin
(pink liquid that smells like bubble gum), this can kill your rabbit!
with snuffles - The first vet put the rabbit on Baytril for 2
weeks. Baytril is an antibiotic
used for many upper respiratory infections in cats and dogs. It is safe
for rabbits but is highly stressful and can actually suppress the rabbits
immune system as it works. Although widely distributed for 'snuffles'
we found out later that it should not be used unless 1.the bacteria has
been identified through a culture and 2. Baytril has been identified as
the best 'killer' of the bacteria your rabbit has. If you use any antibiotic
without proper disease identification, it can build your rabbits resistance
to the antibiotic in the future while not treating the actual infection.
Our dose was 1/4 of a pill, twice daily. You then continue the treatments
for at least another week in order to thoroughly kill the bacteria. Quitting
treatment early or skipping treatments will kill the weakest bacteria
but can then leave the most resistant bacteria to regain strength and
come back even worse. Baytril is supposed to clear up the symptoms within
a week. Baytril is also liver flavored (for dogs and cats) and therefore
hated by rabbits. The pill form is much cheaper than the liquid version
but is flavored the same. Even when we smashed the pills into powder and
mixed it with yogurt/sugar water/smashed carrots etc, the rabbits would
actually hold it in their mouth and spit it out when we put them back
in their cage. In order to trick our rabbits into eating the Baytril,
we smashed the pills into a powder and sprinkled it on papaya slices.
Then we dried the papaya. All of the rabbits ate it with no problem. Regardless,
this treatment did nothing for our rabbits. Apparently they did not have
the Pasteurella bacteria. We returned to the vet and he put the rabbits
on another drug Sulfatrim
which is regularly used for dog's 'kennel cough' or bordatella. This cleared
it up within about 24 hours but it came back about 2 weeks later. Sulfatrim
wasn't working for some reason this second time around. At this point
we asked the vet not to put our rabbits on any other antibiotics unless
he was sure about what the disease was. He recommended that we see another
vet because the was at a loss. (lesson learned! always see a vet who knows
rabbits specifically). We were able to find a rabbit vet. She took us
off all antibiotics and advised us to keep the rabbit in a low stress
environment, feed him plenty of spinach and dark greens, add vitamins
to his water and otherwise just watch him carefully. She said he was very
healthy and should be able to recover from the 'cold' by himself just
like a human. She said that Baytril is usually a good diagnosis but that
our rabbit probably had a virus which no antibiotics would be able to
help. She also said she only used antibiotics as a last resort due to
the side effects on the rabbits health. We started putting vitamins in
all of their water which seemed to speed the recovery. The whole rest
of the herd who had contracted the snuffles recovered completely on their
own with no additional problems and without the extra immune suppressing
drugs. (We started treating the water with VetRX
but saw no improvement with any of the rabbits. We were definitely
not impressed.) The original rabbit with the worse symptoms still had
a slightly wet nose and sneezing. Months later he still hadn't shaken
it. So we started him on Systemajuv
which is a natural remedy we saw in the ARBA magazine for snuffles provided
by the rabbitmedicinechest.com.
Systemjuv claims to boost the immune system. We were highly skeptical
but at this point had run out of ideas. We noticed marked improvement
within 24 hours. 2 days later his nose was completely dry and the sneezing
had stopped. He liked the taste and seemed to be in better health overall.
We've had no recurrence of this condition.
Spinal Injury / Paralysis
Symptoms - Loss of movement in the hind legs, falling over (due
to problems with the back legs), problems hopping up on things or falling
over when running around corners. Note: These symptoms can also be caused
by an enflamed/injured muscled in the back which puts pressure on the
spine and nerves (should go away within a few weeks). Some of these symptoms
can also be caused by "wry neck". Note:
A spinal injury alone will not immediately cause the death of your rabbit
(except in very rare and extreme cases)
How do they get it? - This is very common in both domestic and
commercial rabbits. If rabbits are held incorrectly they can easily injury
their spine when they kick with their hind legs. They can also get injured
by jumping off of something incorrectly or even by kicking at a weird
angle while they are playing. Sometimes if a young rabbit is put in with
an older rabbit, they can be kicked and injured.
If the injury is
muscular it should get better over time. The only way to really tell what
is causing the injury is to take them to a vet for x-rays. The vet will
also be able to tell you if the rabbit still has feeling in their back
legs and if the rabbit is in any pain.
If the loss of leg
use is caused by "wry neck", sometimes Baytril
and Ivomec can be prescribed to kill the protozoa.
If the loss of use
is caused by a spinal injury (very likely), there is little you can do.
Usually the rabbit will not be in any pain, the injury will have put pressure
on the nerves causing the loss of use. At that point you need to make
a decision - they will need a lot of care for the rest of their lives.
In extreme cases the rabbit will have lost complete use of their back
legs. In most cases, the rabbit will lose more motion in one leg than
the other. They will adapt (especially if they are young) to using one
leg more than the other and will learn to hop that way. The rabbit is
capable of leading a painless almost normal life. BUT the rabbit can no
longer groom themselves properly and will need to be cleaned regularly
(especially in the beginning). You should trim the hair around their behind
very short and will need to wash them regularly to prevent urine burn.
Remove anything that the rabbit can hop up on. The up and down motion
required for stairs or hopping up on a box can further damage your rabbit.
Put a rug or something with 'traction' in your cage in order for them
to have a firm grip. Rabbits with spinal injuries have a very difficult
time on slippery surfaces.
with a spinal injury -Our rabbit required a lot of care in the beginning
but within a few months had adapted quite well. He is in no pain, is almost
as mobile as before (although he falls a lot when he gets excited and
starts to run in circles), and leads a regular happy life. He has even
learned to groom himself by leaning against the side of the cage for support.
We need to give him a bath every 3 weeks or so and need to treat him regularly
for fur mites since he can no longer groom himself.
When he sheds (about 3 times a year) we need to brush him frequently in
order to help him with that.
What is it? - A tattoo is required in order for the rabbit to show.
This is to prevent mix-ups on the show table. Tattoos are also used to
simply identify rabbits from a certain rabbitry, for breed tracking etc.
It should be in the rabbit's left ear. Usually the rabbits are tattooed
right around when they are weaned - 7 to 8 weeks. At this point the rabbits
ear is still fairly thin but is big enough to receive the letters from
the tattoo. You can use any letters or numbers you'd like. Sometimes they
represent the rabbitry, or the breeding pair. It's completely up to you.
Typically you want to put the starting letters/numbers of your tattoo
towards the inside of ear with the numbers running up towards the top
of the ear to the end of the tattoo. If your tattoo is read from 'tip
to inside' of the ear it is considered backwards.
How do you tattoo-
Secure the rabbit
thoroughly. We wrap ours firmly in a towel in order to hold them better.
You want to be very careful that they do not injure their backs (or ears)
by jumping or thrashing. We then support them by wrapping our arm and
hands around the rabbits side and back. You should have one person hold
and one person tattoo. Rabbit ears are very vascular so make sure you
have extra towels on hand if they bleed.
If you are using
an electric tattoo pen look at the ear in good light in order for you
to identify the main veins running through the ear. You want to avoid
these so the rabbit doesn't bleed unnecessarily. Sterilize and clean the
ear with rubbing alcohol and cotton ball. Rub thoroughly. For the Rabbitatt
pen (the one we use) you need to make sure the needle retracts fully into
the pen at its lowest point and is only about 1cm out of the pen at its
longest point. Dip the pen in the ink and start tattooing. Hold your finger
directly under the rabbits ear behind where you are tattooing. This will
give you a solid surface to press against. Don't worry, it won't come
all the way through your ear to your finger. When finished, rub the tattoo
with the alcohol cotton ball again to clean off extra ink. Here is a link
to a good electric tattoo pen www.geocities.com/hend_rex/.
If you are using
a tattoo set with pins that you press into the ear (clamp tattoo, bunny
burrito), choose a place where it will avoid the large veins running through
the ear. Thoroughly clean the ear with rubbing alcohol. Make sure your
pins are nice and tight in the holder. We recommend using a piece of paper
first to make sure the tattoo is how you want it. You will use about the
same amount of pressure as you did on the paper. Do it quickly and release.
It doesn't take much for young rabbits since their ears are so thin. Sometimes
for the first few times you may even put the pins all the way through
the ear. This is something you want to try to avoid but it may take a
few times to get the feel for it. Just make sure you remove the pins from
the ear immediately so the rabbit doesn't thrash and tear it's ear! As
soon as you are done smear the ink all over the ear and into the tattoo.
The rabbit doesn't usually mind this as all and is very calm as soon as
you get done with the 'stick'. After you have rubbed the ink thoroughly
into the ear just put the rabbit back in his cage. The extra ink will
come off over the next week or so. If you need it to come off immediately
you can use rubbing alcohol. It won't damage or lighten the tattoo.
Teeth Problems / Teeth Trimming
What is it? - 'Butted' teeth and overgrown teeth can be a real
problem if left alone. Butted teeth are when the teeth 'butt' flush
up against each other rather than the top teeth overlapping the
bottom like they should. Overgrown teeth is when either the top or lower
teeth are not worn down and grow out of control. Your rabbit may also
have spurs or spikes on their back teeth which cut into their cheeks.
Symptoms - Teeth are mis aligned, teeth are visibly sticking out
of rabbits mouth. Teeth are curving outward from each (on either top or
on bottom) other rather than the 2 teeth being right next to each other
in a straight line) Eventually it will probably affect your rabbit's eating
habits. It can become painful and near impossible for the rabbit to eat.
How do they get it? - Butted teeth can be caused by many things
including genetics or simply wire chewing by the rabbit. Overgrown teeth
are usually caused when the rabbit doesn't have anything to chew on
which will naturally wear down their teeth (such as a piece of wood).
This picture is an example of the bottom teeth growing faster than the
upper teeth causing misalignment. These needed to be trimmed down. Spurs
on the back teeth can develop over time and will need to be ground off.
Your vet can trim
your rabbit's teeth for you. If the back teeth have spikes on them which
are sticking into the cheek - you WILL need to have a vet grind those
off. That will require a sedative.
For butted or overgrown
front teeth, you can trim. It's not nearly as difficult as it seems (for
us it's much easier than trimming toenails on the rabbits). If you are
unsure have a rabbit breeder show you first. You don't
want to crack the rabbits teeth or hurt the rabbit. Make sure you hold
the rabbit very securely so that they will not struggle or hurt their
back. We usually have the rabbit facing up (on their back). Make
sure the lips and flesh around the inside of the mouth is not in the
way. Get a very sharp, brand new set of small/medium wire trimmers
(like the picture to the left). You can also use dog toenail trimmers
(curved 2 bladed kind like in the picture to the right). If you are
trimming a baby or the teeth are pretty thin then you can use toenail
trimmers. Those work wel for many people I have talked too. Take off
very small amounts at a time until you are confident in what you are
doing. The wire trimmers should easily snip of pieces of the teeth.
In the case of 'butted' teeth I know some breeders cut the teeth very
low (this does not cause the rabbit pain unless you go very very low)
in order that the teeth grow back correctly. We don't do this or recommend
that procedure. But we do trim the teeth back to where they are just
barely butted, or just barely beyond that so the teeth can grow in
their normal position without interference from the other teeth. This
should not hurt the rabbit's teeth and you will not be near the area
of the tooth which will cause the rabbit pain. Recheck the rabbit's
teeth every month to see how they are progressing.
Vent Disease (Spirochetosis)
What is it? - a form of rabbit 'syphilis'.
Symptoms - red, swollen, scabby genitals. Can show up in both bucks
and does - especially in does after birth.
How do they get it? - can be passed during breeding and can be
passed from mother to offspring during birth and in the next box. It can
be 'cured' via penicilin injections. Never breed during an outbreak.
Have your vet
confirm diagnosis. These symptoms can also indicate a bacterial infection
which needs to be treated differently.
If it is vent disease
it will need to be treated with penicillin
g (long lasting) injections. You can get the injection and the
needles at kwcages.com.
Needles are 25 gauge 5/8" (as small as you can find). Doseage of
5/16 cc per lb of rabbit. 1 shot every week for 3 weeks. Should clear
up within about 10 days.
If it is a bacterial
infection it can usually be treated with a topical creme. NOTE - a topical
creme can treat the LOOK of vent disease but vent disease is carried
in the bloodstream and will not be cured with just a creme. If you do
have a bacterial infection make sure you disinfect all of the rabbits
surroundings and food and water crocks. We use a non-toxic disinfectant
What is it? - A 'hairball' which is usually actually composed of
food held together in a mass by hair
Symptoms - Listless rabbit, rabbit hunched in cage unresponsive,
rabbit isn't eating or drinking, rabbit isn't pooping, rabbit is loudly
grinding his teeth (a sign of extreme pain). This is extremely dangerous
for a rabbit and it must be dealt with immediately.
How do they get it? - This can be caused by a large amount of hair
which has accumulated into a blockage of food and other particles. It
can also be a result of GI stasis (see below). If you fix the temporary
problem but do not address the underlying cause such as GI stasis or other
injury then this condition can easily return. If you do not feed your
rabbit enough roughage this can be a cause. There is a large risk for
long haired or woolly rabbits especially around the molting time when
they groom their shedding hair.
The ideal treatment
is to get to your vet immediately.
If you decide not
to use the vet use Hairball Remedy (rabbitmedicinechest.com-available
via FedX). This helps lubricate the blockage and helps the intestines
move to expel the blockage. Very successful if you catch the rabbit in
time even though they already have a blockage.
Keep the rabbit
well hydrated with Pedialyte (given through oral syringe). Put spinach
or carrots into the cage to entice the rabbit to eat. The rabbit is usually
in a large amount of pain due to gas. It is so painful that the rabbit
may just give up. Get Children's
GasX (simethecone) and give them a dose in their Pedialyte in order
to reduce the pain. Also very light abdominal massage while slightly lifting
the hindquarters can help with the gas. But do not continue if the rabbit
shows pain when you massage.
If you have more than 1 rabbit, inevitably someone will get hurt at some
point. Either through fighting or some other mishap, rabbits get cuts
and scratches easily. Usually you won't see the scratch when it happens,
you will just notice something later.
If the scratch
is fully scabbed and looks fine (no redness or puffiness) then just keep
and eye on it and let it heal.
If rabbits fight
they will probably have scratches on their face especially right around
the eyes and nose. If you notice a fresh scratch or one that looks infected
gently wash it with warm water. Then disinfect the semi open wound.
If the rabbit has
torn something small loose which needs to be put back together- ie torn
a piece of the nose which is still attached. First - of course try to
get stitches from your vet. If that is not possible or if you decide
to not go through surgery. MAKE SURE it is still partially attached
and is receiving a blood supply. Also, you must do this IMMEDIATELY
after the wound has happened. You cannot wait a few days after the wound
has started to close or has dried. Once it is established that the tear
is still attached and is receiving blood and needs to be held in place
while it heals we have had success using TINY amounts of superglue
after you THOROUGHLY disinfect the wound.
We have tried surgical tape and steri strips but usually because of
the fur it is difficult to hold the piece in proper place with these
items. When using the superglue make sure you only use TINY amounts
to 'tack' some of the crucial edges to hold it in place. You want to
avoid getting any glue in the wound itself. Do not use glue drops; make
sure you use superglue that comes with a little brush. The pieces of
your wound must line up correctly and only need to be temporarily held
in place. This is not a solution for something large and should only
be used as a last resort.
powder is used in water as a general deterrent against disease and immune
system problems. The dosage is 1 teaspoon per gallon of water for 5-10
days. It can also be used as a general help against Ecoli and othe things
that the rabbit may have. Another name for terramycin is Oxytetracycline
HCl or tetracyclin. The terramycin ointment can be used to clean
eye infections. Triple Acid Pack is used in water when the rabbit is
under stress to boost the immune system and keep the rabbit in balance.
These can be purchased an most feed or online vet stores such as www.jefferslivestock.com.