Rabbit Diseases

If you notice any strange behavior in your rabbit or any change in its body, pay attention to the symptoms to diagnose possible health problems or diseases.

Some of the symptoms which can indicate that a rabbit is sick are:

  • Eat less or have difficulty eating.
  • It is thinner.
  • It has hair loss or baldness which are not related to the change of hair.
  • Inflammation of the breasts.
  • Diarrhoea or very soft feces which persist in time.
  • Snoring, sneezing, coughing, mucus or difficulty breathing.
  • Tearing, red or irritated eyes.
  • Head tilted to one side.

Some of the causes for which certain diseases of the rabbits appear are: bad nutrition or bad food,inadequate cages,badly healed wounds,incorrect hygiene,stress or excessive temperatures.

Rabbit diseases with viral origin

Mixamatosis: a serious, contagious and deadly disease that is avoided through annual vaccination or every 6 months. It develops with symptoms such as lack of appetite, weakness, inflammation in the face and other parts of the body. There is no treatment, which causes death in less than one month. Prevention is the best and only way to protect our rabbit.

Hemorrhagic fever: very aggressive virus which causes convulsions and nosebleeds which end in death in less than 3 days. Some of the symptoms are anorexia,apathy,nervous signs and respiratory problems. It is prevented with an adequate schedule of vaccination.

Rabies: Even practically eradicated in some areas, there are still outbreaks of this disease. It has no cure and the way to avoid its contagion is through annual vaccination.

Rabbit Diseases produced by bacteria and fungi

  • Conjunctivitis and eye infection: inflammation of the eyes and secretions appear; in the advanced state the hair around the eyes remains glued and with patches that prevent you from opening them.
  • Otitis and other ear diseases: It is usually identified by the bent head and the loss of balance. It first affects the middle ear and then the inner ear with inflammation, itching and pain. It must be detected in time to treat it with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory.
  • Pasteurellosis: It is usually produced due to the environment, climate, dust that releases dry food and accumulated stress. It usually attacks with sneezing, snoring and nasal secretions. If the disease is not very advanced, there is a good prognosis with antibiotic treatment.
  • Abscesses in the skin: Protuberances full of pus caused by bacteria. Requires treatment and daily cures to eliminate the infection and abscesses.
  • Ulcerated tares: Wounds on the paws that are infected and produce pododermatitis. The wounds usually appear and become infected when the floor of the cage is not suitable and the environment is moist.
  • Tularemia: It is one of the diseases of rabbits classified as very serious because it does not present symptoms and can only be detected through laboratory tests.
  • Coccidiosis: Coccids are micro-organisms which attack the stomach of the rabbit when it has low defenses or a high level of stress. Some of the symptoms are the loss of hair and gases and continuous and excessive diarrhea; the animal stops eating and drinking and dies.
  • Mastitis: Infection in the breasts which produces fever and swelling. It is treated with antibiotics.
  • Mycosis: Affects the skin and is very contagious due to the great speed with which it reproduces. It advances with the loss of hair and crusts in the skin, mainly in the face area.

Rabbit diseases produced by parasites

Parasitic diseases of rabbits can be internal or external.

  • Scabies: Disease produced by mites of external parasitic origin. It is very contagious among rabbits and produces itching, wounds and scabs. It is easy to prevent and to treat with ivermectin.
  • Fleas and Lice: Very common in rabbits which live with dogs or which go outdoors. The animal itches excessively. We should be careful and prevent them with frequent deworming,because although it is not a complicated disease,parasites can transmit dangerous diseases like myxomatosis and tularemia.
  • Diarrhea: It is usually caused by inadequate nutrition. Sudden changes in diet and not washing fresh food before serving it are the most common causes. The digestive system of rabbits is very sensitive to changes so we should always do them gradually. The biggest problem with diarrhea is that the rabbit feels weak,loses appetite and dehydrates very quickly.
  • Infection by coliforms: This infection also produces strong diarrhea which,if not stopped,can cause death by severe dehydration. You should go to the vet to administer an injectable treatment to your rabbit.

Frequent health problems in rabbits

Although they are not properly classified within rabbit diseases, health problems are very common in the species and we should pay attention to them:

  • Dental overgrowth or malformations: The upper or lower incisor teeth grow in an exaggerated way and even move the jaw backwards. The rabbits cannot feed well and if we do nothing they can even die of starvation. It is possible to avoid this problem in the vet on a regular basis by cutting or sanding the teeth.
  • Heatstroke: Rabbits can take cold better than heat. When they are exposed to temperatures of more than 30°C,they have a shortage of water and do not have a cool place to shelter,it is very easy for them to suffer from a heat stroke which can even cause death. You should protect your rabbit from excessive heat and make sure that it always has fresh water.
  • Catarrh: Colds are one of the most common diseases of rabbits when there is a lot of humidity or direct air currents. It is very common when they have low defenses and attack with sneezing,watering eyes and nasal secretions.
  • Alopecia: A deficit of food,vitamins and nutrients is usually the cause of the fall of hair on the rabbits as well as stress. Consult with the veterinarian the rabbit?s diet and the possible supplements. Urine of a reddish color: Also due to an imbalance or a deficit in the diet.
  • Wounds or inflamed areas: We must be attentive and check that they do not have wounds to prevent them from becoming infected and dangerous to health.
  • Eyelids bent inward: Known as the eyelid scope, it produces irritation and suppuration in the tear duct. If not treated it can become infected and cause blindness.
  • Obesity: Obesity is one of the most frequent diseases of rabbits because of the amount of food they eat and the lack of daily exercise. Give your rabbit an adequate and quality diet and let it come out of its cage a few moments every day so that it can play, run and jump, healthy activities.
  • Stress: Loneliness, lack of activity and lack of contact with your human or other animals can cause discomfort and stress on the animal. Other causes can be changes of home, surroundings and lack of space in the cage.
  • Cancer: The best way to avoid this health problem is sterilization. Cancer is one of the diseases of the rabbits which is more likely to appear, especially in females. Besides avoiding this dangerous disease,you will improve their quality of life,avoid pregnancy and reduce destructive behavior and marking.

Take care of your rabbit and observe his behavior and symptoms every day in order to diagnose any disease as soon as possible and to be able to act in time.