Common rabbit diseases.
March 9, 2020
Knowing the most common rabbit diseases will certainly help rabbit owners keep their bunnies secure.
The symptoms of the most widespread house rabbit diseases are unknown to maximum rabbit guardians. Surely knowing the condition before it gets deadly will help you keep your rabbits safe.
I have listed a few diseases regularly seen in house rabbits in this post.
There are so many rabbit diseases to list; however, I thought it is only necessary to state the conditions that might infect house rabbits.
Skip to section
- Twelve rabbit diseases your rabbits are vulnerable to:
- Disproportionate teeth.
- Snuffles or Pasteurellosis.
- Heat Stroke.
- Gastrointestinal Stasis.
- Sore Hocks.
- Head Tilt.
- Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.
- Ear Mites.
- Uterine Cancer.
Twelve rabbit diseases your rabbits are vulnerable to:
- Overgrown teeth;
- GI Stasis;
- Sore hocks;
- Head Tilt;
- Rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease;
- Ear mites;
- Uterine tumors.
Let us start our discussion with the condition that is very common in rabbits with a poor diet.
I believe by now; if you have had a rabbit for quite some time, you may already know that a rabbit’s teeth never stop growing.
Rabbit’s molar teeth and incisors keep growing throughout their lifetime.
This constant growth can become very painful for rabbits. Overgrown teeth can lead to rabbit’s death.
A longer molar tooth than usual can damage their cheek and tongue. And incisors can grow so long which will limit rabbits from closing their mouth.
Unable to close their mouth, rabbits will stop eating, and that will lead to starvation and then death.
How to prevent overgrown teeth?
Preventing the continuous growth of a rabbit’s teeth is possible by providing your rabbits an endless supply of hay. A rabbits diet must consist of 90% hay and 10% other food.
Other food will give them all the necessary nutrition.
However, the fiber in the hay will help maintain a sound digestive system for your rabbits.
Most importantly, chewing on hay more often aids in wearing off rabbits teeth.
So as their teeth keep growing, the hay rabbits continuously chew on hay to keep their teeth in good shape. As a result, a rabbit’s teeth don’t become excessively long.
So to prevent your rabbits’ teeth overgrowing, give them hay so that they can munch on whenever they will.
If you notice your rabbits have overgrown teeth, then visit a rabbit vet. The rabbit vet can have surgery and save the rabbit from dying early.
Snuffles or Pasteurellosis.
It occurs when a certain bacteria infects the rabbit’s respiratory system. The typical sign for snuffle is discharge from the nose, sneezing, red eyes, and squinting. This Pasteurellosis Multocida bacteria may affect other parts of a rabbit’s body, including ears.
How to prevent snuffles?
Preventing snuffles is easier than you might think. Presenting your house rabbits with nutritious food will keep their immune system healthy enough to fight such kinds of bacterias.
And a healthy rabbit can stay away from such bacteria by themselves.
Keeping your rabbit’s hutch and the running area clean is equally important. Because this kind of bacteria can spread in wet and damp conditions, it is crucial to keep your pet rabbit’s enclosure fresh and dry for all the rabbits’ well being.
Similarly, this bacteria can spread by contacting an infected rabbit. So once you notice one of your rabbits has snuffles, the priority is quarantining the infected rabbit from others.
That will stop the bacteria from spreading.
Using antibiotics can cure snuffles. The process of healing snuffles may take a long time, even with medicines. In a severe condition, an infected rabbit may require surgery.
Signs of hairball congestion in the intestine of a rabbit is not as visible as you may think. Didn’t I tell you rabbits are fighters? Rabbits don’t like to show any signs of sickness until they cannot hold it anymore.
Hence it is impossible to know whether a hairball is forming inside the stomach of your rabbit or not. But in extreme circumstances, your rabbit will avoid eating anything.
Rabbits are self-grooming animals similar to cats. But unlike cats, rabbits cannot vomit the hairs that pass inside their stomach.
If the self-grooming continues, the hairballs inside the rabbit intestine will create a barrier and lead to a sick rabbit.
So the only prevention for hairball formation in a rabbits gut lies in the rabbit’s diet.
How to prevent it?
Hairball building is typical of all rabbits. But passing the hair through the gut is crucial.
When the rabbit is consuming 90% hay in their diet, the fiber in the diet helps to move the hair inside the rabbit’s gut and pass it out with the waste.
So hay is vital for a rabbit to stay healthy and keep the hairballs out from their body.
There might be medication available at your rabbit veterinary, though surgery may be required if a severe blockage is there.
Rabbits are mammals that can survive in cold weather, merely by sharing the heat of each other in the group. Rabbits have dense fur that allows them to keep themself warm even in winter.
Therefore these dense furs can be trouble for rabbit guardians during the summer.
Usually, rabbits are alright and healthy during the summer. They do not have much trouble getting along with the heat.
However, if the temperature rises over standard, then the extreme heat will become intolerable for rabbits.
They will have a heat stroke. A possible indication of a heat stroke is the rabbit will become lazier unwilling to move.
Being an active animal rabbit likes to hop around, yet if the temperature gets too hot and the rabbit cannot tolerate it anymore, the rabbit will move slowly. The rabbit’s body temperature will be warmer than average on the outside.
How to prevent rabbits from heatstroke?
As rabbits have dense fur and they are naturally warm, all we can do to keep them fresh on hot, sunny days by keeping them indoors.
I always say raising pet rabbits indoors is the most suitable thing to do as a rabbit guardian.
Do not leave your rabbit out in the heat on sunny days. The best place to keep your rabbit is under a shed or your garage.
If your rabbits are inside a hutch, keep the rabbit hutch away from direct sunlight.
Always check the water feeder and replace it with cold water for your rabbits to stay hydrated on summer days.
If it seems that one of you rabbit is about to have a heat stroke, the quickest thing to do is sprinkle cold water on the rabbit.
If you notice your rabbits seem weaker due to a hot summer day, give them a few ice cubes to play. They will like playing with ice cubes in warm weather.
If your rabbit is having a heatstroke and not moving, it is best to visit a veterinary for a checkup, and the vet will give IV fluids to hydrate your rabbits.
If your rabbit loses appetite and has no interest in even drinking water, it is probably because your rabbit has GI stasis. Gastrointestinal stasis is the blockage of the intestine due to the lack of fiber in a rabbit’s diet.
Supposedly the rabbit guardian is feeding foods that are rich in carbohydrates to his/her pet rabbit that caused the gastrointestinal stasis.
When the diet starts to interrupt the digestive system of a rabbit due to the lack of fiber in the menu, the digestive system cannot produce waste properly.
The digestive system incapable of moving waste will result in a blockage of a rabbit’s intestine.
Therefore the rabbit does not poop as much as it used to.
How to prevent Gi stasis?
It is by providing your rabbits with a diet filled with fiber. It means 90% of your rabbits diet must contain hay.
Hay has fiber, which will prevent rabbits from Gastrointestinal stasis and smooth movement of waste in the intestine.
If the condition of your rabbit is severe, then you must visit a vet who may have to carry out surgery to remove the blockage in your rabbit’s diet.
Sore hocks are visible signs of rabbits living in an unhealthy condition. If you keep your rabbit in hutch most of the time and they don’t have enough place to rest their foot, there will be a noticeable sore in their hind legs.
The joint in their hind legs will be sore, and your rabbits will struggle to move, unlike other healthy rabbits.
It is more common in larger breeds of rabbits.
How to prevent sore hocks?
Providing rabbits with adequate space to move will stop them from having sore hocks.
If you keep your rabbits inside a hutch, ensure you give them a floor mat inside the pen. The floor mat will prevent larger breeds of rabbits from having sore hocks.
It is equally important to keep the hutch clean and moisture-free. If there is moisture on the floor of the cage, that might result in sore hocks too.
Treating sore hocks is the same as preventing. Use plenty of enough place for your rabbit inside the enclosure to relax their feet.
Soon enough, you will notice your rabbits are well enough to hop around like before.
Myxomatosis is not so common. However, it is a deadly disease for rabbits. So I believe mentioning this disease is essential.
Myxomatosis is a viral disease, and the symptoms are visible in rabbits.
A rabbit contaminated with myxomatosis will have swelling, discharge from eyes, nose, and the anal region.
How to prevent myxomatosis?
Myxomatosis is a viral disease, and mosquitoes and fleas contribute to the spread of this virus.
Contact of an infected rabbit with another rabbit will spread the disease too.
To prevent rabbits from myxomatosis, you can use vaccines. Yet the vaccines are not available on many continents. So the best possible thing for a rabbit owner is to keep mosquitoes and fleas away from rabbits.
If there are many mosquitos at your location, using mosquito nets for your rabbits seems reasonable.
As well as if you find an infected rabbit, it is best to quarantine the infected rabbit.
Keeping the infected rabbit away from other rabbits will prevent the virus from flowing.
Sad but true, there is no cure for myxomatosis. Once a rabbit is infected, it’s a way for demise.
Usually, vets will suggest euthanizing the infected rabbit to stop its suffering.
A rabbit’s diet must not contain too many vegetables and fruits because it can cause an imbalance of bacteria inside the rabbit’s stomach.
An unevenness of bacteria inside a rabbit’s stomach will cause swelling of their tummy.
From the outside, you can see your rabbit’s tummy is bloated like a balloon.
How to prevent bloating?
A rabbit’s diet rich in fiber is crucial for a rabbit’s health. Therefore a rabbit’s menu must contain 90% of hay and not any less. The other twenty percent must consist of vegetables and treats to keep the balance of nutrition and prevent dehydration.
Feeding your rabbits an adequate amount of hay will prevent bloating and save your bunny’s life.
There is no effective treatment for a rabbit’s bloat. Replacing a rabbit’s diet with more hay and a fiber-enriched menu will probably help and slowly cure the bloat.
Head tilt is a common problem with rabbits in a large group, and the reason is variable.
There are several reasons why you may notice one of your rabbit’s head tilting on the side.
The sign is visible, and as a rabbit guardian, the sight of your rabbit’s tilted head can be shocking and sad.
The cause of a tilted head in rabbits can be:
- trauma to the head,
- tumor in the head,
- ear infections,
- as well as a stroke.
How to prevent head tilt?
The prevention of a head tilt depends upon how you treat your house rabbits. By keeping a house rabbit in a well-maintained enclosure, a hygienic place, they are less likely to face any of the reasons mentioned above.
Prevention of domestic rabbits from trauma, tumor, and ear infections, will possibly stop rabbits from having a tilted head.
Treatment of tilted heads relies on the rabbit veterinary. First, the rabbit vet has to identify the reason for the rabbit’s current condition.
Next, the rabbit vet has to treat the disease accordingly to bring the rabbit’s head to normal.
Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.
RHVD, previously known as Calicivirus, is not very common. Nevertheless, it used to be a prevalent disease in wild rabbits. This viral disease is incurable and resulted in the death of many rabbits in the past.
Rabbits usually do not show any symptoms of sickness until unless they can’t hide it anymore.
Therefore it is difficult to identify an infected rabbit with RHVD.
But the apparent symptom in an infected rabbit is a loss of appetite, weakness, and a high fever.
This virus may be widespread in the wild rabbits until today. And once infected, a rabbit may face its death within 48-72 hours.
How to prevent RHVD?
RHVD may spread through direct contact of domestic rabbits with wild rabbits. Thus keeping house rabbits from contacting wild rabbits will retain your pet rabbits safe.
Keeping your rabbits safe from insects that carry the virus will save your rabbits too. Use mosquito nets or keep rabbits in clean places where insects will not reach.
There are vaccines available in the market. However, the vaccine is not available on all continents.
On the other hand, there are few types of RHVD, and vaccinating a rabbit will prevent the rabbit from one kind of RHVD only.
A vaccinated rabbit is yet vulnerable to other types of RHVD.
There is no treatment available for RHVD in rabbits. If this virus infects a rabbit, that rabbit will die within 72 hours or sooner.
Ear mites are an infestation of parasites in rabbits’ ears. Ear mites are not very dangerous for rabbits. If kept untreated for a long time can cause more infection in your rabbit’s ears.
Signs of ear mites are visible. Ear mites will form a crusty, brown skin inside and around your rabbit’s ears. You will see you rabbits often itching their ears. Also, thick fluid in the ear canal can be noticeable.
If you are suspicious of ear mites, do not hesitate to treat them sooner.
How to prevent it?
This parasite of ear mites is often present in the hay. Thus keeping your rabbit hay clean is vital. Buy a hay feeder for your rabbits and serve the feed to your rabbits using a hay feeder.
Do not allow your rabbits to lay on hay. Instead, buy them a bunny bed.
Often check your rabbit’s ears to see any presence of ear mite parasites.
Treating ear mites is more straightforward than managing any other rabbit diseases.
It is not fatal and can be cured by merely using some oil. Use a dropper and some oil to soak the infected area regularly for a week.
After a week, the ear mite will disappear as the skin scales will fall off.
Do not try to remove the skin scales as it will be excruciating for your rabbits.
Instead of hurting your rabbits, let the oil do its job.
Uterine cancer is a common problem in female rabbits. Spaying a female rabbit at an early age is necessary; otherwise, the female rabbits are prone to having uterine tumors.
These tumors will eventually spread from the uterus to other abdominal organs in a quick manner.
On average, a rabbit dies within 18 months from the first appearance of the tumor.
Common signs of uterine cancer are the presence of blood in urine, and vaginal discharge containing blood.
60% of the female rabbits over three years old have uterine tumors.
How to prevent uterine cancer?
Desexing, a female rabbit is essential once she is 3/4 months old. Spaying of a female rabbit will not allow tumors to form, and the rabbits will be safe from having uterine cancer.
There is no treatment for uterine cancer once cancer fully develops in a female rabbit. The only way is by spaying a rabbit and preventing the formation of a tumor at an early age.
A female rabbit with uterine cancer will inevitably die.
Like all creatures on earth, rabbits are prone to different kinds of diseases.
It is thus keeping house rabbits safe from viruses, bacteria, and any parasites a rabbit guardian’s duty.
Many other diseases can harm your rabbits. Yet, in this post, I have discussed only the most common ones and the conditions that can be easily preventable.
So keeping your rabbit’s enclosure and running space clean and safe from insects must be your priority as a rabbit keeper.
Likewise taking care of your rabbits and visiting the vets as early as possible if any of the symptoms mentioned in this article appear.