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Rabbit Common Ailments
Snuffles is a commone respiratory disease is common in pet rabbits. Commonly caused by the bacteria Pasturella. This can be carried in the airways of normal healthy rabbits and will cause disease if the rabbit is stressed, has damp bedding, poor ventilation, overcrowding and wide environmental temperature fluctuations.
Affected rabbits can have bouts of sneezing with a discharge from the eyes and mouth and in severe cases this can progress to pneumonia. They go off their food and have difficulty breathing.
Keeping your rabbit well fed in a warm, clean well ventilated home/hutch with good quality bedding will make him/her much less likely to develop this problem. Most affected rabbits will respond to appropriate treatment but eliminating the bacteria completely can be very difficult and once a rabbit has been affected relapses can occur.
True diarrhoea in the rabbit is relatively uncommon and is often due to an imbalance of the normal bacteria that live in the bowels caused by inappropriate or unaccustomed diet.
More commonly what seems to be diarrhoea is an accumulation of the soft caecotrophs around the bottom which can have many causes including obesity and poor teeth.
Flystrike happens when flies like bluebottles and green bottles lay their eggs in the rabbits fur usually around the back end. These hatch within 12 hours into tiny maggots which are initially harmless but grow rapidly and start to feed on the skin which will attract more flies. This is a common and distressing condition which if not noticed early can result in severe tissue damage which may lead to death or needing euthanasia.
• Rabbits require clean dry bedding to keep in good health
• To become happy with human contact a rabbit needs to have regular handling
• A good diet of hay and grass will help to keep your pet rabbit healthly
• If you notice problems with your rabbit’s eyes please make an appointment to get them checked by a vet.
• If flystrike is found early enough the maggots can be removed and the rabbit given antibiotics, pain relief and fluid support and they can make a full recovery.
Treatment of sick and injured animals is obviously a very important part of our work, but we are great believers in preventative medicine.
Flystrike can occur at any time of the year but is usually seen between April and
October. Any rabbit can get fly strike but the following factors can increase the risk.
• Diarrhoea/dirty bottom
• Urine staining/wet fur
• Dirty living conditions
• Overgrown teeth preventing grooming
Affected rabbits can become very quiet and go off their food. If you find maggots contact the surgery at once as the rabbit will need immediate attention.
If flystrike is found early enough the maggots can be removed and the rabbit given antibiotics, pain relief and fluid support and they can make a full recovery.
Prevention is far better than treatment and we recommend using RearguardTM every 8 - 10 weeks (which is included in the VIP Pet Healthcare Plan), as well as checking that the back
end of your rabbit is clean and dry at least once and preferably twice a day.
Runny Eyes (Conjunctivitis)
This is an infection of the lining of the eyelids and is often associated with an infection of the tear duct and there is a milky discharge from the eyes.
Infection of the tear ducts can be caused by dental disease/overgrown cheek teeth. Antibiotics with flushing of the tear ducts will usually improve the condition but relapse is common.
If you notice problems with your rabbit’s eyes please make an appointment to get them checked by a vet.
Sore Hocks / Feet
If rabbits are kept on damp or minimal bedding they can develop sore feet, particularly the back feet. Keeping rabbits on a good layer of clean, dry bedding will prevent this happening.
Normal rabbit urine is cloudy due to a lot of crystals/sediment from the calcium in their diet. If there is too much calcium the crystals can form stones which can irritate the bladder and cause pain when the rabbit urinates. These stones can be removed surgically.
A diet based mainly on grass or hay to reduce the calcium in the diet will prevent excess sediment or stone formation.