There are a number of illnesses and diseases that pet rabbits are susceptible to. Although not all of them are life threatening, it is still important that your rabbit receives the proper medical treatment and that you know the basics of rabbit health. Unfortunately when it comes to rabbits, you are the veterinarian. Most DVMs do not learn how to treat rabbits and other small pets. Occasionally you might find one that specializes, and if you do, hold on to him tightly! That vet will be worth every penny.
There are a few illnesses that are very common to rabbits though, and they are easily identified. Use this information to learn how to take care of bunnies.
- Ear Mites - This one is exactly what it sounds like. Cats commonly get ear mites and so do rabbits. There are several things that can bring them on, but identifying them is the most important thing. Looking into your rabbits ear you will notice brown and yellow buildup. If your rabbit has this, it undoubtedly has ear mites. Another sign of mites is if your rabbit is shaking its head excessively. Treatment is easy. Often the same medicines used on other animals will work fine. Your local vet may be able to help you with this. One medication commonly used by rabbit breeders is VetRx.
- Snuffles - Snuffles is the rabbit's equivalent of the common cold. Unfortunately for rabbits, it is not quite as harmless as it is for humans. If the Snuffles are left alone, they will only get worse, turning into Pneumonia.
This illness is easy to identify. Your rabbit will most likely start to sneeze. This is the number one sign. Your rabbit will have discharge from his nose. Treating this is important, and it is vital that it is done quickly before the illness progresses. This is best treated with a shot of antibiotics, which can be provided from a veterinarian. VetRx can also be used to treat this, if it is caught very early on.
- Sore Hocks - This is probably the most common rabbit illness. Your hocks are located on the bottom of the hind feet. Often when a rabbit does not have thick fur on the bottom of its hock, what they do have will wear off, causing their bare skin to be exposed to the wire cage.
Identifying this is easy. You will notice that your pet is developing open sores on the bottom of his hocks. This is why it is important to take the animal out for an examination from time to time. Sore hocks often occurs in rabbits that are overweight.
Treatment is not easy. You must put your rabbit on a diet and give him something such as a dry wall board to sit on. It is important to apply triple antibiotic ointment to the sores until they are healed. Do not apply bandages! They will only make it worse!
- Malocclusion - This is a common disease that will often be noticed from the time of your rabbit's birth. If your rabbit is older, and you notice that they are not eating as well as they should, they may have Malocclusion. This is when the rabbit's teeth are too long and often curl out. Malocclusion is a hereditary disease.
The best way to identify Malocclusion is to take a look at your rabbit's teeth. It will be obvious and visible if there is a problem. The best way to treat this is to clip the teeth, which is the only way to keep them short enough so that your pet can eat. It is also best not to breed the rabbit because the disease can be passed down.
While caring for rabbits, you may experience these and other diseases and illnesses, but not all of them have to be fatal. Most are easily treated. Although many vets do not deal with rabbits, it still never hurts to ask. Always remain in contact with a vet who does treat rabbits because it may help you in the future. This will also help for obtaining medicines.