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Rabbits make lovely pets but they still require careful monitoring of their health. Here are some common rabbit diseases to watch for.
It’s important to remember that even though rabbits are relatively small animals that are fairly easy to care for, they still require regular vet visits for check-ups and vaccinations. Rabbits will also require vet visits when showing symptoms of some of the most common bunny diseases. These diseases can affect anything from the rabbit’s hocks to their digestive system, so rabbit owners should be on the look out for any strange behavior or noticeable change that might indicate the start of an infection or disease. The following list represents the most common bunny diseases that affect the pet rabbit population.
Common Rabbit Diseases
Commonly called the “snuffles,” Pasteurella is a bunny disease that shows itself through discharge from the rabbit’s nose and consistent sneezing accompanied by a watery discharge. Pasteurella is very contagious, and can quickly spread to other bunnies. Antibiotics given by a vet can help reduce the symptoms, as well as disinfection of the rabbit cage and ensuring proper ventilation where the rabbit’s cage is located.
This disease affects the bile duct or intestinal tract of the rabbit and often leads to fluctuations in weight, a rough coat, diarrhea and listlessness. Rabbit owners can reduce the chance of their bunnies contracting coccidiosis by keeping the cage clean from droppings, especially near food. Treatment is given by vets to flush the disease out of the rabbit’s system.
Related to the pox family, Myxomatosis results in rabbits suffering from lumps, swelling, discharge and other unfortunate side effects. The disease is spread by insects, so rabbits that are housed outside are particularly susceptible to Myxomatosis. This disease can lead to death if not treated promptly, and even those that survive will take weeks to recover. The best option in fighting this disease is to have rabbit’s vaccinated against Myxomatosis early on in their life and given regular boosters.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease
Spread through contact with infected rabbits or through contaminated surfaces, Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is a relatively new disease in the rabbit world. Both house rabbits and outdoor rabbits can be affected by the disease, which includes symptoms such as fever, convulsions, paralysis, loss of appetite and even bleeding from the nose. The deadly disease can take a rabbit’s life within 24 hours, so the best option in protecting a rabbit against the disease is to have it vaccinated when young. The VHD vaccination, along with preventive measures such as washing handles before handling the rabbit and keeping bedding clean, will greatly decrease the chances of a rabbit contracting VHD.
Ear Mites or Ear Mange
A crust of mites and possibly a slick serum will form inside the ears of rabbits that are affected by ear mites, or ear mange. The infection can spread quickly, so isolate any rabbit that shows signs of ear mites until treated. Symptoms include shaking of the head, scratching and flopping the ears, as well as spasms, loss of appetite, and occasionally a more severe infection deeper inside the ear. To treat ear infections, rub mineral oil into the ear, or another substance as directed by a vet, to smother the ear mites.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few common rabbit diseases to watch for and to vaccinate against where possible. if you ever have any concerns about your rabbit’s health, always consult a veterinarian.