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How to spot common rabbit illnesses in your pet bunny’s skin

Ensuring you can spot common rabbit illnesses is a little tougher than the average cat or dog relationship. This is partly because rabbit healthcare isn’t covered quite as much as our feline and canine friends. And because pet bunnies are amazingly good at masking symptoms.

However, rabbits have got a great indicator of health in how their skin reacts and responds. You can use how your pet bunny’s skin looks to help spot rabbit illnesses as they occur.

Let’s look at some of the common rabbit illnesses you come across that show up via your pet bunny’s skin

Rabbit skin disease

Photo by Nathan Boadle via Unsplash

Our vet Katie works hard to maintain healthy skin in pets. She spends a lot of time studying and looking to improve skin health. Consider how flea damage, hot spots or allergies can damage your cat or dog’s skin and the discomfort they bring. Skin health in rabbits is equally important.

Excessive grooming, plucking or removal of fur by your rabbit creating bald spots or hair thinning and skin damage.

Alopecia as it is known can be a result of pregnancy, nutritional deficiencies such as a lack of fibre in the diet, arthritis, obesity or skin irritation and inflammation.

Whatever the case, it’s always best to check the cause and get a treatment plan.

Rabbit mites

Rabbit mites damage can injury your pet bunny’s skin. It also makes their life incredibly uncomfortable.

Skin mites can create flaky, unhealthy and damaged skin. The irritation can lead to excessive grooming and scratching. This in turn creates greater injury on the skin.

If you are dealing with mites, always seek advice from a vet. Thankfully, while mites can do damage and be somewhat difficult to detect, treatment is relatively simple with over-the-counter products. However, you should consult your friendly Wahroonga vet team at Fox Valley Animal Hospital to properly diagnose the type of mite and decide on appropriate treatment plan.

Rabbit fleas

Just as cats and dogs must be treated for fleas, so too do rabbits need support to maintain healthy skin and coat by remaining flea-free.

Like rabbit mites, flea infestations can disrupt comfort, make rest and sleeping incredibly difficult and make your pet bunny feel worn and weathered.

Your rabbit can also lose hair, damage their skin, show irritation and redness in flea infested areas, display crusts and discharge in fur and on skin, and of course remain itchy and unhappy.

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to fleas of any kind. Luckily, you can treat rabbit fleas with monthly preventative measures including using kitten flea products and lower doses of other popular flea preventative products on the market.

A quick visit to our vent clinic should be able to treat any flea-related rabbit illness and put you on the right track for keeping the flea infestations to a minimum in future.

Rabbit grooming and bathing  

Grooming your rabbit is important. Choosing the right product for the job helps enormously in preventing rabbit illness and skin issues.

Rabbits can go into shock when bathed. They should not be forced to be cleaned and it’s better to provide a sponge bath as opposed to immersing a rabbit in water. You should always spend time with your rabbit afterwards and observe for signs of shock. This will often manifest in bodily weakness, inability to move, severe depression or pale mucus-membrane.

Due to their sensitive skin, your pet bunny also needs to bathe with the right kind of pet wash. Products that are heavy on the chemicals such as insecticide-based products can be harmful. Lime sulphur, carbyl based products and even baby shampoos can promote reactions and make for rabbit illness.

It is always best to consult your vet clinic about the sorts of grooming options available to your pet bunny, so you can make a safe purchase.

Dampness and rabbits

Rabbit skin is sensitive. If your rabbit remains damp for an extended period, this can encourage skin health issues. It also makes it incredibly uncomfortable for your pet bunny.

To avoid rabbit illness, you should house your rabbit in an enclosure that is free from water run-off and rain. Any water bottles or bowls should be secured to avoid spilling.

This is also why rabbit enclosures should include straw and other flooring to avoid concrete and hard surfaces that are cold. And so that any urine or faeces can be cleaned out regular and fresh straw provided. Obesity can also lead to moisture capture and damage to the skin through prolonged dampness.

So too with drool and any kind of discharge. In fact, drooling could be a sign of dental issues and discharge may signify skin injury, conjunctivitis or general ill-health. All of which requires proper diagnosis and treatment from your vet.

Need help? We’re only a short drive to Wahroonga or a phone call away.

Cancer and other ailments

Cancer can present in rabbits as well as most other pets. You can spot cancer through maintaining regular check-ups and noticing changes in your rabbit’s health. Presentations on the skin are indicators of other cancers such as uterine cancer for example.

When looking for other symptoms of rabbit cancer, this might include (but is not limited to):

  • Abscesses, lumps and bumps on and under your rabbit’s skin
  • Loss of appetite and changes in eating and drinking habits
  • Muscle weakness, lethargy and slowness
  • Discharge from vagina, anus, mouth or penis
  • Pale gums
  • Laboured breathing, rapid breathing
  • Increased weight and/or changes to consistency of chest tissue and mammary glands
  • Swelling and/or growths on the abdomen
  • Blood in urine or droppings
  • Bulging eyes

If you notice any of these sorts of symptoms presenting in your pet bunny, please bring them to our vet clinic. Even if it is not cancer, it may be a rabbit illness needing proper treatment.

Healthy skin for the win

Looking after any pet’s skin is important. This is especially true when looking to maintain your pet bunny’s health and avoid rabbit illnesses. Want to find out how to look after your rabbit’s skin and coat effectively and with minimum issues?

You know what to do- contact the friendly team from Wahroonga based Fox Valley Animal Hospital now and let’s prevent rabbit illness together!  

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.