Many Rabbit Diseases can be fatal if not taken care of in a timely manner by an experienced rabbit vet. Waiting too long can result in very expensive vet bills and many times death. Most of the time, bunnies get sick due to an imbalance in their digestive system. They have bacterial and fungal flora in their intestines which are essential to their digestion.
Gastrointestinal Stasis, or GI Stasis, is a rabbit illness where the rabbits intestine becomes static due to poor diet, stress, dehydration, intestinal blockage, or insufficient dietary crude fiber, the latter being the most common cause. If this condition is not treated, it can result in a painful death in a relatively short period of time.
Symptoms of GI Stasis include very small or no fecal pellets, sometimes clinging to the bunnies backside fur. Sometimes, clear yellowish mucus will encase these small pellets. A “runny stool” is sometimes also a symptom. Normal gurgling sounds your bunny usually makes are replaced with loud violent gurgles, or no sound at all. Lethargy, loss of appetite, crunching into a ball and crunching his teeth in pain are also symptoms of GI Stasis. If your bunny has any of these symptoms, he should be treated by a veterinarian immediately!. For more information on GI Stasis, click here.
Myxomatosis is a fatal Rabbit Diseases spread to rabbits by mosquitos, fleas, and biting flies. The virus is a type of pox virus which grows in rabbits. A mosquito, flea, or biting fly will bite an infected rabbit, and some of the virus will remain on their proboscis. The next animal that gets bit will be infected when the proboscis is inserted. The initial symptoms are fever, and decreased appetite and activity. Puffy fluid swellings around the head and face follow shortly after. A classic sign is sleepy half closed eyes. Additional swelling in the lips, insides of the ears, and around the anus and genetalia area can occur. The swellings can become so severe that it blocks vision and the face, mouth, ears and nose become distorted. After 14 days it is almost always fatal. The best way to prevent myxomatosis is to use a flea control product such as Advantage, and keep your bunny in during the early morning and early evening when mosquitos are most active. Mosquito nets can be purchased for outside bunnies,and make sure all standing water is removed to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitos. Unfortunately, myxomatosis is nearly always fatal, although a search on Google will bring up a few success stories.
Rabbit Diarrhea is a serious condition in rabbits and must be taken care of as soon as possible. If your bunny is having very serious diarrhea, he must be rushed to the vet immediately. This is a very serious situation and could easily take the life of your bunny within a few hours. If you notice a soft stool, blobs of squishy poops clustered together in the litter box which are not the normal clustered soft caecotropes, your bunny is experiencing a digestive system imbalance. One way to clear up this condition is to remove all food, and replace it with uncooked oatmeal until his poops firm up to normal consistency. As always, you should consult a veterinarian, especially if you are a first time bunny owner and inexperienced in bunny health.
Sniffles, or respiratory congestion, has noticeable symptoms such as sneezing and nasal discharge. Your bunny may also have labored breathing or sound “snorkley”. It is possible that your bunny has allergies to his bedding, dust, or cigarette smoke. Respiratory conditions can be very serious in rabbits so he must be checked out by a veterinarian in order to rule out anything life threatening.
Crooked teeth, or malocclusion, is a condition where the rabbits teeth do not close together properly. Therefore, he is not able to wear his teeth down through normal chewing and his teeth grow too long. This is a condition which may cause malnutrition, or root and jaw infections. There are two choices for treatment: Have your bunny’s teeth trimmed about every 4-6 weeks by a veterinarian, or have his front 4 teeth removed. If his teeth are removed, he can resume a normal life and eat just fine with some help by being served chopped veggies and such. The drawbacks of this operation is if all of the tooth growing cells are not removed during the extraction, the tooth will grow back. Then he will have to have the extraction operation again. Trimming is sometimes a better option, but these decisions should be made with advice from your veterinarian.
Head tilt, where your rabbit sits with his head to one side, or in severe cases, cannot stand without rolling in one direction uncontrollably, is usually a bacterial infection in the inner ear. This can only be cured with antibiotics, both oral and through ear drops. Your bunny will need to be syringe fed until he can stand and feed himself, and should see a vet as soon as possible. Scarring can occur in the inner ear if it’s not treated in a timely manner, resulting in permanent head tilt.
Ear mites can be recognized by head and ear shaking, and dark scabby looking stuff inside the ears. This can be treated with an ear and flea treatment purchased over the counter or by your vet. If you buy an over the counter remedy, select one for ear mites that uses pyrethrins. Your vet can also treat this condition with an oral medication or shot. The shot will need to be administered twice, in a two week interval.
Fleas are evident by actually seeing them, or seeing the little black “crumbs” left by them in your rabbits fur. These crumbs are actually flea feces or dried blood. The best way to eliminate fleas is to use Advantage on your bunny. Although this product does not list that it can be administered to rabbits, I have used it many times on my bunnies and never had a problem. In fact, my veterinarian said it was originally tested on rabbits. Use the correct dosage according to your bunnies weight. Do not use it on extremely young rabbits less than two months old.
NOTE: Unless you are an experienced bunny Mom or Dad, your bunny should see a vet when you notice something wrong with him or her. As you get more educated, you will have a better idea about your bunny’s need to see a doctor.