How to Spot Signs of a Sick or Poorly Rabbit

Knowing how to spot signs that your rabbit is not well can be one of the most important things you do as a bunny owner. While rabbits are generally healthy creatures, sometimes they do get sick or have problems. Thankfully, most illnesses, diseases, and injuries you run into will have telltale symptoms. Check out this helpful chart if you have a sick or poorly rabbit and need to know what’s going on.   

Symptoms

Possible Cause

 The rabbit’s skin is dry and scaly with patches of dandruff.   Fungal infection of the skin.  This can be caused by a soiled hutch or improper cleaning methods and is treatable with tolnaftate and other medications.
 Rabbit is panting and drooling, mostly inactive.   Heat exhaustion. Pregnant does and babies are more prone to this issue. 
 A brownish crust forming on certain areas of the rabbit’s skin.  Hutch burn, which can be caused by a soiled hutch. 
 Rabbit refuses to eat.   Ketosis – a common problem for rabbits with poor diets or who are obese. Refusal to eat can also be relative to dental problems, such as overgrown molars in the jaws.  
Swollen hard lumps around mammary areas of your female rabbit.   Mammary mastitis, which is a bacterial infection commonly caused by broken skin in teat areas. 
 Rabbit has watery eyes, nasal discharge, and sounds rattly when it breathes.   Pasteurellosis, sometimes referred to as snuffles. This is an upper respiratory infection caused by bacteria and can be contagious. 
 Laboured breathing, refusing food, and high body temperature.   Rabbit pneumonia. This condition can develop if snuffles are not treated properly. 
 Circular patches of hair loss and crusty yellow discharge forms in the area.   Ringworm, which can be transmitted to humans and other animals. Treat with tolnaftate or other medications recommended by your vet. 
 Persistent itching and scratching, scaly and irritated skin with patchy hair loss.   Skin mange, which is an infection of tiny mites that burrow down into the rabbit’s skin. Insecticidal treatments are available, but the rabbit may have to be treated several times and should be isolated from other pets. 
 Scabs develop on the feet, pads, and toes of the rabbit. Rabbit may seem agitated or inactive.   Sore hocks. This is a common condition for overweight rabbits or rabbits that are kept in improperly built structures, which can cause stress injuries to their feet. 
 Rabbit has enlarged lumps under their skin with a hole directly in the centre  Potentially warbles, which is a condition caused by botfly larvae developing under the skin. 
Rabbit is lethargic, has had rapid weight loss, refuses to eat, may be bleeding from nose or mouth. Possible Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD). Seek vet attention immediately and isolate rabbit from other animals.
Rabbit has a puffy facial appearance, has problems eating and drinking, there is discharge around eyes and mouth, and may have vision problems. Possible signs of myxomatosis. Seek vet attention immediately and isolate rabbit from other animals.

 

For a complete list of symptoms and possible related illnesses or problems, check out the Rabbit Disease Handbook. Find the supplies you need to house and care for your pet in the shop area of our website, Rabbits.ie.