Rabbit diseases you should know about

Last Updated on September 25, 2023 by Admin

Bunnies just like any other pets occasionally have health problems. Some of the infectious rabbit diseases include hemorrhagic, myxomatosis, encephalitozoonosis, and respiratory issues. This article also talks about some of the common rabbit health problems, their symptoms, and how to treat them.

Rabbit infectious diseases

1. Myxomatosis

Myxomatosis is an infectious disease that is spread through bites from fleas, fur mites, flies, or mosquitoes. Although it’s common with wild rabbits, your pet is likely to be infected in the event that they get stung with contaminated thorns while outdoors or through direct interaction with infected bunnies.

Signs and symptoms

The first symptom is a lethargic puffy eyelid that produces pus. Swelling can also occur around the ears or genital area of your pets.

Myxomatosis is among those rabbit diseases that usually get worse if left untreated. The other symptoms of this condition are fever, loss of appetite, breathing difficulty, and an increase in skin hemorrhages or skin tumors.

Although this disease can kill a rabbit within the first or second week after infection, on rare occasions some bunnies do survive. Depending on your pet’s immunity, a full recovery can take two to three months.

Preventative measures

It’s always advisable to take your bunny to the vet immediately after they show myxomatosis symptoms. Treatment is through anti-inflammatory drugs, syringe feeding, or pain relievers.

2. Hemorrhagic disease

Hemorrhagic is one of those contagious rabbit diseases that can cause sudden death. Viral Hemorrhagic disease is transmittable through direct contact with infected bunnies, rodents, or generally from any contaminated items around their habitat.

Signs and symptoms

Some of the symptoms include fever, lethargy, exhaustion, and lack of appetite. Breathing difficulty, uncontrollable muscle contraction, and even bloody nasal discharge are common signs of the disease.

Preventative measures

Rabbit vaccination after six months or annually is usually recommended to prevent this life-threatening illness. Also always isolate new rabbits for 30 days to prevent the possibility of infections. It’s also worth pointing out that bunnies that have recovered from the hemorrhagic disease are carriers of the virus for up to 4 weeks.

3. Encephalitozoonosis

This is one of those rabbit diseases that’s caused by a microscopic parasite that lives in a cell to survive. It can also be spread from a doe to its offspring through the uterus and encephalitozoonosis can also be transmitted by other rabbits through urine infection.

Signs and symptoms

Encephalitozoonosis symptoms include eye infections which cause white cataracts to form on the eyes, difficulty in walking, and lack of appetite. Other symptoms include head tilt, tremors, and seizures.

Preventative measures

Give your infected bunny anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory drugs immediately you notice any signs and symptoms to give them a better fighting chance. Additionally, motion sickness drugs and syringe feeding is recommended for your pet’s full recovery.

4. Pasteurellosis

Pasteurellosis is among the rabbit diseases that are both respiratory and inflammatory. Its usually caused by a bacteria known as Pasteurella-multocida, which affects a rabbit’s eyes, ducts, nose, and ears.

Signs and symptoms

Pasteurellosis has symptoms of abscesses on your pet’s tooth roots, skin, and internal organs. Another sign of this illness is nasal discharge. Quite often, kittens are more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (snuffles) that are caused by this particular disease.

Preventative measures

A trip to the veterinary will ensure that your bunny gets an antibiotic injection or oral medication. Treatment usually takes roughly two to four weeks, depending on your pet’s immunity system.

Common rabbit ailments

  • Ear mites

One of the most common rabbit health problems you might want to look into is ear mite infestation. The symptom of this particular rabbit ailment is the formation of skin scale on their ear which turn into crusted lesions if left untreated. A pet with ear mites will experience itchiness around the ear, neck, and head region. The most recommended remedy for an ear mite infection is Avermectin. While at it, also remember to disinfect your bunny’s living space or environment to avoid the ear mite re- infection.

  • Loss of appetite

Sudden loss of appetite is due to a rabbit’s abdominal pain or swelling. Instead of passing droppings, your pet’s digestive system passes mucus, as a result, your pet might have a lot of saliva dribbling. Lack of appetite can also lead to bacterial poisons due to no gut movement. It’s worth pointing out that a bunny not eating can be an indicator of various factors and you should immediately take them to the vet when they haven’t eaten for four to six hours.

  • Flystrike

This particular health problem is common, especially during summer. It’s usually caused by the green bottle fly or Lucilia Sericata which is attracted to soiled or damp rabbit fur with urine or fecal matter. This particular fly usually lays eggs that grow into maggots that feed on your rabbit’s flesh. The worst affected areas are mostly the bottom, belly tails, and back region of your pet. Its therefore advisable to keep your bunny and its habitat as clean as possible, especially during hot weather.

  • Head tilt

Head tilt is a condition that causes your rabbit’s neck to twist forcing its head to tilt on one side. It’s usually brought about by brain tumors, ear infections, strokes, or other head traumas. The parasite associated with head tilt is known as Encephalitozoon cuniculi. An infected rabbit may find it challenging standing up or it might frequently rotate its head in a circular motion. To cure this condition, you need to purchase antibiotics to treat your pet’s inner ear.

  • Limb paralysis

Damage, fracture, or spine dislocation usually causes limb paralysis. This particular injury is quite common with rabbits especially when they suddenly twist or kick in the air while playing. In other words, this limb paralysis affects either one or both of your bunny’s legs.

This particular disease is infectious and is spread by a virus that attacks a rabbit’s internal organs causing hemorrhage. This disease usually causes sudden death whereby you’ll notice blood-stained noses due to internal bleeding. Infected rabbits can also be nervous, develop a fever, or loss of appetite.

  • Breathing difficulties

Rabbit breathing problems are due to an allergy, tumor, or infection. Tell-tale signs of this particular condition are breathing through the mouth, wheezing, sneezing, and fast or noisy breathing. The best treatment for this ailment is giving your pets anti-inflammatory or antibiotics

The general signs and symptoms of a sick rabbit

Determining whether or not bunnies are sick requires you to be keen. Rabbits are naturally prey animals who are perfect at hiding any form of weakness or illness to avoid being an easy target out in the wild. Below are some of the signs and symptoms that determine whether or not your bunny is sick.

  • Abnormal fecal matter

A sick rabbit tends to have abnormal-shaped fecal pellets or undigested soft poop. Healthy rabbits poop a lot and a reduction in their poop quantity is likely an indication of an ailment. There are typically two types of poop, for a normal rabbit. The first one has a grape-like shaped cluster and is also glossy, while the second one has a small round ball shape.

  • Abnormal Behavior

Another abnormality worth considering is sudden aggression or withdrawn behavior. Rabbits that are healthy are usually active and will most likely hop and play around. Although their activity level tends to decrease with age, it’s usually not instantaneous. Any abnormal vocalization that’s loud and sharp is also an indication that your bunny is in pain.

  • Change in pace or posture

A sudden change in your pet’s posture or gait is something you should worry about. A bunny that’s stumbling, staggering, or head tilt condition is most likely either neurologically or ear-related. On the other hand, if they have a stomach upset, you’ll notice their belly pressed against the ground to try to relieve their pain. Therefore, always try to study their body language keenly.

  • Loss of fur or bald patches

Patches or loss of fur is due to hormonal imbalance, dental problems, urinary tract disorders, parasites, or bacterial infections. However, the most common cause of excessive shedding is external parasites. The best treatment for this condition is usually revolution and ivermectin medication, which only a vet should recommend.

  • Dental problems

Constantly supply your pet with fresh hay to chew on. The hay typically prevents their teeth from overgrowing by aligning and trimming them. Some of the common dental-related ailments include drooling, irregular chewing patterns, weight loss, and even facial swelling. A proper diet that comprises fiber is, therefore, a priority if you want to avoid any problems associated with rabbit teeth.

Can rabbits transmit diseases to people?

Generally speaking, rabbits have a low probability of transmitting diseases to humans. However, bunnies that suffer from various health-related conditions such as ringworms, mycobacteriosis, pasteurellosis cryptosporidiosis, or external parasites can easily transmit bacteria to humans with a strong bite or scratch force.

Is rabbit poop or urine harmful to humans?

Although a bunny’s poop may contain parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms, it isn’t hazardous to humans. However, they typically poop and pee a lot during the day. It is, therefore, necessary to clean their environment as often as possible, if you want it to be more habitable.


I always recommend that you take your rabbit for an annual check-up to keep them as healthy as possible. Lastly, do not diagnose your pet if they have any symptoms of the rabbit diseases mentioned above. Instead, always take them to an experienced veterinarian who will prescribe the proper medication.

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