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5 Common Rabbit Diseases and Illnesses & How to Treat Them

common rabbit diseases and illnesses
Rabbits are great companions who bring joy and charm into our lives. As a responsible rabbit owner, it's important to be aware of the common health conditions that can affect your furry friend. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of these conditions and understanding how to treat them will help ensure your friend stays happy and healthy.

Top 5 Most Common Rabbit Diseases and Illnesses

Here are five common rabbit diseases and illnesses, along with their symptoms and recommended treatments, so you can keep your bunny hopping toward health!
Note: If your bunny is struggling with any of the conditions or symptoms listed below, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

1. Dental Disease

Fun fact: rabbits’ teeth never stop growing! In fact, their front incisors and/or back molars can grow up to 1 centimeter every day!
While a fun fact and one of the things that make our beloved bunnies so adorable, this also increases the risk of dental issues. Rabbits’ teeth can easily overgrow, especially if they don’t maintain a proper diet of coarse food or chew on teeth-wearing toys. Overgrown teeth may become misaligned, abscessed or form sharp points on their surfaces — all of which can cause more serious issues like dental malocclusion or infection.
Signs of dental problems in rabbits may include:
  • Decreased appetite
  • Difficulty eating
  • Drooling
  • Weight loss
To protect your rabbit from overgrown teeth and associated toothaches, make sure they eat a diet of coarse, high-fiber food like hay. Providing them with branches, wooden blocks and other toys that they can chew on during the day can help too.
Because your pet’s health and wellness are our priority, when ordering your rabbit’s medications through Mixlab, you can add on hay cubes too!
If your rabbit is already showing symptoms of overgrown teeth, contact your veterinarian. Fortunately, dental issues are easy to treat as long as they’re caught early. Your veterinarian may trim their teeth, remove any abscesses and prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers if needed.

2. Gastrointestinal Stasis

If rabbits stop eating for any reason (e.g. overgrown, achy teeth), they can develop gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. GI stasis is characterized as the slowdown or complete stop of movement through the digestive system. When food stops flowing through the digestive tract, dehydrated mats of fur (a.k.a. “hairballs”) can build up and obstruct the stomach.
Symptoms of GI stasis in rabbits include:
  • Decrease or absence of appetite
  • Reduced or no fecal output
  • Bloating
  • Lethargy
GI stasis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Treatment may involve medication to stimulate gut motility, pain management, fluid therapy and syringe feeding to maintain nutrition and hydration. When treated promptly and aggressively, rabbits can make a full recovery.
If your veterinarian prescribes medications like cisapride, we’ve got your back and can help with pet-specific dosing, plus fast (and free) home delivery.

3. Uterine Cancer

Unspayed female rabbits are at an extremely high risk of uterine cancer — up to 60% — which usually starts as benign tumors in their uterine lining. Those tumors can progress to malignant cancer over time, which can spread and metastasize to other parts of the body.
Common symptoms of uterine tumors include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • GI stasis
  • Blood in urine
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen “belly” (distended uterus)
If tumors are caught and treated before they become cancerous and metastasize, they are easily treatable by spaying. However, if cancer has spread outside of the uterus, the condition is typically fatal. You can prevent all of this from happening to your pet by spaying it as soon as it reaches 5-6 months of age.

4. Respiratory Infections

Rabbits breathe through their noses, so they are extra susceptible to infections in their upper airways. This is often referred to as having “snuffles.” This leads to mucus and discharge blocking their nasal passages, causing sneezing and trouble breathing. If not treated, upper airway infections can spread to the lower airways, or lungs, and cause pneumonia.
If your bunny develops a respiratory infection of any sort, it may experience:
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Eye discharge
  • Decreased fecal output
  • Weight loss
Respiratory infections in rabbits are most often caused by bacteria, especially Pasteurella bacteria. Pasteurella bacteria is carried by rodents like guinea pigs, so they should never be housed alongside rabbits.
If you suspect your rabbit has a respiratory infection, consult your veterinarian immediately. They may perform an X-ray to assess your rabbit’s lungs and give them oxygen, antibiotics, fluids and anti-inflammatory medications as needed. They may also clear your rabbit’s nasal passages.
Like most diseases and illnesses, respiratory infections can be cured easily and are not life-threatening when caught and treated promptly.

5. Pododermatitis

Pododermatitis, also known as sore hocks or bumblefoot, is a condition that affects the feet and hock area of rabbits. It’s characterized by inflammation, sores and ulceration of the skin on the bottom of the feet — particularly the back feet.
Pododermatitis can be caused by a variety of contributing factors, including pressure sores, obesity, poor hygiene and genetics.
Your furry friend may be struggling with pododermatitis if you notice any of the following symptoms in the affected area:
  • Redness and swelling
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs and ulcers
  • Reluctance to move
  • Limping
If you suspect pododermatitis, have no fear; it’s a very manageable condition. Consult your veterinarian for help with wound care and pain management medications. Your veterinarian may also suggest some environmental changes and weight management tips for future prevention.

How Mixlab Can Help Keep Your Hare Happy & Healthy

At Mixlab, we partner with veterinarians across the country to provide compounded and commercial medications in the most efficient, hassle-free, delightful way possible. As a veterinary-exclusive pharmacy, we have a lot of experience with exotic pets. From Marbofloxacin and Meloxicam to Orbifloxacin and Succimer, we stock medications that your bunny may need to feel their best. Plus, when you order through Mixlab, you can also add on hay cubes or Himalayan salt licks to make your bunny feel extra special!
Experience Mixlab’s five-star customer experience for yourself. Talk to your veterinarian about using Mixlab!