How to Keep Your Dwarf Rabbit Healthy

By nature, rabbits are not very susceptible to disease. To keep your dwarf healthy; it is important to feed it a varied diet. Keep its cage clean, provide it with enough exercise, and give it affection.

Behavioral Changes and Symptoms

Many illnesses that occur in rabbits are caused by incorrect care and feeding. Damp litter, dirty cages, spoiled food, careless feeding and mainte­nance, too little exercise, or too much stress, weaken the animal’s immune system and make it susceptible to illness. For treatment to be success­ful, it is important to discover the signs of illness as early as possible.

The following changes in behavior are immedi­ately noticeable when you know your dwarf rab­bits well and observe them carefully:

  • The rabbit doesn’t come hopping up to you as usual when you offer it food.
  • It doesn’t have a healthy appetite and eats very little or not at all.
  • The animal sits in its cage with no interest in anything or entirely withdraws into its little house.
  • Its ears don’t turn toward the source of a sound as usual; they are only half-erect or laid back against its neck.
  • If it is in severe pain, the rabbit’s eyes are fixed and it gnashes its teeth. When there is a lot of other noise, you can easily miss hearing the sound.

Diseases and Ailments

Dwarf rabbits are susceptible to many of the diseases that their larger cousins encounter. With any disease or condition, early detection and appropriate treatment is vital in order to mini­mize any deleterious effects.

Pasteurellosis (snuffles) is a bacterial disease that can affect the airways and lungs of dwarfs. Seen in rabbits living in stressful environments, pasteurellosis is characterized by sneezing, nose and eye discharges, and breathing difficulties. When it occurs, aggressive treatment with antibi­otics is imperative.

Trichobezoars (hairballs) can be a challenge in long-haired dwarf rabbits. Hair that is acciden­tally swallowed during grooming accumulates within the gut and causes loss of appetite, stomach pain, and constipation. Laxatives are used to treat trichobezoars.

Coccidiosis is a serious parasitic disease that attacks the intestines and liver. A microscopic stool examination will usually reveal the eggs of these parasites; specific antimicrobial drugs are used for treatment.

Ear mites can cause head shaking, ear scratch­ing, and hair loss on the head and neck. Medica­tion to treat these parasites can be purchased at most pet stores.

Bacterial dermatitis (“sore hocks”) affects the hind feet of dwarfs living in unsanitary conditions or kept on wire flooring. Environmental condi­tions must be improved to prevent recurrences of this disease.

Spinal fractures occur due to improper restraint of a rabbit when picked up. One powerful kick by unsupported, dangling hind legs can fracture the spine and cause paralysis. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment once a fracture occurs.

Myxomatosis is a viral disease transmitted by blood-sucking insects. Illness usually begins with a purulent conjunctivitis, with swelling in the area of the head (“lion head”) and around the genitals. No treatment exists and death occurs after a few days. If you house your dwarf rabbit outdoors and your veterinarian has confirmed that there have been cases of myxomatosis in your area, he or she may recommend having your dwarf rabbit immunized against the disease.

Uterine cancer (adenocarcinoma) can be found in older female dwarf rabbits that have not been spayed. It can rapidly spread to other parts of the body if not detected soon enough. Having your dwarf spayed at a young age will protect her against the disease.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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