Even pet rabbits kept predominantly indoors can be susceptible to parasites. Parasites are small animals that rely on another to complete their lifecycle. The most commonly encountered are fleas, ear mites, fur mites and intestinal worms. It is very important these are controlled to prevent irritation, debilitation, weight loss and the spread of infectious diseases.
Fleas spread viral disease like Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, they can also cause extreme irritation. Rabbit fleas are small and black and can normally be seen feeding in groups around the edges of the ears. Rabbits can also suffer from cat fleas – so indoor rabbits should receive parasite control regularly throughout the summer months. Our vets will work out a parasite control programme for your rabbit using the best treatments available.
Fur mites, otherwise known as “walking dandruff” or Cheyletiella, cause hair loss and excessive build up of scurf and scale in the coat (very thick dandruff). These infestations cause some degree of irritation and can make the skin more prone to infections.
Ear mites can cause irritation, excessive wax build up and lead to more severe ear infections.
Intestinal worms are not as important a problem as they are in dogs and cats. An observant rabbit owner should check their rabbit for worms in the droppings. Good observation on a regular basis is the best way to stop these problems.
This neurological parasite affects the balance apparatus of the rabbit, leading to head tilts and spinning behaviour. It can cause urinary incontinence, cataracts and also hindquarter problems, ranging from a shuffling gait to complete paralysis, although this is rare.
Treatment is recommended 2 – 4 times a year and at times of higher risk, such as when the rabbit is acquired, prior to mating and when mixing with other rabbits.
Fly-strike is a common, distressing condition occurring in the warmer months. Flies become attracted to soiled fur for example where faeces, urine or saliva have accumulated and these flies lay eggs which quickly hatch into larvae (maggots). The larvae quickly burrow into the rabbits skin causing serious damage. Fly strike is very painful, and frequently results in death. During the summer months rabbits should be turned over and inspected daily for fly eggs and maggots. If you are in any doubt, please contact us at once.
It is most important to seek veterinary attention immediately should your rabbit develop this problem. Your rabbit should be thoroughly checked every day, particularly during the summer. Rabbits most at risk from fly-strike are those which are old, obese, arthritic, ill or with dental disease.
The best way of avoiding fly-strike is impeccable HYGIENE and regular applications of a parasitic spot-on during the summer months which we will supply for you.
For specific prevention and treatment recommendations and advice please speak to one of our Health Care Nurses.