Part 2: Common Domesticated Rabbit Diseases and How to Avoid Them

Here is the continuation of the common domesticated rabbit diseases and how to prevent and treat them.

 

domesticated rabbit carrying

Photo: Tjflex2 | Flickr

Domesticated Rabbit Diseases/Conditions and How to Treat and Prevent Them

 

  • Hairballs

Contrary to the belief of many rabbit pet owners, hairball disease is not the direct result of rabbits that frequently ingest their fur. Recent study shows that the hairball disease in rabbits is actually caused by improper digestion brought by low fiber consumption. This leads to the abnormal intestinal movement or the inability of your pet rabbit to digest food that combines these lose hairballs. This is a fatal condition that could pose severe inflammation in your rabbit’s intestine that leads to immediate death.

It simply means that when your rabbit has poor consumption of fiber the hair that it normally ingests accumulates bigger and faster in the stomach because of the immobile intestines that lacks fiber, this result is called the GI stasis (gastro intestinal stasis). But due to the fact that unlike cats, rabbits has no ability to puke the hair that they ingest, this condition further aggravates as hair strands do not break down into pieces like food.

Symptoms include:

  • Refusal to eat
  • Infrequent stool
  • Weakness
  • Dullness and dryness of fur
  • Lethargic behavior

Prevention: The reason why hay grass is the number one healthiest food for your pet rabbit is because of its very high fiber content. This food is so easy to digest that even while they are munching on it the rabbits digestive system is already burning the food pieces down. Fiber is the best laxative that you can give your pet rabbit to eliminate the pieces of hair in their stomach. Regular physical activities also help you rabbit’s metabolism which aides in proper digestion.

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  • Uterine tumors / Uterine cancer (uterine adenocarcinoma)

This is one of the most fatal rabbit diseases that mostly targets female unaltered rabbits. This cancer is invasive and can rapidly spread through the tissues surrounding the uterine and the circulatory system. When discovered in later stage, it could spread to the other major organs of the rabbit.

Symptoms of uterine cancer includes:

  • Bloody discharge
  • Large and lumpy uterus
  • Fatigue and weight loss
  • Loss in appetite
  • Panting

Treatment and Prevention: When discovered early on, the disease could be treated by removing the tumor cells. However, if the cancer has spread already, treatment could be very impossible. That is why it is important to observe your pet rabbit and bring it to the veterinarian as soon as minimal symptoms occur.

Spaying or neutering your pet rabbit is the best prevention you can do. When your rabbit hits puberty and you have no further plans to breed them, having them altered will save them from the possibility of acquiring this fatal disease.

 

  • Myxomatosis

This disease affects wild rabbits mostly. It comes from the myxoma virus which is highly infectious and fatal in rabbits. A domesticated rabbit is susceptible to this virus through flea and mosquito bites from an infected rabbit. If pet rabbits come in contact with a wild rabbit that is carrying this disease, your pet would most likely to catch the infection. This could cause swelling of the mucous membranes and rabbits could die as fast as two weeks from the time of contraction.

Symptoms of Myxomatosis include:

  • Watery eyes or conjunctivitis ( early stages)
  • Swollen genitals
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the head area and throughout the body
  • Thick, pus-like discharge from the nose and eyes (as condition becomes worse)
ALSO READ:  Part 1: Common Domesticated Rabbit Diseases and How to Avoid Them

Prevention/Treatment: The ultimate prevention you could provide for your pet rabbit is through vaccination against this disease. Bring your pet rabbit to a licensed veterinarian to administer this kind of vaccine. Though the protection from this disease depends on the kind of immunity that the rabbit had developed from the vaccine, most likely, a vaccinated rabbit will not endure the full blown effect of the myxoma virus and can be treated through medication. Booster shots to update your rabbit’s vaccine is also very helpful.

A domesticated rabbit doesn’t have the genetic makeup of a wild rabbit that could fight the infection brought by this virus. It is important that you make sure to prevent your pet rabbit from having any form of contact with a wild rabbit so this infection would not transfer. The chance of survival of an unvaccinated rabbit is very unusual.

It is important that we protect our domesticated rabbits from these conditions, particularly the fatal ones, so we could prolong their life and make them comfortable as they grow. By taking these preventive measures and learning how to treat these conditions, we can give them a healthy well-being and make them feel loved and cared for while building a long lasting relationship with them.

 

See: Part 1 – Common Domesticated Rabbit Diseases and How to Avoid Them

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