Common Diseases Found in Rabbits

4011378891 7dd40b35b2 z Common Diseases Found in Rabbits

Pet rabbits can be susceptible to a number of different diseases. Many of these can be easily treated by the owner, but some will require veterinary treatment. Whilst the majority of diseases found can be treated with the rabbit getting back to full health, some can be fatal and must be treated promptly.

Intestinal Worms

These can be caused by the rabbit grazing on a contaminated area and eating worm eggs contained in the grass. They can cause diarrhoea as well as bloating and a loss of condition in the animal. It is best to protect your rabbit against worms by regularly treating it with a preventative worming treatment, especially if the rabbit is likely to graze on land which is used by other animals or rabbits. Treatment for an infected animal is by using a worming treatment, normally is paste or liquid form.


This disease is transmitted from infected rabbits by flea bites. Symptoms include swollen eyelids, lumps on the head, and conjunctivitis. This disease is normally fatal within 48 hours. You can protect your rabbit by having it vaccinated regularly.


Coccidiosis is a parasitic infection which is spread between rabbits through excrement, soiled food and bedding. Rabbits can be more susceptible to it when they are stressed or being kept in crowded conditions. Symptoms include diarrhoea, loss of appetite and weight, and drinking more than usual. You should see your vet immediately for treatment as this can be fatal if left untreated.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

A highly infectious disease which is normally fatal. It is most commonly contracted from wild rabbits by contamination from rabbit droppings, bird faeces, or infected hay or water. It causes difficultly breathing, bleeding from the nose, high temperature and erratic movement of the legs and back. The only way to protect your rabbit from VHD is to have it vaccinated by your vet.

Lice and Fleas

These are parasites that infest the rabbit’s coat. They are caught from the eggs present in an area the rabbit uses. Signs of an infestation include hair loss, scratching and sight of the fleas, lice or their faeces. They can be prevented and treated by using a spot on flea drop treatment at regular intervals.

Ear Mites

These mites are transmitted from infected rabbits. They cause the rabbit to scratch its ears constantly and shake its head. You can also see a yellowish crust around the ears. You should check your rabbits ears for signs of mites or crust and treat using drops.


Snuffles is the name given to an infectious nasal catarrh, passed between rabbits in close contact. Symptoms include sneezing and a discharge from the nostrils. You can also observe the rabbit rubbing its face and nose continuously. Snuffles can be followed by a secondary infection of Pneumonia which can be fatal. Mild cases will normally clear up on their own but more severe cases need to be seen by a vet.

Rabbit Syphilis

This infection can be caught by a rabbit mating with an infected rabbit. It causes genital ulcers which can spread to other areas such as the anus, nose, lips and eyelids. Infected rabbits should be taken to the vet for treatment.


This is a bacterial infection which can be passed between rabbits. It shows few symptoms except diarrhoea which can be followed very quickly by death. If you believe your rabbit is suffering from Salmonella you should consult your vet.

Fly Strike

Fly strike is caused by flies laying their eggs around the rabbits rear end. These eggs then hatch into maggots, eat the rabbits skin, and burrow into the flesh. Fly strike occurs when rabbits have dirty bottoms caused by diarrhoea, faeces and housing not being regularly cleaned out. Preventative treatments include sprays. Rabbits with signs of maggot burrowing into the skin should be taken to the vet.

This article was written by pet care expert Percy Jackson. With years of experience, he now shares his knowledge and advice on his own website, Percy’s Pets, where you can find information on rabbits, dogs, cats and every other type of pet.


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