As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to take care of the health of your pet.
Abscesses on Bunny Rabbits
According to Pet MD, an abscess is a lump that appears under the rabbit's skin that is often filled with pus and that can appear initially in one area but spread if left untreated. The pus in a rabbit's abscess can contain different types of bacteria like pasteurella multiocida and staphylococcus aureus. Rabbit abscesses can appear overnight and spread if left untreated.
The pus in a rabbit's abscess is slightly different to that of cats and dogs in the sense that it is thick, creamy and sometimes lumpy.
Location of Abscesses
5 Facts About Rabbits Abscesses
- Abscesses can in occur in any rabbit breed.
- Two breeds of rabbits, the dwarf and the lop-eared rabbit are predisposed to abscesses
- Any rabbit can get an abscess. Young rabbits as well as older rabbits can all be vulnerable to getting one.
- The main cause of abscesses in rabbits are dental issues, issues relating to their tear ducts and bite wounds from other rabbits or animals.
- Surgery is usually required if a rabbit gets an abscess as lacing abscesses in rabbits isn't viable.
Abscess on a Rabbits Face or Chin
If your rabbit gets an abscess, then you need to find out why it suddenly appeared.
According to Science Direct, the area where an abscess occurs on a rabbit can usually help the owner determine what the underlying issue is.
There can be two reasons why an abscess can appear on the face, eyes, nose or body of a rabbit.
- If an abscess occurs on the rabbits face, then the obvious conclusion could be that it is related to dental, eye or nose issues.
- If an abscess occurs on another area of the face or body then maybe the cause could be an infected bite or a scratch.
How Could an Abscess Occur
- Since a rabbit’s teeth continue to grow over their lifetime, they need to chew wood to help them wear down their teeth. If they don't then their teeth will grow to long and this could cause them to get a cut in their gums or jaw.
- If your rabbit is housed outside and allowed to run around outside, then it cut get hurt or cut while outside. If you did not notice it, and the wound was not treated then it could get infected which then could lead to an abscess.
Type of Bacteria in Rabbits Abscesses
Rabbits abscesses occur because of different strains of bacteria. Pasteurella multiocida is identified as the biggest causes of abscesses in rabbits. This bacteria can infect the eyes, nose, ears, or the tear ducts. This then leads to the risk of an abscess occurring in the root of the tooth, in the bones, under the skin and the tissues as well as the internal organ.
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is slightly different and also considered more dangerous as it can travel throughout the body and infect other areas like the heart valve and bones. It arises from bite wounds. It can also be narrowed down to a low or high virulence strain.
Low Virulence Strain
- Quite common
- This bacteria is slow to spread from among infected rabbits. Limit on how contagious it can be
High Virulence Strain
- Not very common
- Rapidly spread among rabbits
Draining an abscess in a rabbit is difficult as the pus is thick. Surgery is usually required to remove a rabbit's abscess.
Causes of Rabbits Abscess
There can be many factors that can cause an abscess in a rabbit.
- Malocclusion is when spurs occurs in your rabbit’s mouth. If a rabbit does not wear down there teeth, then molar spurs can occur. This is where a tooth or teeth end up growing down toward the tongue and if these are not treated, then they can cut into a rabbit gum or cheek.
- Pasteurella which is a respiratory disease that can also cause an abscess in the organs of a rabbit.
- If your rabbit got bitten or cut and the cut gets infected, then this could lead to an abscess.
If the abscess is internal, then the root of the problem must be established.
If the abscess is external then the cause of the issue needs to be cut out because rabbit’s pus is thick and this makes it hard to drain.
Veterinarian Treatment of an Abscess
Once you've noticed the abscess, you need to get your rabbit treatment. Don't ever attempt to treat the abscess yourself.
Your veterinarian will carry out the following steps.
- Access the location the abscess is in.
- Ask you some questions to determine how the abscess occurred.
- If the abscess is external, then surgery will be required to remove the abscess and assess the cause of the infection.
- They will then provide a course of antibiotics to ensure that the infection in treated.
Does Your Rabbit Have an Abscess
It is always a good idea to do a physical on your pet on a regular basis. Check their face, head, body and tummy to ensure that everything appears well.
If you find any lumps when inspecting these areas, then you need to get it checked out.
Rabbit are notorious for not being able to communicate how they feel. So as an owner the onus is on you to know if they are unwell.
If your rabbit has an abscess, they might not like you touching this area.
If there is an abscess on their head, cheek or mouth, then the lump and the lack of interest in eating could be the first sign something it up
An abscess when pressed will appears hard and your rabbit will not like you touching this area.
Keep Monitoring Your Pet
An abscess is filled with pus. Pus is an accumulation of dead white blood cells and the bacteria that is causing the infection.
How to Treat an Abscess in a Rabbit
Lacing an abscess in a rabbit is difficult, so surgery will be required.
- You veterinarian will have to open up the area where the abscess is and treat the issue that caused the abscess.
- The wound will be assessed and cleaned and antibiotics will be administered to treat the cause of the infections.
- The dosage of medication will vary between rabbis as their weight will be a factor in the dosage limit.
- In some case an abscess might not yet have a large accumulation of pus, so in this instance the veterinarian will put your rabbit on a dose of antibiotics like Baytol.
Dealing with a Rabbit That Has an Abscess
However, if the abscess is quite large and is caused by an infected tooth, then surgery will be required to remove it. All the skin and bone (if necessary) which is infected will also need to be removed. The area will then be cleaned with an antibiotic solution.
Rabbit abscesses seem to be able to stretch to all areas and have talons which the veterinarian must ensure they remove to ensure there is no chance of a re-occurrence.
In some cases depending on where the abscess is located, some veterinarians may try a method where they pack the abscess with a caustic material like antibiotic beads which help to clear the infection from the inside out.
Of course the severity of the abscess would also play a part in the choice of this method.
Rabbit Check Up
Post-Op Treatment for an Abscess
Once your rabbit is released home after its surgery, then you will have to spend some time looking after it. You might have to clean the wound for a number of days and administer antibiotic to your rabbit until its required check-up.
Once the wound is scabbed over, the skin will begin to rejuvenate. A daily dose of antibiotics will also be given to the rabbit for a week or more to help clear up any remaining infection. An abscess can reoccur again and that is why it is important to treat as early as possible.
Medicine Used to Treat Abscesses
One medicine which is used to treat infections in pets is Baytol. It's specifically for dogs and cats, but many veterinarians give it to rabbits too. Bicillin is another medicine which is used to treat abscesses where surgery is not a suitable option. To find out more about Baytol read here.
Caring for Your Rabbit after Surgery
Once your rabbit is released back into your care, you might notice that they are not behaving in their normal manner. The rabbit will be tired, sore and scared after their surgery. So try to give them space and don't interrupt or touch them too much unless you really have to. Ensure that your rabbit continues to eat, drink and use the toilet. If your rabbit is a fussy eater when it comes to their food, try to soften the pellets with some water, and ensure that you give them plenty of fresh hay and vegetable
Follow up Appointment
Your rabbit will be called in for a check-up a few days after the surgery. It will be given a check up to see how it is progressing. The wound will be inspected to see how it is healing.
You will be asked to keep an eye on it and to notify them if you see any sudden changes in it or your rabbit. If so you will need to return to the veterinarian for an additional check-up.
Assess Your Rabbit's Health by Doing Check-Ups at Home
As a rabbit owner, there is a responsibility on you to carry out monthly as well as yearly check-up on your rabbit. A rabbit cannot communicate if it is unwell.
When doing a check-up on your rabbit you need to do the following:
- Inspect the ears for any mites or wax build up
- Check that its eyes are clear and bright
- Check out nose and ensure that it has no difficulty breathing
- Feel down along its body to inspect for any suspicious lumps
- Inspects its feet and legs to ensure that there is nothing wrong around this area
Make sure that your rabbit continues to eat and drink plenty of water. If your rabbit is a fussy eater and stops eating its food try an alternative brand of pet food.
- Lump under the Skin in Rabbits (2016), Pet MD
- Abscess - Further Reading (2002), Rabbit Welfare & Association Fund
- Abscesses in Rabbits (2014) Pet Place
- Staphylococcal Infection (2013), Science Direct
- Infectious Diseases in Rabbits, VCA
- Baytril 25 mg/ml Solution for Injection, Dosage and administration
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2013 Sp Greaney
Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on January 01, 2014:
hi belleart, it pays to be alert alright. That's what happened with me, thankfully our guy recovered well.
belleart from Ireland on December 31, 2013:
wow, I did not know about this! Our Bunny's an indoor one so I never thought she would get something like this....thanks so much :) Il keep it in mind