Below is a list of conditions which you may find in your rabbits. Not all of the following are symptoms of disease, some of them are normal for certain breeds or even colors. Use this as a guide to help you identify any diseases or conditions that may be affecting your rabbit(s), the chart below this paragraph will tell you more of the symptoms, the cause (which may help you prevent the same condition in the future), and tell you how to treat your animal(s). Also if you have any questions you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we usually check it every day so you will get a relatively quick response.
Appetite Loss: (1) rabbits tend to eat less on very cold or stormy days, this is normal as they are not very active in bad weather. (2) appetite loss is a symptom of most diseases, it could be a sign that he has a hairball if he is also molting, an early sign of wry neck, poisoning, west nile virus, snuffles, malocclusion, mastitis, and most other diseases
Bloating/Pot bellied: a symptom of enteritis usually seen in young animals
Bloody Nose: usually caused by an injury, heat stress, or heat stroke
Blue Lips/ears: caused by a lack of oxygen and/or poor blood circulation, could be a sign of a heart condition or pneumonia
Bulging Eye: (1) usually caused by an abscess behind the eye, start strong antibiotics immediately as this is usually a fatal condition. (2) Can sometimes be from a stroke, if this is the case a cheek may look swollen or uneven with the other.
Chewing on Feet, or other body parts: usually a sign of great pain or irritation, the rabbit starts eating its own flesh and usually needs to be put down. Like a fox in a trap will chew its leg off to get free, a rabbit will attempt to shew off part of their body to get away from the pain or cause of irritation. Do Not confuse with fur chewing
Cloudy Eyes: cataracts in the eye(s) causing blindness; known as wall eye/moon eye
Damp Nose: a sign of stress usually from heat or traveling
Drooling: (1) a condition known as slobbers, caused by an infected tooth or improper feeding. (2) some rabbits get carsick and drool a little
Fur Chewing: can be a sign of irritation, can also be from insufficient feeding, or from poor quality feed, do not confuse with pulling fur
Gooey/runny eyes: milky discharge from the eye and often balding under the eye are symptoms of weepy eye
Green/Blue Fur: generally found on (but not limited to) the dewlap, green or blue fur is a symptom of green or wet dewlap, caused by fur being constantly wet, fur in affected area will in almost all cases fall out after a few days
Head Held Up: A sing of pain and/or labored breathing, can be symptoms of enteritis, pneumonia, or west nile virus
Head Tilt: (1) most commonly caused by wry neck, there are 2 types of wry neck, to determine which type see the chart below this paragraph. (2) rarely, but sometimes caused by an injury, if that be the case it should heal and correct in a few days
Jelly/Blood in droppings: a sign of enteritis, most commonly found in young rabbits
Labored Breathing: could be from stress or a doe in labor, can also be a sign of pneumonia, or west nile virus
Lopping Ear: one lopping ear that normally doesn't lop is often an early sign of one of the 2 types of wry neck, this one is an ear infection
Loss of balance: (1) a sign of wry neck, check the chart below to determine which type. (2) some loss of balance is normal on old rabbits, their legs just aren't as they used to be. (3) can be caused by west nile virus. Do not confuse with swaying
Loss of Feeling in Hind Legs: (see paralyzed hind legs)
Lump(s): (1) usually an abscess, there will be fur loss on affected area when ready to break. (2) hard lump usually on the belly could be rupture. (3) small bumps on ears or face are usually scars from torn ears or bites. (4) large lumps on belly that will not fester could be cancer. (5) small to large lumps on head could be a symptom of myxomatosis/big head disease, carried by mosquitoes
Milky Film Over eye(s): (see white film over eyes below)
Pulling Fur: does pull fur prior to kindling and will continue during the first week of the kit's age to keep them warm, if your bunny isn't pregnant she is having a false pregnancy and will stop within a few days
Paralyzed Hind Legs: Almost always caused by a broken back but can also be from a severe case of splayed legs, not treatable conditions
Red Urine: a condition known simply as red urine, caused by excessive calcium
Sneezing/coughing: (1) some sneezing while eating or drinking is normal, often they will get a little dust or water up the nose. (2) sneezing is a sign of borditella, and sneezing and coughing are sings snuffles and pneumonia
Swaying: many red eyed rabbits (whites and californian/himalayan marked) sway from side to side, this is somewhat common and not a health condition
Tooth Grinding: (1) loud tooth grinding usually means that the animal is in pain, can be a result of broken bones, poisoning, west nile virus, and several other conditions. (2) loud tooth grinding can also be a sign of irritation. (3) soft tooth grinding is how a rabbit "purrs", much like a purring cat
White film over eye(s): a sign of moon eye or wall eye also known as cataracts causing blindness, an untreatable condition usually found in older animals
Many people will tell you that when your rabbit is sick, or something just doesn't seem right, to take him to your local veterinarian. However, part of 4-H is learning to prevent, identify, and treat diseases. It is a good idea to have the phone number of either an experienced rabbit breeder or knowledgeable veterinarian for advice or to lend a hand if you do need a little help, or if you have any questions please feel free to email us. This brief list should help you get started, you can learn much more from various rabbit disease books.
Treating your rabbit always starts with prevention. You can easily learn to prevent diseases and other harmful conditions by reading about what causes various diseases and by keeping your rabbits environment clean, out of the sun, and by keeping the water fresh and the feed stored in a dry place where mice can't get in and contaminate it.
Penicillin and Ivomec have been our answer to pretty much everything, penicillin will cure practically anything caused by a bacterial infection and Ivomec will kill most parasites. Always wait at least 1 month after final doseage before slaughter. Dosages for treatments are as follows; penicillin: 1/10cc per pound for juniors and small breeds, 1/5cc per pound for intermediates and seniors. Penicillin must be the injectable type, oral penicillins will kill your rabbit. Shots should be given intramuscular (IM), all rabbits should be given hay or straw after receiving penicillin, and no rabbit under 12 weeks of age should be given penicillin. Ivomec: 2/10cc for small and medium breeds, 4/10cc for large and giant breeds, note that amounts for ivomec are not per pound but total. Shots should be given sub-Q (just under the scruff).
For more information on how to give your rabbit a health check see "Basic Showmanship Presentation", this is written for 4-Hers but is still a helpful guide to anyone wanting to learn how to give rabbit health checks.