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Five Common Rabbit Illnesses

Be familiar with these illnesses so you can help your rabbit.

Be familiar with these illnesses so you can help your rabbit.

Keep Your Bunny in Tip-Top Shape

Rabbits are unarguably one of the cutest animals you can have as pets. However, they are not so cute when they are ill. Luckily, many of these illnesses can be avoided if you take precautions by maintaining a healthy living condition for your rabbits and paying close attention to observe any slight change in their wellbeing. In this article, we will educate you on five illnesses, infectious and non-infectious, that rabbits are commonly prone to. Enjoy.

Related: Best Rabbit Hay

Infectious illnesses


Myxomatosis is caused by the Myxoma virus, a poxvirus. It is transmitted by biting insects, like mosquitoes, or by being in close contact with an infected rabbit. The major clinical manifestation of the disease is swelling around the eyes, ears, nose, anus, and genitals. Myxomatosis is a fatal illness, but fortunately, you can vaccinate your rabbits against it. Other ways of preventing your pet are using an insect-proof hutch and using an insecticide to kill the insects. If you cannot afford a mosquito-proof hutch, you can bring in your rabbits before it gets dark, as mosquitoes thrive more at night.

Viral hemorrhagic disease

Viral hemorrhagic disease, also known as rabbit caliciviral, is a highly infectious illness that is present in almost every part of the world. It is caused by caliciviral and has an incubation period of up to three days. Viral hemorrhagic disease is particularly fatal because rabbits can die without showing any clinical manifestations. In cases where there are manifestations, they experience decreased appetite, lethargy, and fever. The mode of transmission is by close contact with infected animals, especially rabbits and rodents, contaminated hutches, bowls, and clothes. It can also be transmitted in moist air in close proximity. Even after recovery, rabbits are carriers of the virus and can infect other rabbits for an average of four weeks. Vaccines are available in some countries, and they can help to reduce the number of deaths.

Non-infectious illnesses

Dental problems

Rabbits can develop dental abscesses due to the presence of foreign bodies stuck between the teeth or on the gum. Clinical signs of dental abscesses are not limited to the oral region. They can also be present with exophthalmos or epiphora. Overgrowing teeth is another dental anomaly commonly seen in rabbits. This is mainly because rabbits grow their teeth continuously throughout their life. Constant use of their teeth by chewing fiber can prevent overgrown teeth that lead to having very sharp teeth and biting their tongue and cheeks. Giving your pet a diet rich in fiber is the most effective way of preventing overgrown teeth. If they do develop this condition, blurring the teeth can help correct it.

Fracture of the lumbar vertebrae

Fractures of the lumbar vertebrae are mostly caused by the mishandling of rabbits by their caregiver. When a rabbit struggles while you are handling it, it is advisable to let it go and make it relax, rather than struggling with it or forcing it to comply. Fractures can lead to spinal cord injuries. Clinical manifestations are loss of sphincter control, which leads to fecal and urinary incontinence and paralysis. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be administered to reduce the effects of swelling around the spine. Rabbits affected should be taken to the vet for proper management. If treated immediately and properly, they can improve a lot and regain the ability to perform voluntary movements.


Cystitis, inflammation of the bladder, occurs in rabbits due to frequent irritation of the bladder lining by calcium. Urinary incontinence is a common clinical sign of cystitis. Other opportunistic conditions like dermatitis can occur due to damp peri-anal areas.


Taking care of your rabbits is as important as taking care of yourself. Proper hygiene, a good diet with good rabbit food, and regular checkups are some of the rituals you should perform to keep your bunnies from illnesses. If at any point you notice a slight change in them, do not hesitate to take them to a vet.