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Rabbit Health: Sanitation and Balanced Nutrition keep Rabbits Hopping

Rabbit health is easily achieved through clean living conditions, balanced nutrition and knowing signs of disease for early treatment and prevention.

The first step is to be prepared in the event a rabbit becomes sick. Consider the following:

  1. Do you have a vet relationship established?
  2. Do you practice prevention by keeping rabbits clean?
  3. Do you know the signs of possible rabbit diseases?

Deciding who to contact and where to go if a serious illness affects a rabbit is a proactive plan that should be in place as soon as rabbits are brought home to raise. It is best to have that figured out before you are in the middle of a situation and need answers quickly.

A good sanitation program will help owners maintain healthier rabbits and prevent disease.

Sanitation tips:

  1. Remove soiled bedding and waste and keep hutches dry. An all-wire hutch makes this simple.
  2. A rabbit showing signs of disease or parasites should be isolated immediately from the rest of the herd to reduce spread of infection.
  3. Isolate newly acquired rabbits for at least 2 weeks. That includes rabbits returning from shows.
  4. Clean and disinfect all nest boxes before using.
  5. Disinfect watering crocks and make sure they are clean often to prevent coccidiosis.

The ability to recognize common disease symptoms will allow owners to treat sick rabbits early and isolate the affected animal from the herd to prevent other rabbits from becoming ill.

Common rabbit diseases and symptoms:

  • Coccidiosis – This is of the most common diseases of rabbits. Animals that recover frequently become carriers of this disease. Any rabbit showing signs should be removed from the herd. Signs of Coccidiosis include: Diarrhea, poor appetite, rough hair coat and slow growth. Autopsies of affected animals show small white spots on the liver, and thick intestines, which may be pale in color. There are two types of coccidiosis, liver and intestinal. The liver type can be treated with Corrid in drinking water at 0.04 % for 2 weeks continuously.
  • Ketosis – Lactating appears dull and listless and the rabbit may have diarrhea. Ketosis results from excessive fat and too little exercise. There is no cure, but work on preventing this by proper feeding or restricting feed if necessary to prevent excessive fattening. Feeding Hubbard Life Rabbit Feed offers well-balanced nutrition for does. Learn more about the Hubbard Life Rabbit Feed and Tips & Tools for raising rabbits at
  • Sore Hocks – Rabbits with sore hocks will sit humped up and appear listless. Closer observation will reveal sores on their hocks. The condition is due to an infection and inflammation of the footpad. Treat affected rabbits by soaking their hocks in warm, soapy water and apply zinc oxide salve. Be sure to return the animal to clean bedding.
  • Tapeworms – Tapeworms are parasites, which live inside the intestines of rabbits and other pets. They attach to the wall of the gut and feed off the nutrition the rabbit eats. Rabbits with tapeworms often become lethargic and depressed. Rabbits can be treated with oral medication, which will attack the tapeworm and allow the rabbit to excrete the parasites. Tapeworm prevention can be accomplished with monthly medication.

There are other rabbit diseases to keep an eye on. To see a more complete list visit either of the following websites: or

For rabbit nutrition information, visit the Hubbard Life Rabbit Feed page.









Posted on 3/21/2012 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Rabbit
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