Gut Stasis

Gut stasis is something we always dread at the rescue but it unfortunately sometimes happens. Stress, other underlying health problems or a poor diet often contributes to a slowdown in the digestion which, in turn, can lead to ileus (a complete standstill).

The important thing is to get treatment as soon as possible. When a rabbit goes into ileus it can quickly become an emergency.

Signs to look out for: a reduced faecal output, smaller than normal size of faeces, a hunched posture, bloating of the stomach, grinding of teeth, changes in gut noises.

At the rescue we often need to use an aggressive treatment of Ranitidine, Metoclopramide, Metacam and, if necessary, syringe feeding of Critical Care. Please take advice from your vet. We have found it often helps to put the bunny on a warm heat pad, give their stomach a gentle massage and to keep them moving.

Dental Disease

Rabbits’ teeth continually grow throughout their life. If a rabbit is not constantly grinding teeth down by eating appropriate amounts of fibre or if the teeth are misaligned, they can overgrow and cause problems. Sharp spikes may form on the molars which can cut the tongue and cheeks. A lack of calcium in the diet may also contribute to dental problems.

Signs to look out for are drooling, weight loss, discharge from the eyes, decreased appetite, bad breath, reduced grooming, a wet chin or forelegs, swelling of the face.

A rabbit’s back teeth can only be accurately assessed by a vet. A general anaesthetic and burring the teeth flat is the treatment for overgrown teeth.


An awful disease which rabbits can and should be vaccinated against.

Myxomatosis is a potentially lethal disease. It is very common among the wild population of rabbits in the UK and can be spread to domestic rabbits through contact with an infected rabbits or insects such as fleas.

Signs to look out for are swelling and discharge from the eyes, nose and anogenital region.

Treatment very rarely works and euthanasia is usually recommended.


Snuffles is a common problem among pet rabbits and is commonly caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida. It causes upper respiratory problems. The disease can be spread from rabbit to rabbit. A flare up can result from times of stress.

Signs to look out for are sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, ear infections, head tilt and wet or matted fur on the forelegs

Rabbits should be taken to the vet. They are often treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain medication such as Metacam.

A Healthy Bunny is a Happy Bunny!

Skin Problems

Apparent dandruff or dry skin on a rabbit is often cause by the Cheyletiella mite. This needs to be treated with an anti-parasitic medicine by the vet. This mite can be passed to people so appropriate precautions should be in place.

Bunnies (especially lops) can also suffer from ear mites. Signs to look out for are head shaking, scratching around the head area, hair loss around the ears and waxy discharge from the ears


Another terrible disease which rabbits can and should be vaccinated against.

Viral Hemorragic Disease is spread through direct contact between rabbits and also through contaminated surfaces such as bedding, hutches and clothing.

Signs to look out for are high fever, convulsions, lethargy, paralysis, breathing difficulties, bleeding from orifices and lack of appetite. The disease has a rapid disease progression and bunnies can die with 24 hours.

N.B. Cases of Viral Hemorraghic Disease Two have recently been reported in the UK. A vaccination for this is becoming available but many vet practices are having to specially order this in. We do not have enough information about this disease yet to provide an informed judgement. Please look for updates on the RWAF website.


Flystrike occurs when flies (usually greenbottles and bluebottles) lay eggs on a rabbit and then maggots hatch and eat the rabbit’s flesh.

The flies are attracted to the odour of blood, urine and faeces and so it is very important that rabbits are kept in clean conditions. Obese rabbits are particularly susceptible to the condition as they find it hard to clean their back end.

Flystrike is an emergency. It is important to check your rabbit daily.

Signs to look out for are quietness and the presence of maggots on your rabbit’s fur.

A penetrative treatment such as Rearguard or Xenex Ultra Spot On can also be useful. The use of flypapers is recommended.


Many rabbits are infected with this protozoan parasite but not all show apparent symptoms in their lifetime. E.Cuniculi causes granulomas to occur in various parts of the body which can cause neurological problems and urinary incontinence.

Rabbits can be infected by their mother or through injestion of E.Cuniculi spores in another rabbit’s urine.

Signs to look out for are head tilt, convulsions, tremors, wet backend, loss of balance and hind limb weakness.

Veterinary treatment available includes the use of Panacur.