We think that the ears help define those fantastic pet rabbits. Lop or up, long hair or short, your rabbit’s ears do a lot of the talking for him. But they also can be quite susceptible to several ear problems in rabbits. Learn what to look for to avoid serious health issues.

 

Ear Problems in Pet Rabbits

Ear Infections, Mites, and Ear Canker in Pet Rabbits

Rabbits are amazing pets but unfortunately, they are quite sensitive as well. They are susceptible to various problems of bacterial, viral, and parasitic etiology. Among the many other problems that can affect your pet rabbit, ear infections, mites, and ear canker are some of the quite common ones. Being a responsible pet owner, you should know about these because they can easily spread from affected rabbits to healthy ones. Moreover, knowing signs of common problems helps you get veterinary care for your rabbit timely, and this can be lifesaving sometimes.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about ear infections, mites, and ear canker in pet rabbits. Read on, and we are sure the information from this article will help you take better care of your pet rabbit.

ear problems in pet rabbits

Causes

 

The size and structure of the ears in rabbits make them prone to ear problems. Otitis (inflammation of the ear) is a common problem that can be due to multiple reasons. In the case of rabbits, mite infestation is one of the biggest reasons for otitis. Mites are ectoparasites (parasites present on the surface of the body) that can lead to ear canker. Most commonly rabbits suffer from infestation from Psoroptes cuniculi. These mites are quite notorious for causing canker in animals including guinea pigs, rabbits, goats, cattle, etc.

Although all breeds of rabbits can suffer from mite infestation and canker, lop eared rabbits are more likely to fall prey. This is due to their anatomy, a peculiar fold in their ear canal.

It normally takes 2-3 weeks of mite infestation in rabbits before you see canker in their ear or ears. So, it is important for you to know which early signs to look for and examine your rabbit’s ears regularly.

Signs of Possible Ear Problems in Rabbits

 

Inflammation of the ear has three major types. These are otitis externa, otitis media, and otitis interna i.e. inflammation of the outer, middle, and inner ear, respectively. Depending on the inflammation location, a rabbit with otitis can show some of the signs mentioned below.

  • Frequent scratching of the ear or ears
  • Tilting of head to one side
  • Presence of wax or fluid in the ear canal (fluid is brownish in color)

Scratching can result in hair loss from selected patches of skin. You may see your rabbit shaking its head to lessen the itchiness and discomfort. In severe cases, rabbits may lose skin due to excessive scratching. It is not common for rabbits to lose balance and feel dizziness but it can happen in serious cases. The affected rabbit may fall or roll to one side or move in a circle. Itchiness, pain, and irritation result in reduced appetite and your pet rabbit may show some lethargic behavior after suffering from otitis due to mites.

ear problems in pet rabbits

How to check for ear problems in rabbits?

As mentioned, canker appears when a mite infestation has been left untreated for 2-3 weeks. So it is important to frequently check your rabbit’s ears. This will help you seek veterinary help timely in case of any problem, thus ending your pet’s suffering. Below is a step-by-step guide for you to check your bunny’s ears.

The first and foremost step is to make your rabbit feel comfortable with your presence and touch. You can do so by gently petting it and giving it a treat. If you feel your rabbit is stressed, you should leave it immediately and try examining any other time.

When your rabbit is comfortable around you, start examining its ear. Start from the external ear and look for any scars or flakes. Check the ear canal, it should have a pale to creamy color normally. A small amount of wax is also considered normal but if you notice excessive wax or any fluid, your bunny needs a checkup by a vet.

Use your gentle touch to feel any lumps or inflammation at the lower side of the ear.

In case of any abnormality, you should consult your vet.

Treatment

 

Treatment of ear infections depends upon the severity of the condition. Your vet would examine your bunny’s ears and other vital parameters and then decide the treatment required. If needed,your vet may perform x-rays to confirm or rule out fluid buildup. He may recommend a course of antibiotics to curb the bacterial population. Even if otitis and canker are due to mite infestation, he is likely to prescribe antibiotics to help your pet’s immune system.

In case of inflammation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain. As mites are parasites, your vet would recommend injection or application of drugs having anti-parasitic properties. Ivermectin is the most commonly used and most effective anti-parasitic drug.

If you notice crusts in your bunny’s ear, don’t peel it off. This exposes the tissue to environmental microbes. Follow the treatment guidelines of your vet. These crusts will fall off automatically when the infestation ends.

If your bunny seems in a very serious condition and is showing nervous signs, it may have to be admitted in the hospital for IV fluid therapy and nutritional support.

The course of treatment depends on the condition of the rabbit. You should always consult your veterinarian before giving any medicine to your pet. Always complete the course of treatment recommended to make sure the root cause of the problem is taken care of completely.

In rare cases, a surgical procedure may be needed.

ear problems in pet rabbits

Prevention

 

As ear infections are caused by transmissible bacteria or mites, taking preventive measures can reduce the risk of the problem significantly.

Keep infected rabbits away from healthy ones. Don’t let your rabbits interact with other rabbits and other pets freely. Such interactions can lead to the transfer of microorganisms and mites.

Keep the environment of your pets clean and use disinfectants regularly. Clean bedding and pens regularly.

Don’t share bedding, toys, and grooming equipment with other pets.

Frequent health checks help diagnose problems timely. Never miss a visit to your vet.

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