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Rabbit Abscess – What You Should Know

By: PetPlace Staff

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Abscesses in rabbits can be a serious problem. Abscesses – accumulations of pus formed by tissue degeneration and surrounded by inflamed areas – form when infectious agents (like bacteria, fungi, and parasites) or foreign bodies (like splinters) lodge in the tissue and cause inflammation. Abscesses can form in any tissue in the body.

The most common causes of abscesses in rabbits are bite wounds that become infected, tooth root infections, and tear duct infections. The danger with abscesses is that they often rupture internally and cause septicemia, which can be fatal.

What You Should Watch For

If your rabbit exhibits any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • Swelling, redness, heat or signs of irritation or pain.

  • Areas that your rabbit seems to be grooming excessively or that appear to itch, indicating the presence of deep abscesses.

  • Discharge or moistened fur that may represent the point of exit for a deep abscess.

  • A firm or doughy mass that elicits a pain response when touched.

  • Excessive salivation or persistent bad breath, either of which can be an indication of an abscess in the mouth.

  • Facial swelling that might indicate a tooth root abscess.

  • General signs of disease like depression, loss or appetite, and weight loss.

  • A mass anywhere on your rabbit's body, or a mass that suddenly disappears, followed by depression or lethargy.

    Veterinary Care

    Your veterinarian will not only have to diagnosis your rabbit's abscess – he will also have to determine the causative agent. Some tests that might be ordered are:

  • History and physical examination.

  • Complete blood count.

  • Blood chemistry.

  • Cytology (microscopic evaluation of cells).

  • Biopsy and microscopic evaluation of affected tissues.

  • Culture and antimicrobial sensitivity testing.

  • Radiographs (X-rays).

  • Ultrasound.


    Treatment of your bunny will involve ridding the body of the abscess and making sure your pet remains healthy. This will include:

  • Surgical removal of affected tissues.

  • Surgically opening the abscess and flushing of affected areas with sterile saline and/or antimicrobial solutions.

  • Systemic and local antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics and creams.

  • Fluids and supportive nutrition.

    Home Care

    Proper care at home is critical, especially if your rabbit does not rapidly improve. Your veterinarian will give specific instructions for helping to care for your pet. These might include:

  • Keep infected rabbits in isolation during treatment.

  • If your pet has an abscess on the skin, make certain that the site remains open so it will heal from the inside to the outside.

  • Monitor fecal and urine output daily to assure proper food and water consumption.

  • Monitor weight daily.

    Preventative Care

    Some important things you can do to help prevent your rabbit from forming an abscess:

  • Keep sharp objects away from your rabbit.

  • Keep your rabbit's living area clean and sanitized.

  • Avoid contact between rabbits and other animals that may result in puncture wounds from teeth or nails.

  • To prevent life-threatening foot infections (pododermatitis), make sure your rabbit does not become obese. Use a soft bedding material and keep it dry.

  • Prevent your rabbit from chewing on sharp or fibrous objects that may cut the gums or inside of the mouth or that may splinter and cause penetrating wounds in the mouth.

  • If your companion rabbit is scratched or cut, see your veterinarian as soon as possible so the wound can be properly cleaned and treated.

    For more information on abscesses in rabbits, see Abscesses in Rabbits.

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