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What is Bacterial Skin Infection?

The symptoms vary in different pets but can lead to skin abscessation and necrosis for your pet. Reddening of the skin and hair loss can indicate that your pet has a condition that could worsen with time. Radiographs or skin biopsy could be necessary to determine the cause; the condition can be painful if left untreated. If you suspect bacterial skin infections in your pet, it is important to visit your veterinarian for treatment.

Bacterial infections of the skin, also known as pyoderma, are common in rabbits. This overgrowth of bacteria is often present due to warm, moist environments, caused by factors such as hyper-salivation, urine scalding, tear overflow, bite wounds, infected skin folds and injection reactions. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus , Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pasteurella multocida and Fusobacterium necrophorum are common causes of these infections in rabbits.

Bacterial Skin Infection Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

Symptoms of Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits

The symptoms vary but may include:

  • Papules and pustules
  • Visible infection of the dermal and subcuticular tissues
  • Hair loss
  • Swelling
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Erythema (reddening of the skin)
  • Ulceration
  • Abscessation and tissue necrosis
  • Moist dermatitis is characterized by a blue/green discoloration of the fur 

Types

Bacterial infection is usually triggered by an overgrowth of normal resident or transient flora. This overgrowth is often caused by warm, moist environments, such as in the skin folds in rabbits and around the mouth due to hyper-salivation. The bacteria that cause bacterial skin infections include:

  •  Staphylococcus aureus – common in pyoderma affecting the ears and perineum 
  • Staphylococcus warneri – common in secondary bacterial dermatitis 
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa – causes a moist dermatitis in the skin folds due to a pigment produced by some strains of the bacteria may cause the fur to take on a green colour
  • Pasteurella multocida - one of the more common bacteria, this is often responsible for abscesses and respiratory infections in rabbits
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Causes of Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits

There are a number of risk factors and predilections including: 

  • Breed - Angoras, miniature lops and dwarfs are more prone to dermatitis due to their dense coats
  • French and giant lops are also prone to bacterial skin infections due to the large skin folds around their perineum and chin
  • Sex - Female rabbits develop skin infections more often than male rabbits
  • Dental disease or chronic upper respiratory disease, due to the possible obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct leading to epiphora (watering of the eye) and ptyalism (hypersalivation) preventing grooming
  • Obesity or musculoskeletal disease that inhibits grooming or maintaining normal stance during urination, causing urine scalding
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Parasitic infections of mites or fleas
  • Compromised immune systems due to age or illness
  • Fungal infections such as ringworm
  • Trauma such as bites or lacerations
  • Injection reactions
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Diagnosis of Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits

Your veterinarian will take a full history and perform a clinical examination of your pet. If your veterinarian suspects a bacterial skin infection they may perform culture and sensitivity tests to identify infection-causing bacteria. This will be be performed using either exudate or skin samples. Identification of a bacteria will confirm diagnosis and allow your veterinarian to advise the most effective antibiotic therapy. 

As bacterial skin infections are often secondary to other diseases, tests may be carried out to investigate the cause. In cases of facial dermatitis radiographs may be taken to identify dental disease. Biochemistry, blood tests and ultrasonography may also be performed to diagnose any underlying gastrointestinal or urinary disease that may be a causative factor. A skin biopsy may also be taken if to rule out the chance of neoplasia (abnormal growth of tissue).

 

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Treatment of Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits

Supportive

Removal of matted fur from the lesions will allow your pet to be bathed and kept dry. As your rabbit’s skin is very fragile your veterinarian will clip the fur, taking great care not to damage the skin. It may be necessary to sedate your pet in order to do this. Your rabbit’s skin will be cleaned with either a chlorhexidine or iodine wash which is effective against yeasts and bacteria. As moisture provides the ideal environment for bacteria growth your pet will be carefully dried.

Medication

Antibiotic therapy may be necessary for your pet’s treatment. For mild infections topical treatment using antimicrobial shampoos, sprays or creams may be effective. For more severe or generalized conditions, treatment with antibiotics is considered the most effective option. 

The cultures performed by your veterinarian during diagnosis will guide your veterinarian in choosing the antibiotic specific to the bacteria. The length of treatment will depend on the severity and depth of your pet’s infection.

As bacterial infections can be painful for your pet NSAIDs may be prescribed to offer analgesia for your pet. An antibiotic or antiseptic cream may also be prescribed by your veterinarian. Corticosteroid creams are known to be effective for reducing inflammation, however, prolonged use can thin already delicate skin; this will be a consideration for your veterinarian when prescribing creams for your pet.

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Recovery of Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits

With proper care, your pet’s skin condition is expected to heal within two weeks. You may need to revisit the veterinarian for follow-up appointments and to reassess the antibiotic therapy. To prevent the bacterial infection from reoccurring it is important to keep the affected skin clean and dry. In cases where urine scalding has been a factor, perineum clipping may be considered as a long term solution along with regular cleansing of the area. Ensure your pet’s environment is clean and dry, and space to urinate is provided away from bedding. If obesity is a factor that reduces ability to groom or is causing excessive skin folds you may need to discuss a gradual change of diet with your veterinarian to promote a healthy weight.

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Bacterial Skin Infection Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

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Bacterial Skin Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Floppy eared rabbit

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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8 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sores Around Bottom From Moisture In Cage

Our rabbit has had a wet bottom (from leaking water in cage) and seems to be infected with red skin showing and hair loss. By the time I recognized this was happening it’s gotten bad. I washed today in sink just the underneath and used some triple antibiotic ointment on exposed raw skin areas. Not sure what to do at this point to be sure it heals

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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8 Recommendations

Hello, If this area is not very bad, the triple antibiotic ointment will heal. Some times your rabbit may need oral antibiotics for this to heal completely. If this does not start to clear up in the next day or two or your rabbit stops eating, it would be best to see your vet.

July 30, 2020

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Gus

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Black Rex

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Flaky Skin
Hair Loss

Hello, my 1.5 year old neutered Black Rex has what appears to be a bacterial skin infection on his hindquarters, tail, lower abdomen and genital area. It seems mild, so we are hoping we can find some at home treatment options for him. He has flaky skin and his fur, when brushed, came off easily. He had minor loose matting around his rump, which was what led us to discover the flaky skin.

July 4, 2018

Gus' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Bacterial skin infections that cover that amount of skin don't tend to be mild, and it may be something else that is affecting Gus. Parasites, fungal infections, and lack of grooming can all look like that as well. If increased grooming and brushing doesn't help, it may be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as it is difficult for me to recommend anything without being able to see him.

July 5, 2018

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Bacterial Skin Infection Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

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