Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits

Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Hair Loss / Hairloss / Lethargy / Mouth Salivation / Pustules

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Rated as moderate conditon

10 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Hair Loss / Hairloss / Lethargy / Mouth Salivation / Pustules

Bacterial Skin Infection in Rabbits - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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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.

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

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

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.

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

Bacterial Skin Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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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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1 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Flaky Skin

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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1611 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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Lola

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Florida White

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Dry/Irritated Skin, Two Small Scabs

I noticed a small scab on the back of her neck a few days ago along with some dry skin and skin irritation, then two days ago I found another small scab on the back of her neck, should I be worried?

June 24, 2018

Lola's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Rabbits may have scabs for a variety of reasons including trauma (fragile skin), parasites, infections, hormonal conditions, nutritional deficiencies among other causes; without examining Lola it is difficult to say what the specific cause is but I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian for an examination and treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://rabbit.org/journal/4-9/skin.html

June 25, 2018

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Speedy

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Baladi

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Two Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

Three of the small baby rabbits have wet like fur around their noses and bald patches under chin, now they r always cuddling among themselves I tried to clean it but it looked like feathers rather than normal hair, the rabbits faces now look more like a rate Don't know what is that

June 2, 2018

Speedy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It certainly sounds like there is an infection (Pasteurellosis or similar) which is affecting the upper respiratory tract, you should visit your Veterinarian to confirm and to receive treatment; without examining them myself I cannot prescribe any treatment of antibiotics or any other prescription treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 3, 2018

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Pichu

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Angora

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling Over Joint , Rednesss ,

My bunny suffering from staphylococcus infection I need a advice on it , what can u do to treat him . Swelling in hind limbs and not and severe skin changes able to walk at all

March 22, 2018

Pichu's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Swollen joints in rabbits is normally caused by bacterial infection, if this is the case you would need to visit your Veterinarian for a prescription to treat it; without examining Pitchu I cannot say what the specific cause of the swelling of the joint or hind limbs is. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 22, 2018

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Mocha

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Mini lop

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Eye Itching
Still Tail
Loss Of Appetite
Pain When Lifted
Stink
Stiffening

My mini lop is old but was fine untill I picked him up his eye was raw and underneath near his testicals and around that area was red raw and had a vile smell it seemed like he was falling apart from the skin out and I would give him baths too sooth and also has a red lesion on the effected eye.. is there a proper diagnosis or is it just his old age of 11 years... can I treat this also we cleaned cage regularly and these little flies would always be attracted to his cage

Feb. 20, 2018

Mocha's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

With a severe infection as you are describing and Mocha’s age you should visit your Veterinarian immediately as I believe that bathing and topical management isn’t going to be sufficient to treat this issue as it is bad going by your description. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 20, 2018

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Lacey

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Lionhead

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6 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Spots
Black Spots

Our 6 month old Lionhead rabbit was scratched through its cage by one of our cats. Since then, the rabbit has acquired dark, raised spots all over its skin. It started at the scratch site and started to spread from there. Now, it is all over the top of her body. At the original scratch site, her fur is very bare and there are a couple other spots where the hair is thinning. Over time, these spots are looking like black fur covering her skin, under her original fur. Is this due to a trauma or does she has an infection from the scratch?

Bacterial Skin Infection Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

Cannanine