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What are Coccidiosis?

This disease is caused by the transmission of the sporulated oocysts, this is usually due to ingestion of contaminated feed or water. Although many rabbits may be carriers of this parasite, in severe cases symptoms such as weight loss and depression may be seen leading to the deterioration of the pet. As the chance of successful management increases greatly for pets who are treated promptly, it is vital that if you suspect your pet may be suffering from this condition you contact your veterinarian.

Coccidiosis is a common and worldwide sporozoan disease of rabbits caused by the protozoan parasite Eimeria ep. Up to 25 species of coccidian have been observed in rabbits, with two main forms seen, hepatic and intestinal.

Coccidiosis Average Cost

From 420 quotes ranging from $100 - $200

Average Cost

$150

Symptoms of Coccidiosis in Rabbits

Often pets show no symptoms of this disease until severe infection has occurred. Symptoms may include: 

  • Depression
  • Anorexia
  • Anemia
  • Signs of pain such as hunching
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Blood or mucous in the feces 
  • Poor coat condition
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss or poor weight gainor growth
  • In severe cases of intestinal coccidiosis intussusception, convulsions or paralysis or fatality may occur
  • In severe cases of hepatic coccidiosis weakness, liver damage, and bile duct damage may occur, followed by coma

Types

Intestinal Coccidiosis

This condition can occur even in rabbits who receive excellent care and good sanitation. This affects younger rabbits from  a few weeks old to 5 months, particularly newly weaned kits. Risk factors include stress and immunosuppression. 

Hepatic Coccidiosis

This condition is known to have poor sanitation as a risk factor for transmission. This liver form of the disease is known to affect rabbits of all ages. It can lead to distention of the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. In some cases, secondary bacterial infections may occur.

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Causes of Coccidiosis in Rabbits

There are up to 25 different species that can cause this condition in the rabbit. Although many rabbits can carry the protozoa without symptoms, in some cases, the parasite may cause trauma and illness for the pet. The spore enters the intestinal wall of the rabbit following ingestion, this is often through food or water sources infected with fecal matter containing oocytes.

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Diagnosis of Coccidiosis in Rabbits

Your veterinarian will carefully examine your pet, and discuss his history with you. Although this disease often causes changes in the liver and gastrointestinal systems seen on gross examination, diagnosis is often difficult. Your veterinarian may choose to take a fecal sample from your pet and examine this under light microscopy. This examination may reveal oocysts. These can be difficult to differentiate from normal, nonpathogenic yeast (Cyniclomyces guttulatus or Saccharomycopsis guttulatus ), which are commonly seen in fecal examinations. If a severe infection is suspected, radiographs may be taken which may show liver or intestinal blockages or fluid build up.

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Treatment of Coccidiosis in Rabbits

If your veterinarian diagnoses your pet with this condition the aim of treatment will be management of the condition, rather than cure. If your rabbit is suffering from severe dehydration intravenous fluid therapy may be considered. 

For hepatic coccidiosis, oral doses of antiprotozoal agents such as sulfaquinoxaline administered into either the drinking water for 30 days or in the feed for 20 days, may reduce clinical signs. This may decrease symptoms but may not prevent the lesions from forming. 

For intestinal coccidiosis, treatment is similar to that for hepatic coccidiosis. Sulfaquinoxaline is given in the drinking water for 7 days and then repeated after a 7-day interval. Other medications that may be considered are amprolium, salinomycin, diclazuril, and toltrazuril. 

Antibiotic therapy may also be offered to your pet, This does not rid your pet of the parasite but allows your rabbit to develop his immunity system while the protozoa is controlled. Your pet may develop a life long immunity against the species of coccidiosis. Your rabbit may require repeated treatments with regular intervals.

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Recovery of Coccidiosis in Rabbits

The prognosis for rabbits with coccidiosis is good when caught early. For pets with severe infections or who present with signs of liver failure, the prognosis may be guarded. 

In order to give your rabbit the best chance of a successful recovery, excellent sanitation and husbandry is essential. Ideally, putting a sanitation program into place prior to infection is the best method to prevent your pet suffering from rabbit coccidiosis. 

  • Regularly clean your rabbit’s environment
  • The hutch should be kept dry, with the floor, feed hoppers and water crocks kept clear of feces; the wire bottoms should be regularly brushed
  • The cage should be routinely disinfected with a solution that is lethal to oocysts such as ammonia (10%)
  • Provide your rabbit with a nutritionally complete diet that supports his  digestive system
  • Unlimited, quality timothy hay should be offered
  • Reduce stressors for your pet by ensuring overcrowding does not occur and by ensuring he is not exposed to predators or environmental changes 
  • When choosing your pet make sure he comes from a reputable breeder that has allowed the rabbit to stay with the doe for up to ten weeks of age as this provides the young with the essential nutrition to form a healthy gut and immune system
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Coccidiosis Average Cost

From 420 quotes ranging from $100 - $200

Average Cost

$150

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Coccidiosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Veleteen

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7 monarch

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

All of a sudden I have a few who loss weight.they eat hay and pellets.

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Your rabbits may have a parasite that needs to be treated. It would be best to have one or more of them examined by a veterinarian to see what the cause of the weight loss may be, and what treatments might be best for them. I hope that they are okay.

Aug. 4, 2020

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New Zealand cross meat bunnies

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Mom with babies

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hepatic Coccidiosis

I have a momma rabbit with seven 2 1/2 week babies who are jumping out of the nest box now and another mom with 5 day old babies. I have confirmed hepatic coccidiosis in grow outs from one of these moms. (They were originally on the ground and now moved to hanging cages.) I started them on toltrazuril...but what about the babies? I can’t find if I give the 2 1/2 week babies any medicine? I’ve given it for two days, now waiting 5 days and giving it again for 2 days. I’m using 10% ammonia to clean their cages before putting them back in them. Any help is appreciated as I want them all healthy.

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I cannot locate information on age restrictions for sulfa drugs in rabbits I wold be hesitant to give a sulfa drug to a 2 1/2 week old kit, but it may be best to contact a veterinarian well versed in rabbit medicine to confirm the best course of action I hope that all goes well and your rabbits are healthy.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Coccidiosis Average Cost

From 420 quotes ranging from $100 - $200

Average Cost

$150

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