Scratching in Rabbits

Scratching in Rabbits - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Hair Loss / Hairloss / Itching / Licking

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Rated as moderate conditon

7 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Hair Loss / Hairloss / Itching / Licking

Scratching in Rabbits - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Scratching?

You may see your rabbit scratching himself for relief, lifting his leg frantically to scratch his ear, or biting his side furiously until his fur falls out. Scratching in rabbits is really no different than scratching in cats and dogs. It is normal for rabbits to scratch themselves, but if you observe your rabbit biting or scratching himself relentlessly, a health issue may be the reason and you should contact your veterinarian immediately. A visit is warranted any time your rabbit looks distressed or uncomfortable. The veterinarian will diagnose what is causing your rabbit's itchiness and then determine the best way to treat it.

Scratching in rabbits is also known as pruritus. This is a condition that often results in intense chewing, itching, licking, rubbing, and scratching. It frequently causes inflamed and sore areas on the skin.

Scratching Average Cost

From 454 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Scratching in Rabbits

Your rabbit's skin is a very important part of his overall state of health. Skin conditions are not only common, they can be irritating, as well as life threatening. In addition, some skin conditions are contagious to humans. If you observe any of the following symptoms listed below it is important that you contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • Hair loss
  • Inflamed or sore skin
  • Self barbering
  • Self inflicted trauma
  • Severe chewing
  • Severe itching
  • Severe licking
  • Severe rubbing
  • Severe scratching

If your rabbit is showing any of the symptoms listed above, call the clinic without delay. If left untreated, a skin condition may progress quickly and can become serious.

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Causes of Scratching in Rabbits

The most common cause for scratching in rabbits is usually parasites. Other causes for scratching in rabbits include:

  • Abscesses
  • Allergies
  • Bacterial and fungal dermatitis
  • Dandruff
  • Ear mites
  • Fleas
  • Fur mites
  • Lice
  • Mange
  • Myiasis
  • Pin worms
  • Skin tumors
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Diagnosis of Scratching in Rabbits

When you arrive at the veterinarian office, your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination to find out the exact cause of your rabbit's scratching. The first thing your veterinarian will want to do is examine your rabbit's hair and skin for signs of parasites or other infectious skin conditions. 

Next, she'll perform blood tests as well as a fungal culture to check for any underlying causes that may be affecting your rabbit and causing his itchiness. If allergies are suspected to be the reason for your rabbit scratching, your veterinarian will screen for allergies and may need to conduct further testing to determine what is causing the reaction.

  • Allergen blood tests
  • Diet trials using an hypo-allergenic diet
  • Skin Tests

It's important to note that there may be times after conducting complete and thorough examinations that the underlying cause for your pet’s itchiness may not be fully determined. When this occurs your veterinarian will usually prescribe a treatment option based on your rabbit’s symptoms  to help control his discomfort.

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Treatment of Scratching in Rabbits

Once your veterinarian has determined the cause of scratching in your rabbit, she will let you know her findings, decide what the best treatment option is, and begin treating your rabbit. If your rabbit has allergies, an antihistamine will be prescribed and any identified allergen will be removed from your rabbit’s diet or environment. If your veterinarian suspects skin tumors she will test for cancer and a treatment will be based on the results. For parasites, your veterinarian will recommend that your rabbit's housing be thoroughly cleaned inside and out, and will provide your rabbit with a parasite treatment. If your rabbit has irritated or inflamed skin, your veterinarian will prescribe treatments such as ointments for the affected area.

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Recovery of Scratching in Rabbits

Once your rabbit is on the road to recovery, continue to provide him with a healthy diet, clean fresh water, plenty of exercise, and a hygienic environment. It's also important to note that sometimes applying a topical cream, or using soaps or other products that contain alcohol, benzoyl, and iodine may make your rabbit itch more or cause pain. In this case, it's recommended that you use a clean cool rag to help stop the itching and soothe the pain. Never apply anything to your rabbit’s skin without veterinary approval.

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Scratching Average Cost

From 454 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Scratching Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Indian pariah

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Seven meanths

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Itching

I watch my bunny of few weeks that he itching his ears very badly and many times. I use calendula ointment for vet prescrib

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he is still scratching at his ears, he may have a parasite, and he may need stronger medications. It would be best to call your veterinarian, let them know that the problem is still going on, and see what medications they recommend. I hope that all goes well for your rabbit.

July 28, 2020

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Lionhead

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Itching, Obsessive Licking/Cleaning

My rabbit was spayed on 7/15/2020. She has started to obsessively clean/lick and seems really itchy as the incision is healing. What do I do to stop her from itching? I'll be calling the vets when they open and hope they wool help, but for now I put a sleeve over her like a sweater so she can't get at her incision. My other rabbit was spayed on the same day and I came home to find her in her cage on 7/22/2020 in blood and her intestines coming out of her. I'm devastated. I don't know what happened, but I fear she itched and tore herself open. I can't go through that again.

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello I'm sorry about your other rabbit. It sounds like you have done well by putting something on her that is protective and she cannot lick at her incision. I recommend keeping that on until you get back to her vet. Her sutures may be causing some itchiness and irritation. Hope she feels better soon.

July 24, 2020

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Lion head

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hairless Area

He has a hot spot looking spot on his side. Doesn’t appear to be infected but has been there for over a week now.

July 22, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Hot spots by definition are actually a superficial skin infection, so I'm not sure if that is what is going on with him. If he has an area on skin that is chronically inflamed, has hair loss, has an odor to it, or he is scratching it, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. There are some skin parasites or mites that can cause that, and he may need treatment to make it better. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 22, 2020

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Tomato

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Netherland Dwarf

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Two Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Liking, Scratching

My bunny keeps scratching behind his ear, and keeps liking it, when he is not scratching his ear, he seems fine and I don’t see any dandruff or flakey skin where he is scratching. I got him at a flea market yesterday and the person said tomato doesn’t need any shots or vet, I’m pretty sure he lied, He gave us a quart ziploc bag of food and I don’t know what it’s called. I don’t know his age so I just put two days which I’m sure is not true. Tomato is a male. I’m worried and I need and answer please!

May 28, 2018

Tomato's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Rabbits may scratch due to behaviour or due to issues like infections, parasites or other types of irritation; you should check inside the ears to make sure they are clean and free of debris. You should also visit a Veterinarian for a general examination and for vaccination since there are some nasty diseases in some areas; also take any remaining food you have to the pet shop and have them identify it so you can continue feeding it and get some timothy hay as well. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 29, 2018

Thank you!

May 29, 2018

Tomato's Owner


HI, your bunny does need a trip to the vet. It is very important for them to get a health check-up, and usually a neuter is a good idea because even if they are an only bunny. It helps with their behavior and health as they get older. And, rabbits require 80% of their diet to come from timothy hay. Please talk to a vet the specializes in rabbits, to get a better understanding of what you'll need. Lastly, rabbits need a lot of room to run around. The standard pet-store cages are not big enough. Good luck!

May 29, 2018

Jennifer

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Ricky Bobby

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English Spot

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Itching

Our bunny scratches, licks and chews a fair amount of the time. We've had him checked by our vet and mites and fleas were ruled out. We tried an anti itch shampoo which also didn't work. If he does have a food allergy, what food would you suggest? He is currently on Oxbow Adult Rabbit pellets. Thank you!

April 25, 2018

Ricky Bobby's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Whilst parasites are common causes for scratching in rabbits; other causes including allergies, environment (humidity) among other causes. Diets for rabbits don’t really vary that much due to their dietary requirements; you should try experimenting with removing different vegetables to see if there is any improvement after a week or so. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 26, 2018

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Marlon

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Rex Mix?

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Scratching
Constant Grooming
Little Bit More Lethargic

Recently my rabbit Marlon has been itching his chin, ear and that sort of area. I checked today to just see if I saw any ear mites or anything like that but all I seemed to find was a little of what seemed to be matted fur. Marlon has lately in the past few days, after moving there x pen up to my room, he has been flopping a lot more and seems to be more relaxed at times... not sure if he just really likes my room, or there's something wrong with him... I also have another rabbit (who is bonded to Marlon) but she doesn't seem to be having any of these symptoms. They are housed indoors in a pretty big enclosure and have a proper diet(Orchard grass Hay, Oxbow Timothy pellets, 2 cups of greens a day, as instructed by a Vet, and unlimited fresh water provided in a large bowel.) so I have pretty much ruled out that factor. Im honestly stumped on what this matted fur could be, fungal infection, or just plain old matted fur! When I adopted Marlon he had already been checked for ear mites, and had a surgery on his eye, because of a large infections that took over (Luckily he is fully recovered from that surgery now because it has been a little over a year) I am the slightest bit worried that it could be something more than matted fur because I work with a rabbit rescue and there are always rabbits coming in with all sorts of infections... and I'm worried that some of those infections the rescue rabbits had I would be bringing home to my bunnies. Any suggestions on what it could be would be great!!!!

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Teddy

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mini rex

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10 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Licking
Biting Himself

I’m not really sure if he’s itching because he’s sick. He just nips himself, and sometimes scratches his face. My friends sister owns a animal rescue that I bought my rabbit from, and she says it’s normal. I don’t know if he is just grooming himself, because it’s shedding season. My parents won’t pay for the vet. Is there anything I can do? I got him a little bit over 1 week, he lives outside, and he sleeps most of the time. He’s a Mini Rex.

Scratching Average Cost

From 454 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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