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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Cobey

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Netherland Dwarf

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Licking Back

My little netherland dwarf rabbit has recently been what either looks like licking his back at bottom and i noticed it to him to have some flakey skin he keeps going to that area ive changed nothing new not sure whats causing it xx

April 10, 2018

Cobey's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It could be a parasite, a bacterial or fungal infection, or another disease that is causing Cobey to display these signs. It would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they will be able to see him, determine what might be going on, and recommend therapy for him.

April 10, 2018

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Jelly Bean❤️

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Lionhead

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12 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching

So we just got a lion head bunny 2 days ago, and it is about 12 weeks old we were told. We are using Timothy hay for the bedding and food as well as a tray of pellets for food, and water of course. I recently started feeling itchy in different areas of my body, and am thinking it’s from our bunny! I noticed she is scratching also, but it’s hard to tell if ya just a normal amount or not. So far, I have been sneezing, wheezing, and dealing with a runny nose whenever I’m nearby or after having held it. I’m really sad to say that I might have to return it, as I don’t know that I will be a very good owner to a pet that needs me to be affectionate when I’m so overcome by all these symptoms! Am I going to be ok?? With all the itching I’m experiencing??

March 26, 2018

Jelly Bean❤️'s Owner


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3320 Recommendations

I am not a Human Physician so I cannot fully advise you of your symptoms but it does sound like you may be allergic to Jelly Bean, try to distance yourself for a few days from Jelly Bean and take an over the counter antihistamine; if your symptoms improve stop taking the antihistamine and be affectionate with Jelly Bean to see if the symptoms return. It is also possible that you may not be allergic to Jelly Bean but to the hay or something else in his environment. I’ve met many Small Animal Veterinarians allergic to different animals and they manage with over the counter antihistamines, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone long term. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 26, 2018

You may be allergic to the hay. Try seeing if someone else in your family can do the cage cleaning and handling the hay.

May 29, 2018

Jennifer

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Abloy

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Flemish Giant

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5 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching Scratching Causing Fur Loss

My rabbit is scratching until its skin is showing. it seems as though it in stress. Can the itching be transmitted to humans & what might the cause. Is these disease curable nor should i Slaughter the Bunny

Feb. 27, 2018

Abloy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Commonly excessive scratching is causes by parasites or a skin infection, in the majority of cases humans have nothing to worry about; without examining Abloy I cannot say what the specific cause of the scratching is as I am unable to take a scraping of the skin for examination to look for parasites etc… Behaviour and other conditions may also cause similar symptoms, I would recommend that visit a Veterinarian before deciding to make any final decisions. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 27, 2018

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No name

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Alaska

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Scratching

My bunny is black. And it scratches itself often. When I try to cuddle it, he tries to lick it or it looks like he tries to bite me. And if I try to cuddle he sometimes turn away from me. And if I try to cuddle he sometimes shaking after, not shaking constantly. But shaking the whole body for some seconds. Maybe he doesnt like being cuddled. Some hair on his body is loose. But it is winter, and my dad says its normal. He didnt do it in summer. Im 16 years old. I think it is Alaska. I live in Norway.

Jan. 14, 2018

No name's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Typically a rabbit scratching may be attributable to parasites, bacterial skin infection, allergies among other causes; it is a vague symptom with a variety of causes and treatments. You should discuss with a Veterinarian for an examination as well as examination of the fur and a skin scraping; without examining your rabbit I cannot give you any direct advice as I cannot determine an underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 15, 2018

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Denzo

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Minilop

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1 1/2 years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Our mini lop was a rescue rabbit and we've had him for one year. He's always been in good health and we are really fussy about looking after him. Recently he bonded with another rescue rabbit who is a purebred lop and since they've been moved to a large enclosure outside, our minilop has got bleeding scratches in his ears and hair loss. But our vet said his ears are in excellent condition - no mites. He is really miserable - can you help us? I have photos but I can't attach them.

Nov. 14, 2017

Denzo's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

There are a few causes for ear scratches and hair loss which include infections, ear mites, other parasites, allergies etc… But given their new living arrangements the scratches and hair loss may be attributable to fighting or over grooming by your purebred lop. It is difficult to determine a cause and it may be a case of separating them (with a partition) to see if there is an improvement in Denzo’s ears if they don’t have contact. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 14, 2017

There is definitely no fighting! We watch them during the day and I check them at night too, and they are a close bonded pair. I hadn't thought about the overgrooming though. I'll watch out for that.

Nov. 14, 2017

Denzo's Owner

Scratching Average Cost

From 454 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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