It is believed that 99 percent of health problems in rabbits would not occur with proper management, which includes good sanitation, feeding high-quality feed, taking time daily to clean and fill water and feed bowls, providing adequate room, cleaning sitting boards, cleaning ears and checking teeth and continually providing protection from cold, heat, wind and rain. Sanitation plays a major tole in the health of your rabbit and cannot be overemphasized. Failure to adhere to good sanitation practices will inevitably result in the development of bacterial and fungal diseases.
It is important to periodically check the genital area of your rabbit for redness and inflammation caused by bacterial infection as a result of unsanitary conditions. Usually this is seen in does and is caused either by a rabbit urinating on herself or urinating in an area and sitting on it. If left unattended during the fly season, the area will draw flies, and maggot infestation may result in the death of the rabbit. Wash the affected area with a mild soap like castile or liquid organic, and dry with a towel in warm weather or with a hair dryer set on low in cold weather. An application of Bag Balm (used for exterior udder problems) or Nitro furazone dressing or ointment will heal the area.
A doe may constantly urinate on her sitting board or in her nest box and sit on it. The board should be washed off and turned over and set in a new place, away from the potty corner. The same is true with regard to a nest box.
During the summer months or days of high humidity, both bucks and does can pick up a chronic moist dermatitis known as wet dewlap. The condition may result in a bacterial or fungal infection with loss of fur on face, dewlap, chin, legs and feet. Fungal and/or bacterial infections are caused by continuous wetting of fur. Sometimes the infection may not be obvious. Check the neck area and chin for possible abscesses which can result from excessive scratching of the affected area. Any slimy fur should be cut away using rounded-tipped grooming or bandage scissors. If the skin is raw, Betadine ointment is good to use as the iodine in it will kill the fungus. You can also apply a baby powder, corn starch or fungus powder to dry the area. Be careful not to allow the rabbit to enhale the powder. Iodine or prescribed antifungal cream like Conofite (Miconazole Nitrate) applied to affected areas will also stop the spread of a fungal infection, especially on the legs and between the toes.
A wet dewlap during cold weather can lead to a respiratory problem, so remedy the problem immediately. Treatment is best done with the rabbit held on its back in a reclining position. Be careful when cutting fur as the skin is so thin and supple that it is very easy to cut it in error.
Abscesses occur from bacterial infections when the skin is broken, usually as a result of sore hocks, punctures, scratches and bites. Abscesses will also develop if sutured area is not medicated daily with Nitrofurazone oitment during and after removal of the sutures. It is important to allow the abscess pockets to heal from the inside out. In chronic cases, a systemic medication should be given orally so that the staph infection will not run rampant throughout the body.