11 Common Rabbit Illnesses and Their Symptoms: A Comprehensive Guide

Rabbit owners know that keeping their furry friends healthy is a top priority. Understanding common rabbit illnesses and their symptoms is crucial in maintaining your pet’s wellbeing. In this article, we will discuss some of the most frequently encountered health issues that rabbits may face.

As a responsible pet owner, being vigilant and monitoring your rabbit’s behavior and physical condition is key.

Recognizing early warning signs of potential health problems can make a significant difference in addressing the issue promptly.

Proactively seeking professional advice on preventive measures can also minimize the risks associated with these illnesses.

By exploring the common rabbit diseases and their symptoms, you will be better equipped to spot any unusual occurrences and take appropriate action. Your rabbit’s health and happiness depend on your care and attention. Stay informed and be ready to act when necessary to ensure your pet’s wellbeing.

General Health Concerns in Rabbits

Rabbits are popular pets due to their cute appearance and gentle nature. However, like any animal, they can be susceptible to various illnesses. Being aware of common rabbit diseases and their symptoms is key to ensuring your pet’s well-being.

One prevalent illness in rabbits is known as rabbit snuffles. This is a respiratory infection characterized by nasal discharge, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. If you notice these symptoms in your rabbit, consult a veterinarian promptly.

Gastrointestinal (GI) problems are another area of concern. A healthy rabbit’s digestive system should function smoothly.

Signs of GI issues include reduced appetite, lethargy, and small or irregular feces. Proper diet and hydration can help prevent these problems, but if symptoms persist, seek professional advice.

Dental issues can also plague rabbits due to their constantly growing teeth. Overgrown or misaligned teeth may cause drooling, difficulty eating, or facial swelling.

Regular check-ups with your vet can detect and treat dental problems before they worsen.

Parasites are another common health concern among rabbits. Ear mites, skin mites, and fleas can cause itching, hair loss, and discomfort.

Keep your rabbit’s living space clean and check for pests routinely. If you suspect an infestation, consult your vet for the best treatment options.

Lastly, rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) is a severe and highly contagious illness. It affects the liver and blood vessels, leading to rapid decline and often death. RHD has no known cure, so it’s crucial to vaccinate your rabbit and practice good hygiene to minimize the risk of infection.

Remember, if you are ever concerned about your rabbit’s health, it’s better to err on the side of caution and consult a veterinarian. Proper care and vigilance can help keep your pet healthy and happy for years to come.

Dental Disorders

Rabbits can suffer from various dental disorders that may impact their health and well-being.

One of the most common rabbit dental issues is malocclusion, which occurs when the teeth don’t align properly, causing overgrown teeth.

Dental disease in rabbits is often a result of inadequate diet, improper wear of teeth, or even genetic factors.

Abscess and Tooth Root Abscess

An abscess is a localized accumulation of pus caused by a bacterial infection. In rabbits, dental abscesses can occur in the tooth root, leading to painful swelling and infection.

If left untreated, tooth root abscesses can cause severe damage to the surrounding bone and potentially lead to systemic infections.

Tooth root abscesses in rabbits can be challenging to treat, as they often require a combination of surgical intervention, antibiotics, and proper dental care.

It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian experienced in treating rabbit dental issues to ensure the best outcome for your pet.

Malocclusion and dental disease can lead to overgrown teeth, which can result in numerous complications.

Overgrown teeth may cause your rabbit to have difficulty eating, leading to weight loss, or even injury if it pierces their cheek or tongue.

Regular dental check-ups can help identify and address these issues before they become severe.

Taking care of your rabbit’s dental health involves providing a proper diet, with an emphasis on high-quality hay to promote natural tooth wear.

Regular veterinary visits, including dental examinations, are crucial for ensuring the early detection and treatment of dental disorders in your pet rabbit.

Respiratory Illnesses


Snuffles, also known as pasteurella, is a common respiratory infection in rabbits, caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida.

If your rabbit has snuffles, you might notice symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, and congestion.

It is crucial to seek veterinary care, as untreated pasteurella can lead to pneumonia or other severe health issues.


Myxomatosis is a severe viral disease affecting rabbits. Typical symptoms include swelling of the eyes, ears, and genital area, along with a respiratory infection.

Unfortunately, myxomatosis is often fatal, and there is no cure for the disease. However, vaccinating your rabbit can help prevent infection and minimize the risk of illness.

Remember to consult your veterinarian for proper guidance on vaccinations and overall rabbit healthcare.

Digestive System Disorders

GI Stasis

GI stasis, or gastrointestinal stasis, is a common issue in rabbits, where their digestive system slows down or stops. This can lead to serious health problems.

Feeding your rabbit a diet rich in hay and fiber can help prevent GI stasis. To spot GI stasis, look for symptoms like:

  • Reduced or no appetite
  • Smaller, fewer, or no droppings
  • Lethargy and hunched posture


Diarrhea can be dangerous for rabbits, as it may lead to dehydration and other complications. One cause of diarrhea in rabbits is an imbalance of the gut bacteria.

Ensure your rabbit has access to fresh water and a diet high in fiber to support healthy gut bacteria and prevent diarrhea. Symptoms of diarrhea include:

  • Watery or soft droppings
  • Soiled fur around the hindquarters
  • Weight loss and lethargy

Hairball Issues

Rabbits can’t vomit, so hairballs can pose a significant risk to their health.

Feeding them a diet high in fiber, especially hay, can help prevent hairballs from forming.

Regular grooming can also minimize the amount of hair ingested by your rabbit. Hairball issues may present symptoms like:

  • Reduced appetite or weight loss.
  • Swollen abdomen, possibly indicating bloat.
  • Straining during defecation, which may also indicate bladder stones or sludge.

Skin and Fur Issues

Rabbit owners should be aware of potential skin and fur issues that can affect their pets’ health. In this section, we will discuss two common problems: Fleas and Ticks, and Ear Mites.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause discomfort and skin problems in rabbits. If you notice your rabbit scratching excessively or losing fur, it is essential to check them for these parasites.

  • Fleas typically cause irritation and itchiness for your rabbit, potentially leading to skin infections and hair loss. Regular grooming can help you spot any signs of fleas early on, allowing for prompt treatment.
  • Ticks can attach themselves to your rabbit’s skin, causing pain and potential infections. Be sure to check areas such as the ears and underside of your rabbit when inspecting for ticks.

To prevent infestations, maintain your rabbit’s living space cleanliness and consider using flea and tick treatments designed for rabbits.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are another common parasite affecting rabbits, causing inflammation, itching, and discomfort in their ears. Symptoms of ear mites include:

  • Frequent head shaking and scratching at the ears
  • Crusts and scabs forming on the ear flaps
  • Unpleasant smell originating from the ears

If you suspect your rabbit has ear mites, consult your veterinarian for appropriate treatment options. Regularly cleaning your rabbit’s ears and keeping their environment clean can help prevent infestations.

In addition to these issues, watch out for other skin and fur problems—including mange mites and hairballs—caused by grooming or other skin parasites.

Regularly inspecting your rabbit and taking preventive measures will ensure their skin and fur remain healthy.

Reproductive Health Issues

Uterine Tumors

One reproductive health issue that rabbits may face is uterine tumors. Uterine tumors, also known as uterine cancer, can be a risk for unspayed female rabbits. These tumors are often malignant and can spread to other parts of your rabbit’s body, leading to various health complications.

Some common signs of uterine tumors include weight loss, bloody discharge, and abdominal swelling.

If you notice your rabbit exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian. They may recommend spaying as a treatment option to remove the tumor and minimize the risk of it reoccurring.

Proper care and monitoring are crucial in maintaining your rabbit’s reproductive health. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help detect and address potential issues such as uterine tumors early on, enhancing your rabbit’s quality of life.

Other Common Ailments

Hock Sores

Hock sores, also known as sore hocks, are a common issue that can cause your rabbit pain and discomfort.

These sores typically result from improper flooring, obesity, or inadequate grooming. Some symptoms of hock sores include:

  • Redness or swelling in the affected area
  • Pain when touched or moving
  • Formation of abscesses

To prevent hock sores, ensure your rabbit has a soft surface to rest on and maintain proper grooming habits.


Rabbits are sensitive to high temperatures; heatstroke can quickly become a deadly issue. Some common symptoms of heatstroke in rabbits are:

  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Dehydration and panting

Keeping rabbits in a temperature-controlled environment, providing adequate shade, and ensuring access to fresh water can help prevent heatstroke.

If you notice any signs of heatstroke in your rabbit, it is crucial to take immediate action and consult a veterinarian.

Remember, by being knowledgeable about these common ailments and staying vigilant to any changes in your rabbit’s behavior, you can maintain their health and well-being.

Preventive Measures and Treatments

Proper Nutrition

To maintain your rabbit’s health, it’s essential to provide them with proper nutrition. A balanced diet primarily consists of hay, which should make up about 70% of their daily intake.

Fresh vegetables also play an important role in their diet. Leafy greens like romaine lettuce, kale, and arugula can be offered daily, while starchy vegetables should be limited in their consumption.

Poor nutrition can lead to various rabbit health issues. Make sure to provide clean water at all times, using water bottles designed for rabbits to prevent contamination.


Regular exercise is critical for preventing common health issues in rabbits, such as obesity and gastrointestinal stasis. Rabbits need plenty of physical activity to stay healthy and happy.

Set up a safe space or playpen with toys and activities, allowing your rabbit to roam and stretch their legs daily.

Companionship is also a great way to keep your rabbit active. If they have bonded with another rabbit, make sure to provide them with a space large enough to play and exercise together.

This will not only improve their mental well-being but also promote physical health through socialization and joint activities.

In conclusion, a well-balanced diet and regular exercise are key to maintaining your rabbit’s overall health, which can prevent common illnesses and enhance their quality of life.

Providing the proper nutrition and environment will ensure that your rabbit stays healthy and happy for years to come.


In conclusion, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with common rabbit illnesses and their symptoms. By doing so, you can better care for your rabbit and address any health concerns early on.

Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and ensuring a proper diet can go a long way in keeping your rabbit healthy.

Remember, a healthy and happy rabbit will bring joy and companionship to your home for years to come.


What are the symptoms of common rabbit illnesses?

Some common symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, and breathing difficulties. However, symptoms might vary depending on the specific illness. Consult a veterinarian if anything unusual is noticed.

How can I prevent my rabbit from getting sick?

Keeping their environment clean, providing a balanced diet, fresh water, and space to exercise can help maintain their overall health. Additionally, scheduling regular veterinarian check-ups can help catch any issues early on.

What is GI Stasis and how can it be treated?

GI Stasis is a common gut issue in rabbits, wherein their gastrointestinal system slows down, leading to a buildup of harmful bacteria and gas. To treat GI Stasis, ensure your rabbit is getting enough fiber and consult a veterinarian for appropriate medication.

How can I prevent dental problems in my rabbit?

Providing a proper diet with an adequate amount of hay is essential to prevent dental issues such as overgrown teeth. Regular veterinary examinations can also help detect early signs of dental problems.

Can rabbits get fleas, and how are they treated?

Yes, rabbits can get fleas, just like other animals. It’s important to keep their living space clean, and if you suspect a flea infestation, consult your veterinarian for the appropriate treatment.

Maurice Alice

Dr. Maurice Alice is a veterinary expert with over 10 years of experience in exotic animal medicine, specializing in dental care for rabbits and rodents. He is dedicated to providing exceptional care for his patients and is passionate about promoting animal welfare.

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