Skin diseases in pet rabbits: A retrospective study of 334 cases seen at the University of California at Davis, USA (1984-2004)

Tara S. Snook, Stephen D White, Michelle Hawkins, Lisa A Tell, Laura S. Wilson, Catherine A Outerbridge, Peter J. Ihrke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Rabbits are growing in popularity as companion animals, and dermatology problems are often the presenting complaint when seeing a veterinarian. Hypothesis/Objectives: To document skin diseases and their prevalence in pet domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in northern California, USA; to investigate predilections for breed, age or sex for the most common conditions over a 20 year period. Animals: Three hundred and thirty-four pet rabbits from the overall hospital population met inclusion criteria. Methods: A retrospective study was carried out by searching the computerized medical records of rabbits seen at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) from 1 January 1984 to 31 December 2004 using key words relevant to dermatology. Results: Twenty-nine per cent of pet rabbits seen at the VMTH had skin disease. Lop-eared rabbits were over-represented, whereas mixed-breed rabbits and castrated males were under-represented in the dermatology caseload compared with the hospital population. Pododermatitis was the most common skin disease; abscesses, alopecia, otitis externa and ectoparasites also were common. Several species of bacteria other than Pasteurella spp. were isolated from abscesses. Despite the frequent mention of myxomatosis and venereal spirochetosis in the rabbit literature, few cases (three and two, respectively) were diagnosed. Castrated males were 3.7 times more likely to present with alopecia than intact males; rabbits <1 year of age were 3.6 times more likely to present with Psoroptes infestation/otitis than adult rabbits. Conclusions and clinical importance: Cutaneous conditions in pet rabbits in the USA are common. Bacterial culture should be performed and antibiotic susceptibility determined in all rabbits with abscesses, particularly those not responding to typical anti-Pasteurella antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVeterinary Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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