Itching And Scratching In Rabbits: 9 Things That May Cause Your Pet Rabbit To Itch

 Rabbits are quite demanding creatures. They love to groom themselves and will get a few scratches. It's important to know what's normal for your rabbit, so you can spot potential problems early. Scratching more than normal, excessive grooming, having dandruff or losing hair can be signs of a parasitic infestation. The parasites that affect rabbits most frequently are mites and fleas.

Itching And Scratching In Rabbits
Itching And Scratching In Rabbits

 Rabbits shouldn't scratch more than you would. If your pet rabbit seems excessively itchy and scratches a lot, he has a problem that needs to be addressed. Various issues, from dust mites to allergies, can cause rabbits to itch and scratch, but luckily they can be treated.

This is an informative article. Nodisk One is not permitted to make a diagnosis or recommend any form of veterinary care. If your pet is in pain or ill, we recommend that you take him to the vet.

What Is Scratch?

 You may see your rabbit scratching for relief, frantically lifting its leg to scratch its ear, or furiously biting its side until its fur falls out. In reality, scratching in rabbits is very similar to scratching in cats and dogs. It's normal for rabbits to scratch, but if you observe your rabbit biting or scratching relentlessly, a health issue may be to blame and you should contact your veterinarian immediately. A visit is warranted any time your rabbit seems distressed or uncomfortable. The vet will diagnose the cause of your rabbit's itching and then determine the best way to treat it.

 Rabbit pruritus is another name for scratching. With this condition, there is frequently a lot of chewing, licking, rubbing, and scratching. It frequently causes inflamed and painful areas on the skin.

What Is Normal Skin For A Rabbit?

 Most of the time, your rabbit's fur should be silky and smooth. However, rabbits molt (shed) regularly. Around five months, a transitional coat takes the place of their baby coat. After that, the adult coat develops, and rabbits usually moult twice a year (spring and fall). Because domestic rabbits are raised under very different conditions than wild rabbits, they can have varying molting patterns.

What Is Normal Skin For A Rabbit?
What Is Normal Skin For A Rabbit?

 Domestic rabbits may seem to moult almost constantly. A moult usually starts at the head and spreads down the length of the rabbit. Some rabbits don't follow this pattern, shedding their fur in random spots. It's a good idea to get your rabbit used to grooming, so that if she sheds, you can help her by grooming her.

Symptoms Of Itching And Scratching In Rabbits

 Your rabbit's skin is a very important part of its overall health. Skin conditions are not only common, they can be irritating and life-threatening. Additionally, some skin conditions are contagious to humans. It's crucial that you get in touch with your veterinarian right away if you notice any of the symptoms listed below:

  • Hair loss
  • Inflamed or painful skin
  • Self-barber
  • Self-inflicted trauma
  • Severe chewing
  • Severe itching
  • Harsh licking
  • Severe friction
  • Severe scratching

 If your rabbit exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, call the clinic right away. If left untreated, a skin condition can progress quickly and become serious.

Why Do Rabbits Itch And Scratch?

 Pruritus is the medical term for severe scratching and itching in animals. This may occur in a rabbit as a result of infections, dry skin, allergies, or parasites in the skin, ears, or fur. Whatever the cause, it is important to address it immediately for your rabbit's health and peace of mind.

Why Do Rabbits Itch And Scratch?
Why Do Rabbits Itch And Scratch?

1. Fur Mites

 There are tiny mites called Cheyletiella parasitivorax that live in rabbit fur. Cheyletiella mites are blood-sucking parasites that bite your rabbit for food, causing it to itch and scratch.

 Fur mites are also called "walking dandruff" because they are often seen moving the dead skin of rabbits, creating the appearance of mobile skin cells. They may start in a small area of your rabbit, but if left untreated they can spread all over their fur, the environment they live in, and other rabbits and pets.

 Even if your rabbit never goes outside, he can pick up dust mites from food or bedding you bring into your home.

2. Lice

 Although not as common as some other parasites, lice infest rabbits. They are species-specific, so humans and other non-rabbit pets cannot catch them.

3. Lice Or Fleas

 Many people don't think rabbits can get fleas, but they can. Fleas, like fur mites, are blood-sucking parasites that bite rabbits, causing them to itch and scratch.

 Female fleas lay up to 50 eggs a day, so even if you only see one or two adult fleas on your rabbit, they've probably already laid hundreds of eggs. Fleas also bite humans, but female fleas generally cannot produce viable eggs when human blood is their only food source.

 Like outdoor rabbits, indoor rabbits can contract fleas. Other pets in the house can give your rabbit fleas and they can be tracked from outside. Fleas can also enter homes, as can other insects, such as ants.

 You can find fleas and flea dirt with the aid of a flea comb. Flea dirt is cylindrical feces that turn red if rubbed with a damp cotton swab. This is a good trick to distinguish digested blood from normal environmental dirt.

4. Dry Skin

 Your rabbit may develop dry skin, which can be itchy and scratchy. Rooms with very low humidity, dusty environments, poor diet, and bathing your rabbit too often or using improper shampoos can all contribute to your pet's dry skin. If you can pinpoint the cause of dry skin, you should be able to reverse it. For temporary relief, ask your veterinarian to recommend a spray product that is safe for rabbits.

5. Ear Mites

 Psoroptes cuniculi are mites that cause itching and scratching. They can be passed from rabbit to rabbit, so wash your hands after handling a rabbit with itchy ears. You may notice hair loss around the ears and/or scabs, or the rabbit's ears may look particularly dirty. Head tilt, droopy ears, and head shaking are also signs of a mite infestation, which doesn't always affect both ears. Take your rabbit to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms.

6. Allergies

 Just like humans, some rabbits are allergic to certain substances that itch and scratch them. Usually, these allergies are environmental and not food, so you can make changes to bedding, litter, cleaning solutions, and air purifiers to make your rabbit more comfortable in the home.

 Common environmental allergens include dust in some litters or in rabbit hay, as well as fabric softeners and detergents used on blankets.

 Rabbits can also be allergic to parasites such as dust mites and fleas. This will make an infestation of these parasites even more irritating to your pet.

7. Skin Irritants

 In addition to allergies, rabbits can be irritated by certain products, especially if they are not intended for rabbits. Shampoos, conditioners, sprays, and air fresheners can all cause irritation to your rabbit's skin. If you use a new product, like shampoo, and your rabbit is itchy the next day, it may be because it was too harsh on your rabbit's skin. This is often the case with dog products that are used on rabbits.

8. Ringworm

 Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects rabbits and results in hair loss, itching, and red "ringworm" lesions. It is primarily brought on by two types of organisms, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum canis.  Ringworm can also affect people. ringworm of a rabbit.

 The main cause of ringworm, along with mites and fleas, is direct contact with an infected rabbit. When bringing a new rabbit into your home, keep it separate from your other rabbits until you are sure he has no infection. Rabbits can also get ringworm from dirty environments and from brushes that have been used on an infected rabbit.

9. Skin Infections

 Scald from urine and feces that have been in prolonged contact with your rabbit's skin and generally dirty environments can cause a skin infection in your rabbit. The infected area may become red, inflamed and very itchy and should be treated immediately.

What Mites Do Rabbits Suffer From?

 They are very small parasites that live or burrow into the skin. The two most commonly affected rabbits are mites (Psoroptes) and fur mites (Cheyletiella).

What Mites Do Rabbits Suffer From?
What Mites Do Rabbits Suffer From?

Fur Mites (Cheyletiella Or "Walking Dandruff")

 The fur mite, Cheyletiella, is often referred to as "walking dandruff". They are 0.5mm in size and therefore may be visible to the naked eye, but are made more obvious because as they move across the surface of the skin they carry dead skin with them, giving the impression that dandruff works. Scabs, clumps of hair loss, and itching are additional signs.

 They are transmitted from other rabbits or via infested litter, but it is also completely normal for rabbits to carry a few mites. Individuals vary in their response to mites and it is when the numbers spiral out of control that the signs appear. It can happen for no underlying reason, but is often linked to obesity, arthritis, or dental disease.

 These problems have an impact on grooming practices, allowing numbers to increase. A poorly functioning immune system can also allow dust mites to thrive. It is important to look for general signs such as weight loss, lack of appetite and changes in bowel movements. As rabbits are prey animals, it is in their nature to hide their weakness, so these signs can be subtle.

 Treatment is by spot treatment or injection as advised by your veterinarian. There are many spot treatments sold that are ineffective, so always seek advice from a veterinarian before applying anything yourself. Some spot treatments for other pets are very dangerous for rabbits (like Frontline and its equivalents), which if applied can be fatal. A veterinary exam is recommended to confirm the mite and look for any underlying health issues.

 Although these mites cannot live on humans, they can cause irritation and skin signs in some people, so care should be taken when handling affected rabbits.

Ear Mites (Psoroptes Cuniculi)

 The mites can cause rabbits to scratch their ears intensely, causing hair loss around the ears and head, and thick, painful scabs in the ear. Sampling and microscopic examination may be necessary to differentiate other causes of ear disease. Thick scabs can lead to ear infections, causing more pain and signs such as head tilt.

 The treatment is done by a veterinary spot-on or by injection. Again, it is very important never to use any formula without first discussing it with your veterinarian. The scabs that form can be extremely painful, which is why your vet may also prescribe pain medication. They should not be removed as this will only expose raw and ulcerated tissue. If they do not resolve naturally, softening agents may be advised later. The mite is very contagious, so all rabbits should be treated and the environment disinfected.

Harvest mites (Neotrombicula autumnalis)

 Harvest mite larvae can affect rabbit ears, skin around the eyes, feet and anus. As the name suggests, it is seen in the fall, usually in rural areas. They can be extremely irritating and lead to self-trauma. Although spots and injections can be used, data on effectiveness are sketchy. Source removal is best. The mite can be seen with the naked eye as a small orange spot and confirmed under a microscope.

Very rarely, rabbits suffer from other mites like the Sarcoptes mite.

How To Diagnosis, Treat, And Recover From Scratching In Rabbits

Diagnosis Of Scratching In Rabbits

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

Diagnosis Of Scratching In Rabbits
Diagnosis Of Scratching In Rabbits

 Next, she will perform blood tests as well as a fungal culture to check for underlying causes that may be affecting your rabbit and causing her itching. If allergies are suspected to be the reason your rabbit is scratching, your vet will perform an allergy screen and may need to perform other tests to determine the cause of the reaction.

  • Allergen blood tests
  • Dietary trials using a hypoallergenic diet
  • Skin tests

 It is important to note that there may be times that after performing complete and thorough examinations, the underlying cause of your pet's itching is not fully determined. When this happens, your veterinarian will usually prescribe a treatment option based on your rabbit's symptoms to help control their discomfort.

Treatment Of Scratching In Rabbits

 Once your vet determines the cause of the scratches in your rabbit, they will share their findings with you, decide on the best treatment option, and begin treating your rabbit. If your rabbit has any allergies, he will be prescribed an antihistamine and any identified allergens will be removed from his food or environment.

Treatment Of Scratching In Rabbits
Treatment Of Scratching In Rabbits

 If your vet suspects skin tumors, they will perform a cancer screening test and 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 provide your rabbit with parasite treatment. Your veterinarian will prescribe treatments like ointments for the affected area if your rabbit has itchy or inflamed skin.

Recovery From Scratching In Rabbits

 Once your rabbit is on the road to recovery, continue to provide healthy food, fresh, clean water, plenty of exercise, and a hygienic environment. It is also important to note that applying a topical cream or using soaps or other products containing alcohol, benzoyl and iodine can sometimes cause itching or pain. In this case, it is recommended to use a clean, cool cloth to help stop the itching and soothe the pain. Never use anything on your rabbit's skin without a veterinary approval.

Related Questions About Itching and Scratching in Rabbits

Do Rabbits Get Fleas?

 Yes, but fleas do not stay on the body for long. They hop to bite and feed, then hop again laying eggs in the environment, only returning to the host when they need another blood meal. Although rabbit fleas exist, it is more often the cat flea, or sometimes the dog flea, that affects them. Individual rabbits vary in how much irritation and itching they find in the presence of fleas.

 As a large part of the problem is in the environment, this needs to be addressed as well. Spot treatments used for dogs and cats can be fatal in rabbits, so always ask your veterinarian for advice about these and environmentally safe treatments. Always remove the rabbit during treatment from the environment and change its litter. If domestic dogs and cats are treated regularly, fleas are often less of a problem in rabbits.

 Fleas and biting insects like mosquitoes can spread a deadly disease called myxomatosis. Fortunately, vaccination can stop this disease from spreading. Talk to your veterinarian about protecting your rabbit.

Do rabbits get lice?

 Lice are rare, usually seen in large colonies, young rabbits, or sick and dilapidated rabbits. They may not cause any signs, but may be itchy. They are visible to the naked eye so your vet can confirm the diagnosis and provide treatment, as well as look for any underlying issues.

Do rabbits get ringworm?

 Ringworm, which is a fungus, can also cause itching in addition to hair loss. It is rare in pet rabbits, but can be seen in young rabbits, especially living in poor environments, or secondary to other health conditions. Handling infected rabbits carefully is important because ringworm can infect humans.

In Conclusion: How to Prevent Itches and Scratches?

 Often, your rabbit's itching can be avoided by keeping its environment clean. The freezing recommendation for all rabbit supplies is a great place to start, as is using fragrance-free laundry products for all washable rabbit bedding.

 Beyond that, make sure your rabbit's cage is as clean as possible. Daily and weekly maintenance can make a significant difference in your pet's health and prevent many skin infections. When bathing your rabbit, only use products made specifically for rabbits.

How to Prevent Itches and Scratches?
How to Prevent Itches and Scratches?

 It's also a good idea to examine your rabbit's coat regularly. This will help you easily recognize any abnormalities and take immediate treatment measures, which can prevent an infestation, ear problem or skin problem from getting worse.

 At the same time, take precautions for all other pets in your home, regularly using products such as flea preventatives. Be sure to expose your rabbit to other animals that could also transmit any of these issues, especially if he is kept outdoors or allowed outside.

Only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, are used by Nodisk One to substantiate the information in our articles.