CVMA-ACMV

Fleas in Rabbits

October 24, 2012

Flea infestations in rabbits are much less common than infestations with other parasites such as mites.

Wild rabbits have their own rabbit flea, Spilopsyllus cuniculi. If your pet rabbit plays out in your backyard or field, they may pick up this type of flea. These fleas generally prefer to be around the ears and face of the rabbit.

Sometimes rabbits catch the common cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. Less frequently they may become infested with the dog flea, Ctenocephalides canis. These fleas tend to distribute themselves along the topline of the rabbit, especially congregating down near the base of the tail.

Fleas cause itchiness, and when a flea-infested rabbit scratches with his strong claws, he may pull fur out or leave red marks in the skin.

Some rabbits become allergic to fleas and develop a dermatitis which can become infected with bacteria and lead to hair loss along the topline, and/or a raw irritated appearance of the skin. Specific therapy may be required for this type of allergy.

Specific flea treatments are not currently licensed for rabbits, but your veterinarian may use a product such as imidacloprid or selamectin extra-label.

If fleas are present in the environment, all pets should be treated and the area should also be carefully cleaned and treated. Your veterinarian will advise you regarding the optimal treatment regimen for your particular situation.