CVMA-ACMV

Hair Loss in Rabbits

October 24, 2012

If you note any change in your rabbit's usual behaviour, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian in your area that treats rabbits. Veterinarians who have focused their practice on this and other related species are best placed to field any case-specific questions.

Many causes of rabbit skin problems produce similar clinical signs, so professional evaluation is important.

Some causes of hair pulling and skin irritation/itchiness (pruritis) in rabbits include:

  • Pregnancy "NORMAL" behaviour
  • Cheyletiella fur mites - usually associated with a scaly dermatitis with moderate hair loss
  • Ringworm or dermatomycosis (a fungal agent) - usually associated with localized dry, scaling lesions
  • Poor husbandry including:
    • Rough floor surface
    • Contact irritation (use of harsh cleaners for the rabbit hutch or cage)
    • Moisture induced dermatitis associated with colonization by Staphyloccocus aureus bacteria; leading to conditions such as "sore hock" (necrotizing plantar pododermatitis) and suppurative and necrotizing dermatitis
    • Infection with Pasteurella multocida bacteria; leading to mucopurulent dermatitis
  • Nutritional problems such as poor quality or low fibre diets (cause diarrhea and thus increased moisture in fur and around hutch)
  • Stress barbering - local or diffuse (widespread) distribution of lesions
  • Fleas
  • Psoroptes ear mites (rarely, these parasites spread to other areas of the fur apart from the ears, such as thighs or legs)
  • Idiopathic (cause not identified)

Some possible treatment options that might be prescribed include:

  • Trim back nails very short
  • Treat specific cause
  • Keep hutch or cage clean and dry and minimize stress

A rabbit will not normally pull large patches of hair out except during nest building, in pregnancy. This situation would be considered a normal nesting behaviour and would require no treatment.