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Rabbits/Bulges at Base of Ears

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Leroy with Bulges
Leroy with Bulges  

Leroy without Bulges
Leroy without Bulges  
Hi Dr. Dana,
  Quite a long while back I asked about the bulges at the base of my mini lop, Leroy's, ears....I did a number of things to address them including Baytril (oral and otic) and Pen G injections. The thing that brought about the best result was Zymox (hydro cortisone free).

  One of the first things that was done to him was a needle aspiration of one of the bulges that yielded nothing but a tiny bit of blood....no pus or infection.

  With that absence of pus or infection, coupled with how quickly the bulges (when they return, on occasion)go back down with the application of the Zymox, I'm wondering if those bulges are merely trapped air?! Another thing I noticed was that during the Zymox treatment, when I would rub Leroy's ears, I would hear a tiny crackling coming from them....like massaging them was helping the air to escape.

   I've been told that rabbits have very straight Eustachian tubes...could that physiology coupled with my Leroy's tendency to get funky and yeasty ears cause air to get trapped in a spot at the base of his ears?

   I'm attaching a photo of him with and without the bulges...perhaps you remember his case....  

  thanks and yerz trooly,
      Ellen

Answer
Dear Ellen

If the Zymox helps, then this is very likely an infection.  Aspiration of rabbit pus will not be fruitful, as it's hard as cheese and will not aspirate (rabbits lack the enzyme that liquefies pus).

When you lift the ear and look inside, is there any sign of inflammation, and can the vet see signs of pus behind the ear drum?  In lops, this is a common problem, as the abnormal ear position reduces air flow and provides a moist, warm environment for opportunistic bacteria to set up shop and cause problems like this.

You can continue with the Zymox for life.  But if this is really chronic and causing him pain, then you might try to find a very rabbit experienced vet and ask about marsupializing the ear. This surgery involves incising the base of the ear to widen the ear opening to allow more air flow and easier flushing.  You can find a description here:

http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Surgery/Ear/ear_surgery.pdf

The pictures are graphic, but the bunny came out fine.  

I hope this helps.

Dana  

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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