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QUESTION: Hello Dana,

My rabbit has a chronic problem with ear mites. The vet has used Ivermectin  a couple of times over the last few years, but I've mostly been treating it at home with Surolan, which the vet gave me so I wouldn't have to bring her into the office so often. Her problem goes away for about 2 months and then it comes back. However, the Surolan has recently stopped working, so the vet has begun to use some other antibiotic to treat the infection.

Do you know if it's dangerous to treat the mites with Ivermectin every couple of months?  She seems to feel better very quickly after the treatment, but I know it's a pretty harsh treatment. Are there other ways to treat the mites that have less consequences on my rabbit's health?

Thank you, as always, for your help.

ANSWER: Dear Julie,

Can you get Stronghold (selamectin) where you are?  It is a newer drug in the same class as ivermectin, and is quite effective against ear mites.  It can be given every few weeks safely (as can ivermectin).

The main question, though, is...why is bun continually getting ear mites.  Usually this is a sign of a suppressed immune system.  Be sure bun is getting a healthy diet:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/diet.html

and has a clean, stress-free environment.  Have a complete wellness check, including a look at the molars for spurs.  Sometimes a bunny with undetected health problems will manifest with other conditions (e.g., mites) that a healthy rabbit will not show.  Just a thought.

I hope this helps.

Dana

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you, Dana. I've wondered that myself. She has as good a diet as I can possibly give her. I live in Eastern Europe, and sometimes the selection of vegetables isn't so great, but I never give her anything a rabbit isn't supposed to have. She just ends up eating a lot of the same things - broccoli for weeks at a time, for example. I've bought her every brand of hay I could find, but she insists on eating only the cheapest, which is a local brand.

She has free run of the apartment and is never in a cage. Everything is super clean because I'm paranoid about fly strike. The vet gave her a full checkup a couple of months ago and found nothing. She's a big, strong rabbit. He does take his time and check everything out and seems to really care about animals. It's the best I can hope for over here. I will ask about Stronghold or continue with the Ivermectin.
Is there anything (like vitamins) I can give her to help build the immune system?

Thank you so much for your help!!

Answer
Dear Julie,

Did the vet really check *thoroughly* for molar spurs?  Because they can be subtle, and the signs she's showing really make me think:  Dental problems!

Please see:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/dental.html

for pictures and information on this.

Rabbits manufacture most of their own vitamins, so I doubt that will help.  But B-complex can stimulate appetite and support liver function.  You might want to ask your vet about that.

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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