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Rabbits/coccidia, ponazuril, cleaning, gut rebuilding


I have 5 house rabbits and one started having GI problems last October, a couple of months after we adopted a shelter bunny that I tried bonding with him.

Since then, the others have all gotten ill as well, with one rabbit dying of a mysterious heart attack and brain hemorrhage (I had 6). All have had bloating, stasis,  and poop problems (from small and straining to diarrhea). We've also had a respiratory infections, two ear infections, eye ulcers -- all in rabbits who have never previously had a problem. I went through theories about mycotoxins, food intolerances, tapeworm, pinworms, inulin, etc. until the vet finally found coccidia in their stools a few months ago.

I read all your answers online about coccidia and administered two rounds of ponazuril, the second ending about 5 weeks ago. The one with the longest history of problems also had two rounds of fenbendazole in case of worms. However, the digestive problems persist and the vet has just found more coccidia in stools (and clostridium and yeast).

One question is, do you still recommend the 50 mg/kg dose for 5 days? We did that the first round, and it caused pain and bloating for all of them, so we went down to 35 mg/kg and 3 days for the second round 5 days later. How often could/should we repeat that?

Are there other medications they should be on? The long-term sufferer also had 5 days of metronidazole, but his diarrhea seemed to get much worse on it, so we stopped. One who was going downhill quickly is now on trimethoprim sulfa to hold the  clostridium and coccidia and an ear infection at bay until we get results from an ear and fecal culture. I did give him one dose of ponazuril at 20 mg/kg but felt it might be too harsh to do the full 3-day treatment. Is just one day likely to do any good (or harm, as in resistance?).

I have thrown away hundreds of dollars of blankets and floor mats and cardboard houses, feeling I could never disinfect them properly, and have gone crazy with cleaning and laundry (washing with ammonia and running through several drying cycles on highest heat). I don't know if any of it is doing any good. These are free roam bunnies in a carpeted household -- pulling up the carpet is next. Is cleaning the environment a lost cause? Even the vacuum cleaner seems no longer a tool for hygiene, but rather an instrument for spreading coccidia oocysts from one small area to the entire house! And shoes.....aaack :-(

One more thing  -- anything you can recommend to rebuild damaged intestinal tracts? I have heard l-glutamine and beet pulp may help.

Thanks for any help you can offer. I have left out a lot of details of our journey this year, but it has been a nightmare and we are all ready for it to be over.


Dear Petra,

Okay, this may sound odd.  But is the vet 100% sure the fecals show coccidia, and not just yeast overgrowth?  Some vets who are not very experienced with rabbits can sometimes misidentify yeast as coccidia.  Just a thought.

We've never had bloating or discomfort from ponazuril, though I suppose if it caused a massive die-off of coccidia in the intestine that the host could suffer a reaction to that.  Just not enough information on it yet.  But bloating is something I've not heard of happening before.

The addition of the shelter rabbit could be a Red Herring.  It's possible that at their age, your other bunnies are simply showing signs of health problems that had been brewing for a long time, or just tend to show up with age.  You don't mention how old they are.

Has the vet checked their teeth for problems such as molar spurs?  This can cause enough pain/stress to elicit GI tract slowdown, and that, in turn, can cause cecal dysbiosis, yeast overgrowth, and a whole host of health problems that cascade down from that.

Just some initial thoughts.  You might consider having a fecal done by another vet to get a second opinion on the coccidia, though:

I hope this helps.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


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:

Find a rabbit vet at 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.


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.

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

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

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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