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Rabbits/Dewlap slowly getting bigger


dewlap examples 2011 2014
dewlap examples 2011 2  
Hi Dana,
My bunny (7 years old now, spayed when she was adopted at 3 years old) has always had a big lopsided dewlap. A vet tested it years ago and found just fat, no abscesses or fatty tumors. Over time it seems to be getting bigger, though her weight has stayed steady. Attached is a photo comparing 2011 to 2014. (The brown marks in this year's photos are just there because she likes to lick that spot after she finishes eating pellets or treats).

I've never had a bun with a dewlap before so I'm wondering whether or not it's normal for this to happen. It doesn't seem to bother her at all, though recently I started having to help her groom her cheek and ear on her right side because her front paw isn't able to get past the dewlap, which sags more on the right. Her health has been excellent -- her latest blood work did show some values a little high, some a little low, but nothing immediately problematic, just needs to be rechecked in a few months.

Thanks so much for your help!

Dear Shannon,

Some bunnies, no matter how lean, develop real "skirty" dewlaps.  No clear reason except genetics, I suppose.

But do keep checking for anything granular or hard.  If there are abscesses within the dewlap, the chronic infection can cause organ problems (liver and kidney).  And if there is a tumor, then it should be excised.

If the dewlap is actually getting in her way, then dewlap reduction surgery is an option you might discuss with your rabbit-savvy vet.

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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