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Rabbits/Rabbit Ear Irritation?

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QUESTION: A few weeks ago, I noticed that my mini lop buck was occasionally scratching one ear and shaking his head. I looked into the ear, didn't see any redness or anything, so decided to 'wait and see' (note: we do not have a rabbit-savvy vet in the area).

The situation did not seem to be getting any worse, but it also did not seem to be improving. If I rubbed that ear, he would shake his head, so I decided I needed to intervene. A friend advised that I put mineral oil in the ear, in case it was ear mites deep in the ear where I couldn't see them.

Unfortunately, I didn't know how much mineral oil to put in and put too much. After much head shaking and grooming, I checked the ear to see if there were any signs of mite particles... nothing. I again asked advice and was told to hold him on his back to let the excess oil run out. I did this and it seemed to help. Of course, the poor boy ended up with greasy mineral oil all over himself, but I was told this wouldn't hurt him. That was several days ago.

I checked the ear again yesterday evening (and this morning) and now the base of the ear appears to be reddish and inflamed. Now I'm truly concerned that I caused a problem. I understand this is likely a yeast infection and I want to keep it from getting worse.

What can I do? I read elsewhere about Tresaderm drops? One person said I should put a little Miconazole cream in the ear, but I'm afraid to do that. Is there something I can do to dry up the environment inside the ear?

At least so far, he seems to be healthy and active. He's eating and interested in his surroundings. Is there something (safe) I can do to help his ear recover?

ANSWER: Putting mineral oil in a rabbits ear is always a bad idea.  If an animal has ear mites it does not kill them all and if the ear is infected it can make it worse.  I would also not put Miconazole in the ear unless you know for sure that it is a fungal infection.

Ear mites are pretty easy to treat and whether a vet is rabbit savvy or not they should know that Revolution will kill ear mites and you only need 1 treatment.  If the ear is now red I suspect that there is an inner ear infection which will need antibiotics.  My suggestion is to find any vet that will see rabbits, whether rabbit savvy or not and only ask for treatment for ear mites or a possible ear infection. I would not use any over the counter medications at this point.

You may be able to find a rabbit savvy vet in your area from this list:

http://www.therabbitresource.org/recommended-veterinarians.html

Remember that this list is not all inclusive.  It doesn't hurt to call around to different vets to ask if they treat rabbits.

Good luck

Pam

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

QUESTION: Thank you. I followed the advise of another rabbit person and made an ear wash of 1/2 C distilled water, 1C white vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp rubbing alcohol. Warmed the mixture to skin temperature and did a quick rinse of his ear, letting him shake out the excess and then towel drying around the ear and the outer ear canal. I did that two days ago and he seems much better today.

I'm not sure whether to repeat the rinse, or just let it be, since it seems much better.

The website you provided a link to has nothing even close to my area (which is Beckley, WV). I've called my local vets and some do not treat rabbits at all. I had a bad experience with a vet who CLAIMED to be cavvy savvy a year or so ago - she gave the guinea pig an antibiotic injection (which I later learned was dangerous for cavvys) and put her on an oral antibiotic, telling me she wouldn't need a probiotic. The guinea pig developed watery diarrhea and died just a few days later (while I was out a couple of hundred dollars for my trouble). Now, I'm afraid to trust them with our rabbits and will refrain from taking them there unless it's an absolute last resort.

I'm hopeful that I can, eventually, find someone nearby who is either educated in rabbit treatment, or who is willing to listen and learn.

Answer
I am sorry for your experience.  If you know any breeders from the American Rabbit Breeder's Association or if you are a member yourself you can contact the veterinarian through email.  Most of them know how to treat ear mites.  I can't in good conscious tell you when to repeat the rinse. I prefer to use Revolution but I know there are some breeders that still use ivermectin.  Hopefully the rinse was enough to take care of the problem.

I am happy to hear your bunny is feeling better.

Pam

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Paula Murdock-Briggs

Experience

I am a licensed American Rabbit Breeders Registrar. I do not show rabbits anymore nor do I breed them. I do believe it is important that people that chose to breed rabbits do so with only purebred and genetically sound animals or that they have a thorough understanding of genetics prior to breeding. I have chosen to keep my registars license to help the 4H youth in my area. I do stay current on all breeds, varieties, show rules, regulations of the ARBA. I have spent the past 8 years focusing on rescuing and caring for PET bunnies who were no longer wanted. I am the current CEO of Little Angels Animal Sanctuary, Inc. I was appointed CEO of the rescue organization and sanctuary in 2008. We gained our 501(c)3 IRS tax exemption status in 2012. We have taken on the task of rescuing unwanted PET rabbits as well as some farm animals. I teach genetics and health to the local youth as well as register and promote the breeding of only purebred and genetically sound animals. I rescue PET rabbits. These are rabbits that lived in peoples homes and were either surrendered to us or sent to the auction for meat. While I believe that all bunnies should be pets, I understand that people raise them for other reasons. I will answer questions from anyone, regardless of their purpose. I will reject any questions that are considered unethical or inhumane.

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Little Angels Animal Sanctuary.

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President and CEO of Little Angels Animal Sanctuary, Inc. I have over 10 years of experience working closely with a veterinarian that treats rabbits. We have studied and treated nearly every illness that can affect rabbits.

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