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Rabbits/Rabbit ear abscess


Dr. Krempels,
I have a situation I would just like to hear your thoughts on.  We have a seven year old lop with severe otitis and have the difficult task of making a decision as to how to proceed.  We understand the surgery to be very high risk ( there is evidence that the infection has spread to the skull), so even with removing the ear canal, it will not be a cure, but would make it more accessible to reach the skull with antibiotics.  I am in no way asking you to make this difficult decision for me, but just wonder about your thought on this.  Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Dear Susanne,

It's pretty much impossible for me to make a recommendation, as every case of otitis is unique.  If the condition could be made better by simply marsupializing the ear, then I'd go for that first.  Ear canal ablation is a MAJOR surgery, and should be a last resort.  (The surgeon who pioneered this in rabbits is, I'm told, no longer doing ablations because he found that they really didn't help in most cases.)

Have you considered trying dual-acting penicillin G/Benzathine injections?  If the abscess is caused by bacteria sensitive to penicillin, this can be a real "miracle drug", though it can take a few weeks to resolve a very solid abscess.

Just some thoughts.  I hope all goes well.

P.S. - Sorry for the delay.  Allexperts site has been down more than up, and every time I have tried to log in for the last 10 days, it has given me a "try again later" message!  They need to get better servers!


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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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