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When people think of fleas they tend to think of just cats and dogs, we often overlook Rabbits and fleas, there causes, symptoms and treatments.

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Rabbits and fleas, Causes, Symptoms and

Treatments: Guide


What is a flea?

Fleas are also able to jump from one pet to

another. If one animal in a household

becomes infested, then the other animals

in that household are at risk. The

infestation can easily spread if pets are

allowed to interact with one another – or

even sleep in the same area. For this

reason, strict quarantine procedures are


When people think of fleas they tend to

think of just cats and dogs, we often

overlook Rabbits and fleas, there causes,

symptoms and treatments. A flea is a

parasite which feeds off mammalian blood.

A flea is a very small creature – you can just

barely see them with the naked eye. Under

a microscope, they look like a very small

arachnid. In order to feed, a flea with

attach itself to a suitable host, bite it and

then proceed to suck its blood.

What are the symptoms of a flea


The first thing to realise about a flea bite is

that they itch a great deal. A rabbit may

therefore begin to scratch the affected

area. They may also lick and bite at it.

Sometimes a rabbit can do this with such

fervour that it actually causes the hair

around the affected area to fall out. If you

notice that your rabbit has developed a

patch of baldness, then it may be that a flea

bite is to blame. The rabbit’s skin may also

become dry and scaly.

The blood loss the host creature will suffer

as a result of a single fleabite is negligible.

Fleas can, however, transmit a variety of

bacteria and other damaging microbes into

a rabbit’s bloodstream, and in sufficient

numbers, they can cause problems with

the host’s blood. Fleas can cause a rabbit

to suffer all kinds of nasty conditions,

among them myxomatosis and anaemia. In

this article we’ll take a look at the ways a

flea bite can affect a rabbit and explore the

options available to those who wish to

guard against them.

While a flea infestation can be problematic

in its own right, it can also bring about a

raft of further complications. Flea bites

hugely increase the risk of a secondary

infection developing. If the infestation is

particularly severe, it can also cause a drop

in the animal’s red blood cell levels – a

condition known as anaemia.

What causes a flea infestation?

Fleas are most active during the spring,

when they feed and lay their eggs. That

said, they are capable of biting a rabbit at

any time of the year; the modern home is

kept warm during the winter, and so




environment for a flea to go about its

business. To make matters worse, many

people are less pro-active during the

winter when it comes to anti-flea

precautions like powder; they assume that,

since the danger is not as severe, they can

afford to relax. This is not the case!

It is important that, if you notice an

infestation, to take the rabbit to the vet as

soon as possible. The rabbit will be in

severe discomfort, and the infestation is

highly unlikely to go away on its own.



Reduce the exposure

How is a flea infestation diagnosed

and treated?

You will need to reduce your rabbit’s

exposure to fleas. The best way to do this

by treating its environment with special

chemicals designed to poison the fleas. You

will need to first remove your rabbit before

proceeding, however; such chemicals can

often be harmful to the rabbit, too.

In some instances, the flea bite itself will be

visible – you might even be able to see the

flea – but only if you look very closely

indeed. In others, however, the rabbit’s fur

will be absolutely crawling with little black

jumping specks. Your vet will be able to

establish for certain whether or not this

represents an infestation of fleas, or

whether other parasites are to blame.

As well as treating your home, you may

wish to treat your pet directly. There are a

raft of special medications available, many

of which come in the form of a gel which

can be applied to the skin. You vet will be

able to offer more detailed advice on

which skin treatment is best for your

rabbit. Consider that all rabbits are of

different sizes and weights and a

medication suitable for a large one may be

dangerous for a small one. Take note of the

probable side effects and if they should

manifest severely, then it may be worth


A vet will, in all likelihood, wish to carry out

further tests in order to establish for

certain that fleas are the cause. In some

instances, these symptoms can be brought

about by other, subtly related conditions –

and sometimes by wholly unrelated ones.

Other forms of parasite, such as the mite

and the tick, could also be to blame for

many of these symptoms; different

afflictions will require different forms of

treatment and so your vet will want to run

tests on the rabbit in order to build a

complete picture.

Once you have taken corrective action, the

signs indicating the presence of fleas

should abate. If they do not, then a return

trip to the vet is probably in order.

The vet will go through the rabbit’s fur with

a flea comb in order to investigate further.

They may also test the rabbit’s skin for

signs of secondary infection. In this

situation, your vet will talk you through all

of the possibilities. Further tests will likely

involve taking samples of your rabbit’s

blood and urine. If your rabbit has

developed anaemia, then this will need to

be established and treated quickly.


How do I prevent my rabbit from

attracting fleas?

It far easier to prevent an infestation from

developing than it is to eradicate one

which has already occurred. Rabbit owners

should therefore take great care that their

pets are kept in a clean, safe environment,

and that they are groomed regularly. This

should minimise the chance your rabbit

stands of contracting flea infestation.

While the consequences of an untreated

flea infestation can be severe, it’s worth

bearing in mind that, with a little vigilance,

a rabbit can be shielded from these


Beeston Animal Health Ltd.,

Whitchurch Road,

Beeston Castle,