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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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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.
How is a flea infestation diagnosed
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
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.
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.,