Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Pasteurellosis and other illnesses


Rabbit Diseases/Infections 

Pasteurellosis: The bacterium, Pasteurella multocida, is the major infectious agent of rabbits. It is most often transmitted among chronically infected does and their litters or between breeding males and females. The bacteria most often reside in the nose, lungs and eye membranes, but can spread to other areas of the body. Pasteurellosis of rabbits may take many different forms. Respiratory disease, including pneumonia and infection of the nasal passages and sinuses, is very common. Infections of the eye membranes, middle ear, jawbone and uterus are most often the result of the Pasteurella organism. Abscesses are also common and occur when the Pasteurella organism settles in a specific location. The rabbit's body responds to this invasion with an influx of tremendous numbers of white blood cells to fight the infection. Pus results from the accumulation of dead and dying white blood cells and tissue cells in the area of the infection. Pasteurella infections may become incurable if untreated or improperly treated. Aggressive antibiotic therapy with the appropriate drugs, however, especially if undertaken early in the course of the disease, is often rewarding. Many antibiotics have great difficulty penetrating the relatively inaccessible sites of most infections and the thick pus seen in rabbit abscesses. Pasteurellosis is a persistent problem in most rabbitries and very difficult to eradicate. This disease creates its most serious problems under conditions of malnutrition, overcrowding, poor sanitation, temperature extremes, inadequate air circulation and other stressful situations. Ideally, prospective owners should obtain their pet rabbit from a Pasteurella- free rabbitry, but this is not always possible. Regardless of origin, all newly acquired pet rabbits should be thoroughly examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible after purchase.

Another good source of information is the Textbook of Rabbit Medicine written by Frances Harcourt-Brown, a veterinary surgeon and acknowledged expert in rabbit health matters. (available online)

Poisonous Plants 

If youíre feeding wild plants or your rabbit has access to a garden, make sure you can reliably identify the plants. They donít know whatís good or bad for them. Poisonous plants vary between animals. Don't assume that since a bird, squirrel or pig ate a plant with no problems, others (human or rabbit) can do the same. If you think your rabbit is ill, seek medical attention immediately.

More information on rabbits:

Some Rabbit Breeds

Rabbit Facts, misinformation on rabbit vaccines corrected by Gooch

Poor quality of life for most rabbits

Dogs enjoy a privileged status

Protect your rabbit from the weather: Heat Kills