Along with dental problems (which are in fact often connected with abscesses) abscesses are possibly the most commonly encountered clinical condition that domestic rabbits suffer from. The exact reasons for this are still largely unclear, but many rabbits will begin to develop abscesses as they get older, either as a singularity or across various parts of the body. Abscesses are most commonly found on the outer body, where they present as pussy sores on the surface of the skin, and also in and around the mouth when they are connected to dental problems.Unfortunately, abscesses may also appear internally, which are of course very hard to diagnose easily, often unfortunately until after it is too late. Abscesses in rabbits are in general considered to be fairly difficult to treat effectively, and getting early treatment is vital to giving your rabbit the best chance of recovery.
An abscess is clinically described as a pussy accumulation within body tissue (such as the skin) due to an inflammation, which itself is usually caused by an infection or foreign body being present. Abscesses form as part of the body’s defence mechanism to prevent or slow the transmission of the core infection to other areas of the body. As well as being rather unpleasant of course, abscesses are often incredibly sensitive to the touch and can be very painful.
The actual cause of any given abscess in a rabbit can be hard to pinpoint, unless you are aware that your rabbit has picked up an injury or foreign body somewhere in or around their home. Generally however, either Staphylococcus or Pastuerella bacteria, both of which are often found in even healthy rabbits in their dormant state, cause the underlying infection that triggers an abscess flare up in any given area of the body. While a rabbit is otherwise healthy, the presence of these bacteria do not affect your rabbit; however, if their immune system becomes compromised for any reason, the bacteria can gain a foothold and begin to attack your rabbit’s immune system, leading to the development of an abscess.
Abscesses are unfortunately often very difficult to treat effectively, and may require several attempts at treatment by means of several different methods to give your rabbit the best chance of eventual recovery.
The key to treating any abscess in the rabbit comes from ensuring that the entire source of the infection is fully removal; partial removal or traces left behind will simply lead to later recurrences.
The ultimate success or failure of any treatment method will depend on a wide variety of factors, and there is no simple answer to the question of what your rabbit’s chances of survival are after diagnosis. Sometimes, secondary infections and conditions such as sepsis may occur after treatment, complicating matters further.Sometimes, an abscess is simply deemed incurable, in which case palliative care with painkillers, regular drainage of the abscess, and systemic antibiotics may be used to provide a good quality of life for the rabbit while accepting that the abscess cannot be permanently cured. While this is of course not ideal, palliative treatment is often viable for several years while allowing the rabbit to live a relatively healthy and comfortable life.Treating abscesses in rabbits is complicated, and can be expensive; insuring your rabbit is always a good idea to ensure that you will be able to get them treated when you need to if an issue arises. However, with a range of treatment options available and abscesses in rabbits being relatively common, veterinary surgeons are usually very familiar with the condition, and the majority of rabbits that are diagnosed and treated early on go on to make a good recovery and live long, happy lives.