Cats, dogs, rabbits and a lot of other animals can get fleas. These small insects live on them to feed on the hosts blood. Fleas carry all sorts of diseases and for rabbits this includes myxomatosis. Getting your pet rabbit vaccinated against this fatal disease is very important. If a pet rabbit comes into contact with other animals or wild rabbits, the chances are they will catch fleas and as such they need to be treated as soon as possible to keep your pet happy and healthy.
When rabbits feed on blood they inject their saliva into the host to stop the animals' blood from clotting as they suck it out, and this is when all sorts of diseases can be transmitted. Fleas can be hard to spot and if not treated will multiply at an alarming rate. They can lay eggs in your home, in rabbits bedding and the eggs can survive a very long time hatching out as soon as any warmth hits them. Usually owners only notice their pet rabbits have fleas when they spot droppings and dried blood in their pets fur and it's normally when there's already a flea infestation present.
Rabbits catch two types of flea – this includes the common cat flea and the second type is the rabbit flea. Their lifespan can last a few months with a female laying around 50 eggs in a single day – these eggs often fall onto the floor and into soft furnishings as well as bedding which then causes a flea infestation in your home. The fleas found on your rabbit could be just the tip of the iceberg with around 90% of an infestation being in the form of eggs, larvae and pupae.
If you regularly groom your pet rabbit, you will soon notice if they have caught any fleas. Any severe itching is a good indication there may be a problem but in very severe cases, your rabbit may even chew its tail base of lower back. The best thing to do is invest in a fine-toothed flea comb. Comb your rabbit and place all the debris collected onto a damp piece of paper – like this you can identify any strange things you comb out – flea faeces dissolve on the dampened paper and this produces a brownish/reddish swirl that's easily identifiable. However, with this said it is not that easy to spot fleas in rabbit fur – owners usually spot the flea poo first. The places to check for fleas on rabbits is around their ears but fleas can be anywhere on their bodies. If the infestation is severe, your pet rabbit will become anaemic due to loss of blood. This is a condition that can prove fatal to your pet. Some rabbits are affected badly with Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD) which results in them seriously hurting themselves too.
Treating fleas in rabbits is much the same as preventing your pet from catching these blood sucking insects in the first place. The most effective treatments can be purchased through vets who can advise you on how to go about treating your rabbit. Any flea treatment used has to be one that has been specifically formulated for use on rabbits. When treating your rabbit, remember the treatment programme will take a little time to take effect and will not initially stop the fleas from biting and irritating your pet rabbit. Rabbits have very delicate immune systems which means other flea treatments should never be used on them because the treatments could prove fatal. Never, ever use a flea collar on your pet rabbit as this can kill them too.
Prevention is the best – but not always possible. However, you can do as much as you can to stop your pet rabbit from catching fleas. The best way to do this is to groom your rabbit regularly. They will thoroughly enjoy the attention and you will get that much closer to them whilst at the same time taking good care of their health by removing dead fur and to see if fleas are present. If your rabbit comes into contact with other animals, and this includes cats and dogs, then you need to make sure your other animals don't have fleas either. For dogs and cats, there are some very good flea collars on the market – but you must not use a flea collar on your rabbit. Regular grooming is the best preventative measure. If you find your rabbit has fleas, contact your vet and buy a flea treatment programme that is specifically formulated for use on rabbits. You should avoid buying cheaper flea treatments from other places and this includes on the Internet, as the treatments may be harmful to your pet rabbit.
If left untreated, a flea problem can turn into an infestation. The more fleas your rabbit has on them, the more blood they lose. This leads to a condition called anaemia and in severe cases, this can be fatal to rabbits. The other serious issue with fleas on rabbits, is the possibility of the rabbit catching a terrible disease called myxomatosis which is a fatal condition for rabbits too. Apart from the conditions mentioned above, your rabbit will be miserable and their quality of life will be affected horribly too. Rabbit owners are not generally affected by fleas, although they will get bitten which is usually around ankles and wrists – but once the pet rabbit is treated and bedding and soft furnishings are effectively treated, then these rashes usually clear up.
If you decide to include a rabbit in your life, you have to take on the responsibility of taking the best care possible of them. Your reward will be to have an adorable little creature who returns your love and affection 101% all of the time. Making sure your pet rabbit is fit and healthy is just one little part of keeping them as a pet. Fleas can be a devastating problem which can make life miserable for your pet. Prevention rather than cure is the easiest route to take and the best way to do this is to regularly groom your rabbit and keep an eye out for fleas all of the time.
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