Rabbit ear infection? Please help!

Kessel23

Hi Bug
Feb 6, 2018
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Wisconsin
My big champagne d'argent buck has something wrong with his ears, I can see red scabs in them, the skin looks irritated... I have noticed him scratching one ear a lot a few days ago and today I noticed he was keeping 1 ear down and 1 up, I picked him up and inspected his ear, it is really bad and I can tell he is in a lot of pain. He has the same scabs and irritated skin in both ears but one has it like 10 time worse than the other. How do I treat this and what do you think could have caused it? He is in a open ground pen with lots of other rabbits and he has access to an extremely long and complex burrow system, do you think some dirt could have gotten lodged in his ear? The burrows are not fit to his size because my does are all tiny mixed breeds and do not make massive tunnels for him so it is a tight squeeze.

I did not realize this infection or whatever it is sooner because I never handle the big rabbits like my champagne d'argent. He does not like to be held and I do not like to hold him. What should I do for treatment, I will likely move him to a small wire cage tomorrow so he stops using the tiny burrows but I need to fix this problem now, he keeps shoving his foot up his ear and then shaking his head and he sits around and looks all depressed... He is still eating and drinking but has stopped mating and playing with the other rabbits. I have had rabbits since I was in the 2nd grade but I never really had to deal with any health problems like this so I really need some help. I do not have a picture of the ear and won't be able to get one until tomorrow but it is all scabbed up and looks painful.

27994227_916348188541299_680219013_n.jpg

This is a picture of him just a few weeks ago, you can see he has both his ears up and is alert with his little buddy coming out of the burrow. I can't see the infection in this picture but right now you would definitely be able to see a little bit of it. The main infection is in the ear facing the other bun and burrow.
 

sylviethecochin

Free Ranging
Jun 14, 2017
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We had a problem with that in my sister's one chinchilla rabbit. The solution Dad had was to clean everything out really well, being very careful not to shove anything deeper into the ear, and then paint with iodine dilute repeatedly. Happily, it worked.

This was before I knew about (well, I knew about them, I just didn't consider them) fungal and yeast infections. With that in mind, I'd try to get someone to identify the kind of infection--I believe you can send a sample to a vet--and then apply aggressive treatment based on feedback. That sort of infection can reach the inner ear and badly and permanently injure the rabbit. We were lucky. You might not be.
 

Kessel23

Hi Bug
Feb 6, 2018
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Wisconsin
Thanks for the response, I will try to find a vet near me that I could sent the sample to. I have lots of dog vets around here but i'm not sure if they would treat a rabbit, I will have to do some more research in the morning.
 

sylviethecochin

Free Ranging
Jun 14, 2017
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Thanks for the response, I will try to find a vet near me that I could sent the sample to. I have lots of dog vets around here but i'm not sure if they would treat a rabbit, I will have to do some more research in the morning.
I'm sure you could just call and ask what they'd like you to do and how you can do it. Good luck. Hope he recovers.
 

Conan

Fun on a Bun 🌭
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
May 25, 2015
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I've used apple cider vinegar mixed with a little olive or mineral oil for ear infections in dogs and cats - couple drops and massaging it in. It has always worked for me though I have never had to use with a rabbit... If it is fungal, the acv should be really good for it.
 

Bunnylady

POOF Goes the Pooka
11 Years
Nov 27, 2009
18,763
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Does it look anything like this?
ear-mites-in-rabbit-ear-3-web-size.jpg

this is a rabbit with ear mites.

Scabs in rabbits' ears are usually caused by ear mites. The usual treatment is Ivermectin, though a lot of folks get good results just by using vegetable oil or mineral oil to suffocate the mites. Put several drops in the ears, and work it around well to soften the scabs and suffocate the mites. You'll need to treat daily until the scabs are gone, then weekly for a couple more weeks to get later hatches of mites.

Mites are contagious, so you need to check the rest of your rabbits. Rabbits generally have pretty robust immune systems, and they can keep infections and infestations down to a minimum until some stress reduces their immune function, then - boom! - you suddenly see symptoms. If you have one rabbit in a colony that has an active case of ear mites, you can pretty much count on ALL of the rabbits in the colony having ear mites; those who don't show symptoms probably have just a few. The mites and their eggs are in your soil, so your animals will constantly be exposed to them. You need to check your rabbits periodically (like, monthly), and treat any animal that shows symptoms.
 

balloonflower

Chirping
Jul 25, 2016
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Ditto what Bunnylady said. I would guess ear mites rather than infection.

I have not used the antibiotics, as I choose not to with my meat rabbits. I use mineral oil with a bit of tea tree drops. It will work if you use enough, and if you keep the schedule up. If you don't get all the eggs when they hatch, the cycle starts over.
 

cassie

Crowing
12 Years
Mar 19, 2009
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Bunnylady is right. He has ear mites and ALL of your rabbits need to be treated ASAP.
 
Feb 9, 2018
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The first thing I thought of was ear mites too. You really do not see the problem deep in the ear canal until you do and then it can look scary and quite alarming, but it is fairly easy to get rid of.

However, some rabbits are just more susceptible than others. In seven years, I only had one buck that got them and got them twice while no other rabbit did, nor my cat who often hangs in the rabbitry and even plays with the rabbits. My rabbits are off the ground in cages so there is less risk of re-infection once the cage is cleaned well. Be aware that any animal can get them, including you. You can accidentally infect other rabbits or animals just by inspecting an infected ear and not washing immediately afterward.

When you see a rabbit shaking his head, scratching the ear, or even get a weepy eye, it could be warning signs from the irritation caused by them before you actually see the scabbing in the ear.
 
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