All breeds of rabbits, irrespective of size and age could fall ill or contract an infection. This, however, depends on how you care for them. Abscess in rabbits is a relatively common disorder. The concern is that it could be a serious issue, depending on where it occurs and how you can manage it.

Abscess in rabbits arises when there are bacteria on the tissue of the rabbit. This could be through untreated bite wounds. It usually contains pus and could occur in any part of the rabbit’s body. At times, the treatment of abscesses in rabbits could require surgery.

This article will look at what abscess in rabbits is, the causes, symptoms, treatments, and other useful information. Keep reading for more information.

What is an abscess in rabbits?

Abscess In Rabbits
Abscess In Rabbits

Abscess in rabbits is the collection of pus in the tissue under the rabbit’s skin. Due to the accumulation, the affected part of the rabbit’s body will increase in size. The affected area also becomes reddened. The major cause of this disorder is a bacterial infection. This could happen when bacteria found their way to the rabbit’s tissue. Some of the bacteria that are responsible for this disorder are Pseudomonas, Pasteurella multocida, and Staphylococcus.

Abscess in rabbits is not usually painful and it could be soft or hard. Unlike abscess in other animals, abscess in rabbits do not leak fluid but it grows quickly. It is mostly noticed on the face, mouth, and neck of a rabbit. Yet, it could occur in other parts of the rabbit’s body and even in internal organs. Any abscess formed in the internal organs of the rabbit is usually difficult to notice and manage. Uterus, lungs, liver, kidney, and abdominal fat are parts of the rabbit’s internal organs that could develop an abscess.

Causes of rabbit’s abscess

In most cases, the primary cause of abscess in rabbits begins with a bacterial infection. There are other secondary causes of the issue also. Below are some of the common causes of abscesses in rabbits.

Dental disease

This is one of the common causes of abscesses in rabbits. Dental disease begins when there is a portion of food lodged in the gums or the teeth of the rabbit. After a while, this could cause bacterial infection and the result will be an abscess in rabbits.

Skin piercing

A lot of factors could cause a rabbit’s skin piercing. It could be through bites from other rabbits, animals, or nail piercings from the rabbit. The pierced part could become a breeding ground for bacteria when the place is not treated.


The direct cause of abscesses in rabbits is linked to bacteria. However, did you know that the way you care for your rabbits could attract bacteria to them? A dirty shelter is a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. Therefore, if your rabbits are dirty, bacteria could find their way to their body, especially the skin pores. This could in turn lead to an abscess in rabbits.


How you feed your rabbit is also another factor that could cause an abscess in rabbits. A poorly fed rabbit will likely have a low immune system. The implication of this is that the rabbit’s system won’t be able to fight any intruder such as bacteria effectively. Whenever there is a bacterial infection, it will likely result in an abscess in rabbits.

Areas where abscesses in rabbits could occur

Abscess in rabbits could occur in many areas. It could be seen physically when it occurs on the external parts. But when it is internal, it would require the service of a vet. Here are some of the places where abscesses in rabbits could occur.


The dental issue is mentioned earlier as one of the causes of abscesses in rabbits. The face is the likely place where you will notice the abscess caused by dental disease. For instance, untreated tooth infection could spread to the bone skull and surrounding soft tissues. An overgrown tooth could also block the tear duct. Infection is likely the result when any of these happens. You can notice an abscess on the face of the rabbit when the lower jaw is swollen. It could also be noticed through traces of pus at the corner of the eyes or bulgy eyes. 


Piercing, bites, scratches, and other forms of skin wounds could cause bacteria to enter the rabbit’s body. This will also cause bacterial infection in the rabbit. Sometimes, the wound could be caused by foreign objects. A residual of such an object could remain under the skin. It could be difficult to treat this type of abscess in rabbits, especially when the foreign object has not been removed. 


The abscess could develop in any joint in the rabbit’s body. This occurs when there is a bacterial infection. In most cases, abscess at the joint is painful for the rabbit. 


The rabbit’s feet and hooks are responsible for its weight. Bacteria could affect any of these places, especially when the shelter is unkempt. Moreover, if the rabbit is overweight, the feet could be sore. This will then result in abscesses in rabbit. 

Internal organs

All the places mentioned above are the parts of the external organs of the rabbits. Abscess in these places could be noticed easily. Abscess in the internal organs of the rabbit is not easy to identify. It could happen in any of the organs but the lung and liver are the most prone. 

Symptoms of abscesses in rabbits

An abscess in rabbits is not caused when there is no primary issue. The primary issue could be bacterial infection or an untreated wound. It could also occur both internally and externally. This implies that the symptoms of abscesses vary. Nevertheless, here are some of the symptoms of abscess in rabbits. 

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Swelling 
  • Signs of pains 
  • Redness 
  • Depression 
  • Frequent bad breath 
  • Drooling 
  • Hair loss 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Excess grooming 

Diagnosis of abscesses in rabbits 

The part of the rabbit’s body affected by abscesses will determine the diagnostic procedure. Also, the symptoms are an important consideration. The vet would know the most appropriate diagnostic method. Highlighted below are some diagnostic processes for abscesses in rabbits. 

Oral examination

In most cases, an oral examination is required if the location is visible. For instance, this could be used if the abscesses occur at the face. 

Sample testing

This is a common procedure, especially when a thorough analysis of the cause is required. it could require sample testing of the tissue in the affected area. At times, further urine tests, blood tests, ultrasounds, and X-rays are required to know if other organs are not affected. It would also help to know the possibility of other causes. 

How to treat abscesses in rabbits

How To Treat Rabbit Abscesses At Home

Just like the causes vary, the treatment procedure also varies. The treatment of abscesses in rabbits depends on the location, cause, and other underlying factors. However, it is usually difficult to treat. This is because the pus in a rabbit’s abscess is usually thick. The following are some of the treatment procedures.

Get rid of the pus

The treatment could start with the removal of the pus. This method is applicable when the abscess occurred at the external organ. The abscess cavity will be opened. Then the pus and other dead tissues will be removed. While this is a good method, there is a high chance of residual bacteria. 

Therefore, the owner should show good care and wound management. For instance, when the wound heals very quickly, bacteria will be trapped inside. This would cause abscesses again. This means that you will subject your rabbit to the same treatment very soon. In most cases, vets would leave the wound cavity open until the inside is healed. Daily cleaning of the wound cavity is recommended

Surgical operations

Treating abscesses in rabbits requires the service of an experienced vet. This is due to the high chance of recurring rabbit abscesses. Nevertheless, professionals believe that surgery could remove the abscesses and also treat other causes of the issue. 

Antiseptic solution

There are instances where the surgery will not be the ideal solution for rabbit abscesses. The rabbit might be suffering from other diseases which could make the administration of anesthesia impossible. It could also be risky to subject the rabbit to a longer duration of surgery. 

In this instance, the vet could suggest opening and cleaning the abscesses. The antiseptic solution would be used to flush out the abscesses. This method could also require anesthesia unless the abscesses are very small. 

Use of antibiotics

Another rabbit abscess treatment method is to periodically inject antibiotics into the abscess wall. This could also be done orally. However, if the abscess in rabbits has been removed completely, antibiotics are not needed. The rabbit needs antibiotics to destroy the residual bacteria in its system as well as new ones that are trying to gain entry. 

Nursing care for treated rabbits

At times, some rabbits won’t be bothered about the abscess. They will continue with their lives during the treatment. Some, on the other hand, will require nursing. This period also requires both professional and home care. The following are some of the things you should do when you are treating rabbit abscesses. 

Provide clean beddings

A clean environment is essential when you are dealing with a bacterial infection. One of the things you can do is to provide the recuperating rabbit with clean bedding. This will help to prevent wound contamination. You can get clean vet bedding. 

Follow the scheduled medication

Make sure you administer the medication as scheduled. Also, ensure that the rabbits take a complete dose of all medications, even when it seems as if the abscesses are gone or the wound is healed. 

Contact your vet

If you notice any issues or you experience any difficulty, you should contact your vet immediately. At times, there might be a relapse that requires hospitalization.

Isolate affected rabbits

There is a likely transmission of infection if you leave the affected rabbit with other animals. It is strongly recommended that you isolate the affected rabbit in a new and clean hutch

Ensure that the wound remains open

In situations where the vet leaves the abscess wound open, you should ensure that it remains open. This will help the inside to heal very well from the outside. Contact the vet if the wound closes. 

Prevention of rabbit abscess

best rabbit beds
Prevention of rabbit abscess

Preventing abscesses in rabbits is possible. Here are some preventive measures. 

Keep the rabbits clean

General proper hygiene is a good way to prevent rabbit abscesses. You should periodically clean your rabbit and check for any sign of a wound. You should also prevent sharp edges on the hutch and run. The bedding and the floor should be neat and dry. 

Avoid contacts that could lead to fight

A fight could break out between rabbits and other animals. This could result in wounds from punctures, nails, and teeth. To prevent an abscess in rabbits, make sure your rabbit does not fight with other animals. Also, ensure that rabbits are not overcrowded or fight over food and water

Manage the weight

An obsessed rabbit has a higher risk of forming an abscess. You should manage the weight of your rabbit. 

Do not ignore infections

Untreated infections could lead to abscesses. Make sure you treat all infections properly. Also, ensure that wounds are cleaned and checked daily. 

Prevent rabbits from chewing sharp objects

Sharp objects could cut the gum of a rabbit or cause other wounds in the mouth. Dental disease has been mentioned earlier among the causes of an abscess in rabbits. Make sure there is no sharp object in the rabbit’s play pen

Proper diet

Feed your rabbit with a high-quality diet. A healthy lifestyle will improve the immune system and also prevent infection. Ensure that your rabbits exercise daily. 

See a vet

You need to trust a vet for the proper treatment of your rabbit. If you notice sneezing, watery eyes, diarrhea, or nature discharge, you should contact a vet. You should also ensure periodic check-ups of your vet. 


Rabbit abscess is a common bacterial infection. It could be risky if not detected early. There are numerous treatment options you can opt for. Make sure your rabbits feed well.

About the Author

Anoop Nain

I am Anoop Nain, proud father of four rescued dogs and two Flemish giant rabbits. I have a degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare. Besides being a full-time dog father, I am an NGO worker and content writer and an educationist, with more than 6 years of experience. It is while working with the NGO I got an opportunity to educate people on animal rights, pet healthcare, animal welfare and various other issues pertaining to animals.

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