Rabbit owners' knowledge of otitis in pet rabbits and possible experienced difficulties during treatment. With focus on lop-eared rabbits.

Last changed: 22 May 2023
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William Nystås and Alva Eliasson, Veterinary Nursing programme (BSc)


Otitis (ear inflammation) is a common illness in rabbits. Rabbits are prey animals and will hide symptoms of pain and illness, which makes it harder to discover and treat diseases, such as otitis. Otitis is commonly treated at home with ear drops and ear cleaning solutions. It is believed that lop-eared rabbits are predisposed to developing otitis because of the anatomy of their ears. The aim of this study was to look at rabbit owners' knowledge of symptoms of otitis, and possible experienced difficulties during treatment at home. The study also looked at lop-ears as a predisposing factor to developing otitis. It was done through a digital survey aimed at rabbit owners in Sweden. The study found that rabbit owners showed knowledge of both typical symptoms of otitis and general symptoms of illness in rabbits, with the majority being able to identify symptoms such as head shaking and scratching of the ears. The rabbit owners found difficulties with handling and cleaning the ears, but found oral medications easy to give, expressing that the rabbits liked the taste. Of the rabbits diagnosed with otitis, 89% were lop-eared. Difficulties with handling of their rabbits, especially handling of the ears, is problematic due to ear cleaning being a fundamental part of treating otitis. Lop-eared rabbits are perceived to have a higher risk of developing otitis, which aligns with previous literature. Further research is needed to investigate the connection between lop-ears and otitis.


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