Regular deworming of your rabbit is part of good animal husbandry. If your rabbit appears unthrifty, or seems depressed, the reason could be parasite infestation. In a worst-case scenario, these internal pests can kill your pet.
Rabbit Intestinal Parasites
- Rabbits are vulnerable to several internal parasite infestations. These include pinworms, which mature at about 1 inch. You can see these thread-sized worms in the feces of infected bunnies.
- Tapeworm segments may appear in the stool or around the anus of affected rabbits.
- Rabbits feeding on grass or pasture may consume Fasciola hepatica, or liver flukes.
- The protozoa coccidia often affects young rabbits. These minute creatures can't be seen with the naked eye. Your veterinarian must confirm their presence by examining a rabbit's feces under the microscope.
It's crucial to know the type of parasite affecting your pet so that you use the right dewormer for eradication. While many dewormers are available over the counter, don't use any product without your veterinarian's approval. Take your bunny to the vet for diagnosis, and bring a fecal sample. Your vet also can provide you with the correct dosage for your bunny. If you have more than one rabbit and they are in contact with each other, treat all of them, even if some appear asymptomatic.
Piperazine, available at pet stores, will get rid of pinworms. You must deworm your rabbit once weekly for three weeks to eliminate both the mature and immature worms. Check the rabbit's feces to ensure there is no sign of pinworms once treatment is finished.
Praziquantel can kill tapeworm and liver flukes, usually with one dose. Your bunny may experience temporary side effects, such as diarrhea or appetite loss, after receiving the medication. Call your vet if your rabbit doesn't start eating or eliminating normally within a day or so.
Getting rid of coccidia in rabbits is difficult. Many rabbits carry the protozoa with no outward symptoms, but can spread the parasite to other bunnies. Coccidia can infest the liver and the intestines. Dewormers won't work on coccidia. Your vet will prescribe antibiotics or sulfa drugs to treat coccidiosis.