Abscesses in Rabbits
Abscess is a pocket or cavity filled with puss. Surrounding the abscess is a capsule of inflamed tissue. Abscesses feel like hard lumps under bunny’s skin. These are usually formed as a result of a bacterial infection. Your bunny can have hay or straw slivers enter into their body which could become infected. They can have abscesses around their face and eyes caused by infected teeth, gums, or tear ducts. Bite wounds can also become infected. They can also get internal abscesses that form around the uterus, lungs, heart, liver, abdominal fat, intestine and kidneys.
Abscesses are difficult to treat as a rabbit’s puss is very thick, is difficult to drain, and it is difficult to clean out of the abscess. Rabbits are missing a specific enzyme found in other animals that breaks down dead cells making a more liquid fluid. The abscess can develop tracts into surrounding tissue where new abscesses form. They can also reoccur if all of the infected tissue is not properly removed.
Susan Brown, DVM of the Midwest Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital says even after opening, draining and cleaning an abscess, the wound must be left open and flushed at least twice a day for a number of weeks with an antiseptic solution or the wound will close and more puss will develop. Antibiotic treatment alone is generally unsuccessful and must be used in conjunction with continued cleaning and flushing.
In addition, it is very important that the bunny being treated is maintained on a healthy diet (see related article “What should my rabbit eat?”), is housed in a clean environment to ensure no more bacteria penetrates the wound, and is given lots of daily exercise. Following these suggestions will help your bunny’s immune system to work at its maximum capacity and help to ensure that further infection does not develop.