Causes of Inflammation of the Feet in Rabbits

Pododermatitis, or inflammation of the feet in rabbits is known more widely as sore hocks’. “Podo” means foot, and “Dermatitis” means inflammation of the skin. This affliction occurs in the rear feet and hocks(the long part of the rear foot).

There are many causes of pododermatitis.

*Some rabbits are more prone to pododermatitis, such as rex and breeds that don’t have much fur on the feet and hocks

*Housing your rabbit on a wire cage floor with no access to a hard surface for resting

*Housing your rabbit on a hard surface that can become dampened by urine, or wet betting without a dry place to rest

*Having an overweight or large breed rabbit

*Having too small of a cage for your rabbit

*Rough floors or exposed cut wire

*Poor sanitation which leads to increased bacteria growth

*Unhappy rabbits who thump their hind feet frequently

Signs of pododermatitis in rabbits are:

*Rabbits who start to favor one rear foot over the other

*If your rabbit doesn’t want to walk, or refuses to use hind feet

*Loss of hair on the hocks or rear feet

*Thickening skin(calluses) on the hocks

*Redness of the skin on the hocks

*Abrasions

*Swelling of the feet or hocks

*Open sores or draining scabs

*Puss

*Depression

*Refusal of food or water

If the animal goes untreated, open sores and infected areas will occur. The infections may spread to the bones of the rabbit resulting in permanent damage or death if untreated. This infection, called osteomyelitis, can be detected on an x-ray. If the rabbit develops a severe infection, a bacterial culture will need to be preformed by your veterinarian to determine the correct antibiotic, as some antibiotics can cause fatal problems in rabbits. Your veterinarian may also prescribe pain medication, and may even require surgery to remove the infected, dead, or dying tissue.

For mild cases of pododermatitis, a slight change in habitat, diet, and sanitation may be all that you need to cure your rabbit of sore hocks.

*Many rabbit breeders and pet owners use a product called vanodine,
which is a disinfectant that can be not only sprayed in the cage of the rabbit,
but directly on sore hocks. This is a safe disinfectant that can be purchased on the internet, or from a local dealer. *If you don’t have access to vanodine, use a triple action antibiotic, clean the area with mild soap and water every day and apply the ointment.*Wrapping a rabbit’s feet is not recommended if the sores are open, but some breeders use medical dressings. If you choose to do this, it’s best to use rabbit fur in the inside of the dressing to make the rabbit feel like it’s more natural, and it will prevent the rabbit from ripping the dressing off. For detailed directions on how to wrap your rabbit’s feet, go to http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/sorehocks.html

*Place an EZ mat, or a piece of plywood on the wire floor of your rabbit’s cage for resting off of the wire.

*Don’t put your rabbit in a cage that has rusty floor, exposed wire, or rough spots that can cause damage to your rabbit’s feet.

*Put overweight rabbits on a diet

*Keep your rabbit’s habitat clean.

*Give your rabbit access to exercise outside of its cage.

*Keep toenails clipped*Keep your rabbit’s bedding clean

Remember, if you choose to make a rabbit an addition to your family, be a responsible pet owner and seek medical attention for your rabbit if it becomes ill or injured. Sore hocks can be easily prevented with the right cage, flooring, and sanitation. Check your rabbit’s feet frequently to see if any signs of pododermatitis are present. Do not treat this yourself if there are any open sores. If you should choose to treat yourself, please seek medical attention if the condition becomes worse, because you risk having to put your rabbit down.