Complete or partial loss of hair in rabbits is quite common, and it can occur in its own right or as a side effect of another illness. Hair loss may develop gradually or your rabbit may seem to lose their hair overnight. The pattern of hair loss can give your vet an idea of what may be causing it. Here's an overview of common causes and treatment options for hair loss in rabbits:
Disruption of hair follicle growth can occur as a result of a bacterial infection or parasitic infection, such as ear mites that have migrated to other parts of your rabbit's body. A tumour, which creates unnatural clusters of cells, can also prevent hair follicles functioning as they should at the site of the tumour. Hair loss can also occur due to nutritional deficiencies, particularly when your rabbit's protein levels are too low. If your rabbit is sharing its living space with other rabbits, they may be a victim of barbering. This is a behavioural issue that's seen when dominant rabbits pull chunks of fur off subordinate rabbits as a way of maintaining dominance. Hair loss due to barbering typically occurs on the side of the torso.
Treatment for hair loss is dependent on the cause, and if the cause is not apparent from a physical examination, your vet will carry out a series of tests. A skin scraping can be taken from the site of the hair loss to determine whether your rabbit has a bacterial infection or parasites, and blood tests can be used to check for autoimmune conditions and inflammation, which may signal the presence of a tumour that's not yet visible. Here's an overview of how hair loss is treated based on the established cause:
Barbering - The easiest way to prevent barbering is to separate your rabbit from the dominant rabbit. You may be able to let them socialise together for periods during the day, but you should supervise any contact they have to protect your rabbit from further harm.
Parasites or Bacterial Infection - Your vet will prescribe a course of anti-parasitic drugs or antibiotics, but it can take a few months for your rabbit's hair to grow back after treatment.
Tumour - If your rabbit has a tumour, they can undergo chemotherapy. The success of treatment is dependent on the type of tumour and its location.
Nutritional Deficiencies - Oral or intravenous supplements can be prescribed for any nutritional deficiencies that your rabbit has. Your vet will also give you advice on feeding your rabbit a nutritionally complete diet.
If you notice hair loss anywhere on your rabbit's body, have them examined by your vet as soon as possible.Share