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Terramycin for Rabbits

| Updated September 26, 2017

Terramycin is a type of broad-spectrum antibiotic classified as a tetracycline. It comes as an ophthalmic ointment, an oral powder and an injectable solution. Your vet may prescribe it to treat your rabbit if he is dealing with an eye infection, systemic bacterial infection or upper respiratory issue. It typically is available through veterinarians but can be ordered over the counter from veterinary supply stores.

Terramycin for Rabbits

Terramycin, also known as oxytetracycline, is most commonly available as an ophthalmic ointment to treat bacterial eye infections in cats, dogs, sheep, cattle and horses. The ointment also contains Polymyxin B Sulfate, an additional antibiotic.

Terramycin is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in rabbits, but your vet may recommend it as an "off label" use.

The powdered form of Terramycin is often given to rabbits in feed or water. Your vet will give your rabbit an injection of Terramycin solution, usually to treat an abscess.

Usage in Rabbits

Your vet will examine your rabbit and culture any bacteria he finds if your bunny is suffering from a bacterial infection to determine a treatment plan.

  • Your vet may prescribe Terramycin ointment to treat your rabbit's bacterial eye infection. 
  • Terramycin given orally can prevent enteritis in your rabbits due to weaning and infections with Pasteurella species of bacteria. 
  • The oral form is also used to treat Tyzzer's disease, a potentially deadly condition caused by Clostridium piliforme that results in watery diarrhea.  
  • Terramycin is also used to treat a respiratory condition called Pasteurellosis, commonly referred to as "snuffles." 
  • Your vet may prescribe the injectable solution for use as an ear drop for several weeks to treat a condition known as wry neck. Wry neck causes the head to tilt to the side, usually due to incidents of snuffles. 

Application and Effectiveness

Follow your vet's recommendations in terms of the dosage, method of application and frequency of application of Terramycin to your rabbit.

Terramycin can kill both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. This medication is effective against a variety of infections, including those due to streptococci, rickettsiae, E. coli and Aerobacter aerogenes.

Apply eye ointments along the lower eyelid without touching the tip of the applicator to the eye. Give your rabbit oral doses of the medication in your rabbit's food or water, as directed.


  • While you can purchase this medication without a prescription in some states, California requires a veterinary prescription to do so.

Side Effects

After administering Terramycin ointment to your bunny's eyes, he may have trouble seeing for a few minutes. The medication can cause stinging. Unusual side effects include swollen eyelids and itching, so notify your vet if you notice them.

Oral antibiotics, including Terramycin, can upset the balance of your bunny's intestinal flora. This could allow harmful bacteria to flourish in the intestinal tract, resulting in watery diarrhea, loss of appetite and a reduced activity level.


  • Diarrhea and reduced appetite in rabbits is considered an extreme emergency and can occur up to 10 days after treatment. Visit your vet immediately.

Terramycin Considerations

Don't give Terramycin in an oral form to pregnant or nursing rabbits or those with impaired renal function. Note that it can cause tooth discoloration in some rabbits. Terramycin also may increase your rabbit's sensitivity to the sun during administration so keep her in shady locations.