Rabbits can pick up various types of worms in their environment. Before your veterinarian can treat your rabbit, she must know what kind of worms is causing the infestation. She can then give your bunny the right dewormer for his parasites. Since rabbits can pick up many of the same worms that infest cats and dogs, make sure all pets in your household receive regular deworming.
Common Rabbit Worms
Rabbits consuming fresh grass or greens might consume tapeworm eggs. Obeliscoides cuniculi, a stomach worm, causes appetite and weight loss if your rabbit carries a lot of them. Pinworms (Passalurus abiguus) are among the most common worms infecting bunnies. Rabbits might also pick up roundworms, or ascarids. Wild rabbits are prone to additional types of worms, but these rarely affect domestic bunnies.
Symptoms of Worms
Rabbits with worms might appear thin and unkempt, with poor coat quality. A bunny might rub his anal area to relieve itching, resulting in inflammation. You might spot worms in your bunny's droppings. Even if you don't see actual worms, brown mucous threads in the feces indicate their presence in his gastrointestinal tract. If too many accumulate, they can cause impaction. Symptoms include excessive gas and an inability to pass feces -- a veterinary emergency. Occasionally, sudden death is the only clue that a rabbit was suffering from worm infestation.
Diagnose and Treatment
Your vet will analyze fresh droppings for the signs of worms or eggs or send them to a laboratory for diagnosis. She'll treat your rabbit based on the findings. Fenbendazole, marketed under the name Panacur, eradicates most roundworms and cuniculi. Your vet might recommend treating your pet with this wormer a few times a year. The dewormer mebendazole will get rid of tapeworms and pinworms. Putting piperazine citrate in your rabbit's water for two weeks, giving him plain water for two weeks and then dosing him for another two weeks will also eliminate pinworms.
Keeping your rabbit's living space clean and sanitary helps prevent worms from gaining a foothold. Rabbits fed a healthy diet are less vulnerable to parasites. Although your bunny loves fresh grass and vegetables, wash such foods thoroughly before feeding them to your pet. Your bunny should always have grass or timothy hay available, but remove any uneaten hay and replace it after a day or so. It's natural for rabbits to consume some of their own droppings, as this aids their digestive process. Unfortunately, that means they can reinfect themselves after an initial deworming, so adhering to a regular deworming schedule is crucial.
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Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.