Rabbit Owner's Guide

Initial veterinary matters for your rabbit

The information given in this section is for the general knowledge of rabbit owners and is not meant to substitute advice from a qualified veterinarian. The reader is advised to find out more information by research and consulting a veterinarian. Always consult a veterinarian if in doubt.

Before you acquire your new pet bunny, it would be useful to search for a veterinarian that is accessible for you to get to in case of any emergencies.

A rabbit's anatomy is very different from a cat's or a dog's and would therefore require different treatment and medication. Not many veterinarians are trained in rabbit medicine and many bunnies have died at the hands of some inexperienced vets. Always ensure that the vet you are visiting has been trained to work with rabbits.

Lethal medications

Penicillin
Any penicillin-based drug is dangerous for your bunny and should never be given orally because it destroys the cecal bacteria and will kill most rabbits. However, penicillin administered via injection (Flocillin) can be used safely.

Amoxicillin
Amoxicillin is a derivative of penicillin and is a pink liquid antibiotic that smells like bubble gum. It is very dangerous for rabbits and has killed more than it has cured. Other drugs such as Ampicillin, Limcomycin and Erythromycin are all penicillin derivatives that are deadly to bunnies.

Baytril
Baytril is in a class of drugs that can cause problems with cartilage formation in young animals (under six months of age) and should not be administered unless older. An alternative is Chloramphenicol.

Antibiotics used in pet rabbits (from www.rabbit.org)

Antibiotic Injectable Use? Oral Use? Other Use? Risk of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhoea
Amikacin Yes, with caution:
nephrotoxic
No oral form available Yes, impregnated in antibiotic beads
Yes, in nebulization protocols
Low
Amoxicillin No No No High when given orally
Ampicillin No No No High when given orally
Azithromycin No injectible form available Yes No Low
Cephalosporins (Ceftazidime, Cefazolin, Ceftiofur, Cefriaxone, Cephalexin, Cephaloridine, Cephalothin) Yes No No High when given orally
CEFTIOFUR No No Yes, impregnated in antibiotic beads Low, when impregnated in antibiotic beads (bone abscess)
Chloramphenicol Yes Yes Yes, ophthalmic ointment Low
Ciprofloxacin Yes Yes Yes
ophthalmic drops
Low
Clindamycin No No No High when given orally
Difloxacin No Yes No Low
Doxycycline Yes Yes No Low
Enrofloxacin Yes Yes Yes; otic drops Low
Fusidic Acid No No Yes, ophthalmic ointment Low when used as eye ointment
Gentamicin With extreme caution:
nephrotoxic
With extreme caution:
nephrotoxic
Yes, ophthalmic drops, impregnated in antibiotic beads
Yes, in nebulization protocols
Low
Lincomycin No No No High
Marbofloxacin No Yes No Low
Metronidazole No Yes Yes Low
Oxytetracycline Yes No No Low
Oral use not recommended, calcium in GI tract inactivates drug
Penicillin (procaine) Yes No No High, when given orally or applied topically
Penicillin (procaine and benzthiazine) Yes No No High, when given orally or applied topically
Streptomycin No, nephrotoxic No No High
Sulfadimethoxine No Yes No Low
Tetracycline Yes No No Low
Oral use not recommended, calcium in GI tract inactivates drug
Tilmicosin No No No Risk of fatal adverse reaction: sudden cardiac arrest within ~30 minutes of administration
Trimethoprim
sulphadiazine
Yes Yes No Low
Trimethoprim
sulfamethoxazole
Yes Yes No Low
Tobramycin No, nephrotoxic No Yes, impregnated in antibiotic beads
Yes, ophthalmic and otic drops
Low
Tylosin Yes No No Unknown