Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the mammary glands in lactating rabbits and can occur when a break in the skin, such as that caused by a scratch or bite, allows bacteria to enter the milk-producing glands. The bacteria can cause abscesses to develop, which can impede milk flow, and infection can quickly spread to the blood and lymph glands. This can put your rabbit at risk of developing sepsis, which is life-threatening. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for mastitis in rabbits:
Symptoms of mastitis include lethargy, excessive thirst and inflammation at the site of the mammary glands, which may also be hot to the touch. Your rabbit will be in pain, which may present as withdrawing from social contact and adopting a hunched posture. Mastitis can also cause bleeding or discharge from the glands and discharge can be clear or cloudy. Your rabbit will be unable to nurse their young sufficiently, so a common sign of mastitis is rapid weight loss and death of nursing kits.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your vet will diagnose mastitis by taking details of your rabbit's symptoms and conducting a physical exam. Blood and urine samples will be taken, which can show if the infection has spread to the blood and determine if your rabbit is dehydrated or if their organ function is affected by the stress of the infection. Additionally, a sample of the discharge from the infection site will be taken and analysed to confirm the strain of bacteria present.
Treatment for mastitis will include antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria causing the infection. Topical or oral anti-inflammatory medication may also be prescribed to support healing, and if your rabbit is dehydrated they will require intravenous fluids and nutritional support. Abscesses may need to be surgically drained or removed, and this will be done under general anaesthetic.
Surviving kits will have to be hand raised, and your vet will show you how to bottle feed them. A follow-up appointment will be arranged to ensure both the adult rabbit and the kits are healthy and the infection has not recurred.
As mastitis can lead to sepsis in the nursing rabbit and death of the kits, if your rabbit is showing any symptoms of the condition, you should have them examined by your vet immediately. If your usual vet surgery is closed, contact a 24-hour emergency pet service near you.Share
9 June 2020
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