Sore Hocks in Rabbits; Treatment and Prevention

Should your rabbit become afflicted with sore hocks, immediate treatment is necessary.

The first thing that you need to do is to diagnose the problem. The back legs, or hocks, will be absent of fur. The feet are likely to be red or even scabbed. Your rabbit’s feet may even become raw and infected. In more severe cases, this may even spread to the front paws.

You (or you veterinarian) have decided that your rabbit has sore hocks. What could have caused it? The most likely cause is poor hutch hygiene. Is their soiled bedding or places where feces lays or where the bottom lays wet? If this is the case then your entire hutch must be immediately scrubbed clean and sanitized with a solution of 1 part bleach to two parts water. Make any cage repairs and consider spray painting the cage bottom, should it be rusty. The rabbit may be returned once the hutch has dried out.

Other causes include solid wire hutch bottoms, long toe nails and hereditary. Some rabbits are more prone to sore hocks, including larger breeds and Rex breeds.

If you do not treat your rabbit’s sore hocks, your rabbit may stop eating as it is too painful to stand. He or she may also refuse to breed because of the pain and irritation. The feet may become so infected that you will have no other choice but to put your rabbit down.

The best way to deal with sore hocks is through prevention. Keep your hutches clean. Replace bedding every other day. Keep hutches in good repair. Supply resting pads to rabbits in wire hutches. Trim your rabbit’s toe nails once a month.

Treating sore hocks is not complicated but it is time consuming. Clean your rabbit’s feet with a mild soap and warm water. Trim his nails, if you have not already done so. Trim back fur from any red or raw areas. Apply a triple antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or iodine. If you choose the iodine, cover the treated area with a hemorrhoid ointment. Make sure the hutch is clean and sterile before returning your rabbit to his home. Also provide a resting pad. Sanitize daily with the bleach solution and bleach resting pads at least once a week.

When in doubt, always seek the advice of your veterinarian.

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