Rabbit Fleas: Treatment and Prevention
How did my rabbit get fleas?
Like dogs and cats, pet rabbits can easily fall victim to fleas. Rabbit fur provides an ideal environment for fleas to hide, lay their eggs, and multiply.
Your rabbit may have contracted fleas from a variety of sources, including other pets in the home. Fleas may be transferred directly from animal to animal if your rabbit comes into contact with other pets, including other infected rabbits. These insects may also be transferred from infected pets to carpets, rugs, bedding, or other fabrics inside the home. Once there, fleas can survive for up to 100 days on your soft surfaces before infesting animals that come into contact with those surfaces. Pet rabbits may also become infected if allowed to play or graze outdoors in untreated grass where these bugs reside. Once infected, your rabbit must be treated in order to rid your pet of these pests, as fleas will not go away on their own.
What flea treatments are rabbit-safe?
Flea Combs: Although not completely effective in ridding your furry friend of fleas, flea combs can be used as a first line of defense against an invasion. Combs can be used to remove fleas from the legs and ears of your rabbit, or on any part of the rabbit where the hair is sparse or the fleas are easily visible. Unfortunately, flea combs are ineffective for removing large quantities of fleas, or in very long or dense hair. Once combed out, fleas should be drowned in soapy water or alcohol. Make sure the brush is completely clear of fleas between each combing.
Please use caution using any flea powders or topical treatments. We advise using natural treatments like apple cider vinegar before any other method. Consult your veterinarian prior to using any of these methods.
Flea Powder: Flea powder can be used in combination with a comb to provide effective flea treatment for rabbits, although owners should exercise caution when choosing the correct power. Rabbits can be dusted with powders containing 5% carbaryl insecticide to kill fleas, larvae, and eggs. However, natural powders should be avoided, as they may contain peppermint, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, or other herbs, all of which are poisonous to rabbits. To use this treatment, sprinkle the powder over the rabbit and work through the fur to the skin. Some owners may be concerned about possible ingestion of flea powders by their pets; however, the presence of active ingredients within these powders is limited, as much of the powder itself is carrier agent. As long as rabbits do not consume an excess of this powder, it should not pose a threat to their health.
Topical Flea Treatments: Topical medications can also be effective flea treatment for rabbits. These treatments are liquid or gel medications applied between the rabbit’s
shoulder blades. Safe flea medicine for rabbits include Advantage, Revolution, Program, and Stronghold, although owners should consult with their veterinarian before treatment to insure proper dosing. When treating two or more rabbits with this method, it necessary to keep the rabbits separated to prevent the ingestion of the medication through licking
Apple Cider Vinegar: Using 1 part vinegar and 1 part water the rabbit can be sprayed with the mixture and rubbed in to their fur to get rid of flea infestation. As a preventative measure you can add about 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per 1 Gallon of water to your rabbits daily water supply. In addition the apple cider vinegar has numerous health benefits for your rabbit.
What rabbit flea treatments should be avoided?
Flea Collars: Although flea collars are often effective at controlling fleas on dog or cats, these collars should never be used on rabbits. The medication coating these collars is offered in dosages far higher than is safe for small, lightweight animals like rabbits. Additionally, rabbits dislike being restrained by collars, and will most likely not allow for the collar to remain on long-term.
Flea Baths or Dips: While some pet grooming services or veterinary offices may offer dips or baths to combat rabbit fleas, these treatments are not recommended by rabbit experts. Unfortunately, both the ingredients of the dip and the stress of the bath itself could potentially be fatal, and so this method should be avoided.
Topical Medications Frontline or Sentinel: Unlike flea treatments deemed safe, Sentinel and Frontline are not safe flea medicine for rabbits. These medications have been shown to cause a variety of adverse reactions in rabbits, including seizures and death, and should never be used in the treatment of fleas.
Prevention is key!
Because fleas can prove difficult to eradicate once an infestation has taken hold, the best way to treat rabbit fleas is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Regular vacuuming and steam cleaning can substantially reduce the occurrence of fleas within your home. Additionally, insect sprays, flea bombs, or boric-acid carpet treatments may be employed to keep your home flea free. Just remember, always keep rabbits, and all other pets, away from treated carpets or rooms for twenty-four hours after treatment.
Overall, rabbit fleas are an irritating, but treatable pest. A variety of methods are available to concerned pet owners looking to rid their rabbit of these pesky insects, but some treatments should be avoided. To keep your pet safe, remember to carefully review all ingredients and speak with your veterinarian before treating your furry friend for fleas.
Have your rabbits ever had fleas? Do you have any experience with treating them? What has worked for you? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.