Pododermatitis – Rabbit

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This is the epitome of a husbandry related disease. All too frequently the pet rabbit is kept on unsuitable substrate and cannot bear weight normally on the claws (ie. digitigrade). If weight-bearing is transferred to the plantar aspect of the metatarsus, pressure sores develop on the skin in that area. These can spread to subcutaneous tissues and, in advanced cases, the superficial digital flexor is displaced, which is a frequent finding in adult rabbits, particularly heavy adult bucks of which the feet become ulcerated (decubitous) due to contact with a dirty cage floor.

Predisposing features include thin fur pads, moist or abrasive substrate or wire flooring, obesity frequent thumping.

Bacteria isolated often include Pasteurella multocida and Staphylococcus aureus - human strains of the latter often cause renal infarcts in rabbits (Okerman 1994). Lawton (1993) states that Corynebacterium pyogenes may also be involved.

Clinical signs vary from a mild hair loss, seborrhoea, through erythema and cellulitis to acute ulceration involving the skin of the plantar surface of the tarsi and metatarsi. The condition is further addressed in the lecture on locomotor disturbances.

For a full and exhaustive treatise of pododermatitis you are referred to Harcourt Brown F (2002) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine pub Butterworth Heinemann Oxford, pages 233-240.


  • Harcourt Brown, F. (2002) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine pub Butterworth Heinemann Oxford ISBN 0 7506 4002
  • Lawton (1993)
  • Okerman, L. (1994) Diseases of Domestic Rabbits. Blackwell Scien¬tific Publications 2nd Edition