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Rabbits USA: All About Feet

Learn about the ailments that could knock your pet off its feet, and how to avoid them.

By Elisabeth Simone-Freilicher, DVM, DABVP (Avian)

Rabbits have surprisingly delicate feet, so foot problems in pet bunnies are unfortunately very common. Unlike many small mammals, rabbits do not have fleshy pads on the surfaces of their feet. Instead they rely on thick hair to protect their delicate skin. For this reason, rabbits are more susceptible to foot problems than many other pet species.

Foot conditions can be very painful and, like most prey animals, rabbits do not tolerate pain well. Chronic pain can lead to inappetance and gastric stasis, and loss of appetite can cause other health issues. Untreated, some foot conditions can allow infection to enter a rabbit’s body, which can lead to heart and kidney disease.

Unfortunately, once a foot problem develops, veterinary help is usually necessary — successful home treatment is rare for most of these conditions. Like many rabbit health conditions, prevention and early treatment are the keys to good health.

When Good Feet Go Bad

Bone Fractures:
Rabbits possess extremely strong muscles in their hips and legs. When combined with their relatively fragile bone structure, breaks or fractures can occur if a rabbit falls on a hard surface or struggles violently. Fractures can occur when legs, feet or nails become trapped in cage grating or bars. As in humans, broken bones are excruciatingly painful, and a rabbit with a broken limb requires veterinary attention.

**For the full article, pick up the 2008 issue of Rabbits USA or click here to buy the issue.**

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