top of page

Rabbit Ear Infection

Rabbit Ear Infection: Causes, Symptoms, and What’s Next?

Ear infection in rabbits, also known as otitis media, are common in rabbits. They can be caused by a variety of factors. They generally cause the walls of the ear to be reddish, sometimes swell, sometimes bleeding, most times stinky..

Bacteria: Bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are common causes of ear infections in rabbits. They can enter the ear canal through a break in the skin, such as from a scratch or wound.

Yeast: Yeast, such as Candida albicans, can also cause ear infections in rabbits. Yeast infections are more common in rabbits with weakened immune and also more prevalent in rabbits living in humid areas. Lop ear rabbits are generally more prone as their ears lay covered, closed to the side of their faces. Its best to check on your lop’s ear’s every 2-4 weeks. Rabbits that have splayed back legs will tend to have yeast infection in the ear corresponding to the side where back leg is weak, as they have difficulty cleaning their ear with the back leg.


Parasites: Ear mites are small parasites that can live in the ear canal. They can cause irritation and inflammation, which can lead to an ear infection if not treated. An infestation generally looks like dark red dirt building up on the inner walls of the ear.

Foreign objects: Foreign objects, such as hay or bedding, can become lodged in the ear canal and cause irritation of rabbit ears, but this is less common than the factors above.

Common Symptoms of a rabbit ear infection includes:

Head tilt: Rabbits with a ear infection often hold their head tilted to one side. Do note that rabbits with E. cuniculi infection may also present head tilt as the main symptom. It is wise to get a rabbit savvy vet to run tests to determine if the rabbit got a ear infection or has elevated levels of E. Cuniculi in their body.

Pain: Rabbits with an ear infection may show signs of pain. Some resist being touched at their ears.

Discharge: Rabbits with an ear infection may have a discharge from their ear canal. The discharge is usually yellow, or brown.. sometimes when an infection occurs, there may be white pus. When there discharge, there usually is a foul smell..

Swelling: The ear canal may be swollen and red, bleeds easily.

Scratching at the ear: Rabbits with ear infection may scratch at their ears or rub their head against things to relieve itch/discomfort.

*Smirking lips (one lip slightly lifted, looks like bunny has paralysis on one side of the face): From time to time we encounter bunnies with a stroke-like condition on the lips where one side is lifted, below are 2 different rabbits with this condition. It is quite uncommon, but out of all the 5 cases ive seen, all of them were diagnosed with inner ear infection.

Whats Next?

If you think your rabbit has a ear infection, it is important to take them to a rabbit savvy veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. The veterinarian will likely perform an otoscopic exam to look inside the ear canal. They may also take a sample of discharge to send to the lab for testing to determine the underlying cause. Antibiotics will be prescribed if the infection is caused by bacteria, anti-fungal medication for yeast and anti-parasite medication such as revolution will be prescribed if the infection is caused by ear mites.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove a foreign object from the ear or if there is abcess going on, some vets do open up the ear canal to allow for easier draining of pus.

How to prevent ear infection?

There are a few things you can do to help prevent your rabbit from getting an ear

Keep your rabbit's ears clean: Regularly check your rabbit's ears for any signs of infection. I advise to check every 2-4 weeks for lop ears and monthly for upright ears. If you see any discharge or redness, contact your trust vet as soon as possible.

Use suitable ear cleaner to maintain/ prevent infections: We use an anti-bacteria, anti-fungal natural ear cleaner called the Dechra Mal-Acetic Otic cleanser (smells like green apple), but it has worked in maintenance for rabbits that have recovered from ear infection. Dechra is also one of the trusted ear cleaner brands that most rabbit savvy vets prescribe for their ear wash, fungal treatment ear solution. We also noticed that rabbits who are regularly on this solution weekly generally don’t develop ear infection. For those who prefer to do basic cleaning (if your rabbit does not already have an infection), u may use buffered saline on a cotton pad to wipe the ear- clean only what you can see, do not try to dig what you cannot see.

Avoid letting your rabbit scratch its ears: If your rabbit is scratching its ears, it may be a sign of an ear infection. If there’s is an open wound causing the itch / infection, and the rabbit is scratching at it making it worse, you may need to purchase a elizabethan collar (e collar) for your rabbit. This is to prevent aggravating any wound.

Treat any underlying medical conditions: Rabbits with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop ear infections. If your rabbit has any underlying medical conditions, such as respiratory disease, be sure to treat it as well.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page