Although we have inside rabbits, some of us have cats or dogs that come and go outdoors, who may bring in those nasty fleas! When they get on the buns, what do we do?Here are the Do's & Don'ts from the HRS on getting rid of them.
We like the Revolution (kitten & puppy dosage) for our buns and shelter buns who come in with fleas. It works fast and we have never heard of any issues with it.
Safe treatments to prevent and kill fleas on rabbits include Advantage (imidocloprid), Program (lufenuron) and Revolution (selamectin). (Note: Advantage has been known, rarely, to irritate the skin of certain rabbits.) The latter is preferred, as it is also effective against various types of mites that cause symptoms of mange, ear canker, and "dandruff" (which is often caused by fur mites in the genus Cheyletiella). These products are available from your rabbit-savvy veterinarian. We use .4ml per rabbit of Advantage. For Revolution, we use the kitten dose and apply it between the shoulder blades once a month for at least three doses. Revolution is usually dosed at 6mg/kg. If you have the 60mg/ml solution (ie the kitten solution), use 0.1cc per kg of body weight (1kg = 2.2lb). If you have the 120mg/ml solution, use 0.05cc per kg of body weight. You'll need a tuberculin syryinge (no needle!) from your vet to measure such a small quantity of liquid. Apply to the back of the neck or other area where the bunny can't readily groom it off. It is essential to thoroughly clean your rabbit's cage and exercise areas after each treatment to control reinfestation, since fur and dander in the environment may contain mite eggs.
A flea comb is a non-toxic device that takes more patience, but is both physically and psychologically rewarding. Most rabbits learn to love the attention of being flea combed, and it can be used as a supplement to your main flea-control program.
The following products should NOT be used on rabbits:
*Frontline (fipronil) has been linked to neurological damage and death in rabbits, although this product is apparently safe for dogs and cats. The manufacturer (Merial) has placed a warning on the Frontline label stating that Frontline should never be used on rabbits.
*Flea powders, even those considered safe for cats and kittens or advertised as "rabbit safe", are not recommended for use on rabbits.
*Flea shampoos, even those considered safe for cats and kittens or advertised as "rabbit safe", are not recommended for use on rabbits. Bathing of rabbits, in general, is strongly discouraged because the stress of the bath itself can cause serious health problems, and has in some cases been linked to the death of the rabbit.
*Flea baths or dips are NOT recommended for this reason.
*For environmental flea control, sprays and "bombs" are not recommended, as they may leave harmful residue that the rabbit can ingest. Safer alternatives include borax and diatomaceous earth, worked into the carpet where fleas leave their eggs.
BathsAlthough a rare bunny may grow up swimming in the family pool and going on camping trips where she paddles around in the lake, the vast majority of rabbits, like their ancestors, do not relish getting wet. Even an occasional bath is quite stressful to the average rabbit, and is not recommended.
NEVER--unless your veterinarian advises it to bring down a fever--should you give a sick rabbit a bath. Because seemingly healthy rabbits can have undiagnosed problems, it's best not to subject them to the stress of a bath. If your rabbit is very badly infested with fleas, there's a good chance that he is already compromised and may go into shock when bathed. There are many safe alternatives to flea control (see these under "Fleas," above). Also, a thoroughly wet rabbit takes a very long time to dry, so spot cleaning the dirty area with an application of baby cornstarch (available at any supermarket in the baby section) (do not use talcum, as it is carcinogenic) and then gently combing out the dirt with a fine flea comb is better than a wet bath.
A wet rabbit can quickly become hypothermic. If your rabbit is wet to the skin for any reason, be sure to thoroughly blow dry the bunny until even the undercoat is dry and fluffy. Normal rabbit body temperature ranges from 101oF - 103oF. Because rabbit skin is very delicate, and rabbits are sensitive to heat, never use a blow dryer on a setting higher than "warm," and constantly monitor the temperature of the air on the bunny's skin by placing your hand in its path.