Coccidia in Rabbits
Eimeria spp and other coccidial organisms can infect rabbits with a disease called coccidia, especially young and recently weaned rabbits.
These organisms live in rabbit intestines and also can infecting the liver. They’re species or host specific, meaning they only live in rabbits.
"Coccidia organisms can infect rabbits, especially young and recently weaned rabbits."
The severity of coccidia depends on the species of Eimeria, along with the rabbit’s immune state, age and environmental stresses.
How did my rabbit get coccidia?
Your rabbit may have acquired coccidia by coming in contact with or eating the feces of a rabbit that has passed coccidia cysts in its feces. It’s a direct life cycle, meaning it doesn’t have an intermediate host or carrier. Simply put, your rabbit can get coccidia if he or she directly touches or eats the contaminated feces of another rabbit.
What are the symptoms of coccidia in rabbits?
Many rabbits that have this disease do not show any symptoms or clinical signs. But if they do show signs, you may see diarrhea that’s watery, mucuosy and possibly blood-tinged. The diarrhea may be infrequent or intermittent (stopping and starting again).
You may notice these other signs as well:
- Lethargy (unenergetic)
- Not eating/lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Dehydration/not drinking
How does my veterinarian diagnose coccidia in rabbits?
Your veterinarian will likely run a fecal smear or fecal float test, which helps to identify the presence of the coccidia organism or oocyts.
What treatment will my veterinarian recommend for coccidia?
If your rabbit’s diarrhea has progressed to moderate to severe disease, your veterinarian will want to hospitalize your rabbit and provide supportive care until he or she’s well enough to go home.
Your veterinarian may also recommend at-home treatment with oral medications. During this time, it’s essential that your rabbit continues to eat a healthy diet.
"For successful treatment of coccidia, please follow your veterinarian’s directions very carefully."
And, since rabbits are coprophagic, (they eat their own feces or cecotrophs and can literally reinfect themselves), please make sure you diligently and meticulously clean your rabbit’s home environment to eliminate any and all oocysts so you can prevent reinfestation.
For successful treatment of coccidia, please follow your veterinarian’s directions very carefully.
This client information sheet is based on material written by Dr. Rick Axelson, DVM.