Fleas are an incredibly unpleasant parasite for any animal to deal with. But in the case of rabbits, fleas can cause especially dire conditions if left untreated.
That’s why it’s so important to know how to tell if your rabbit has fleas – as well as how to get rid of them safely and effectively, without harming your rabbit’s health.
In today’s article we’ll be covering the ins and outs of what to do when your rabbit has fleas. From identifying fleas on your rabbits (and where they came from) to choosing an appropriate flea comb, you’ll also be learning why flea treatments for cats and dogs are NOT the right choice for rabbits.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be fully prepared to deal with any flea problem that might come up for your rabbit. Make sure that you’re able to take care of your rabbit’s health and get started reading right away.
How Can I Tell if My Rabbit Has Fleas?
Tell-tales signs of fleas on your rabbit are the same as you’ll see in dogs, cats, or people:
- Increased scratching with their hind feet
- Nibbling or chewing on their skin and fur
- Adult fleas visible as dark spots in your rabbit’s fur
- Flea eggs visible as white specks close to your rabbit’s skin
If in doubt, take the time to slowly and thoroughly brush through your rabbit’s hair. Look especially close right next to their skin, where flea eggs and dirt might build up. This is because fleas need to live close to your rabbit’s skin, as they feed off animals’ blood to survive.
Where Do Rabbits Get Fleas From?
It’s surprisingly easy to invite fleas into your home. Some of the most common ways that rabbits get fleas include:
- Spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in spring
- Living in a house with cats or dogs
- Messy or unclean homes give fleas more places to breed
- Tracking flea eggs in on your shoes and clothing
All of this means that one of the best steps you can take to prevent fleas (or stop them from returning) is to regularly and thoroughly clean your house. Combine this with grooming after any trips outdoors and try to keep your shoes away from your rabbit’s living area.
The First Step to Get Rid of Fleas: Use a Flea Comb
While a flea comb alone may not solve your rabbit’s flea problem, it’s an invaluable first step to take. We like the fine teeth and handle options of this comb from Gnawrishing to make the process easier and faster.
Work through your rabbit’s coat slowly and thoroughly, dropping any captured fleas into alcohol to drown them (water won’t work). Double-check around your rabbit’s ears and legs, common spots for fleas to hide.
- You may also like: PetArmor Plus vs Frontline Plus: What’s the Difference? (Vet Answers)
Should I Use Flea Drops on My Rabbit?
Rabbits for Dummies, by Connie Isbell and Audrey Pavia, advises that topical products like flea drops are the best way to treat fleas. However, not just any flea drop will do: If you’re certain that your rabbit has fleas, talk to your vet about getting a rabbit-specific flea drop; flea drops intended for dogs and cats can be harmful or fatal to rabbits.
Should I Use a Flea Collar on My Rabbit?
A popular option for cats and dogs with fleas, you may be tempted to use a flea collar for your rabbit as well. Like flea drops, though, flea collars are mostly intended for cats and dogs – and often carry much higher doses than any rabbit would need. For this reason alone, you should never use a flea collar on your rabbit (source).
Should I Give My Rabbit a Flea Bath?
Rabbits are not generally fans of water in the first place, as we’ve discussed in our article on how to bathe your rabbit. The stress of a bath can be more harm than the good it does even in the best of scenarios – but this is especially true with flea baths. The harsh chemicals of flea dips, shampoos, and powders are completely unsuitable for your rabbit, and you should never use them.
- Related Read: How To Bathe Your Rabbit & 4 Easy Ways (With Pictures)
Keeping a clean and tidy home is a great first step to take towards lowering the chances of your rabbit getting fleas. In the event of a flea infestation, a flea comb is your best bet for starting to treat at home right away. After this, though, you’ll need to call your vet to get specially designed flea medicine for rabbits. Avoid any flea medicines intended for dogs and cats and follow your vet’s directions to help your rabbit recover quickly and easily.
Image Credit: StoneMonkeyswk, Shutterstock