An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that can be the result of a bite wound or other sort of infection. Sub-cutaneous abscesses appear as lumps below the skin, while facial abscesses may present as any sort of eye/mouth/nose problem, such as drooling, pain while eating, discharge, or a bulging eye. Your vet can treat sub-cutaneous abscesses by lancing and draining the pus, but because rabbit pus is so thick, this procedure can be difficult to do. After draining, you will want to keep the site open so that you can flush the wound periodically with a betadine or chlorhexadine solution to remove as much new pus as you can. In addition, the rabbit should get a treatment of antibiotics and possibly pain meds, too, and if things don’t clear up, surgery may be another option.
Tooth abscesses can be caused by all sorts of dental problems and are more difficult to treat than most skin abscesses. Work with your veterinarian to make a plan of attack.
Don’t be fooled: abscesses can kill a bunny. They’re nasty things that are difficult to get rid of, so if you suspect that your rabbit has one, take him to the vet right away.
Tips for home treatment:
- We like to give the bunny some Metacam ~15 minutes before we treat the abscess, because it can be very sore.
- Apply a warm compress to the abscess for ~twenty minutes several times a day to bring it to a head. A clean, soft cloth soaked in black tea works well, and it helps to have a second bowl of warm water to rinse the cloth every few minutes. When the compress cools, simply squeeze it out in the warm water, dip the cloth into the black tea, and reapply to the wound, making sure it’s not so hot that it will burn the bunny’s skin.
Essential oils: Two or three drops of tea tree or chamomile essential oils may be dripped on the warm compress before each application.
- If the abscess is closed, do not try to break, poke, or cut it open, yourself. Have the vet lance it for you.
If the abscess is open:
- After you’re done with the compress, try to gently squeeze the base of the wound to expel any pus, taking care that you don’t push the pus back in, which can cause further damage. Your vet may have also given you a curved tipped syringe with which you can try to flush pus out, too.
- Keep the abscess open as long as you can, though this isn’t easy to do. They usually close up in a couple of days. However, if you can keep it open, it will help it heal if the pus can drain out.
There are a variety of poutices you can make at home to help draw out the pus. If possible, cover the poultice with a bandage to keep it in place. Reapply after every time you compress and clean.
- cumin, tumeric, and water
- slippery elm
- flax seed softened in boiling water. Apply the mushy flax seed when it’s cool enough not to burn the rabbit’s skin, and remove it after it cools.
- Crab Apple Bach Flower Remedy is supposed to help with abscesses. Put a few drops in the water bowl every time you refill it. You can also place a few drops on the inside of the bunny’s lip if he’s amenable, though be careful not to touch the dropper to anything so that it stays sterile. If it does touch the bunny, clean it with boiling water.