|The Condition and Symptoms:
Sore hocks or pododermatitis is a pressure-related condition in which the “soles” (weight-bearing undersides) of rabbits’ feet become raw and inflamed, and in particularly severe cases, ulcerated. Pale pink calluses covered by a fold of fur can often be seen on the bottoms of rabbits’ paws, and rabbits can live comfortably with them. Pododermatitis arises when these sensitive areas become highly aggravated. If the state becomes very serious, oozing ulcers will develop, making the rabbit vulnerable to infection. The condition is painful for the rabbit and often irreversible.
Rabbits can be genetically predisposed to pododermatitis. Rexes, which have thinner fur pads protecting paw bottoms, are naturally more vulnerable to sore hocks. Larger breeds also inherently carry more weight on their hocks, and this can promote the development of sores. Genetic predispositions are greatly exacerbated by environmental factors, and even rabbits without any genetic inclination can suffer from sore hocks if exposed or subjected to the following conditions:
In order to better comprehend how or why the above factors can aggravate pododermatitis, consider your rabbit’s physical build, which has evolved for its “natural” living environment on earth and grass. Both of those naturally occurring surfaces are far more compliant and porous than wire, carpeting, wood and other indoor and synthetic surfaces. Our companion animals are descendants of rabbits who performed most or all of their daily activities (i.e., eating, sleeping, running, and playing) on surfaces into which nails and paws can sink. These more forgiving surfaces help reduce weight-related pressure and force on the rabbit’s hocks.
Of course, the best treatment is prevention. There are several ways to prevent the development of sore hocks, including these tips:
For situations that have already become serious, medical treatments include:
Sore hocks are notoriously difficult to treat, and a challenge to prevent. You can avoid pododermatitis by providing your rabbit with a clean, soft, and hygienic lifestyle, and by being attentive to his or her physical condition. However, even some of the most pampered rabbits still develop pododermatitis. If you notice that your rabbit’s hocks have become somewhat raw, immediately improving your rabbit’s living environment and soothing the area with a topical ointment can promote recovery and prevent development of an acute condition. If the situation appears to worsen, contact your bunny-savvy veterinarian, as a prescribed treatment may be necessary.
Note: New-Skin has been a great and highly effective treatment for sore hocks. It provides extra cushion to take weight off the hock, and protects the inflamed area, allowing it to heal. Just place some on the affected area and hold your bunny until it dries. Each treatment will last several days.
Copyright 2005 Tania Castaneda
Suggest this page to a friend!