"0821Singapore Rabbit Persistent Itch pet health and welfare educational for animal lovers, excerpts from The Glamorous Vets, Singapore, sponsored by  AsiaHomes Internet.

Biting its toes off

Young rabbit with a two very itchy toes
"Could it be rabbit mange?" asked Mr Fonseka.  He had surfed the internet and using the keywords, "Singapore veterinary clinics" to find the nearest veterinary clinic, he saw a web page listing all the Singapore veterinary clinics.   My practice was just three blocks away. 

He would have read all information on skin diseases of rabbits in the internet too and the red dry flaky skin of the swollen second digit of his rabbit certainly looked like mange lesions.  There were a small 5-cm dry patch of skin on the neck of the rabbit.   A few dried up spots of hair less skin in the right ear flap, behind the ear.

"The distribution of dry scaly skin in the sarcoptic mange of rabbits is usually in all paws, the edge of the ear flap, nose and  eye lids," I replied.   "The mange mites multiply in these sites, but in this 6-month-old rabbit, only two toes are affected." 

It was not possible to scrape the lesions to check for mange mites as the rabbit would be traumatised.  I gripped the neck skin and examined the lower part of the right front paw.  There were two or three deep cut wounds in the pad area. "What would have caused these sores?"  Nobody knew as the rabbit was kept in the balcony of the Housing and Development flat.

The rabbit started to groom its right fore paw again.  This was the cause of its loss of hair as it fixated its licking of the sore toe. It was as if it was trying to get rid of this itchy digit and the next one which also lost its hair due to self-inflicted licking.

"It is not practical to put on an Elizabeth collar on its neck," I said.   The rabbit had long ears.  "Use a facial cotton around its paw and wrap it up with a bandage which is changed daily after you have washed the paws in warm water and a medicated solution," I said.     

An anti-itch injection was given.  Mr Fonseka delegated the job of nursing the rabbit to his son and daughter. "A follow up in 7 days will be necessary," I said. "If the rabbit licks its digit for several weeks, the digit may become gangrenous as the blood supply gets cut off owing to persistent irritation and it would have to be amputated."

As to why its neck and one ear had patches of hairless skin, it was hard to answer this question. The balcony had no sharp areas and the sliding door tracks on the floor would not be sharp too.  

Perhaps, the sharp nails of the rabbit had injured these areas as it tried to get rid of its itchiness daily. It would have started to rub its right paw on these areas automatically as the "scratch reflex nerve pathway" which originated from the brain to the toe would be activated. This subject would need to refer to the rabbit neurologist but I doubt there are any in this world. I hope there would be a follow up by the owner.

I hope the rabbit could sleep better the next few days as the anti-itch injection gave relief.  Could it be rabbit mange? It might still be the early onset of this disease and usually the nose would be affected but the nose was clean. However a review in 7 days was necessary.


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