The Dangers of Amoxicillin Usage In Rabbits

Picture of rabbit at the vet

Can Rabbits Take Amoxicillin?

All antibiotics are created equal, right?  Amoxicillin is one of the most common ones used in veterinary practices, because of its proven ability to fight most bacteria.  It considered safe by veterinarians for a wide variety of animals. 

However, recent reports have proven that this isn’t true for rabbits.  Severe and even fatal reactions have been noted in the rabbit farming industry. Amoxicillin is commonly referred to as the new and improved penicillin, because it has a longer lasting effect in the gut and a better absorption rate.

In animal health it is used to not only treat bacterial infections, but also prevent them.  Animals with cuts or wounds, teeth or gum infections, upper respiratory illnesses and even bladder infections are often prescribed Amoxicillin as the first course of action.

Why Is It Dangerous for Rabbits?

In rabbit farming we are seeing an increasing number of cases where rabbits are falling seriously ill from the use of Amoxicillin. Unfortunately, these concerns are not widely recognized in the veterinary field as of yet.  There are still a number of veterinarians who have used Amoxicillin to treat rabbits— without the adverse reactions.  However, when it comes to your rabbit farm the risks outweigh the benefits.

Since not all veterinarians are aware of the dangers of Amoxicillin to rabbits, it is up to you to learn the facts.  So be forewarned that some veterinarians do believe it is safe.  On the other hand, veterinarians who work with rabbits on a regular basis have seen the dangers and are aware them. Since they tend to 5 to 10 rabbits, daily, there’s not much that they haven’t seen.  These are the types of animal doctors that you want to seek out.

Amoxicillin works by destroying the beneficial gut flora which allows for the growth of pathogenic bacteria.  This is where it gets tricky, if the pathogenic bacteria are of certain strains they can produce toxins that will actually cause death.  The prognosis is all dependent upon the quantity and strain of the harmful pathogenic bacteria left in the intestines.  Some rabbits are able to fight off the toxins, but no one is certain why all rabbits aren’t susceptible to them.

In many cases, the reaction isn’t immediate but by the time you see the symptoms it may be too late to do anything about it.  Additionally, evidence seems to indicate the reactions taking as long as ten days after treatment to appear, which makes it difficult to diagnose the cause of the reaction.

Precautions You Can Take

Once your rabbits have been exposed getting them treated is a challenge.  However, the good news is that there are some precautions that you can take to avoid the situation altogether.

Due to the way Amoxicillin works in the gut, you can protect your rabbit’s digestive system with probiotics.  For example:  Acidophilus is an available as an over the counter probiotic for replenishing good bacteria in the stomach.  Bene-Bac has come up with a gel form of probiotic that is easier to administer if your rabbit won’t eat the chewable tablets.

Another precaution is to ask that your veterinarian administer other antibiotics either subcutaneously or via injections.  Not having to pass the antibiotic through the digestive tract will protect the rabbits from further complications that could end up jeopardizing your rabbitry.

If you rabbit has an infection or is in need of antibiotics, make sure that you address the situation quickly and don’t let it linger. The bottom line is that as a livestock farmer you must always do what you can to protect your animal’s health.  Likewise, don’t forget that even in the most threatening of situations, there are options but knowledge is key.

Image Courtesy of WikiPedia.


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