Diseases of the Rabbit Ear

Speaker: John Chitty

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Diseases of the Rabbit Ear


Ear disease is common in rabbits- these is associated with both lop ears and a brachycephaly and results in a failure of cerumen drainage. Otitis appears secondary to this in some cases.

Clinical signs of ear disease include head tilt; irritation; head shaking; facial nerve palsy; and dysphagia, as well as non-specific pain signs including gut stasis.

Examination of the rabbit ear is not easy especially in lop eared rabbits where conscious examination of the tympanum is basically impossible. imaging is therefore critical and this talk will discuss imaging techniques including radiography, ultrasonography and CT.

Use of ear swabs for culture and cytology will be discussed.

As an anatomical problem, management of ear disease in rabbits differs from management of ear disease in dogs. Conventional polypharmacy products for dog otitis have little or no place in rabbit medicine. Instead, physical therapies including ear syringing are very useful and subsequent use of squalene-based cleaners can assist greatly.

The talk will also describe surgical techniques- again, being an anatomical problem surgery is of great assistance in management, especially of aural diverticula (often referred to as “ear base abscesses) will be demonstrated.

Learning objectives

· Recognition of ear disease in rabbits

· Diagnosis of ear disease in rabbits

· Medical therapy of ear disease in rabbits

· Surgical options for ear disease in rabbits

· Management of the acute head tilt case