Sore hocks are a relatively common problem, especially in house rabbits. As domestic rabbits are usually kept on hard surfaces, their toenails cannot dig in to the ground...
Sore hocks are a relatively common problem, especially in house rabbits. As domestic rabbits are usually kept on hard surfaces, their toenails cannot dig in to the ground, resulting in more pressure on the heels of their feet. It is usually only seen on the back feet but can sometimes affect the front feet also in severe cases.
It is common for rabbits to have a small patch of thinner hair on the heels of their back feet; this can be seen as a small pink spot and is not a problem in itself. Issues arise when the skin becomes inflammed or abscesses form and it then becomes an ongoing illness that is quite difficult to treat.
Obesity and dirty living conditions are the main contributors to sore hocks. Some rabbits are also born with a thinner layer of hair on their feet or may have a small foot area in relation to their body size, putting more pressure on the feet. House rabbits kept mostly on carpeted floors are also at a higher risk of developing sore hocks. Very long toenails can also contribute, tilting the rabbit's foot and putting more pressure on the heel.
- rabbit unwilling to run around freely
- rabbit shifting weight between feet
Prevention / Treatment
Prevention is better than cure so keep your rabbit at a healthy weight. Clean out its hutch, cage or litter tray regularly and give your rabbit a fleece blanket or synthetic sheepskin to lie on. Keep its nails trimmed and ensure that its feet are dry and clean.
Sore hocks are notoriously difficult to treat and should always be done in consultation with your vet. Treatment may include antibiotics, antiseptic cream and bandaging.
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