Flooring-can fleece make sore hocks worse?

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Lindsay Gunn

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Hi everyone, my bunny is a four year old Holland lop.
He is free roam on hardwood floor so I have interlocking puzzle mats https://www.amazon.com/Forest-Floor...hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4584413735470171&psc=1
prior to the bald spots I just used towels and a rubber with fabric mat (https://www.wayfair.com/rugs/pdp/sh...-anti-fatigue-mat-sbbc1089.html?piid=36158466)
I then added a fleece blanket in the cottontail cottage where he sleeps.

About a year ago I noticed a bald spot on his back paw and took him to the vet. The vet is one that was suggested by the House Rabbit Society. They said not to worry and this is normal but to add softer flooring on top of everything. I bought a memory foam bath mat which goes under the box where he sleeps during the day and I’ve covered everything in fleece and have added uline pads made from recycled denim under certain areas under the fleece.
Throughout the year the spots have gotten worse. He had bald spots under the nail area on his front paws and a bald spot on both back heels, so I brought him to the vet. Again they said he is fine and they didn’t think it was a fungal infection because it is symmetrical. Last week I brought him in as one of the spots in the back looked worse. Again I’m told he is fine.
His nails are clipped monthly at the vets. He is eating and drinking normally. I spoke with the vet tech who said to try ssd cream, which I have purchased and waiting to arrive.

His litter is yesterday’s news mixed with feline pine topped with a layer of Carefresh (added this in 6 months ago in case the litter was the issue). I have tested not using the feline pine or switching with horse bed pellets but again still no change.

Looking back the first spot appeared after I added the fleece to his bed area the first time. Prior to that he was sleeping on the second floor of the cardboard cottage.

I’m very frustrated because I’m trying to prevent this from escalating.
Is it possible that the fleece is making it worse? Could it be abrasive?

I’ve read about Snoozzy mats. Would anyone suggest these or have any other flooring suggestions?

The pictures attached show his heel from earlier this week. The picture of his front paws are from over the summer.
 

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Maki_p29

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Those do look pretty normal, maybe a little inflamed. Has it gotten worse since adding the fleece? I’ve heard that as rabbits age they get bald spots and can help tell their age at the Vet. As long as these spots don’t get inflamed, red, have puss/some type of infection or take up a large area of the paw it should be fine. I can see you care deeply about your rabbit and are alert to any changes. I see your concerns and they are valid. You’re a good bunny parent! Maybe try changing the fleece out with a different material to see if it makes a difference.
 

Augustus&HazelGrace

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I put preparation H on the spots and put a pulled apart cotton ball on it and wrap in a self-adhesive sports wrap. You will have to watch him to make sure he doesn't pull it off. Change once a day or if he pulls it off.
 

Blue eyes

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Improper flooring is not the only cause of sore hocks. From what you describe, the flooring may not be the issue. It sounds like you have padded mats, a variety of textures, and even soft litter. If absolutely everything is covered in fleece, then I'd pull back some areas. The key is to provide a variety of surfaces, something that can mimic the softness of natural earth.

Here is a good article on other possible causes:
http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/sorehocks.html
 

Lindsay Gunn

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Thank you guys for your feedback. It strangely did start to get worse since adding the fleece so I’ve switched up the materials and hoping for a change. It does seem to be getting slowly worse over time and I’m just trying to prevent it from escalating. Blue eyes Thank you for the article. I had actually reached out to the House Rabbit Society and Dana Krempels responded which was wonderful. She suggested that it could be due to something skeletal, arthritis, etc. He is only four and I would like to help him in any way I can. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks again.
 

April LD

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I found the same issue with some of my rabbits. Fleece was making the sore hock worse, now we use a rubber mat covered in 2 old children's sheets and it's gotten better. They ares till there but not so red and angry looking. I also use Bag Balm....it helps from what I can see.
Long ago, with my Binks, I used towels, but it is HELL to get all the hay out of it before you toss in the wash...the sheets are so much easier. I have this tool I bought that we use to "rub" off all the bunny hair and it works GREAT.
 

Lindsay Gunn

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April LD, thank you so much!!! I feel very relieved to know that I’m not imaging the fleece making it worse. When you say rubber mats and children’s sheets, do you know what material they are made out of? I was about to buy snoozzy mats but will hold off. Totally understand the frustration about the hay on towels:)
 

April LD

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Horse stall mats it what I bought and then place the sheets over it. I got mine at a Tractor Store, built cages with nic grids to fit around the stall mat, throw the sheet over...ad they love them. If you want a bit more cushion you can put the fleece UNDER the sheet and the sheet over the fleece. Gives them padding, the mats are rubber mats and can feel "hard/firm" under foot.
 

JBun

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I think foam puzzle mats would work equally well as the horse stall mats, plus might be cheaper and not so heavy. Then just put the sheet over that, or with fleece under for cushioning, or use a duvet that has its own padding. The key is a soft smooth surface that isn't abrasive to the feet.
 

Liung

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I’ve been fighting with Lahi’s sore hocks since 2014. They’re a bit ulcerated but haven’t gotten worse in 7 years! Every vet I talk to says they’re amazed the sore hocks are so mild.

A talk on sore hocks I attended had a vet claim that you should avoid any synthetic materials such as polyester carpet, as that material is abrasive. “If you wouldn’t want to slide across it on your knees, it’s bad for sore hocks!!”

Which, um, there is very very little that I would like to slide across on my knees...?

I think that’s a little much but I did take what she said to heart and now I always look for floor coverings made of cotton, jute, wool, etc.

I’ve included a picture of their condo. I’m a BIG FAN of foam puzzle mats; my buns never stand on hard flooring save a single wooden ledge in the litter box cabinets, everything is covered in foam. On the shelves of the condo, the foam mats have polar fleece covers I sewed for them. The middle shelf has a cotton mat over top as well. The main room is covered by a jute rug on one side and a cotton rug on the other.

Personally I find the jute rug incredibly uncomfortable to stand on with my bare feet, the weave digs into my skin. The buns don’t hang out on it much, but they LOVE zooming around it, it seems to give them very good traction.
 

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April LD

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My buns chewed up my foam mats...I don't know why, but every single one got chewed...but it is an option. I would start with a small set to make sure that your bun doesn't chew them up.

Good luck!!!
 
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