Sore Hocks

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Tally943

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After cleaning the rabbits hutch today, I decided it was time to trim my rabbits nails. My rabbits (3) live in a large, instillated hutch outside. During spring and summer, they go outside in the grass for several hours a day in an enclosed pen. Today I noticed something was wrong with Patrick feet. He is a 3 year old Dutch rabbit. I did some research and I think its Sore Hocks, which is caused by moisture and lack of exercise, which is possible. My other 2 rabbits do not show any signs of it, but they are different breeds. Tell me what you think it is. I plan to take Patrick to the vet once I can easily afford it (1-2 weeks), but if you think its more serious, I can find find the money and take him sooner. I was thinking about placing him in my house in a dog cage and letting him get some extra exercise until he goes to the vet as well.

Thanks

PS: Sorry for the bad pictures, I will try to take more tomorrow. Patrick doesn't like me taking pictures of his feet!

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whiskylollipop

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Wow, that's pretty extensive. Does he spend a lot of time in a wet litterbox? It looks like urine burn could be involved. From what I can tell there don't seem to be any cuts/inflammation/infection/irritation, so unless you can spot those in real life that just isn't showing in the pics, I don't think you need to rush to the vet.

If the skin looks pale pink and completely normal, you may be able to fix his hocks by simply changing his environment to minimise him stepping in moisture/urine-soaked litter. Change his litter more often, or put a grate over the litter. Some people strap baby socks on them, but it can be hard to keep them on and if he's still stepping in moisture, that'll just get soaked up. If you have neosporin that could help protect his skin too. Just make sure his environment is very clean and dry!
 

Tally943

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Thanks! I will definitely change the litter more often now, how often do you change your rabbits litter? I haven't heard of urine burn before, I will try putting some neosporin on his hocks tomorrow.
 

whiskylollipop

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I change litter every 4-5 days, but I used to have a bun who drank and peed a lot so I'd have to change his box every other day. It depends on how much urine is normally produced by your bun, as well as the absorbency of your litter type and size of the box, etc. Ideally your litter type should not retain moisture on the surface. Many of us use wood stove pellets/horse stall pellets, which are cheap, safe and very absorbent. Putting a layer of hay on top of the litter can also help maintain a dry-ish surface for your bun to stand on.

Urine burn is where the uric acid in urine slowly burns off hair and skin over time if the skin is constantly in contact with it.
 

RocketsMommy2012

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Rabbits feet are supposed to be covered with hair. The bare skin is what I would worry about. Definitely take him to see a vet.
 

mayachadwick

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Maybe put lots of fleeces/ towels on the floor of his cage, and do what the threads above said. :) Good luck! My rabbit has a small sore blister on his back hock, but I put some memory foam bath mats down in his cage and it seems to be good for him.
 

Liung

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My rabbits both have sore hocks because they were on concrete floor. (Not anymore, of course.)

They appeared as angry red bald spots on the very corner of their heels, hardly visible without pushing the fur away. But I caught them early; if they worsened, they would eventually form crusty scabs, eventually cracking and bleeding (at which point they are life-threatening as infection sets in and abscesses form).

Ulcerative podermatitus, or sore hocks, occur because rabbits' feet are made to lie flat on cushy, loose ground, with their claws sunk into it. When put on wire flooring, the usual cause of sore hocks, the wires dig into their feet, causing sores. When put on hard flooring, a less known cause and the issue in my case, their claws end up propping up their toes, shifting their weight from being evenly distributed along their foot to being significantly on their heels. The unnatural wear and rubbing over time causes ulcers to form. Sore hocks can occasionally happen due to slippery floor, as well, though slippery floor tends to cause joint problems more than sore hocks.

From what you've said, it doesn't sound like their flooring is particularly bad. If they're outdoor rabbits running around on grass, that's literally the best possible flooring they could have. It also doesn't look like sore hocks to me in the pictures, because again, they're caused by unnecessary pressure and rubbing (think blisters, essentially). I don't think you would get sore hocks anywhere but the hocks (heels) unless they're standing on wire.

But, just to cover your bases... If it is sore hocks, you're pretty much out of luck. They're almost impossible to treat, because you can't exactly put your rabbit in a wheelchair to keep them off their feet. The only solution is to clean them daily with antibacterial solution, and improve the flooring. Mine got the sore hocks diagnosis in April, they've had better flooring for 10 months now, and the most I can say is that it hasn't gotten worse, which is actually an accomplishment. My vet says it's almost unheard of for rabbits to get rid of sore hocks once they have them, because it's just so hard to create the conditions necessary to prevent them from being further aggravated. I've put mountains of effort into constantly improving their enclosure; there are no hard surfaces, the plastic bin is lined with grass mats, the concrete is covered with foam exercise mats, the wooden box is topped with a folded towel... And after several months of them successfully not destroying a piece of polar fleece that was their trial carpet, they're now getting pile carpet on the floor, which is the best indoor equivalent of grass.

But I don't think it is sore hocks your bun has. Here's hoping its something more treatable!
 

JBun

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That is very severe fur loss on the feet and is not normal sore hocks. I would suspect there is some other health condition causing this. Could be something like mites or could be him barbering the fur due to some sort of pain in his foot. Definitely needs to be seen by your vet, the sooner the better.

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/furloss.html
 

Tally943

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Update: I started to clean the hutch differently and made sure there wasn't any moisture in there for long. I can happily say his feet have lots of hair, and he is doing very well overall!
 

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