Medications are prescribed to treat ear infections in rabbits caused by bacteria, protozoa, and mites. More than one organism is often present in a rabbit ear infection. The veterinarian will likely perform a culture and sensitivity test on exudates from the rabbit's ear before prescribing medication, because many strains of bacteria are resistant to certain drugs. The veterinarian will treat symptoms as well as the underlying cause to reduce discomfort and secondary damage.
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Baytril is the trade name for enrofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic (a synthetic drug similar to quinine). It is usually the first antibiotic prescribed to rabbits because it is non-toxic and rarely has side effects. Many of the bacteria that cause rabbit ear infections are resistant to enrofloxacin. It is administered by injection or flavoured drops.
Ciprofloxacin is very similar to enrofloxacin, but fewer bacterial strains are resistant to it. It is administered orally or by injection.
Bicillin is an antibiotic made of penicillin G procaine mixed with benzathine, a drug that slows uptake into the rabbit's system. Most penicillins are fatally toxic to rabbits, but Bicillin is safe. It is usually injected.
Chloramphenicol is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is administered topically or by injection. Many bacteria are resistant to it, and side effects may include liver, kidney, blood, and bone marrow damage.
Aminoglycosides are antibiotics made of sugars derived from certain bacteria. They interfere with bacterial reproduction. They are administered topically and by injection. Oral administration is ineffective for treating ear infections. Some bacterial strains are resistant.
Panacure is a common anti-parasite drug used to treat infections caused by the protozoal parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi. This parasite infests rabbits' ears and goes on to cause extensive brain damage. Panacure is administered as an oral paste and may cause loose stool.
Ivermectin, trade names Stromectol, Mectizan, and Ivexterm, is an antiparasite medication used to treat ear mites in rabbits. It is usually administered by injection. It is important to also treat ear mite-infested rabbits for secondary bacterial infections.
Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation associated with ear infections in rabbits. Reducing inflammation relieves discomfort and symptoms such as ataxia (falling over) and head tilt, and speeds healing by increasing blood and air flow to the area. Corticosteroids are injected or applied topically.
Meclizine is an antihistamine and anti-nausea drug. It relieves the vertigo and nausea caused by ear infections and allows the rabbit to continue eating and drinking during an ear infection.
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