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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 25642
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My male bunny is pulling out clumps of hair. He has

Customer Question

My male bunny is pulling out clumps of hair. He has completely balded his legs and chest. The behavior began from fleas, but we have had him treated by a vet twice and he appears to be flea free for a few weeks now. He looks terrible and we are constantly having to pull the hair off his teeth. I feel awful that I can't help him!
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

Kelly, Archer is barbering (hair pulling) himself. There are quite a few considerations when barbering occurs. Not all of the following will pertain to Archer, of course. This can occur when a dominant rabbit pulls a subordinate's hair and can be self-induced in rabbits fed low-fiver diets. These rabbits pull hair from the dewlap, ventrum (underneath), legs, and thorax (chest) as he has done. We also need to consider overgrooming as a dissociative behavior in response to stress due to overcrowding, boredom, aggression from cage mates, sexual frustration, or trauma. Generally, barbering causes alopecia without other signs of dermatitis but it can result in self-mutilation.

Treatment for barbering depends on its cause. Separating dominant and subordinate rabbits, providing a high-fiber diet, creating a less crowded enclosure as needed, neutering if sexual frustration is suspected, and ensuring adequate social stimulation are important considerations. A change in light cycle or intensity may help; in other words, adding to the hours of darkness (and thus encouraging more sleep) or either dimming or intensifying the light source. If no other treatment stops barbering, we can see how a psychotherapeutic drug such as haloperidol (Haldol, e.g.) dosed at 0.1-0.2 mg/lb orally every 12 hours affects Archer.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.