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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16297
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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my friends rabbit has various sized bumps under its skin.

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my friend's rabbit has various sized bumps under its skin. Experienced vet hasn't seen it before. Bumps are painful, but rabbit seems energenic and lively.
Current on pain meds. Awaiting the lab results.

Hello, I'm sorry to hear about your friend's bunny and I'd like to help.

There are a couple reasons to have multiple under the skin nodules that are uncomfortable to the touch. The good news it that with multiple lumps cancer or a tumorous cause is unlikely.

The two most common causes are abscesses under the skin, usually due to a pasteurella infection or an infestation with cutrebra or bot fly larvae.

Pasteurella is a bacterial infection that is endemic (meaning it is always found even if not all bunnies appear sick) in some rabbitries. It can cause upper respiratory infection symptoms, pneumonia, eye infections, oral infections and abscesses, lymph node infections and abscesses under the skin. Once a bunny has the bacteria it is virtually impossible to get rid of it completely. We treat flareups appropriately depending upon the symptoms. That may include eye drops, oral or injectable antibiotics, and surgical removal of abscesses. Rabbits have inspissated or dry cheesy, purulent debris, so abscesses cannot be simply lanced and drained they must be curetted out or better yet removed entirely.


Bot flies or cuterebra are flies that lay their eggs near rabbit dens or cages. The larvae emerge, get into the bunny through the oral cavity or nasal passages and travel to various spots in the body, normally settling just under the skin so the larvae can emerge when mature through a breath hole. In some cases the larvae can travel to other spots such as the brain or spinal cord or into the abdomen or lungs and cause serious problems. The larvae must be removed via a quick surgery as if we attempt to remove them via their breath holes and the larvae ruptures that can lead to a horrible anaphylactic type reaction.


What sort of lab testing was done?

Was it an aspirate or biopsy of one of the lumps? If so that should give a diagnosis and direction on therapy.

In the meantime I would look for breath holes associated with the lumps. Here are some pictures:


Make sure the bunny continues to eat well as either one of these disease processes burn lots of calories.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The photos look very similiar to the bumps. How can further spread or prevention be accommplished?
Mulitple locations seem risky to have to perform "quick surgery." Is it risky?
Also, it seems flies would be visable around the indoor case. Wouldn't they?
Is surgery the only treatment? Medications?

Thanks for the further information.

Once the eggs are laid and the bots get in the bunny there is nothing to be done except remove them as they pop up.

By quick surgery I mean opening up the breathing hole wide enough that the bot can quickly be removed without breaking the bot as the fluids inside the bot released into the bunny's subcutaneous tissues will cause a horrible reaction. It doesn't mean removing the entire lump via surgery. Once the bot is gone, and the wound is flushed the reaction will go away. So the procedure is very quick on each spot. There isn't any medication that works to kill the bot, and even if we had one the bot dying in the bunny would lead to a very bad reaction to the foreign material decomposing.


The flies come in, lay their eggs and leave to die very quickly. They don't eat as adults, so unlike the typical fly they do not hang around and the adults are rarely seen.

Prevention is using fine cage screening so the flies cannot get in to lay eggs. You can also use a pyrethrin based area treatment around the cage to kill the adult flies.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
my friends has said she has actually seen a fly or two; that is concerning.
Can you recommend a means to find a qualified vet experienced with bot removal? Is there a referal network?
I believe there is a Vet school in Raliegh, NC (not too far from my friend).

I can help you find a veterinarian that can help your friend's bunny.

Certainly the veterinary school in Raleigh should have a veterinarian at the small animal clinic that would be able to help you.

If not here is a link to a list of veterinarians with plenty of experience with rabbits:


Best of luck with this little one, please let me know how things go, thanks, XXXXX XXXXX


Dr. Kara and 2 other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I appreciate your continued efforts to help me help my friend. I imagine with the list, we should be able to finish the treatment options. Thanks again for your efforts
You are very welcome. Thank you for the positive rating. If you don't mind I'll check in with you in a couple weeks to see how things went with your friend's bunny.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
sure I'd be happy to give you an update.
Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
JUST received test results: lymphoma.
Wow, I am so sorry to hear that for her (my friend). She will be devastated. She loves that rabbit. She had it trained to do tricks and everthing. I'm deeply sadden and sadden for her. I understand chemo is not an option for rabbits. What can be done?

I am very, very sorry to hear about your friend's bunny's biopsy results.

Lymphoma is not very common in rabbits but when we skin lesions there are almost always lesions internally as well, involving the spleen, internal lymph nodes and liver. It is seen much more commonly in bunnies in Europe then in Northern America although we aren't certain why.

Treatment is fairly unrewarding as far as I know although your friend may wish to consult with a veterinary oncologist for the latest recommendations.

I am so sorry to hear that this wasn't a more treatable disease process.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. I don't think i will share that with her yet. As expected she is very upset.
That is completely understandable. She needs to process the diagnosis first and then decide what she wants to do from here. My sympathies are with her, this is really tough.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
She has decided to relieve his (bunny's)suffering and put him down within the next few days. She has been spending extra time with him to help deal with the inevitable loss. I've gotten pretty attached to the little critter too.
That must have been a very difficult decision for your friend. She is a kind person to put his comfort first. Thanks you for letting me know. Please pass on my condolences, I am truly sorry she (and you) are having to go through this. He sounds like a very special little bunny, take care, Dr. Kara.