ISSN 2398-2969      

Dermatology: pruritus

Clapis

Introduction

  • Cause: pruritus/itching is a primary cutaneous sensation. It may be induced from the epidermis, dermis or mucous membranes. In a survey, pruritis (40%) and alopecia (25%) were the most common presenting signs in a rabbit of a primary dermatological condition.  It may be difficult to recognize, as rabbits find scratching of specific areas difficult (except the ears). Biting or chewing of areas that are accessible to the mouth is much more likely. It is a sensation that causes the rabbit to scratch, rub, chew or lick a certain area and is often an indicator of skin inflammation.
  • Signs: areas of wet fur, areas of alopecia, owner reports of scratching visualized.
  • Diagnosis: skin scrapings, acetate strip samples, hair plucks, Wood's lamp examination.
  • Treatment: treat underlying cause(s).
  • Prognosis: depends on underlying cause(s).

Presenting signs

  • Mild to severe scratching, licking, biting or chewing an area of the body.
  • Depends on underlying causes but often may see cutaneous signs and/or ectoparasites. Self-trauma and cutaneous inflammation often observed.
  • Perianal rubbing (rabbit pinworm, Passalurus ambiguus Oxyuriasis).
  • Changes to behavior, eg weight loss, anorexia, lethargy, aggression or hiding away.

Acute presentation

  • Extensive self-trauma.

Age predisposition

  • Can affect rabbits of any age.
  • Dermatophytosis may be more commonly seen in younger rabbits.

Gender predisposition

  • Can affect rabbits of either gender.
  • Older entire does can have a large dewlap and may be predisposed to moist dermatitis in this area.

Public health considerations

  • Dependent on diagnosis.
  • Dermatophytosis Ringworm and Cheyletiella parasitovorax Cheyletiella parasitovorax have zoonotic potential and can cause skin lesions in people.

Pathogenesis

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Lee A (2021) Managing disease outbreaks in captive herds of exotic companion mammals. Vet Clin Exot Anim 24 (3), 567-608 PubMed.
  • Fehr M (2015) Zoonotic potential of dermatophytosis in small mammals. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine 24 (3), 308-316  SciDirect.
  • Fehr M & Koestlinger S (2013) Ectoparasites in small exotic mammals. Vet Clin Exot Anim 16 (3), 611-657 PubMed.
  • Harvey C (1995) Rabbit and rodent skin diseases. Semin Avian Exotic Pet Med 4 (4), 195-204 ScienceDirect.
  • Hillyer E V (1994) Pet rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 24 (1), 25-65 PubMed.
  • Timm K I (1988) Pruritus in rabbits, rodents, and ferrets. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 18 (5), 1077-1091 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Varga M (2021) Dermatologic Diseases of Rabbits. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 4th edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E, Orcutt C J, Mans C & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, USA. pp 220-232
  • Vella D (2013) Dermatopathies. In: Clinical Veterinary Advisor. Birds and Exotic Pets. Eds: Mayer J & Donnelly T M. Elsevier, USA. pp 360-364.

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