Ear Canker Treatment for Rabbits - Ear Mites

by Laurie Stroupe

What we think of as ear canker is actually an advanced case of ear mites, specifically Psoropetes cuniculi. You will recognize it by the yellowish and/or greyish crusts in the ears, sometimes reaching massive proportions. But small crusts, head shaking, and scratching can be signs of a milder case.

These ear mites have a 21-day life cycle. So any treatment must extend beyond 21 days. Both resources that I consulted* recommended treating with ivermectin for three treatments at two-week intervals. Quesenberry additionally notes that the topical use of mineral oil and flea powder are less effective treatments.

I don’t recommend that you try to remove any crusts that have formed in your rabbit’s ears. According to Richardson, removal of the crusts is very painful and should be done under sedation. Additionally, once treatment has begun, the crusts should heal on their own accord.

If you’ve treated your rabbit for head shaking with ivermectin according to the schedule above and see no improvement, you must consider that the rabbit’s discomfort could be from another source, such as an inner ear infection.

*Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery, by Katherine E. Quesenberry & James W Carpenter
Rabbits: Health, Husbandry & Diseases, by Virginia Richardson

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Editor’s Note: we are planning to expand this article.  Feel free to send us your experiences with treating ear mites.

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