Pets have been around almost forever. For many of us, a dog, cat, or rabbit is a friend or family member. And while it’s proven that contact with an animal can benefit our well-being and health, it can also be a potential risk to other household members and us. This risk involves the possibility of transmitting certain diseases from an animal to another animal.
These can be caused by various etiological agents (pathogenic microorganisms): bacteria, viruses, or parasites. In the following article, we will answer the question of what diseases can be transmitted by domestic pets. We will also suggest how we can guard against zoonotic infections.
Rabbits are fantastic pets, but remember that they are closely related to wild rabbits. This makes them, like animals living in the wild, hide signs of illness until their health deteriorates very seriously. That’s why a domestic rabbit needs to be watched carefully, cared for hygienically, and watched with a proper diet. Regular vaccinations and follow-up visits to the vet are also a necessity.
Thanks to such procedures, we can detect the development of domestic rabbit diseases fairly early and start treatment. What diseases of pet rabbits need special attention? We may encounter diseases of the rabbit’s eyes, ears, skin, catarrh, and mosquito-borne rabbit diseases. None of these we should ignore and treat on our own. Here are the most common rabbit diseases.
What you can get from a rabbit, but only in theory
Encephalitozoonosis – and it takes an extreme here. Few such cases have been described in the literature. Really, in daily contact with rabbits, even undergoing an active form of the disease, there is no cause for concern.
Tularemia – is a bacterial disease caused by the bacillus Francisella tularensis, which was even mentioned in the TV series “Doctor House,” so as you can deduce, it is scarce. The reservoir is mainly hares and wild rabbits, but it can also be transmitted by ticks. The threat to domestic rabbits is negligible.
The disease is nasty and challenging to treat, but it shouldn’t bother you unless you catch and bind wild rabbits and hares. Of interest – tularemia has been studied extensively as a potent bioweapon. So the rabbit’s contribution to the annihilation of mankind could be pretty significant.
Ragworm is one of the few rabbit diseases described in older textbooks, which is very often misdiagnosed. It is caused by actinomycetes – prokaryotic organisms that take the form of Gram-positive bacteria. Until a dozen years ago, many doctors misdiagnosed this disease in rabbits instead of the traditional perianal abscesses.
Taking cattle as an example, the infection usually takes the form of tumours on the jaw. In rabbits, it happens to be isolated in smears, but it is infrequent as a pathogen. Rabbit transmission of radically to humans is difficult. By way of trivia: Actinomycetes are responsible for many antibiotics and the characteristic smell of fresh soil.
Pasteuriasis – although rabbits are quite often sickened by Pasteurella multocida infections (upper and lower respiratory tract infections, abscesses, ear infections), cats are at the forefront of zoonotic transmission to humans, being responsible for most infections – it’s all about the design of cat teeth, which leave deep wounds when bitten and introduce the pathogen deep under the skin.
Next in line are dogs. Rabbits are on the grey blanket here – as herbivores, their mouths and teeth are far less dangerous than those of carnivores. In humans, Pasteurella multocida infections often manifest as localized abscesses and wounds that are difficult to treat.
Giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis – protozoan diseases that, theoretically, a rabbit can sell to a dog. Both protozoa cause gastrointestinal catarrh and diarrhoea. Rabbits share the common type of Giardia duodenalis. Transmission to other animals is described in the literature as possible but unconfirmed by described cases. The occurrence of cryptosporidiosis as a zoonosis from a rabbit is also associated with theoretical risks.
The literature also gives such extreme examples as plague or filariasis, but I won’t even go into that. Our rabbits don’t even think about transmitting the plague bacillus to us.
What can’t you catch from a rabbit?
Toxoplasmosis is toxoplasmosis that pregnant women are frightened of (so it seems from your statements), and poor rabbits have nothing to do with it. A rabbit can contract toxoplasmosis itself (very rare), while it cannot infect directly, as it is not a definitive host and does not excrete oocysts with its faeces.
The infection can be detected in rabbits .by a blood test for antibodies. Some chance of infection occurs if a sick rabbit is eaten. Raw. Of course, he would have to have this toxoplasmosis first. Go better to play the lottery.
Scabies – rabbit scabies can really bite you or your dog and irritate the skin locally. Scabies in rabbits are most often localized in the ears and manifests themselves in scabs with exudate and downy efflorescence inside the ears (that’s the parasite’s excrement). Treatment is not complicated, but it usually needs to be repeated, and the surrounding area needs to be well disinfected.
Coccidiosis – There are many types of coccidia or protozoa from the eimeria family. Those typical rabbits are not dangerous to dogs – their digestive tract is not a friendly environment.
Nematodes – the most common among rabbit nematodes assaults ambiguous is a typical rabbit friend, characteristic only of lagomorphs. It’s the one you most often come across in rabbit bugs – it looks like a half-centimetre-long, thin white worm and resembles a human pinworm, but it’s harmless to humans and can’t parasitize in humans. Our intestines are no match for it.
Myxomatosis and rabbit fever – are species-specific viral diseases. No matter how drastic a rabbit suffering from myxomatosis looks, neither humans nor any other domestic animal other than the rabbit has a chance to become infected.
Rabies is one of the viral diseases that have a zoonotic nature, and on top of that, it has a dramatic course and is still fatal, so it causes great concern.
Rabies – yes, as long as the rabbit is previously bitten by a sick bat or fox, so as you understand – the chance is slim.
I know of a case where a pet rabbit was adopted – it bit a child, and the paediatrician said that the innocent pet must be quarantined because of the risk of rabies. On the other hand, the chance of contracting it from a domestic rabbit is really highly slim. Rabbits are not vaccinated for rabies because, as herbivores, they are not its vector.
Can rabbits infect a dog?
Rabbits are among animals with relatively low disease resistance. Therefore, it is essential to prevent them (vaccinations, regular check-ups, proper diet, and grooming).
Rabbits can also carry fleas and ticks. Not only can your dog contract fleas or ticks from a rabbit if it comes into contact with one, but these parasites can transmit two severe bacteria: Tularemia and plague! Tularemia is caused by a bacterium called Francisella tularensis.
What if your dog eats a rabbit?
If your dog has eaten a rabbit, in most cases, there should be nothing to worry about. However, the rabbit may have been infected, or if it was already dead before your dog ate it, it might have been sick or poisoned. In that case, a visit to the vet may be necessary to prevent worse outcomes.
What diseases can dogs contract from wild rabbits?
Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever,” is a bacterial disease that occurs most commonly in rabbits, hares, and rodents but can affect humans and wild and domestic animals, including dogs. The disease is caused by toxins in the blood produced by the bacterium Francisella tularensis.
Why and how often should pets be dewormed?
All dogs and cats – young and old, outdoors and indoors, hunting dogs and small dogs kept on laps – can become infected with internal parasites. The degree of infection risk depends on the animal’s age and how it is kept, used, and fed.
Puppies can become infected with roundworms as early as fetal life. Kittens are born free of roundworms but can become infected while being fed by their mother. Later in life, there is a danger of infecting dogs and cats via invasive forms found in soil and water. The danger is also present in raw (untested) meat or in the tissues of small animals that prey on dogs and cats (mice, birds, or amphibians).
Animal parasites are a threat to humans!
Some species of parasites (tapeworms, roundworms, protozoa) can transmit to humans, becoming the cause of serious diseases such as ocular toxocariasis, echinococcal cysts, giardiasis, and toxoplasmosis. Therefore, by subjecting our pets to anti-parasite control and prevention – we protect our health!
How often should we deworm our pets?
Assessment of the frequency of deworming animals is based on the information obtained in response to the questions:
- Is the animal in an enclosure under control or not?
- Does the animal come into contact with individuals of the same species or other animals?
- Does the animal hunt mice or other animals?
- Is the animal fed raw meat, bones, or offal?
- Is the animal used for breeding, participating in exhibitions and competitions?
- Is the dog used in hunting as a hunting dog or for other professional tasks, such as as a police dog or for therapeutic purposes?
Based on the information thus obtained, the veterinarian can properly assess the degree of risk of infecting the animal with parasites and determine the frequency of deworming.