Typically, inappropriate flooring can cause a bunny to develop sore hocks.
Therefore, installing suitable flooring that’s easy on your rabbit’s feet is your best bet to prevent sore hocks.
However, there is a lot more to know about sore hocks in rabbits.
What are Sore Hocks?
Sore hocks or Pododermatitis is a common condition in bunnies, characterized by inflamed, callused pink spots at the tip of an adult rabbit’s heels.
Rabbits naturally have soft, slightly pink heels covered with a soft thick coat of fur that keeps the area protected from all damaging elements.
But when said protective layer of hair is lightened or removed for any number of reasons, a bunny rabbit develops sore hocks.
If not taken care of timely, the issue can exacerbate and cause a bunny a tremendous amount of pain.
That’s not to say that your little one doesn’t feel discomfort to begin with, but it gets much worse if their sore hocks are worsened.
How To Prevent Sore Hocks In Rabbits?
The top three most effective ways to prevent sore hocks in a bunny include
Change The Flooring
Wooden, linoleum, or tiled flooring is not suitable for rabbits.
If you have such a surface in your home, try to change it to a soothing floor covering, such as a woolen rug.
That said, changing the flooring of an entire place can be difficult and definitely not a feasible solution.
So, the more convenient option would be that you carry your fluffy pal in your arms when they are indoors. Try to keep them off the floor as much as possible.
Let Your Bunny Walk On Sand
Your little one needs to be in a natural environment to feel comfortable and not develop sore hocks.
So, you should make arrangements to provide them with natural elements reminiscent of their wild habitat.
The easiest way to achieve that is having lots of mud and grass in your backyard for your tiny bud to hop on for the better part of the day.
If that’s too much and you think you cannot leave them unattended for so long, you should make their hutch safe and similar to a bunny’s natural habitat.
In other words, fill up your fur friend’s cage with mud and greenery.
More importantly, make sure they have abundant room in their home to play around so that they don’t want to escape the confinements of their hutch.
Don’t Use A Wired Hutch
A wired or mesh hutch is dangerous for a bunny as it has a cheese grater effect on a rabbit’s footpads.
So it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t keep a mesh cage, and even if you do, try to cover it with hay or grass to hide the wires.
If that seems like too much of a task for you, be sure to take your little one out of their abode and let them play on the grass every so often.
This way, they will not feel the urge to get out of their hutch and damage their paws on the wires (that make the walls of their home) in the process.
Change Your Bunny’s Bedding And Keep Their Hutch Clean
As we have already established, unsanitary living conditions are not good for your bunny’s heels.
Therefore, you should keep your pet’s cage clean and change the bedding often, especially when it becomes wet.
What Causes Sore Hocks In Bunnies?
There are primarily three causes of Ulcerative Pododermatitis in a bunny.
As mentioned above, unsuitable flooring is a major contributing factor in causing sore hocks in rabbits.
Since pet bunnies are more often than not exposed to hard or abrasive floor covering when they are inside homes, which can result in pododermatitis.
Unlike wild bunnies, domesticated rabbits don’t get to spend much time in the wilderness-on dirt and grass, to be specific.
What adds to the problem is exposure to unfitting flooring, which obviously leads to sore hocks.
The floors that commonly damage a bunny’s feet include
- Hardwood floors
- Linoleum flooring
If you have any of the mentioned surfaces in your home, try to keep your bunny off those as much as possible.
When the little fluffy mammals have to press their feet against an unnatural floor, such as wooden planks, their heels do not bend as they do on a natural surface made of mushy dirt and grass.
As a result, unnecessary pressure builds on a bunny’s feet, which eventually leads to sore hocks.
To save your tiny fluff friend from the pain of sore heels, try not to expose them to hard or abrasive (even if soft, such as a rug) floors.
Rabbit keepers generally set up wire cabinets to keep their bunnies. While that offers somewhat a natural environment to rabbits, it can be detrimental to a bunny’s feet.
When your little friend is inside their wired cage, they have abundant sand and soil to stand on and dig around.
But when they want to come out or communicate with you, they will press on the wires of their makeshift habitat to try and get out.
Unsurprisingly, doing so will hurt their heels and lead to sore hocks.
Rabbits love to be in open space, so when they are confined in cramped quarters, they are more likely to look for ways to escape.
Consequently, they will hit/press against the walls of their hutch and damage their feet.
That said, obviously, you can’t keep a rabbit free in a home all the time, so you are going to need a cage.
To avoid that from affecting your tiny bud’s feet, get a huge hutch for them to provide them with ample space to move around and enjoy, provided that you give them plenty of toys to keep them entertained. More on that later in the article.
Damped Bedding Or Unsanitary Quarters
Unhygienic living conditions are responsible for a bunch of ailments in all pets, not just rabbits.
But in bunnies, damped bedding or unclean living space can cause sore hocks.
When your little fellow moves around on wet bedding or is in dirty digs, their skin will become susceptible to developing dermatological conditions, particularly pododermatitis.
Obese bunnies are more likely to develop sore hocks as their heavy weight will put pressure on their feet.
This means that not getting sufficient exercise will cause your fur friend to put on weight, increasing their chances of getting sore hocks due to increased pressure on their feet.
Long nails in rabbits distort the way they bear weight, which can damage their footpads in severe cases.
Damaged feet are more likely to get pododermatitis.
Sometimes For No Reason
Sometimes you might notice redness and inflamed patches on your fluffy pal’s heels without any apparent causes.
In that case, you should look for any possible clues linking to your little one’s skin condition.
But there is a high chance you might not come across a reason because that’s astonishingly common in rabbits.
If that happens with your pet, you should go to the vet for treatment.
Signs Of Sore Hocks
Aside from the noticeable red patches on a bunny’s feet that a rabbit keeper can spot, there are some other signs indicating sore hocks.
Slowed/ Reduced Movements
If you find your little fellow sitting most of the time, they might have sore hocks. Other than that, if they struggle when they try to hop/walk, you should check their heels for raw, red patches.
Bald patches are sometimes the beginning of pododermatitis in bunnies.
So, if you see clear spots (without folds of fur) on your fluff friend’s soles, you should have a vet take a look at it because that can be the start of sore hocks.
Loss Of Appetite
Loss of appetite is more often than not a sign of an underlying condition or ailment in most pets. In the case of rabbits, it can be an indication of sore hocks.
If your little pal becomes disinterested in eating, you should check their feet for red patches.
Naturally, when they are in pain because of the sore spots on their soles, they will not want to eat.
Therefore, you should keep a close eye on your bunny’s eating routine to catch a common sign of sore hocks.
How To Treat Sore Hocks?
The best approach to treating sore hocks in a bunny is taking it to a vet so that they can look at the wound and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
The vet will clean the site and apply the cream before wrapping a bandage.
When you come home, be sure to keep up with the cleaning routine of your fur friend’s feet.
Remove the bandage and place them in lukewarm water. Gently clean the ointment and dry the wound.
In the end, apply an antibiotic ointment that your vet has prescribed.
To save yourself and your bunny from the pain of sore hock treatment, make arrangements to prevent your little bud from getting sore hocks.
Sore hocks are common in rabbits and cause them immense pain.
Save your fur pal from the agony of the painful skin condition by making the necessary arrangements and getting them treated if they get it.
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