Rabbit Syphilis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Recovery, Cost, Prevention

Not only humans can get syphilis, but rabbits, too. It can be acquired if your bunny has sexual contact with an infected rabbit. If ignored, your pet may suffer a lot.

Immediate treatment can stop the disease from spreading. Learn more about rabbit syphilis: symptoms, causes, treatment, recovery, cost, prevention!

Symptoms of Syphilis in Rabbits

syphilis in rabbits

The symptoms may show 3 to 6 weeks after contracting the disease. The early signs of syphilis in rabbits are redness and swelling. You will first notice these on their external genitals. Pimple-like sores will start to appear.

Once ulcerated, it will develop into crusty sores. Since rabbits groom themselves, the sores may spread into their eyelids and nostrils. There can also be lesions on its lips and anus.

Aside from that, they secrete yellow pus. If you noticed these sores on your rabbit’s face, you better check its genital to confirm if it is syphilis.

Female rabbits may suffer from metritis or uterus inflammation. If they are pregnant, they may suffer from abortion. Neonatal death is also one of the symptoms.

On the other hand, bucks are sometimes asymptomatic. The only sign of illness is the star-shaped sores located on their scrotums. If left untreated, the prolonged infection may result in sterility.

Causes of Rabbit Syphilis

rabbit syphilis photos

Rabbit syphilis, also known as vent disease, is caused by Treponema cuniculi. This bacterium differs from the species responsible for human syphilis.

However, it is also contagious. These spiral-like bacteria are also called a spirochete. They travel through the rabbit’s bloodstream, so ointment cannot cure this disease.

Rabbit syphilis can be contracted through direct contacts, such as sexual contact. A rabbit may also have syphilis through the skin to skin contact.

Unfortunately, female rabbits can infect their newborn babies with the disease. It happens at birth when they pass through the infected vagina.

Since rabbit syphilis is nonzoonotic, rabbits cannot infect humans with the disease.

Treating Rabbit Syphilis

vent disease in rabbits

Before treating the disease, the veterinarian will conduct a diagnosis. It is to verify if your rabbit has syphilis.

An antigen card test may be conducted. It is a rapid immunochromatographic assay. Through this procedure, the presence of antibodies against the disease is detected.

Another kind of diagnosis is by doing an ELISA assay to check the presence of spirochete on the 0. 25 ml of serum. The vet may also take a sample of the microbes and run it into the microscope.

If your rabbit has the disease, it will undergo antibiotic therapy. As part of the therapy, the rabbit will be injected with penicillin. A benzathine penicillin can be injected for three to five weeks.

Another method is injecting procaine penicillin daily for seven days. Never give it to your pet orally since it can lead to enterotoxemia.

You can also combine benzathine and procaine penicillin. It is administered once a week for three weeks. Usually, its dosage is 20, 000 IU/kg.

Another method that the vet may administer is analgesia. It helps in relieving your rabbit from the pain it is experiencing. Rabbits may suffer from anorexia if they suffer pain brought by the disease. The analgesic can be in the form of NSAIDs or opiates.

You must also watch your rabbit’s diet while it is being treated. Once it experiences anorexia, it may suffer from hepatic lipidosis and gastric stasis.

As a rabbit owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your pet has the proper diet while on medication. If it doesn’t want to eat, you may have to feed it using a syringe. However, it may depend on the vet’s advice.

Because of the medication, your rabbit may suffer from diarrhea. As much as possible, prevent giving any pellets to it. This food usually triggers the bacteria that cause diarrhea.

For young rabbits with syphilis, don’t give any penicillin since it is dangerous to their health. Ask your vet what the best medicine to give them is. You can also postpone their treatment until they are young adults.

Recovery of your Rabbit from Syphilis

rabbit syphilis nose

It takes 10  to 14 days before your rabbit can be healed from the disease. Unless the lesions are gone, you should not breed your rabbit. You must also isolate your infected pet with other bunnies.

It will prevent the infection from spreading. Monitoring your rabbit’s diet is also essential since it may experience anorexia.

You must also check the recovery of asymptomatic rabbits before breeding them. If they had sexual contact while not fully recovered, other rabbits would be infected. Putting them in quarantine is advisable.

Cost of Treating Your Rabbit’s Syphilis

If you do the treatment, it may cost you up to $ 161. It includes the initial check-up, medicines, and syringes. But if you will let the vet do it, you have to prepare at least $ 282 to $ 300.

The price may depend on your location. Rabbit syphilis is not detrimental. However, it may lead to severe illnesses that can cause death to your pet.

Preventing Syphilis in Your Rabbit

is rabbit syphilis contagious to humans

Rabbits that are raised for breeding and mass production typically experience rabbit syphilis. If you have numerous rabbits in your backyard, watch out for this disease. If your rabbits are already infected, look for the source of infection.

Before you breed, check the genitals of your pets. Bucks may not show any symptoms. But they may have star-shaped scars on their scrotum.

These signify that they are affected by syphilis. Ensure that there are no lesions and sores. If your pets show any signs of illness, bring them to the vet immediately.

It is also vital to isolate the affected rabbit from the healthy ones. Place it in a cage alone until it is healed. If it finally recovers, clean and disinfect the cage before putting other rabbits.

If the doe is infected with syphilis, separate it from its young to prevent spreading it. If you only have one rabbit, keep it away from wild rabbits so that it won’t contract syphilis. Ensure that your backyard where your rabbit roams is safe from wild rabbits.

If you have many rabbits, make sure that they are not too many in the enclosure. Putting too many rabbits in one enclosure can make diseases spread easily. Also, deep cleaning their cages regularly will prevent the growth of bacteria.

To prevent the sores from spreading to your rabbit’s face, you must do the grooming. Brush its fur regularly and trim its nails. Ensure that you also clean the parts around the sores to prevent them from getting infected.

Giving your pet with proper diet is also essential. It will strengthen the immune system of your bunny. Even if it contracts this disease, it won’t quickly get weak. Plus, it will handle the medication more easily than those less healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

bunny syphilis

Can rabbit syphilis get treated?

Yes, rabbit syphilis can get treated by administering penicillin to it. With the proper medication, you can cure your rabbit’s illness immediately.

Is syphilis a deadly disease to rabbits?

Not really. However, it may cause life-threatening diseases such as anorexia. When your rabbit feels a lot of stress because of the pain from its sores, it will stop eating. It may lead to dehydration and fatal hepatic lipidosis.

Do rabbits lose their appetite while their syphilis is being treated?

Yes, rabbits may lose their appetite for two to three days. You must make them eat since they may die if they don’t consume any food.

Give them their favorite veggies and treats. You can also feed them using a syringe. Some vets also recommend giving wet foods, making it easier for rabbits to swallow.

How long will the treatment last?

The duration of the treatment of rabbit syphilis will depend on the medication. If the vet is administering benzathine penicillin in 42, 000 IU/kg weekly, it may take three to five weeks.

But if procaine penicillin is given at 60, 000 IU/kg daily, the treatment will only last for seven days.

What food should I give my rabbit while in the treatment period?

You need to provide hay and clean water to your rabbit. Giving your pet stimulating vegetables can also help. Examples of these veggies are kale, parsley, and carrot tops. Giving your bunny its favorite treat will also motivate it to eat more.

Is ointment an effective treatment for rabbit syphilis?

Unfortunately, you cannot treat your rabbit’s syphilis with ointment. The bacteria are in your pet’s bloodstream, so applying any ointment won’t work.

The medicine should be injected into the bunny. However, rubbing ointment on the sores may provide temporary comfort to your pet.


Knowing about rabbit syphilis: symptoms, causes, treatment, recovery, cost, prevention is crucial. Rabbit syphilis is not a deadly disease, but it is highly contagious and painful.

It must be treated immediately since it may lead to different life-threatening illnesses. Aside from that, it will make your bunny suffer from pain.

2 thoughts on “Rabbit Syphilis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Recovery, Cost, Prevention”

  1. My male rabbit has been dx with vent disease by a rabbit judge. I have pen-g. 300,000 units per ml. What is the dosage and frequency/length of t? Please give me some guidance asap

    • I’m sorry about your rabbit’s condition. For rabbit syphilis or “vent disease” treated with Penicillin G (Pen-G):

      Dosage: Often around 30,000-40,000 units per pound of the rabbit’s weight.
      Frequency: Injections usually every 48 hours.
      Duration: Typically 2-4 weeks or until lesions heal.
      However, you must consult a veterinarian for precise dosage and treatment recommendations. Always monitor your rabbit’s health and consider isolating the infected rabbit to prevent spreading the disease.


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