Keeping rabbits on the homestead means you need to learn about their anatomy and issues that come up with it. One big issue with larger rabbits is sore hocks.
What are sore hocks? It’s a painful infection on the bottom of the rabbit’s foot or feet.
When we first got our Angora rabbits, to say we were inexperienced in raising rabbits was an exaggeration. We knew NOTHING of rabbits. At all. Nothing about diseases, or health issues, or sore hocks.
We had to quickly learn about sore hocks when our buck began losing weight and wouldn’t stay still at all. We didn’t notice it right away, until it was way too late. Jacques wouldn’t eat, and his friendly demeanor was all but gone completely. He just wasn’t the same.
After 2 days, finally brought him inside the house and began to inspect him. To our dismay, we discovered that all four of his hocks had become infected.
What on earth were we going to do? Guilt set it hardcore. He was obviously in pain, and obviously suffering and the excuse “we didn’t know” wasn’t going to cut it. So, we hit the books and did some serious research. We cleaned his hocks 3 times a day with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and then carefully added antibacterial ointment on them.
As for his weight loss, we added some oats mixed with coconut oil (referred by our rabbit expert pal) and made sure that we kept his cage clean. We also added 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar to his 32 oz. water bottle daily to help him fight the infection.
It took 3 weeks of daily cleaning, babying and extra care, but I am pleased to say that Jacques is all healed up! He has gained his weight back, and is ready to breed again.
Some signs to look for when you suspect sore hocks in your rabbits
1. The rabbit isn’t eating like usual. The food dish still has nearly the same amount of food several hours later.
2. The rabbit isn’t hopping around much. Sore hocks hurt, and they can’t move much. If you notice they are in the same place a lot, check the hocks.
3. The rabbit will try and get off their hocks by hopping straight up in the air as much as possible. We thought it was cute at first, but when we realized he was hurting and trying to get off his sore feet, it wasn’t nearly as cute.
4. Fur is being rubbed off the hocks. With rabbits, you shouldn’t be able to see skin at all on their feet.
How To Prevent Sore Hocks
1. Keep the cage clean. I can’t stress this enough. Make sure that all the poop is gone, and not piled up in the corner, where their urine can stay and get on their hocks.
2. Inspect your rabbits fully each week, head to hock. Flip them over gently and make sure that their feet aren’t developing sores. Our Angoras have a lot of fluff on them, so we had to have two people do this. One to hold, one to look through all the fur. This is a good time to clip nails as well.
3. Make sure they have a resting board to lie on that isn’t just their wire cage. They sell those at pet and farm supply stores, or you can use an old piece of carpet or even towel.
If you think your rabbit is developing sore hocks, don’t wait. Get them cleaned, and apply a gentle antibiotic ointment to their feet. That will make for a much happier bunny.
Have you ever dealt with sore hocks in your rabbit herd? What steps did you take to help heal them? Be sure to pin this for later!
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.