Prevention and Treatment of Sore Hocks on a Rabbit

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. 

sore hocks post

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.

sore hocks

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!


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13 thoughts on “Prevention and Treatment of Sore Hocks on a Rabbit”

    1. Toni hollingsworth

      I have a Rex rabbit that has very little hair on the bottom of his feet. This is genetic, so if you have a Rex rabbit they need thin, padded floor covering. I finally figured out that a 1/4 inch cotton batting between cotton fabric works.
      Ohare is a house rabbit, his house is spotless, so sanitation was not the issue. He is a healthy hsppy 6 year old now.

  1. Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas

    From a newbie homesteader, thank you! We’re getting my son a bunny, so I’m bookmarking!

  2. Thank you for this! We are new to French Angora rabbits and haven’t had this problem yet, but I’m so glad to know how to prevent it and how to treat it if it happens! I found you through the blog hop!

  3. Another great thing to put on sore hocks that helps to heal them up, and sooth at the same time is Preperation H. the good old hemroid ointment. The cream sooths the pain, reduces swelling and promotes healing. Apple cider vinigar is a great thing to use in the water. If you are having problems in the winter with poo getting matted in the wool, try trimming around the back side. so the wool isnt as long. this also works well if the buck is having problems with breeding due to too much wool. Resting boards can be made out of dry wall if you have scraps around, or know a builder. the rabbits love to pull off the paper and chew on the limestone inside. Just be sure it is not dry wall with fiberglass in it. you can use a ceramic tile. anything to get their paws off the wire. Make sure that poo does not build up on it. Some rabbits have a prefered corner to go to the bath room. some go where ever. Usually does are nice and clean, and bucks tend to be messier. Rex, mini rex, and larger breeds have this problem or rabbits that are over weight. Always a good idea to look over your rabbit from nose to toes several times a week. be sure to get hands on and turn them over so you can see tummies and feet. wear a long sleeved shirt so you dont get scratched. Have fun with your Buns !

  4. Hi, may I know how you feed the rabbit? Currently my rabbit is suffering from sore hocks and now wasn’t eating much, due to that he’s getting skinny and I could feel his bone while holding him. Hope you could guide me through. Thanks.

    1. Heather Harris

      We just made sure his food dish was close to him so he didn’t have to move much on his sores. I would say watch closely and make sure that your rabbit is eating, if not, you may have to hand feed it…hold him in one arm and hold a carrot or apple piece in your other hand until they are getting some nutrition.

  5. this was super helpful. ive had rabbits most of my life but never a big one…..until we adopted Bruce last spring. He’s a lovely house rabbit and has been great fun to train to do all sorts of things……but we weren’t aware that bigger rabbits are more prone to sore hocs.
    Thank you for your help o the treatment thereof.

  6. Thank you for the blog!
    We are still-learning bunny owners and wonder if our one rex is just built differently than its peers (who have no issues with sore hocks). We’ve tried bringing the rabbit indoors (made it worse, despite 3 layers of fleece and cleaning/antibiotics/bandaging 3-4x/day plus being held off the sores for an hour each time), started monitoring his pellets (he WAS getting rather plump), tried putting him in a ground box (he tried digging out, that didn’t work!), and are now resigned to try NitroZone 1x/day and only pick him up from the extra padded hay area in his cage. The cages are super clean, always dry, and we add hay 2x/day for the extra padding on the floor. He still has sores and are at a loss. Any suggestions are much appreciated–thank you in advance!

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