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My vet mentioned that not all antibiotics are safe for rabbits. Which antibiotics should not be given to a rabbit? What are the adverse effects?

Note I would like to also ask if there is antidote or treatment if one the 'don't give rabbit antibiotics' is accidentally given. If this does not make the question overly broad, please include this information in your answer. If too complex I will ask separately.

  • The only one that I am aware of that is "rabbit safe" is Pen-G. But even over use of that can lead to gut issues. I don't know that a comprehensive list of all potential antibiotics that could be dangerous to give to a rabbit is possible. – Critters Jul 7 '14 at 13:30
  • @Critters there are a few lists of rabbit drugs on the internet. the one at rabbit.org includes some never gives. Creating our own list should not be to much of a problem. The Rabbit.org list is from a single printed work, in theory combining several print works for our answer would give us a more accurate list. – James Jenkins Jul 7 '14 at 14:21
  • I really dislike rabbit.org. In my opinion it gives bad information on many subjects and has some very bad advice on others. And just because rabbit.org does something does not mean that Pets SE should do it. The old adage about if your friends jumped off a bridge comes to mind. I think your question about what is safe was good. This one is just too broad, and likely to be ever expanding. Better to handle "how can i treat this problem" questions than trying to say what to avoid. TBC – Critters Jul 7 '14 at 14:27
  • Another issue is just because it is not safe, does not mean never give it to a rabbit. Chemotherapy is not safe. But if you have cancer it could save your life when there is no other(or no better) option. It might be better to risk giving them a dangerous drug that might kill them but could save their life, rather than not treating it and knowing they are going to die a probably painful and drawn out death. – Critters Jul 7 '14 at 14:30
  • @Critters I changed 'never' to 'not', as you point out sometimes we give things that are bad, because the options are seen as worse. I was thinking about the many common antibiotics that are generally vet appropriate but contraindicated in rabbits. I believe that most classes of antibiotics have both a better and worse choice for rabbits. Maybe this should be 'last choice' antibiotics? – James Jenkins Jul 9 '14 at 14:28
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Rabbit health and digestion is dependent on bacteria in the gut, disruption of these bacteria from antibiotics can lead to diarrhea and ultimately death of the rabbit. Others can lead to nephrotoxicity or enterotoxemia. Different routes (oral vs injection) can have different impacts. If possible/practical a Culture and Sensitivity is recommenced in conjunction with antibiotic administration.

The following antibiotics have been identified as having higher than average potential for adversely effecting the health of rabbits specifically regardless of route and should be avoided if possible. Cecotrope recolonize or pro-biotic treatment is indicated in conjunction with any antibiotic treatment.

  • Amoxicillin/Clavulanic acid
  • Ampicillin
  • Cephalosporins
  • Clindamycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Lincomycin
  • Minocycline
  • Penicillin (in general avoid, but indicated in some cases)
  • Streptomycin
  • Tilmicosin (some risk of Cardiac issue, with known positive impact in some cases).
  • Vancomycin

Some infections like MRSA are resistant to multiple antibiotics and it may be that using one of the above antibiotics is the only possible treatment. Or there may be other complicating issues requiring the use of one of these; a veterinarian rabbit specialist can address the pro and cons of these with you prior to deciding on a specific course of treatment.

This list above is compiled from the several sources linked in the text of this answer, not all sources mark all as contra-indicated, but each is marked as contra-indicated by at least one source.

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