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PODODERMATITIS affects the welfare of many rabbits, including farmed and breeding rabbits, as well as pets. Many causes have been implicated in the development of this disease, most of which are related to poor or incorrect handling and husbandry (De Jong and others 2008, Mikó and others 2012). Pododermatitis has previously been associated with stressful environments, inadequate flooring substrate, small cage size, poor hygiene, high environmental humidity, absence of hair in the metatarsal area or presence of poor quality hair due to polyuria, obesity, debilitating diseases or embolic infections from other sites.
Signs of the condition begin with a small alopecic area on the ventral surface of the foot; this lesion then becomes erythematous and, unfortunately, usually evolves into an ulcer (Hess 2012, Olivas and others 2013). This is known as ‘sore hocks’. Later, if left untreated, the lesion can become infected with bacteria or fungi, the most common being Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas species, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus species, Proteus species, Bacteroides species and Pasteurella multocida. The infection can …