Hutch burn, also known as urine scald, is a painful skin condition that can affect your pet rabbit. Here are five things you need to know about it.

What causes hutch burn?

Hutch burn occurs when your rabbit's skin is wet and dirty. This can be caused by living in a dirty cage and being forced to stand and lie on urine-soaked bedding. It can also occur in rabbits with poor bladder control who dribble urine on themselves.

What are the signs of hutch burn?

Rabbits tend to hide their illnesses so you may not realize that they have hutch burn right away. When hutch burn first develops, the only clues that something is wrong may be subtle behavioral changes like not being interested in their food or not wanting to play with you. If you notice that your rabbit is acting strange, examine them more closely.

If your rabbit has hutch burn, you'll notice that the skin around their anus and genital region is red, swollen, and chapped. If the irritated skin becomes infected, you may also see pus oozing from the area as well as brownish crusts on the skin. If you notice these signs, make sure to take your rabbit to a vet immediately.

How serious is it?

Hutch burn is a serious condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible. The problem with hutch burn is it's very uncomfortable for your rabbit, so until you get them treated, they will be in pain. Rabbits that are in pain may not feel like eating and not eating can lead to serious consequences for the digestive system. When you feel sick, it's not a big deal for you to skip couple of meals until you feel better, but for rabbits, this isn't the case. If your rabbit stops eating, their digestive system will slow down, or completely stop, potentially leading to blockages.

It only takes about 12 hours for rabbits to experience complications from not eating. If your rabbit has hutch burn, your vet may tell you to hand feed them until they are feeling better to make sure they get the food they need. You may be told to hand feed them treats like carrots or to use a syringe to feed them a mixture of crushed rabbit pellets and water.

How is it treated?

Your vet will need to clean your pet's sores carefully. Once debris has been removed from the wounds, your vet will apply a dressing to the sores to protect them while they heal.

If the sores are infected, you will be given an antibiotic ointment to apply at home. Make sure to finish the antibiotic treatment as stopping the medication too early can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Your vet will also instruct you to clean your pet's cage regularly, if you haven't already been doing so.

How can you prevent it?

You can keep your rabbit safe from hutch burn by ensuring that their cage is always clean and dry. Every day, spot clean the cage by removing soiled or wet paper bedding. At least once a week, throw out all of the paper bedding, wipe down the cage with hot water and vinegar, and then replace the bedding.

If your rabbit is incontinent, shave the fur around their anus and genital region so that their skin can dry more quickly. Every day, rinse the area to remove the urine and then apply a light dusting of baby powder to keep their skin from getting irritated. Some people also put disposable baby diapers on their incontinent rabbits to help keep the moisture away from their skin.

If your rabbit has hutch burn, take them to a vet clinc right away.