Advice for Small Animals
Feeding Your Rabbit.
Rabbits need a diet with lots of roughage, good quality hay should always be available along with a constant supply of fresh water. Commercial rabbit foods are readily available and should be of good quality, we recommend either Russell Rabbit Food or, for rabbits who pick out their favourite bits and leave the rest, Supa Rabbit Exel, both of which are available from the surgery. Vegetables are an important part of the diet, these should always be fresh and washed. Freshly cut grass (not clippings) and dandelion leaves can also be fed. Spinach and rhubarb should not be fed.
Rabbits enjoy daily exercise, a run with access to grass is ideal. Outdoor exercise is an important part of your rabbits daily routine. It not only keeps him fit, but sunlight helps to keep vitamin C and D levels elevated for healthy teeth and bones.
Rabbits teeth grow continually throughout their life, if they are misaligned they can overgrow and cause soreness in the mouth and difficulty eating. Check your rabbits front teeth (Incisors) weekly, if they become too long, contact your vet who will be happy to burr them down. Overgrown back teeth (molars) can cause the rabbit to stop eating, dribble or lose weight. If your rabbit shows any of these signs, contact your vet immediately to arrange trimming under sedation.
Fly strike (maggot infestation) is a very common, extremely distressing and often fatal condition which can affect most animals, but is most frequently seen in rabbits. It usually occurs during the warm spring and summer months when flies are active and looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. This usually occurs in overweight animals as they cannot reach to clean around their bottom when they get soiled. Your rabbit and its cage are ideal areas! The fly eggs hatch into maggots which can then burrow into the rabbit, feeding on its flesh. The rabbit is literally eaten alive. The condition progresses at an alarming rate once the maggots have hatched. If you spot any signs of fly-strike such as fly's eggs or maggots on your pet, seek urgent veterinary advice.
What can you do to prevent this?
1. Examine your rabbit every day, ideally twice a day, and always make sure that it is clean. Avoid over feeding greens, fresh grass and vegetables as these can cause diarrhoea, and a rabbit with diarrhoea or a dirty rear is far more at risk.
2. Keep the hutch clean and disinfected, use plenty of good quality absorbant bedding.
3. TREAT YOUR RABBIT WITH A SPECIAL TREATMENT CALLED REARGUARD, AVAILABLE FROM US, WHICH PREVENTS THE MAGGOTS DEVELOPING TO THE STAGE THAT CAUSES DAMAGE TO THE RABBIT. Rearguard is a liquid treatment that once applied to your rabbits hindquarters, provides 10 weeks protection. Rearguard will need to be applied regularly to ensure maximum protection. *Please note, to be able to supply rearguard, a vet must have seen your rabbit within the last 6 months as Rearguard is a prescription only (POM) treatment. For more information please contact the surgery
As with dogs and cats, rabbits should be neutered to help prevent health problems. Males (Bucks) can become smelly, aggressive and also may spray urine when they mature. It is very common for females (Does) to have false pregnancies and start to pull their fur out, to become depressed and even aggressive. Spaying can also extend the life span as it prevents potentially life threatening tumours in the uterus. There is, unfortunately, some risk under anaesthetic for rabbits, but we take all possible precautions and this is something to discuss with your vet.
Rabbits should be vaccinated against two deadly diseases, Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. These are both killers but can be vaccinated against. We have a new vaccine for rabbits which combines the VHD (Viral Haemorrhagic Disease) and Mxyomatosis vaccination in one injection. This lasts one year, unlike the old Myxomatosis vaccine which had to be done every 6 months!