Our recommendations for keeping your Rabbit healthy
Our website provides an enormous amount of detailed advice for rabbit owners.
Rabbits need a diet with lots of roughage, and 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 them 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 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?
As with dogs and cats, rabbits should be neutered to help prevent health problems. We recommend neutering from 4-6months of age. 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 threating 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 Myxomatosis vaccination in one injection. This lasts one year, unlike the old Myxomatosis vaccine which had to be done every 6 months!
The vaccination course includes a full health check with the vet and lots of advice about caring for your new arrival! We are happy to offer this health check free of charge as soon as you have got your rabbit, to help give you peace of mind that everything is as it should be and then continue with the vaccination itself the following week.
A new strain of VHD, called RVHD2, has been identified in rabbits in the UK since 2016. It is on the increase and it is not protected against by the normal annual rabbit vaccine. The British Veterinary Association, British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) recommend the use of a new vaccine once each year to protect pet rabbits from RVHD2. You can view more information on RWAF website. The injection must be given at least 2 weeks after your rabbit’s normal annual vaccination, which is still required.
We strongly advise that you insure your rabbit. Currently, PetPlan are offering 4 weeks’ free insurance to healthy rabbits aged from 6 weeks to 12 months old, at their first vaccination, after which you will be given the option to continue insurance at the normal rate. Please ask the reception staff for a free insurance certificate when your rabbit has his/her first vaccination. He/she will be covered immediately for illness or injury.
Adult rabbits (over 12 months and up to 5 years old) can still enjoy 4-week free insurance from Pet Plan.
With so much conflicting (and let’s face it scary) information on the internet, it’s always hard to tell what is true and false. Click on this link to find articles on various pet conditions and general information. This website has been set up to give information to pet owners and all information is written by Veterinary experts.
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