Originally rabbits were domesticated from the European wild rabbit and now there are over 100 breeds worldwide. Rabbits are prey species and easily frightened and are adept at hiding illness or pain meaning that preventative health care and quick treatment are essential.
As fibrevores, they are designed to eat rough plant material and have hind gut digestion like horses but with coprophagy (eating first pass faeces) for a second chance to absorb nutrients. Rabbits are social and active, enjoy living in pairs/groups and are easily bored.
Rabbits can become very ill, very quickly and vet bills can rapidly escalate, especially overnight and at weekends.
Pet insurance gives you complete peace of mind that you are prepared for all eventualities so you can make decisions in the best interests of your pet without being concerned about the costs.
Vaccinations protect rabbits from potentially fatal infectious diseases. Rabbits are routinely vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic disease which are spread by biting insects and in the environment.
A combined vaccine is administered once yearly from 12 weeks of age. Dental checks and nail clips can be performed at the same time.
If your rabbit will be outdoors during the warmer weather its important to protect them from flies. Fly strike can be life threatening so check you bunny every day, try to keep them and their bedding as clean as possible to reduce fly attraction. Rearguard can be applied to your rabbit to prevent the eggs hatching in to larva that cause the damage. We recommend using it regularly from the start of the warmer weather, which could be as early as spring time.
Rabbits don’t need routine worming. They rarely have internal parasites and these drugs should only be used at your vets direction because they carry risks of their own
Routine neutering can be performed from 4-6 months old, sometimes later in very small bunnies. This helps with urine marking, behavioural problems and cancers especially in females. Your male bunny should have descended testicles by 3 months of age
What to expect:
Routine castration and spay surgeries can be booked on any weekday (subject to availability).
Your rabbit should have access to food and water as usual throughout the night before the procedure.
A 10 minute admission appointment with a Veterinary Nurse takes place between 8:30 – 9:30am. The admission and surgery consent form will be explained to you.
Surgery generally takes place later in the morning allowing your rabbit to recover from the anaesthetic sufficiently before going home at a time that is convenient for you later in the afternoon or evening.
Your rabbit will be discharged with anti-inflammatory pain relief to ensure they have a comfortable recovery.
Post-operative checks take place 3 days and 10 days following surgery to ensure your rabbit has made a full recovery from the anaesthesia and the surgical wound is healing.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Practice if you have any questions or concerns regarding the procedure.
Dental disease is caused when the molar teeth overgrow and this painful condition is common in rabbits. This may result in sharp spikes that cut in to the tongue or cheek or abnormally tall teeth that prevent normal grinding of food. Eventually this can result in overgrown roots affecting the eyes, nose and increasing the risk of infection pockets called abscesses.
Feeding the right diet is the most important thing you can do to help prevent dental disease. The natural fibrous diet they are designed to eat keeps teeth worn down and even.
Sometimes other factors like genetics play a role, for example certain breeds are more likely to develop dental problems. This is most likely to occur in small breeds of bunny as their small skulls can interfere with normal tooth growth.
Regular check ups and fast intervention are also crucial. Prey species hide pain and illness so you may not realise there is a problem in the early stages.
Important signs to watch for:
Wet mouth or chin and runny eyes or nose
Reduced food intake, not eating or selectively feeding especially on soft food
Smaller harder dropping or mucusy strings of pellets
Less active, hunched or bloated appearance
If you see any of these signs your pet needs to be seen by a vet as soon as possible. Rabbits can deteriorate in less than 24 hours so watching and waiting is not the right thing to do.
If dental problems do happen, there are ways we can help! Our specialised dental burrs allow us to efficiently reshape the teeth and reduce the duration of anaesthesia – something that could make a real difference to your pet’s successful recovery.
Once a dental problem has occurred your pet may need repeat treatments to keep their teeth in shape but changing their diet slowly may help to reduce the risk of developing future problems
Rabbits are fibrevores and are designed to eat coarse grass and hay all day.
70% of diet should be good quality hay or grass such as Timothy hay, Readigrass, mixed grasses and dried leaves/flowers (also known as herbage). You can even bring in clean grass and safe weeds from your garden if you are unable to let your pet outside.
20-25% fresh leafy greens and occasional fruit and vegetables. 5-10% pellets and other supplemental food – a small handful or egg cup per day for a medium sized rabbit.
Muesli should be avoided as selective feeding prevents your rabbit from getting a balanced diet and increases the risk of obesity and digestive and dental problems
Encourage to drink water by trying both a drop drinker and a bowl and see which they prefer. Water should be changed every day to keep it fresh. Make food interesting by hiding in toys and hay balls to encourage activity.
Any changes in diet need to be gradual over 2-4 weeks to try and prevent upset to the sensitive digestive system.
A hutch or cage alone is not an appropriate home for your rabbit! Consider this as just the bedroom – they also need daily access to a run or the house for exercise. A solo bunny needs at least 2x3ft of space (a wild rabbit would roam 30 tennis courts!)
Wherever they do get to run around always provide shelter and enrichment –weather proofing, hiding places, tunnels and toys. Be aware of any hazards like electrical cables indoors, hot days and cold wet weather.
Get in garden where possible as the vitamin D from the sun and natural grazing on weeds and grass is the great for their health. Just make sure their enclosure is secure, especially if left on their own without supervision.
Many animals will latrine in a certain spot so litter trays can be useful to keep things clean, or just for digging in! Rabbits may enjoy peat, soil, hay or old blankets to burrow and play with. Providing the right environment is really important because activity and grazing reduces obesity, boredom or behaviour problems, dental and gastrointestinal disease over your pet’s lifetime.
Naturally they live in large social groups.
The optimal rabbit pairing is neutered male and female.
Do not keep rabbits with guinea pigs – they communicate in different ways, rabbits can hurt guinea pigs and carry diseases that the guinea pig is more susceptible to.