Diet plays an important role maintaining good dental, digestive and urinary health. A good quality hay (for example, Timothy or Meadow) should be their staple diet with pelleted food (Burgess excel or Supreme) and fresh vegetables also given daily. Obesity and dental problems are commonly seen in rabbit so do not give excess amount of the pelleted food, the more hay the better!
If you are concerned your rabbit is not eating or passed faeces for more than 12 hours it is important to contact the surgery for advise.
Rabbits do not require routine worming like other domesticated species (cats, dogs) unless they are showing symptoms of disease.
Young rabbits or rabbits that are underweight or have diarrhoea should be treated with a broad spectrum wormer such as Panacur.
Rabbits can also be infected with a protozoal parasite known as, Encephalitozoon cuniculi. This is found in soil and can be ingested by the rabbit leading to neurological signs (frequently a head tilt) or kidney disease. The vast majority of E.cuniculi cases are treatable with the correct medical management which involves 28 days of fenbendazole (Panacur or Lapizole) and supportive treatment whilst the rabbit is recovering.
This is a virus that is rife amongst the wild UK rabbit population. It is spread by direct contact with infected animals but also by parasites, including fleas and midges, which have bitten an infected animal and then transmit the disease. It causes swelling of the tissue around the eyes, mouth and genitals, blindness, pneumonia and meningitis.It is acutely fatal with less than 1% of infected animals surviving the disease.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
VHD is a virus that causes internal haemorrhage, fever and liver failure and often presents to us as a case of sudden death. It is spread by direct contact with infected individuals but also via contamination of housing, clothing and other objects.
We recommend that Rabbits are given an annual vaccine to protect against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.
This can be given via a single subcutaneous injection from 6 weeks of age.
Fly control is very important during the warmer months (typically April to September) to ensure your rabbit does not develop fly strike. This is where flies lay eggs on a rabbit s backend that then hatch and develop into maggots. This infestation is rapidly fatal leading to shock and septicaemia.
NEUTERING (Female - Speying, Males - Castration)
Female rabbits very often develop UTERINE CANCER later in life if they are not neutered. This condition is often fatal. Female rabbits can be routinely neutered from 5 months of age.
Male rabbits are at risk of TESTICULAR CANCER and TORSIONS which are entirely preventable with castration. This can be performed from 4 months of age.
DIET & HOUSING
During the warmer months it is best to follow these simple steps to prevent fly strike occurring:
Check your rabbit's bottom every day
Ensure that your rabbit does not have any diarrhoea, urine scalding or a general mucky rear-end.
Apply a fly repellent (Rear Guard) every 10 weeks. Please contact us if you would like our nurses to help apply the treatment.
Contact the surgery IMMEDIATELY if you are concerned your rabbit has fly strike.
Fleas can occasionally be found on rabbits. They are often larger than the common cat flea and identified around the head and neck. Treatment with the appropriate spot-on (Advantage, Xeno) will eradicate the fleas and help prevent the spread of myxomatosis.
Rabbit are very social animals and find it stressful living alone. Where possible they should always live in pairs or small groups.
We recommend that all rabbits are neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancy but more importantly due to the well documented diseases observed in unneutered rabbits.