EAST BARNET VETERINARY SURGERY

1, Cat Hill, East Barnet, EN4 8HG Tel. 020 8440 5742  

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.




Rabbit Health

PARASITE CONTROL

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.


Myxomatosis

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.

VACCINATION

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

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

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.

Rabbits can make wonderful pets but there is more to looking after them properly than many people realise. Please think carefully & read all the information below before making a decision to keep rabbits. Are you ready to give rabbits the life they deserve?


Despite being the third most popular pet in the UK, rabbits are among the most abused and neglected. Countless rabbits spend miserable lives confined to a hutch, alone and with little or no space to exercise, mostly because owners don’t realise what’s involved before taking them on. Before you take on rabbits as pets, please read these advice pages on Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund to get an idea of everything involved in their care. If you can’t commit to giving them what they need to live full and contented lives then rabbits are not for you.


The first thing to note is that rabbits are not cheap and easy children’s pets, they have complicated needs. Under the fur, pet rabbits are exactly the same as wild rabbits. If you are thinking of taking on rabbits, please check if rabbits are right for you before jumping in.

It’s also worth considering the long term costs. Rabbits are not a cheap pet to keep: they can cost £11,000 over their lifetime.

If you have just become a rabbit owner then Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund website gives you the basics on what you’ll need to consider to give your new pets the lives they deserve. The more you put in, the more rewarding your experience will be.


Wild rabbits live in colonies, never on their own. Pet rabbits should be kept in neutered pairs or compatible groups. Recent scientific research has confirmed that rabbits suffer from stress and loneliness if kept alone: they value companionship as much as food – and you wouldn’t keep them without food, would you? If you have a single rabbit check your local rescue centre for a friend for your bunny.


The 5 freedoms you MUST give your rabbits:-

You must give your rabbits the freedom to:

               Display their natural behaviours including running, jumping, digging, foraging and rearing up on their hind legs.

               Have the companionship of at least one other rabbit.  Studies have shown that rabbits value companionship as much as food. It is cruel to keep a rabbit alone, it should have the company of another neutered rabbit.

               Have a natural diet. This should be made up of 85% hay or grass, 10% leafy green veg, 5% extruded pellets or nuggets (about an egg-cup full).

               Live in the right accommodation.  Rabbits need a large, secure enclosure that gives them the space to exercise and display their natural behaviours. Their total space should be 10ft by 6ft and at least 3ft tall.  A hutch should be at least 6ft by 2ft by 2ft and be attached to an exercise run permanently.

               Be healthy rabbits. Your rabbits must be neutered (castrated for males or spayed for females) and their vaccinations kept up to date.  You’ll need to register with a rabbit friendly Vet (East Barnet Vets are on the Rabbit Friendly List) and carry out regular health checks to make sure your rabbits are in good shape.  As part of their make-up as a prey animal, when rabbits are unwell they often don’t show it so you need to be vigilant.


Above information © The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund

CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE TAKING ON PET RABBITS