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Rabbit Health

Rabbit Health

Give your bunny a long and happy life

  • Keeping your rabbit fit and healthy is vital to ensure a long, happy and fulfilling life. Rabbits can be prone to some health issues which can prove challenging to treat, but can often be easily prevented if you know how.
  • Good care, appropriate feeding and other appropriate measures such as vaccination are key. Health checks give us the opportunity to evaluate your pet’s teeth, weight, skin and general health. Catching a problem early can often make all the difference.
  • Rabbits should have a large run to exercise in and, as they are very social animals, never be kept on their own.
  • Vaccination against RHD 1 and 2 and Myxomatosis is recommended
  • Most of a rabbit’s diet should be good quality hay or grass. They should not be fed on mainly pellets.

More about Rabbit Health

Flystrike in rabbits

Flystrike occurs when flies lay eggs on wet and dirty fur around the rear. The eggs hatch into maggots which then cause tissue damage. Flystrike can be fatal unless caught early.

Prevention is key:

  • check your rabbit twice daily for a wet or dirty back end – clean and dry as needed.
  • use Rearguard to prevent egg development
  • Talk to our team about your rabbit if they regularly have soft poo or a dirty back end.

Join our Paws Club and Rearguard is included as well as annual vaccinations and discounts.


Diseases that affect rabbits

Myxomatosis is almost always fatal and causes much suffering. Common throughout the UK, it spreads from the wild rabbit population, usually via blood-sucking insects such as the common rabbit flea. The disease is widespread and is seen year round, although the biggest risk period is late summer and autumn. Rabbits should be vaccinated annually.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is a viral disease which is also fatal to rabbits.  We have been able to vaccinate against the Classic form (1) for many years in a combined vaccine with myxomatosis. Recently a new Variant RHD (2) has emerged for which annual vaccination is recommended for most rabbits. Rabbits in high risk environments should be revaccinated every 6 months. The two vaccines must be given 2 weeks apart.


Top tips

80% of a rabbit’s diet should be good quality hay, grass or a mixture of both

Rabbits will spend hours grazing on hay or grass, and good quality fodder ensures they don’t have tummy troubles or grow long in the tooth. Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously throughout their lives, so they need to chew hay or grass to help keep their teeth to a correct shape and length. For indoor rabbits, freshly picked grass is suitable, but avoid clippings as they ferment quickly. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and should generally be avoided in adult rabbits.

Move away from muesli

Although muesli diets are colourful and often more attractive to rabbits than pellets, they encourage selective feeding and predispose the animals to dental disease and obesity. Rabbits should be fed a small amount of pellets daily – about an egg cup full – as they are a good complementary source of vitamins and minerals.

Carrot tops, not carrots

Despite the myths perpetuated by cartoon and storybook characters, carrots are actually not good for rabbits as they are high in sugar content, and should only be given occasionally as a treat. Green carrot tops are a more appropriate snack.

15% of a rabbit’s diet should be made up of a variety of plants and vegetables

Vegetables such as courgettes, spring greens, broccoli and curly kale, herbs such as basil and parsley, and plants such as dandelions and burdock are some good options. Avoid certain lettuces like iceberg, which contain a secretion called lactucarium that can be dangerous in large quantities. It is important that you offer a variety of leafy greens rather than rely on the same one or two items every time.

Eating their own poo is normal

Rabbits produce two types of faecal pellets, although you may only ever see one type! They produce hard round faecal pellets that are passed throughout the day, but usually at dawn and dusk, rabbits produce soft faeces called caecotrophs, which contain proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and serve as an additional source of nutrients.

(copyright – BVA)

This year’s Rabbit Awareness Week is at the beginning of June. Find out how we are supporting RAW this year with the pledge to Protect and Prevent Viral Disease.

More about RAW  from the RWAF

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