At Rock View Vets we have a always treated rabbits with the care and attention they deserve. They are special animals with their own little ways and own likes and dislikes.
Many of our rabbit clients have indoor rabbits who use a litter tray and have a great relationship with them. Rabbits will bond to anowner like a dog or cat will. They are bright, lively little people who like to be kept busy or they look for something to entertain themselves!
This can be chewing wires or wall paper – neither of these behaviours are desirable, and can lead to serious medical issues.
Some rabbits live outside and have companions they live with. This can make bonding with your rabbit more of a challenge but does mean they have some company. Rabbits are group animals and in the wild live in families. This said some rabbits will not tolerate other rabbits and have to live alone.
It is a known fact that lop eared rabbits have a greater risk of developing dental disease. They have the same number of teeth as their longer nosed relatives but less space to put them in!
Our advice is if you are buying a rabbit get one that looks as close to a wild one as possible.
We have many lop eared rabbits registered at Rock View and they benefit from our free of charge rabbit dental checks which we offer to all rabbits.
These are usually tailored to suit the individual needs of the bunny but can be as often as every month if it is considered necessary.
Rabbits teeth grow 2 mm every week which is amazing! They have to do this otherwise if the teeth wore down the rabbit would no longer be able to eat.
Giant breeds get more than their fair share of problems too – back problems, arthritis and heart problems. They are amazing though and very strong. Sometimes they weigh as much as a small dog!
Think carefully before buying a rabbit – in my opinion they are not suitable for young children. They can scratch and kick out their back legs causing damage to themselves and the handler.
Should you get one rabbit? two? more than two?
If you get two rabbits and one dies what then? Do you get three so you are ready for this shold it occur? It is a difficult problem. Once rabbits have bonded together they will not easily bond with a new bunny should something serious occur.
Remember if you are thinking of getting a rabbit they can get poorly and need Veterinary Care. There are Insurance Companies who do policies for rabbits and some practices, like ours, do include rabbits in their Pet Health Plans. This is a way of paying monthly for your vaccinations and parasite treatments and getting money off any treatment.
How do I know if my Bunny is Poorly?
Rabbits are prey animals so don’t show they are ill like a dog or cat might. Things to look for are:-
Altered temperament – biting when previously did not
Small, hard faeces
Any different behaviour
Rabbits guts need food in and faeces out on a regular basis. They can become very poorly if they go off their food even for a short time.
We advise you vaccinate your bunny against the two major diseases that can kill your rabbit
2) Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease ( RHD)
1) Myxomatosis – most people know about this horrid disease. It shows itself as swollen genitals,swollen eyelids and swollen ear flaps. It is a nasty disease spread by biting flies/fleas so it is important you keep your rabbit de flead.
2) RHD- this is caused by a virus and can kill a bunny very quickly. Some bunnies die suddenly overnight and this may well be RHD.
New RHD vaccination
Up until recently there was only RHD-1 which is a very serious disease that kills rapidly. It is more rare now.
This causes liver necrosis (death) and is becoming more widespread. Some rabbits have been shown to be carriers of this disease.
Should all rabbits be vaccinated?
If your rabbit never goes out you may think you don’t need to vaccinate. The problem is that fleas can carry myxomatosis so theoretically your rabbit could catch it from a flea you carry in on your clothes.
If your rabbit goes outside or to a boarding establishment where he/she may meet other rabbits or go to shows then definitely 100% we advise vaccination for both Myxomatosis and RHD-2.
When do we vaccinate?
Myxomatosis can be vaccinated against from 5 weeks of age
The vaccination takes 3 weeks to give immunity but is very effective after that.
This can be given as early at 6 weeks with immunity at its maximum after 7days. Then a second one at 10 weeks.
It is usually given at 10weeks and this means only one vaccine is needed.
At Rock View we advise giving the two vaccines 6 months apart.
Coccidiosis – this can affect young rabbits and causes muscle wasting, failure to thrive and fur loss.
If your Vet is concerned your rabbit may have this they will examine his/her faeces.
Antibiotics can be given to treat it.
These can be picked up from other pets in the household – most commonly cats.
You can use Advantage (lasts for 7 days) or a product called Xenex.
DO NOT USE FRONTLINE ON YOUR BUNNY!
SOME RABBITS REACT VERY BADLY TO IT
Usually picked up outside or from other pets
You can use household sprays on the run with your rabbit out of the way. This should kill them in the environment. It doesn’t work if it is sunny as the sunlight stops many household sprays from working!
Look like walking dandruff
If your bunny has mites let the Vet look at him/her as it can mean there is an underlying problem.
Most bunnys will fight them off via their immune system.
This is a parasite that gets into your bunnys nervous sytem and can lead to head tilts and leg weakness
Some bunnys are carriers
We advise treatment with Fenbendazole for 28days if your bunny shows signs – get him/her to a Vet asap if you are concerned.
This is when flys lay eggs on your bunny, usually in faeces or urine, and the eggs hatch out into maggots. The maggots then start to chew away at your bunny.
There is usually an underlying cause of flystrike
Dirty bottoms from diarrhoea or urine scald will lead to this. Look for the reason behind it and contact your Vet if you are worried.
Reduced activity from injury or arthritis will also lead to mucky bottoms.
This is the mainstay of a healthy bunny
Good diet leads to good health, reduced dental diease,reduced gut problems,reduced obesity,reduced arthritis and reduced hepatic lipidosis ( fatty liver)
What should I feed my bunny?
Your rabbits diet should consist of 80-90% fibre
Feed grass/hay,herbage and some green leaves
Never feed grass cuttings they ferment.
Pellet food – give in the evening
maximum 25g/kilogram body weight per day
most rabbits will eat less than this
I always show clients a small aerosol lid and say no more than a level one of these a day
Most clients smile and look embarassed as they were feeding twice this at least!
Don’t kill your bunny with kindness!
Museli is not good for bunnies – they select the high fat bits and leave the rest
Feed pellets that are all the same.
Treats – avoid high sugar
feed carrot,apple and pearin small amounts.
The main cause of gut issues with bunnis is STRESS
Yes they too worry about inflation and the cost of living
No, they get stressed by change – change in the weather – temperature, wind, rain; change in husbandry – different hutch, new mate, dog or cat bothering them.
All these things can cause your bunny to go off his/her food and lead to gut stasis. This is when the gut stops moving. This is serious and needs action.
Should I neuter (spay) my female bunny?
Yes we advise it. Females can get life threatening uterine cancers.
At Rock View we regularly operate on bunnies. There is always a risk with anaesthetics with any animal or human but we are sympathetic towards bunnies and closely monitor them before, during and after anaesthetic.
Do they need castrating?
It is advisable if you are keeping males together as they will fight
Neutering can reduce unwanted aggresion and urine spraying.
Enjoy your bunny!
We love bunnies here at Rock View Vets!
We have one of our own in our garden – he is in at the moment as it is cold!
Call us if you have a problem
Otherwise look out for Rabbit Awareness Week when we will give away free rabbit goodies!
Keep an eye on Local Press
Brush your bunny daily and spend time with him/her
They are great pets and will give back the time you put in.
If you have a bunny feel free to email a picture of him/her for us to put on face book