Category: rabbits

Winter care for your rabbit

Rabbits have evolved to be able to withstand the winter weather we get in the UK, but whether or not you keep your rabbit as a houserabbit or outside, they do require some special care and considerations throughout the colder months of the year, to ensure they remain happy and healthy. What natural resources does... Read more »

Why does my rabbit… ?

Unlike dogs and cats, which are hunting animals, rabbits are prey animals and so their natural behaviour is very different. It is part of the responsibility of owning a pet that you learn to understand what your pet's behaviour means - this will help you to know when your rabbit is happy, when it is... Read more »

Vaccinating your rabbit

There are several highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases that can affect your rabbit. Fortunately vaccines have been produced that will protect your rabbit against two of these - myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (strains 1 and 2). To ensure that your rabbit is fully protected it is essential that it receives regular booster injections.... Read more »

Travelling with your rabbit

A visit to the vet or travelling on a longer journey may be stressful for your rabbit. Make sure that you are properly prepared to avoid your rabbit being frightened. What is needed to prepare for a journey? An indoor cage can be used as a travel pen but your rabbit may prefer to be... Read more »

Syringe feeding your rabbit

Syringe feeding (or force feeding) your rabbit is a very important part of recovery from gastrointestinal stasis (gut stasis), and in some cases is the most important part of recovering from surgery or illness. If you need to continue syringe feeding your rabbit following surgery or illness your vet will discuss this with you and... Read more »

Summer safety

By now we are all well aware of the dangers that too much sun can cause to our health, but it's not just the sun that can pose many potential problems for rabbits during the warmer months. Summer heat A rabbits optimum environmental temperature is 15-20°C (65-70°F), although rabbits can easily withstand much colder temperatures... Read more »

Senior rabbit care

Contrary to common wisdom, many well kept rabbits live long and happy lives. With better owner education, improved diets and husbandry, and better medical care, more rabbits are living into their senior years. How long will my rabbit live? Rabbits often live into their second decade. Early literature reported rabbits living only 4 to 5... Read more »

Saying goodbye – options for euthanasia

The life expectancy of a pet rabbit is generally much longer than that of a rabbit living in the wild. On average a pet rabbit may live for about 6-8 years and some even survive past 10 years. But at some stage it may become obvious that your rabbit's life is drawing to a close.... Read more »

Plants – safe or dangerous

The bulk of a rabbits diet should be made up of fibre grass and hay, with vegetables and other plants making up a smaller proportion of the overall intake. However, whilst some plants are safe to feed, others should be avoided and knowing which category each falls into can be confusing. What if my rabbit... Read more »

Pet insurance for your rabbit

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of cats that would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a vet's bill for intricate surgery... Read more »

Operations: caring for your rabbit before and after surgery

Many rabbits will have an operation at some stage in their life, e.g. for neutering (spaying or castration) or to treat a disease. Nowadays most operations in rabbits are fairly safe but the success of treatment and recovery depends to some extent on the quality of care that the owner gives before and after the... Read more »

Obesity

Wild rabbits engage in a range of activities that require significant energy expenditure. They have to forage for food and remain constantly alert to danger, when they will flee to the nearest burrow for shelter. They will also use up energy just keeping warm during the colder months. By contrast, the average pet rabbit does... Read more »

Neutering your rabbit

Everyone knows that rabbits breed like, well... rabbits! The number of pet rabbits born each year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of rabbits find their way to re-homing centres where they wait for adoption. Responsible rabbit owners realise that neutering (sterilising,... Read more »

Microchipping your rabbit

Various techniques can be used to identify your rabbit. Microchips are a safe and permanent method of identification and have many advantages over more traditional techniques such as the placement of metal leg rings or ear-marking with tattoos. Microchips provide a quick and efficient way to identify a lost rabbit and reunite it with its... Read more »

Living with a house rabbit

More and more rabbit owners are bringing their rabbits to live indoors and become part of the family like a dog or cat. To make the smooth transition from a hutch rabbit to a house rabbit, you first need to prepare your house and then gradually introduce your rabbit to living indoors. What are houserabbits?... Read more »

Litter training your rabbit

An increasing number of people have moved away from the traditional idea of keeping a rabbit in a hutch by bringing it into their home. When considering a houserabbit the most frequently asked question is "but won't it use the whole house as a toilet?" Much to the surprise of some people, rabbits can be... Read more »

Introducing your rabbit to other pets

Introducing other pets, such as cats and dogs, to your pet rabbit needs to be done gradually and in such a way that the dog or cat learns that the rabbit is not overly interesting and certainly not something to be chased, and eaten. Rabbits, are prey animals and dogs and cats are predators. From... Read more »

Injection technique

Administration of medicine by injection is often referred to as giving by the parenteral route (this means that the treatment does not enter the body via the gut). Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments and many medications are most effective when given by injection. Administration of medicine by injection... Read more »

Illness: caring for a poorly rabbit

At some point it is highly likely that you will have to look after an ill rabbit. Rabbits are often stressed in a veterinary environment, so when your vet feels that your rabbit is well enough to go home they may want you to continue with their nursing care at home. Knowing how to do... Read more »

Hyperthermia – overheating

With their dense fur, healthy rabbits in a sheltered environment are tolerant of low temperatures, but cannot tolerate damp or draughty conditions. On the other hand, they cannot pant effectively and don't sweat, therefore are susceptible to overheating. Unfortunately, even with treatment, the prognosis for rabbits with hyperthermia is guarded to poor. What is hyperthermia?... Read more »

How to give eye medication to your rabbit

Eye problems in rabbits are quite common. Tears quickly wash out any treatment put in the eye so eye drops need to be given several times a day. This means you will have to learn how to give the treatment at home. How often do I need to put drops in? Some drops only need... Read more »

How to clip your rabbit’s claws

Clipping your own rabbit's claws may be something that you feel you would like to do instead of taking your rabbit to the vets and asking your vet or nurse to do it for you. If your rabbit is known to be nervous or flighty, then it is safer to get someone to help restrain... Read more »

How to check your rabbit’s teeth

Small dental problems often go undetected in the early stages but as rabbit's teeth grow continuously (2-3 mm per week), small problems can quickly become major problems. It is therefore important to check your rabbit's teeth frequently - perhaps on a weekly basis. The weekly dental check Head and face With your rabbit between your... Read more »

Grooming your rabbit

Grooming your rabbit is important to avoid matting of the fur and maintain a healthy shiny coat. It also helps to build a relationship with your pet and provides an opportunity for you to examine your rabbit to check for any signs of illness. The grooming routine Start a regular grooming routine when your pet... Read more »

Grass and hay

To help promote normal dental wear and provide the high-fibre diet which is essential, rabbits should have access to 'graze' for 4-6 hours a day - this should include hay, grass and wild plants. This is the best way to help ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy. Grass What's in grass? Grass provides... Read more »

Giving your rabbit a health check

It is important to give your rabbit a thorough health check every so often to ensure they are healthy and so any problems can be detected early and treatment commenced as soon as possible. Problems that are treated early stand a much better chance of being resolved, are generally cheaper to treat and mean that... Read more »

Giving medicines to your rabbit

Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments. In many cases Veterinary Nurses are responsible for administration of medicines to hospitalised patients. It is also important to ensure that you are able to continue medicine administration once your rabbit has been discharged from hospital. Veterinary Nurses may be able to demonstrate... Read more »

Feeding your rabbit

The phrase 'you are what you eat' has never been truer for the rabbit. Recent research by veterinary surgeons and rabbit food companies has shown that most of the common illnesses that rabbits suffer from could be prevented by feeding them a healthy diet. Unfortunately, many pet rabbits are being fed a diet that is... Read more »

Exercise – for a healthy, happy rabbit

Exercise is vital for the health of the rabbit. Well meaning but poorly informed people may describe rabbits as easy to keep because they can be caged and don't take up much space. This idea has led to many rabbits being caged most of their lives resulting in both physical and behavioural disorders. Rabbit ancestors... Read more »

Emergencies – what to do

Unfortunately, rabbit owners may have to deal with an emergency involving their pet. It is essential to know how to recognize and deal with such emergencies before they arise and to know who to contact when they do. Immediate veterinary attention can mean the difference between life and death for a very sick or injured... Read more »

Peritonitis

Peritonitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs. Peritonitis can be very severe in rabbits and life threatening in many cases. For this reason it is essential to identify and treat the cause as soon... Read more »

Mucoid enteropathy

Enteropathy refers to any condition affecting the intestines. There are several types of enteropathy, but the most common type that seems to affect rabbits is referred to as mucoid enteropathy. Despite having been around for decades, the condition remains confusing and is still not fully understood. What is mucoid enteropathy? Mucoid enteropathy is a disease... Read more »

Intestinal obstructions in rabbits

Rabbits are frequently diagnosed with gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. However, some of these rabbits may be suffering from an intestinal obstruction, which has an acute onset and requires rapid and very different treatment to GI stasis in order to have a chance of a successful outcome. Although intestinal obstruction is rare in pet rabbits, it is... Read more »

Hairballs in rabbits

Rabbits are very clean animals and groom themselves constantly, which means the stomach contents always contain hair. This hair is normally passed through the digestive system and excreted with the faecal pellets. Why do rabbits get hairballs? True hairballs are very rare in rabbits since it is a normal finding for a rabbit to have... Read more »

Gastrointestinal stasis

When a rabbit's digestive system is compromised, because of illness, pain or stress, then their hydration and food intake is likely to be reduced. This can lead to a reduction in gut motility – known as gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. What is GI stasis? Rabbits are unable to go any significant amount of time without food in their... Read more »

Dirty bottom syndrome

There are a variety of reasons why rabbits may suffer with a dirty bottom, either with faeces or urine, both of which are potential attractions for flies, especially in warmer months of the year when flystrike is a common occurrence. What causes dirty bottom syndrome? If your rabbit is suffering from a dirty bottom it... Read more »

Diarrhoea

In adult rabbits, diarrhoea is quite uncommon. Several conditions can cause diarrhoea, with infections more common in young rabbits (kits/kittens). It is important to check your rabbit daily for diarrhoea as it could be due to a rapidly-progressing disease that requires early treatment or could lead to other problems such as flystrike. What is diarrhoea?... Read more »

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a dysfunction of the pancreas. The pancreas is an endocrine organ that possesses clusters of cells known as islets of Langerhans. These secrete insulin into the blood circulatory system in order to control the glucose level in the blood, and stimulate absorption of glucose into cells. Diabetes mellitus is an entirely different... Read more »

X-rays and ultrasound

Veterinary medicine has made many advances in the last 10 years and many local veterinary practices are now able to perform x-ray and ultrasound examinations. Why does my vet need to do tests? Your vet can get a lot of information about what might be wrong with your rabbit from talking to you and examining your rabbit. Sometimes your... Read more »

Uterine problems

The female rabbit's reproductive tract varies greatly compared to dogs and cats. Although there is a difference in the anatomical make-up of rabbits, they can still experience some of the diseases that affect dogs and cats. How is the rabbit's reproductive tract different to dogs and cats? Rabbits have two uterine horns which open into... Read more »

Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis is the formation of calculi in the urinary tract, also called kidney and bladder calculi or stones, or urinary tract stones. The stones are rock hard crystal aggregations of all shapes and sizes. Sludge is the name given to the thick, almost toothpaste consistency deposit that can build up in the rabbits bladder or... Read more »

Red urine

Bloody urine is rare in rabbits and rodents. Cases of bloody urine in rabbits often turn out to be normal rabbit urine which is simply a deep red colour due to the extretion of plant pigments within the diet. True cases of blood in the urine (haematuria) are often due to stones/sludge within the urinary... Read more »

Rearing orphan rabbit kittens

Handrearing a rabbit kitten or kittens can be an extremely rewarding experience but is not a job to be taken on lightly. The task ahead is difficult, exhausting and there is no guarantee of success. However hard you try, you are a poor substitute for a kitten's natural mother and despite the best efforts of... Read more »

Kidney problems

Like other mammals, rabbits possess two kidneys. The kidneys are essential for filtering out toxins from the body and excreting them via the urinary system. There are many potential problems which can affect the kidneys, with varying degrees of severity. What are the kidneys for? Rabbits produce alkaline urine and rely heavily on renal excretion... Read more »

‘Walking dandruff’ (Cheyletiellosis)

Cheyletiella infection is a form of mange that is also known as rabbit mites and "walking dandruff". This is an itchy skin condition caused by small parasites living on the skin surface. The mites can be found on many animals including rabbits, dogs and cats, and can be transmitted from pets to people. Early recognition... Read more »

Pododermatitis in rabbits – sore hocks

Disruption of the normal stance or locomotion in rabbits may lead to pressure sores on the base of the feet, known as pododermatitis. Starting as a skin problem, this condition progresses over time to affect deeper tissues and can be extremely debilitating. What is pododermatitis? Pododermatitis is basically a pressure sore, with inflammation occurring where... Read more »

Lice infestation

Rabbits can host a variety of parasites on their fur and skin. These are termed as ectoparasites, since they live on the outside of the rabbit. Lice fall into this classification and can be a problem for pet rabbits. What are the signs of a lice infestation? Clinical signs of a lice infestation may include... Read more »

Flystrike in rabbits

Vets know that with the arrival of the warmer months, comes the common problem of rabbits affected by flystrike being presented to them. This is a deeply distressing condition for owners, the veterinary team and especially the rabbit, which is literally being eaten alive. However, with some simple preventative measures, hopefully your bunny will never... Read more »

Ear canker in rabbits

Ear canker can be a painful and irritating condition for your rabbit. Signs of this condition tend to appear 2-3 weeks after the animal is first infested with mites, therefore early detection of the mites that cause ear canker is important when trying to prevent this condition from taking hold. What is ear canker? Ear... Read more »

Biting and nuisance flies

The most common flies that affect rabbits include green bottles, house flies, face flies, stable flies, horn flies, horse flies and blow fly species. Some species, like blow flies, are attracted to moist decaying environments in which to lay their eggs. Other fly species such as face flies, flesh flies, screw worm flies and bot... Read more »