PetCare Veterinary Clinic Rustington

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You and Your Pet

Rabbit Care

Congratulations on becoming the proud owner of a rabbit. They are a joy to have, and with the right care and attention will become an important member of the family.

Please read on about the important healthcare issues we’d like to tell you about.

Diet

Rabbits are vegetarians and eat grass, so feeding a correct diet of grass; high fibre hay and small amounts of supplementary concentrate will be vital for their health and well-being. In the wild bunnies will spend a vast majority of their time nibbling grass

Vaccination

There are now two major Rabbit diseases against which vaccination is available - Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD).

Myxomatosis

Myxomatosis is a virus, which infects wild and domesticated rabbits and has been with us for many years. Infection can happen due to direct contact with an infected rabbit or by fleas and mosquitoes. Early signs of Myxomatosis include swelling and discharge of the eyes and nose, spreading to the anus and genitals. Most rabbits die once they become infected and survivors are often left blind or have long term breathing problems. Euthanasia is often the kindest course of action. Infection can be prevented in three ways.

  • Control of parasites - mosquito nets can be used as a protective barrier. There are now products licensed for the treatment of rabbit fleas, please ask us for advice.
  • Prevent contact with wild rabbits.
  • Vaccination - This can be given from 6 weeks of age, and should be repeated annually - or every 6 months if you live in a rural area.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

VHD is a relatively new rabbit viral infection in the UK. It can be passed on by direct contact with an infected rabbit, by transporting the virus on our clothing, or by insects. VHD has a very quick onset once contracted and causes sudden death due to internal bleeding. Unfortunately, there is no treatment available and all but the mildest affected rabbits die. Infection can be prevented in three ways.

  • Control of parasites.
  • Prevent contact with wild rabbits.
  • Vaccination - A vaccine is now available which will protect your rabbit. It can be administered from 10 weeks of age and should be given annually.

There should be a minimum of 2 weeks gap between Myxomatosis and VHD vaccines. Due to the possibility of transmission of both diseases by insects, we recommend vaccination of all rabbits, even if they live indoors or do not encounter wild rabbits.

Parasite control

Maggots are prevalent during the months of (April to October). All bunnies are potential targets but old, ill, and overweight rabbits are more at risk. Fly strike can be Life Threatening so be prepared!

Xenex Ultra spot on is the simple and effective way to keep your rabbit reliably insect free. It will also repel the flies, which cause flystrike. Each tube of the easy to apply odourless solution will kill insects residing on your pet on contact and will continue to do so for upto 2 weeks.

Xenex Ultra should be used as part of an insect control programme. Ensure that your pet is kept in clean, dry housing which is free of faeces and urine. Flystrike is caused by flies laying their eggs in the wet or soiled areas, which can develop around the anus of pets. These sores often develop as a result of diarrhoea caused by poor health, diet and hygiene. Please seek advise from the PetCare team regarding correct diet for your rabbit and regularly check it for faeces soiling and bathe if necessary.

Xenex Ultra is used for the prevention and control of infestations caused by Flies, Fleas, Ticks, Lice and Mites (Not Burrowing mites).

It kills the fleas on contact with the rabbit's coat so they do not even have to bite bunny to achieve the desired effect! And is available for use on healthy rabbits over 16 weeks of age.

For effective cleaning of the housing area, we advise a Spray is a flea, mite and fly insecticide for use on rabbit hutches, carpets and bedding. To use you will need to remove bunny from their hutch and then spray their housing with Crusade paying particular attention to cracks, crevices and carpet edges. Allow the area to dry before allowing your pet to return.

Speak to our team who can advise you of preventative measures to take and products available to use.

Insurance (Veterinary Fees)

You can insure your rabbit in just the same way as for a dog or cat. Medicines have become increasingly expensive and to provide your pet with the best quality health care we make extensive use of laboratory investigations and referral services when needed. These services can be costly, so we strongly recommend insurance cover for Veterinary treatment.

Neutering

Rabbits reach sexual maturity between the ages of 3-8 months. Male and female rabbits can be neutered from 5 months of age. We would recommend examination by a Veterinary Surgeon prior to surgery to ensure they are suitably mature.

Sexually mature and un-neutered rabbits may show signs of:

  • Loss of good litter habits
  • Spraying urine
  • Aggressive lunging and biting
  • Destructive chewing
  • And more!!!

How can neutering help?

Having your rabbit neutered will not change those qualities you love best about your companion.

  • It can significantly reduce the likelihood of female rabbits (doe) developing ovarian cancer. 80% of un-neutered doe’s develop ovarian cancer by 3 years of age.
  • It will eliminate the likelihood of male rabbits (buck) developing testicular tumours.
  • Helps to improve anti-social behaviour.
  • Entire rabbits generally live on average 3-6 years. The average neutered house rabbit can reach 8-10 years or more. The record is 18 years!!
  • Different sexes can live together (if needed) without the concern of unwanted litters.

Neutering your rabbit will not make them "fat and lazy". Lack of exercise, incorrect feeding and boredom will do that.