Pet Care - Rabbits
At Abbey Vets we advise bringing your new pet to us for a free check, we can offer lots of advice on all aspects of looking after rabbits.
Caring For Your Rabbit
Rabbits are sociable animals and prefer company. The best combination is a speyed female and a castrated male rabbit, other combinations can lead to fighting although castrating or speying can reduce this, other benefits of castrating or speying include helping to prevent certain cancers.
Vaccinations are essential in rabbits to prevent diseases such as myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease virus, both can be fatal if contracted. Vaccines are performed from 6 weeks of age for myxomatosis vaccine and repeated every 6 months, VHD vaccine is given from 10weeks of age and repeated every year.
Many rabbits are housed outside in a hutch with ready access to a grass run. Some people like to house their rabbit inside and they can make good household pets, they can be easily trained to use a litter tray, just like cats. Rabbits should never be allowed to run loose in the house. They love to chew and can be very destructive to housing and furniture. There is always a chance of injury, such as chewing on an electrical cord.
Your Rabbit’s Diet
High quality rabbit chows, pellets, and good quality hay (such as alfalfa, grass, or clover) can be used to make up a pet rabbit’s diet. For rabbits less than 1 year old, pellets and hay should be available ad libitum, which means the rabbit is free to eat as much of each as it wishes. Overfeeding pellets to adult rabbits is a common cause of disease. While rabbits can eat any type of hay, alfalfa hay is too rich to be the only source of hay; other grass hays are preferred.
Items such as fruits and vegetables should be offered daily. With fruits and vegetables, they should be thought of as a supplement (think of fruits as a treat) and not as the sole diet. Therefore, limit their amount to no more than 20% of the diet, with vegetables making up most of this 20%. Fresh produce is best; make sure it’s thoroughly washed prior to feeding. As with many pets, variety is the key, so offer small amounts of several items (avoid just lettuce, apples, and carrots). Avoid iceberg lettuce and celery as they are of little nutritional value. Anything green and leafy is high in vitamins and is a good supplement.
Signs Of Ill Health
Reluctance to eat, drooling/dribbling, runny eyes, matted coat, diarrhoea, lethargy and wet bottom are often signs of ill health and any of these signs need prompt attention from a veterinary surgeon.
Poisons / Diseases
Common conditions of pet rabbits include dental disease, respiratory infection, gut stasis, diarrhoea, parasites, fly strike, uterine cancer, and sore hocks.