By Spy Uganda
Let’s start with the healthcare for rabbits, as the person responsible for your rabbit’s welfare you should consider:
- Prevention of disease; there are vaccines that are designed to protect rabbits from diseases such as Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) – both of these diseases are usually fatal and your rabbit should be vaccinated (your veterinary surgeon can provide information on the prevention of diseases)
- Provision of a healthy balanced diet
- Provision of the right environment that minimises the risk of injury and disease
- Prompt action if a rabbit becomes ill or shows a change in its behaviour
- Checking your rabbit daily
You should keep your rabbit away from wild rabbits or areas where wild rabbits have been.
Illness & Rabbits
Healthy rabbits are alert with bright eyes, dry nostrils and clean, shiny coats. Droppings in their resting area should be small, firm pellets. You should ask a vet if your rabbit shows any signs of illness or a change in behaviour.
Rabbits are prey animals and, to avoid attracting attention from predators, they often do not look ill until they are very unwell. They can become worse very quickly, so you need to act quickly.
Indications of illness may include:
- A change in behaviour, such as sitting still and hunched up
- Change in eating and drinking habits, such as a lack of appetite or drinking more than normal
- Signs of injury such as a swollen limb or walking in an abnormal way
- Signs of disease or illness, such as leaking from the eye, ear or nose, difficulty in going to the toilet or diarrhoea
- Finding soft pellets (droppings) on the ground
- Any change in behaviour such as becoming aggressive or wishing to be more alone more often
- Signs of pain, such as not wanting to be touched on parts of its body
- Teeth grinding
- Difficulty with breathing, especially if your rabbit is breathing through its mouth rather than its nose
- Redness on skin around belly, bottom or on underside of feet
Therefore, You Need To Carry Out Routine Health Checks
|Daily Checks||Weekly Checks|
|Behaviour – watch your rabbit at least once a day to make sure it is behaving normally as well as eating and drinking its usual amount||Nails – check that they are a suitable length and not damaged|
|Feet – check for bald patches and sores||Teeth – make sure the front teeth are a suitable length and shape. Only a vet can check a rabbit’s back teeth and these should be done at least once a year|
|Fur – check for parasites, dandruff, patches of baldness, itchy sores, scaly patches, damp or weeping patches and wounds||Mouth – check for a wet chin or drooling. As rabbits are very clean animals it may not be easily spotted. However, the fur on their chest and the inside of their front paws may be stained|
|Mouth/chin – check for signs of dribbling as this can suggest problems with overgrown teeth||Weight – check your rabbit’s weight at least once a week. Loss of weight may suggest a dental or other health problem. Being overweight or obese will cause your rabbit to suffer|
|Eyes – make sure they are clear and not weeping. Runny eyes are often signs of dental problems or respiratory infections which can easily turn into pneumonia|
|Nose – make sure it is not runny. A runny nose is often a sign of respiratory infection which can easily turn into pneumonia|
|Ears – check for crusty wax|
|Rabbit’s bottom – check your rabbit’s bottom, as well as the floor of its living area, for signs of urine staining or diarrhoea. A rabbit with diarrhoea should be seen by a vet quickly|
During warm weather, rabbits should be checked at least twice daily underneath and around the bottom for droppings.
Having a dirty bottom can increase the risk of a condition known as fly strike which can kill a rabbit in a matter of hours. Fly strike occurs when flies lay their eggs in the rabbit’s dirty fur. The hatched maggots eat into the rabbit’s flesh, causing severe damage and releasing toxins. If untreated, this will produce shock, severe illness and even death. It is recommended that a daily check for any wounds or injuries is also carried out.