Rabbits make wonderful pets. They are naturally social and curious and can form great bonds with their owners. However, they require dedicated care to keep them healthy. Like cats and dogs regular vet visits are needed, as well home care.
Rabbits should be vaccinated against Calicivirus starting at 4 weeks of age. Calicivirus causes Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, which causes bleeding, seizures and lethargy followed by sudden death. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease so vaccination is especially important. The current vaccination protocol as advised by the Australian Veterinary Association is:
- 4 weeks
- 8 weeks
- 12 weeks
- Every 6 months thereafter
For previously unvaccinated adult rabbits they receive two vaccinations 4 weeks apart, then every 6 months.Vaccinations are also a great opportunity for your rabbit to receive a comprehensive health check with their vet and have their sex confirmed (this is best done at the 12-week vaccination).
Your vet can also provide detailed advice about feeding, housing, exercise and environmental enrichment for your rabbit.
Flea and mite control
Rabbit fleas and mites can cause itching, hair loss and skin irritation. Rabbit fleas can also be one type of blood sucking insect that can transmit Myxomatosis in rabbits. Myxomatosis is caused by a poxvirus and the virus causes swelling and discharge from the eyes, nose and anogenital region of infected rabbits. Most rabbits die within 10-14 days of infection however highly virulent strains of the myxoma virus may cause death before the usual signs of infection have appeared. As there is no vaccination in Australia to protect against Myxomatosis flea control, as well as protecting rabbits from mosquitoes, (e.g., by using mosquito proof netting on hutches and keeping rabbits inside at dawn and dusk) is very important.
Revolution, a monthly spot-on insecticide protects against fleas, fur mites, ear mites and Sarcoptes mites. It can be used safely in rabbits from 8 weeks of age.
We strongly recommend desexing your rabbit. Females should be desexed between 4-6 months of age. Males can be desexed generally any time from 3 months of age. The reasons for desexing rabbits are many including:
- Non desexed females have a much greater risk of developing uterine cancer in later life. A recent study indicated a 50-80% of developing this over the course of 3 years.
- Non desexed female rabbits have a higher chance of developing mammary cancer
- Their hormones can make them aggressive and harder to handle
- They can experience phantom pregnancies or if they can access an entire male rabbit the risk of actual pregnancy is high
- Non desexed male rabbits are at risk of testicular cancers.
- Two non-desexed rabbits of the same sex can fight a lot-entire male rabbits can sometimes even fight to the death!
Desexing is a surgical day procedure. Rabbits are admitted with the vet and given a full health check to start. They are encouraged to keep eating up until the time of surgery. Dissolving sutures are used under the skin to minimize the chance of rabbits chewing at their stitches in recovery. Following the procedure, they receive fluid therapy, appropriate pain relief and nutritional support.
Desexing your rabbit will help keep them both healthy and happy!
Like other animals, rabbits require some grooming. A daily brush is recommended. If rabbits become matted it is important to seek the advice of your vet clinic. Rabbits have thin skin which can be easily damaged with clipping. With severe matting sedation of your rabbit for a complete clip and wash may be required. It is also important to monitor you rabbit’s nails and keep these trimmed to an appropriate length. It is important not to trim nails too short as this can cause bleeding and pain. If you are unsure how to trim your rabbit’s nails your vet clinic can safely do this for you or guide you through this.
At Lynbrook Vet we love meeting beautiful bunnies and helping provide you with the professional advice and care needed to keep your rabbit comfortable and protected through their life. If you have any queries regarding rabbit care do not hesitate to give our team a call on 8373 0301.