Rabbit health and welfare

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Ensure your rabbit is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Rabbits need:

  • Neutering, unless intending for breeding and provisions made for parents/offspring. Before breeding, seek veterinary advice to ensure health and personality suitability.  

    - Un-neutered females are at high risk of developing womb cancer.

    - Un-neutered rabbits are more likely to fight.

  • Careful consideration. Before owning rabbits, investigate breeding/how they’ve been cared for. See if they’ve had/prone to, health/behavioural problems. Some breeds have exaggerated physical features/prone to inherited disorders/diseases which can cause suffering, reducing quality of life. Ask a vet if unsure. 
  • Correct diets, mainly hay and/or grass help prevent dental/gut disease. Check rabbits eat daily, passing plenty of dry droppings. If eating/drinking habits change/quantity of droppings reduce/stop, ask your vet immediately - they could be seriously ill. 
  • Checking for signs of illness/injury daily. Ensure this happens when you’re away.

    - In warm weather check fur/skin around bottom/tail areas twice daily. Urine staining/droppings stuck attract flies, causing flystrike (often fatal).

    - Rabbits feel pain but don’t show any outward signs so may suffer before being noticed.

    - Changes in normal behaviour can indicate illness/pain.

    - Stressed rabbits are more likely to become ill.

    - Seek veterinary advice immediately if you suspect they’re in pain/ill/injured. See: behaviour.

  • Their front teeth/nails checked at least weekly - these grow quickly. Only vets should correct overgrown/misaligned teeth. Rabbits are vulnerable to infectious diseases/illnesses, especially dental disease.
  • Veterinary check-ups at least annually.

    - Treatment for external/internal parasites (e.g. fleas/worms), as advised by vets.

    - Vaccinating against myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD), as advised by your vet.

    - Consider pet insurance to cover veterinary treatment.

    - Many vets, including Medivet, CVS UK Ltd veterinary group practices, Companion Care/Vets4Pets, provide health care packages. These can help to manage costs and ensure pets receive regular veterinary check-ups and preventative treatments. Talk to your vet and see if they offer a health care scheme.

    - See: health checks/handling.

  • Keeping away from wild rabbits/areas where they frequent – they can carry diseases.
  • To be treated with only the medicines recommended for your rabbit by a vet. Other animals’ medicines are dangerous to rabbits.
  • Well-maintained coats - groomed regularly. If unsure about grooming seek specialist advice.
  • To be identifiable, ideally microchipped (seek veterinary advice), so they can get quickly treated if injured/returned if lost.
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