There are two strains of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease – strains 1 and 2. Vaccines protecting against Strain 1 have been used in the UK for many years. The first case of RHD2 was noted in December 2014, and there is now a vaccination available for this strain in addition. We have sadly recently confirmed an RHD2 case at Milton Keynes Veterinary Group.
The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected rabbit via its oral, nasal or conjunctival secretions, as well as urine and faeces. It may also be transmitted via contaminated objects such as enclosures, ground, cloth and infected hay or other foods. Fleas and mosquitos are also another factor that can contribute to spread of the disease.
High risk rabbits may include show rabbits, shelter rabbits or those recently adopted. Low risk rabbits will be indoor rabbits who have no contact with other rabbits (wild or domestic).
This disease has a high mortality rate, and with most cases it is fatal in unvaccinated rabbits. The disease is also highly contagious and just one infected rabbit will rapidly spread this virus to others in the area.
The RHD2 strain is less aggressive than RHD1, with rabbits becoming ill over several days rather than sudden onset. Symptoms, although rare, can include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and spasms.
Unfortunately there is no treatment for this disease, and this coupled with its sudden onset means it is unlikely we will see a good outcome.
Fortunately this disease can be prevented. Through routine yearly vaccination, both strains of RHD can be prevented for your rabbit. However, although vaccination is a big preventative measure against this disease, there are other factors that should be considered to minimise further risk. This includes reducing the risk of infection from other animals by preventing contact with wild rabbits, birds or rodents. If you have any questions regarding this disease, please contact the practice for further advice.
A lot of animals will come to see us with these symptoms but fortunately it is only a sign of an underlying disease in a small number of them.
Bella had a lot of tests to find a diagnosis so that we could treat her condition successfully, including faecal analysis, blood testing, ultrasonography and fine needle aspirate biopsies (needle biopsies) taken from her liver and lymph nodes.
Following these tests, Bella was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is a condition that results in chronic persistent diarrhoea and/or vomiting in cats. It is diagnosed by the typical clinical signs and also finding evidence of inflammation in the wall of the intestines. The treatment for IBD often involves a prescription diet to reduce the reaction to particular ingredients in the food. Bella was started on a food called Feline Z-D Ultra, which is a hydrolysed prescription diet. This means that the proteins in the food have been reduced to such a small size that they are unable to cause a reaction in the intestines. Bella has also been treated with steroids (which reduce the body’s reaction to allergens) and antibiotics.
Unfortunately this is a condition that can take a while to stabilise and can be associated with regular flare ups as we can only control the symptoms rather than cure the condition. Bella is doing really well at the moment on her new diet but will need to stay on this special food for the rest of her life and may need intermittent courses of medications to keep her happy and comfortable.
Work will begin soon at the old premises of Castles Surplus Stores on the High Street, to equip the building with all the veterinary practice needs with the added additional of a pet shop.
The premises will also have 4 allocated parking spaces in the car park behind The Cock Hotel.
We are looking forward to when the new premises is up and running !
Cats rely heavily on their ability to taste and smell food and these are both reduced in elderly cats. If your cat has a reduction in appetite it is always advised to get them checked with your vet, however sometimes it can be due to their decreased senses.
There are ways that you can encourage food intake at home, this includes the following:
- Warming foods to 30˚c – A cat’s taste receptors are most receptive when food is at body temperature as this mimics the temperature of live prey.
- Strong smelling foods such as fish can help encourage them to eat as a cats sense of smell may be reduced due to age.
- Offering foods that you know they have enjoyed in the past as familiarity is important to cats.
- Offer a different variety and consistency of foods. Often a cat that has always enjoyed biscuits may develop a preference for wet food due to dental disease causing pain. Adding water to the diet and mashing it up may encourage your cat to eat.
- Shallow bowls that do not restrict your cat’s whisker movements are important. In the wild your cat would use their whiskers to wrap around their prey to help them bite in the appropriate location. Whiskers are also important to help cats locate food and objects that are close to their face.
- It is also important to offer fresh, high protein diets. Cats possess taste receptors that are able to detect the amino acids produced by meat and this can help them to distinguish the nutritional quality and protein content of the food. Offering a variety of foods, including wet and dry as well as a variety of food shapes will give your cat the opportunity to choose their preference.
- Offer food little and often, do not leave uneaten food down for long periods or lots of different food choices at once as this can be overwhelming for them. Place the food in a quiet, easily accessible part of the house.
- Raise food bowls up on stands or boxes as this may provide more comfort for cats suffering with osteoarthritis affecting the neck.
- Providing your cat with attention whilst they are eating can help increase appetite.
- Spend time grooming your cat, ideally weekly to prevent matts forming. It is important to be gentle and use a soft brush as they may be stiff and arthritic.
- Keep their face clean using damp cotton wool and make sure that their anogenital region is clean, you may need to do this a couple of times per day. If they are prone to getting a dirty bottom it is a good idea to shave the area around the bottom and tail to prevent them from becoming soiled.
- Older cats are more prone to hairballs due to their sluggish digestive system, this makes regular grooming even more important to remove a build-up of dead hair. You can also purchase a paste from your vets to assist with hairballs.