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Obesity in our older rabbits

When our rabbits become older they lead a slower pace of life, unless we monitor and adjust feeding patterns accordingly, there is a higher risk of pets gaining weight and becoming obese.

Obesity can be a contributing factor in the case of other conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and pododermatiitis.

It can also be dangerous in cases of anorexia as they will metabolise fat which can be lead to hepatic lipidosis.

Rabbits should have a diet of high fibre pellets, add lib grass, hay and greens to prevent obesity and to lose weight.
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Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2 – what is it?

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease is a serious disease in rabbits, and can be fatal. It is also known as Viral Haemorrhagic Disease or Rabbit Calicivirus.

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.

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.
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The Bunny Feeding Plan

A rabbit’s diet should consist of very high levels of fibre. Without these high fibres levels, their digestive system will not work effectively and will be susceptible to gut stasis. Their teeth are designed to grow continually and therefore need fibrous food to wear them down. If a rabbit does not get enough abrasive foods, they will suffer from overgrown teeth making it painful to eat! Therefore a rabbit should have access to high quality feeding hay or grass which should make up to 85-90% of their daily diet.

Rabbits can tend to begin selective feeding with such diets as muesli style diets as they chose the higher starch and sugary elements of the feed and therefore leaving the higher fibre elements. This selective feeding unfortunately increases the likelihood of a variety of illnesses in rabbits. Therefore we recommend a nutritionally balanced high fibre nugget or pellet based diet. We also advised to feed the recommended amount of food to prevent overfeeding which may lead to obesity.


The Bunny Feeding Plan!

  1. Hay & Grass – This element should make up 85-90% of your rabbit’s diet. We recommend using a high quality and dust extracted feeding hay and replace with fresh hay daily.
  2. Nutritionally balanced high fibre nugget or pellet based diet – This should be fed as a supplement to ensure your rabbit gets the minerals they need. You should fed the recommended amount as advised.
  3. Natural snacks – some food manufacturers sell natural snacks to help with keeping your rabbit occupied and can be used to encourage foraging if sprinkled within their hay.
  4. Fresh greens – These should be fed as a treat to add variety and provide addition nutrition.
    • Everyday greens – grasses, kale, mint, celery leaves, green pepper, plantain, cauliflower leaves, dandelion leaves, wild geranium, apple tree leaves & branches, strawberry and raspberry leaves, rose bush leaves, hazel tree leaves & branches, willow tree leaves & branches, brambles, goose grass, blackthorn, nettle (dried), romaine lettuce, hawthorn, and spring greens.
    • Occasionally (can be given in small quantities) – savoy cabbage, spinach, parsley, basil, apple (pip less), banana, turnip, carrot tops, swede, dill, oregano and coriander.
  5. Fresh water – This should always be available and changed daily. Also ensure it hasn’t frozen in the colder months.
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A big thank you to our Canine Donors

Thank you to all our brave canine donors who attended our Blood Donation session on Saturday 1st June.

Did you know that one blood donation can help to save the lives of 4 dogs

Over next blood donation session will be held on 10th August.

If you are interested in registering your dog as a blood donor, please head on over to the Pet Blood Bank website to ensure they meet the criteria and to register them online – www.petbloodbankuk.org/pet-owners/canine-donor-programme/register-your-dog/
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Cat of the Month – Jasper

Jasper is a handsome 4 year old ginger male cat who was brought into the vets as his owner noticed that he was unsettled and straining to pass urine without passing anything.

On examination the vet found that Jasper’s bladder was very full and painful but he wasn’t able to urinate. Jasper was in a lot of pain and needed to have a sedation to have a catheter passed up into his bladder to drain the urine. This condition is called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease FLUTD) and can have many different underlying causes. Jasper was diagnosed with Idiopathic FLUTD which means that the exact cause is unknown.

Jasper was kept in the hospital for a few days with a urinary catheter in place to allow us to flush his bladder and monitor his urine output. He was also treated with a combination of medications to keep him comfortable and keep his urine flowing. Some cats will recover well after a few days in hospital but unfortunately Jasper was one of the unlucky ones who was in and out of hospital for a couple of weeks due to recurrent problems of obstruction.

Jasper was then referred to a veterinary medicine specialist for further investigation to give him the best chance of recovery, as he continued to have problems. After carrying out more tests he was put on additional medications. Fortunately for Jasper this was successful and he is doing well on his medication. He comes back for regular visits and has become very popular amongst our nurses.

FLUTD is a difficult condition to treat and manage. It is more common in male cats as they have a long narrow urethra compared to female cats and so are more susceptible to problems and obstruction. Overweight cats and indoor cats are also known to be at higher risk of this condition.

Jasper was very lucky that his owners spotted something was wrong early enough for him to be successfully treated. This is a very painful condition and can be life threatening if not treated immediately.

Please make sure you call your vet as an emergency if you notice any of the following signs –
  • Repeated attempts to urinate that are unproductive
  • Crying or discomfort when straining to urinate
  • Increased agitation, possible vomiting.
There are some things you can do at home to help prevent lower urinarytract disease like Jasper’s, which include
  • Increasing water intake
  • Use multiple litter trays around the home
  • Minimising stress
  • Reducing obesity and encouraging exercise
Please let us know if you would like to discuss any of these recommendations in relation to your cat as we have lots more advice to offer.
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