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Obesity in your older bunny

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.

Follow this link for a good guide on rabbit body condition scoring.

If you are concerned about your rabbit’s weight in their older age, why not book in for a geriatric check with one of our nurses. These appointments are available for rabbits over the age of 7 years old and are running during the month of November only.
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Firework tips for our small pets

Our small pets can get stressed too during the fireworks season. Here are some signs to look out for and what we can do to help them!

Signs your small furry may be distressed:
  • Stamping their hind legs
  • Unwilling to move
  • Trying to escape from their accommodation
What can we do to help our small furries during this frightful time?
  • Ideally the best scenario during this season, is to bring their accommodation inside. However that isn’t always possible but moving them into your garage or shed will provide some soundproofing. If none of these are available then partly cover the hutch or cage with blankets.
  • If you have a house rabbit or you can move your pets inside, close the windows and draw the curtains.
  • Provide some background noise such as TV or radio. It is wise to start doing these before the fireworks season.
  • Within their accommodation, make sure there are hiding places your pet can utilise to make them feel safe with plenty of bedding. More bedding will also help minimise the noise.
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Summer Dangers

During the warmer weather, we want you and your pets to enjoy it! However here are some things to keep them safe:
  • TICKS
    There are higher numbers of ticks during the summer months, and animals will be outside more often therefore a higher likelihood of picking up a tick along the way. It is a good idea to check your pet for ticks at least once a day. Dogs tend to pick ticks up more often than cats, but we advise to check your cat daily as well. Ticks can transmit a number of diseases, with symptoms that are hard to spot. Our staff would be happy to advise you on a safe and effective product to use against ticks.

  • TOADS
    The Common toad and the Natterjack toad are common within the UK, within the forests and wet areas. Toads are poisonous to pets as they release venom from their skin when licked or eaten. Exposures are normally seen between June and August time of the year. Signs may include: vomiting, frothing or foaming at the mouth, increased salivation, shaking, oral pain and collapse.

  • HOT WEATHER
    If your pet is exercised too much or they are left in a car, conservatory or enclosed space, temperatures can suddenly rise and lead to fatal heat stroke. Animals should not be exercised during the hottest part of the day and never be left in a confined space for any length of time.

  • PAVEMENTS AND ROADS
    Studies have shown pavements and roads can reach temperatures of 52oC on warm days, which is enough to severely burn your dog’s paws. As a test, place the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds – if this is too hot for you, then it is too hot for your pet!

  • BLUE-GREEN ALGAE
    This is a bacteria which forms on top of ponds and lakes, which gives a blue-green scum appearance to the surface of the water. This bacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye unless it is clumped together. It is most commonly present in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds. Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, weakness, confusion, drooling and breathing difficulties. Therefore it is best to avoid water that may contain blue-green algae.

  • WATER INTOXICATION
    Water intoxication is fairly uncommon, however it is definite something to be aware of, if your dog spends lots of time swimming or playing in water. Symptoms of water intoxication include:
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Lethargy
    • Abdominal distention
    • Ataxia
    • Weakness
    • Coma
    • Seizures
    • Hypothermia
    • Bradycardia
    In a case, where you think your pet is suffering from water intoxication, please contact your vet immediately for advice.

  • FLYSTRIKE
    Our smaller pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs can be more at risk more quickly in the hotter temperatures. Flystrike is where flies lay eggs on the rabbit and the eggs will hatch into maggots. This condition can rapidly take effect within 24 hours and the maggots will eat into the living flesh if no action is taken. To reduce the chance of flystrike, check around their bottoms for fly eggs or maggots. This should be checked at least once a day. There are preventative treatments for Flystrike available – speak to a member of our staff for details.

  • BEE AND WASP STINGS
    The buzzing of a bee or wasp may not be a pleasant sound to us, however it may be intriguing for your pet, causing them to investigate and get stung. If your pet does get stung, please seek veterinary advice and treatment.

  • BARBEQUES
    During the nicer weather, everyone loves a BBQ, your pet included if they get some scraps! However this can be dangerous as some foods can substances toxic to our pets, such as grapes, onions, garlic and raisins. Bones and corncobs are also dangerous to our pets as if swallowed, they could be potential intestinal foreign bodies.

  • SAND
    Whilst digging, playing or repeatedly picking up sandy balls and toys, dogs often ingest sand. Sand can cause a blockage called sand impaction. Try to limit games of fetch on the beach, and make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water.

  • GARDEN PRODUCTS
    Ant powders, baits and gels contain chemicals which are highly toxic to dogs as well as weed killers and slug pellets. Always check the label, if the product states it is toxic to animals, opt for a pet-friendly insecticide/weed killer instead.

  • RAT POISON
    Rodenticide is used to prevent rats but is also toxic to pets, and can cause severe internal bleeding, vomiting, fits and changes in body temperature. Always opt for a pet-friendly product.

  • PLANTS AND FLOWERS
    There are many flowers and plants that are toxic to our pets, such as poppies, clematis, peony, foxglove, geranium, chrysanthemum, oleander and yew. If you are unsure whether your plants are safe, it is best to keep an close eye on your pet when they are in the garden and keep house plants out of reach.

  • GRASS SEEDS
    After walking your dog, it is a good idea to check their feet for any grass seeds. If these are left, they can track under the dog’s skin and causing swelling and lameness. They can also be found down dog’s ears so check around their ears also!

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Top tips for the warmer weather!

In this current warmer weather, our pets aren’t able to cope as well. Therefore as owners, we need to make sure they are safe, cool, healthy and happy.
  • HOT CARS
  • This is one of the biggest health concerns during the warmer months. Animals should never be left in a locked car when it’s hot outside. Even if the window is open, temperatures can increase to extreme levels very quickly. As a result, pets suffer from heatstroke.
  • PROTECTING YOUR PET’S SKIN
  • Animals can get sunburnt too just like us! If they will be exposed to the sunlight, apply sun cream to white and pink areas of their skin and importantly the tip of the ears. Animals with lighter coloured fur will be more prone.
  • FROZEN TREATS
  • Animals will love to have something cool, so why not pop your dog’s Kong in the freezer for a nice cool and refreshing treat. You can also use frozen water bottles wrapped in a towel and pop it in their bed for our cats and small furries

  • FLYSTRIKE
  • Our smaller pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs can be more at risk more quickly in the hotter temperatures. To reduce the chance of flystrike, check around their bottoms for fly eggs or maggots. This should be checked at least once a day. There are preventative treatments for Flystrike which last around 6 weeks depending on the product.
  • HAIRCUTS
  • Those pets with thick fur coats, why not book them in with the groomer to help them feel cooler during the warmer weather.
  • WALKING YOUR PETS
  • We advise to walk your dog during the cooler times of the day such as early morning or late evening. If it is still too hot to walk them, give them a rest of the evening. It is safer for them to not have a walk than to be at risk of heatstroke
  • WATCH OUT FOR GRASS SEEDS
  • After walking your dog, it is a good idea to check their feet for any grass seeds. If these are left, they can track under the dog’s skin and cause swelling and lameness. They can also be found in dog’s ears!
  • HEATSTROKE
  • Signs to look out for include collapse, rapid panting, excessive drooling and sticky gums. Provide your pet with plenty of fresh, clean drinking water and provide a shaded area. If you are worried that you pet is suffering from heatstroke, please seek veterinary advice immediately.
  • PROVIDING COOL AREAS
  • Prevent your pet from sitting in direct sunlight, provide a shaded area and move hutches and cages if necessary.
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What’s your bunny eating?

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.
During June, we are running FREE rabbit clinics with our veterinary nurses, so if you have any questions please book an appointment to discuss.
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