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Posts Tagged ‘rabbit awareness’

Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease in rabbits

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
Both these diseases are highly contagious within the rabbit population however are easily prevented.

Myxomatosis is a virus carried by biting insects and mosquitos and can be passed on without direct contact. The symptoms include puffy eyelids, conjunctivitis within the first 7 days and swelling will extend around the eyes, ears and genital regions after 7 days. In severe cases the rabbit may die from the virus.

Rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease (RVHD) is a highly infectious disease that can affect domestic and wild rabbits. RVHD 1, the classic RVHD, has been present in rabbits for decades and vaccinated against. A new strain of RVHD (RVHD2) was first noted in France in 2010. In the last couple of years, it has become an increasing concern regarding this new strain of RVHD in the UK with confirmed cases.

This new strain is less aggressive than RVHD 1 and symptoms may appear from 3 to 9 days post exposure. Symptoms can include high temperature, lethargy, sudden bleeding from areas (nose/mouth), reduced appetite and possible seizures. Even though this strain is less aggressive if not treated can cause death in severe cases

Myxomatosis and RVHD 1 can be prevented by vaccination and will provide the rabbit with 1 year immunity to the viruses.
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Rabbits can also suffer from behavioural problems

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
Rabbits are very sociable creatures and it is important to keep them in pairs or small groups. Behavioural problems can occur as a result of poor husbandry, so it is important to give them everything they need to keep them happy and healthy.

If your rabbits are kept outdoors, you will need to make sure their hutch is large enough that they are able to move around as well as allowing them separate areas to eat, sleep and toilet. As a minimum guide a hutch should be around 180x60x60cm for a pair of rabbits. It is also desirable to provide different levels for them to jump onto, as well of lots of bedding and toys to give them plenty of mental stimulation. Exercise is extremely important for rabbits as they are very athletic animals.

As well as plenty of space in their hutch, they should also be provided with access to a space to stretch their legs, either around the house or in an outdoor run everyday to make sure they are happy and healthy.

Rabbits that are not related may need to go through a bonding regime in order to house them together in the long term. This can sometimes be difficult and if you do need any advice, please contact us. If you cannot pair your rabbit, we recommend they have plenty of human company instead to make sure they do not get lonely.

Rabbits can live happily in same sex pairs, or as mixed males and females providing they are neutered. Neutering will prevent unwanted pregnancy and can help to decrease fighting and aggressive behaviour.
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How to check if your rabbit is a healthy weight?

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
Do you ever wonder if your rabbit is at a healthy weight? Your pet’s weight can depend on their breed, sex and age and therefore it will be individual to each animal.

We can assess whether our smaller pets are over or under weight by first looking at their overall size, look at your pet from the side and from above. You should be able to see a waist, if the waist is pronounced your pet may need to put on a few pounds or if the waist is not defined your pet may need to lose a few pounds.

You can also assess by feeling under your pet’s tummy, their tummy should go in and not bulge out.

By running your hands over the side of your pet, you can assess if the skin moves freely over their ribs and should be easy to feel under a thin fat layer.

You can also run your hands along their back, you should be able to feel their hips and spine easily under a thin fat later. For rabbits, check the area of the base of the tail also where the tail joins the spine, there should not be any build-up of fat here.
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Looking after your rabbit and their teeth

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
One of the most common reasons your rabbit may need to see a vet is due to dental problems. Rabbit’s teeth grow continuously so they need to grind them down through their diet by eating lots of hay and grass. This is one of the important reasons why a rabbit’s diet needs to be correct. If a rabbit’s teeth become too long then they often become sharp and start to dig in to their gums causing pain. Rabbits will then stop eating due to this pain, and if a rabbit isn’t eating it can be life threatening.

It is important to monitor your rabbit to make sure they are not experiencing a decreased appetite or passing smaller faeces, and there are no signs of lethargy or drooling. If your rabbit has these signs, then please contact the practice for advice.
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Getting your rabbit’s diet correct is important

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
Rabbits in the wild will eat grass and very little of anything else. Our pet rabbits are very similar to their wild counterparts and should be fed similarly. Making sure your rabbit’s diet is correct is important to ensure they stay healthy, and it can lead to a variety of health conditions if they do not have the correct nutrition. If you ever notice that your rabbit is not eating as normal, please contact the practice immediately to get an appointment.

Rabbits should have access to fresh grass or hay at all times, and it should make up around 85% of their diet. They should also have a fresh supply of water in a bowl or bottle which is changed daily.

Pellet food should only make up around 5% of their diet, and muesli-type feeds should be avoided as your rabbit can be become picky and just chose to eat their favourite parts.

Fresh plants, fruits or vegetables can make up the last 10% of their diet. In general, dark green vegetables are best such as kale, spinach and rocket. Fruit and vegetables higher in starch or sugar such as carrots and apples should only be given once a week.
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