At Hillside Vets we have tried to provide you with helpful, informative guidance sheets on everything to do with your rabbit. Rabbits like all other animals can’t tell us when something is wrong, so we hope these sheets will help you if you are uncertain about something.
Rabbits are now the third most popular small furry pet with more and more people having house rabbits. With more medical knowledge about them now and their dietary requirements they are living much longer and healthier lives.
We are a very rabbit friendly surgery with Chris and Gemma taking a particular interest in them.
We were delighted that in November 2016 we were awarded Silver Rabbit Friendly status by the Rabbit Welfare and Association Fund (RWAF).
What does this mean?
For several years now the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund have held a list of vets which offer high standards of care for their rabbit patients, enabling owners to pick a practice with the expertise to look after their bunny. Practices could either ask to be listed, or could be nominated by a client.
They have now taken this a step further by giving practices the opportunity to become listed as either a silver or gold level rabbit friendly practice. To do this vet practices must prove their knowledge of rabbit medicine and the special considerations that need to be taken when looking after rabbits in the hospital environment.
At Hillside Vets
Whilst we have always been on the RWAF list of rabbit vets, we submitted our application to become a silver level rabbit friendly practice.
In order to achieve this we had to prove that Hillside practice rabbit medicine to a high clinical standard and have the appropriate equipment to treat and hospitalise our rabbit patients, that our staff are knowledgeable about the treatment, care, handling, and specific needs of rabbits, that we have a rabbit friendly waiting room and that we are able to hospitalise our rabbit patients in a low stress environment.
This was quite an involved process and so we really were thrilled when we received confirmation that we had reached the level required to become a silver level rabbit friendly practice.
We take rabbit medicine very seriously at Hillside and feel that they deserve the same standard of care as our canine and feline patients. This recognition goes some way to showing our commitment to our bunny patients.
As always, these guidance sheets are for information purposes and you should always seek veterinary advice if you are at all concerned about your rabbit.
Our guidance sheets (pdf documents at the bottom of the page) are continually being added to, so please re-visit this page regularly for up-dates.
A brief on rabbits (more can be found in our pdf guidance sheets below)...
You are joining millions of pet lovers who think of rabbits as ideal pets. Naturally social animals, rabbits can quickly become part of the family and are very affectionate animals. Owning a rabbit is a big commitment, so at Hillside we’ve put together some information on how to best care for your new little friend and how to create the best possible home and environment and keeping a happy bunny!
The most important piece of advice that we can give is on the correct feeding of your rabbit. Thoughts have changed over the last few years on the best diet and information in many older books, what you may have done before and even advice given by the pet shop or rabbit breeder, may be a little out of date now.
Pet rabbits are closely related to their wild cousins who eat grass, grass and more grass and the digestive tract of your rabbit is designed to do the same. As soon as we start to feed more energy rich foods such as cereals (as found in all commercial rabbit mixes and pellets) and especially sweeter foods such as bread, biscuits, cakes, chocolate and even sweet fruits such as bananas, we run the risk of upsetting the delicate balance of the rabbit’s digestive system. The healthiest and most appropriate diet for your rabbit is grass and hay. All other foods should be fed as a small supplement to this and the best thing you can do for the health of your rabbit is to start out as you mean to go on.
Rabbits eating lots of greens may not drink much but those on more dried food will drink more. Offering both a drinker bottle that can’t be knocked over and is easily kept clean, together with a drinking bowl is the best option to give your rabbit the choice.
Rabbit’s teeth have evolved to grow throughout their lives in order to keep up with the wear of eating so much hard plant material. Poor diet, poor breeding, selective eating and most importantly not enough fibre in the diet can cause the teeth to overgrow. This is a potentially life threatening condition requiring regular trimming or extraction of the teeth and much ongoing care. Once a rabbit has developed dental problems it can only ever be controlled and never completely cured, so feeding the correct diet from the start is vital for the long term health of your rabbit.
There are two main infectious diseases that we see in rabbits and fortunately there is a vaccine available for both.
Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD or RHD) - both deadly viruses for rabbits that will often end in death if your rabbit is not vaccinated against them. We always recommend vaccination, even if you have a 'house bunny'.
Neutering and multiple rabbits
Rabbits make fabulous pets and are lovely sociable animals, but if you keep more than one neutering is normally required. Rabbits are often happier in pairs (or more) and two neutered bucks (males) will often become very closely bonded for life.
Even for single rabbits, neutering is strongly recommended for a longer and healthier life as it prevents against the very common diseases of uterine and ovarian tumours in females and testicular tumours in males. It can also make litter training easier and reduce urine spraying in males as well as aggression. At Hillside Vets we recommend neutering of both males and females from around four months old.
Rabbit medicine is constantly progressing; with new techniques being developed and allowing treatment for conditions that may previously not have been possible. Specialist treatment can be expensive, so we always recommend taking out pet insurance for your rabbit.