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Rabbit Awareness Month.

We are joining in with national Rabbit Awareness Week, however we feel our little furry friends don’t always get the attention they deserve so we a carrying our Rabbit Awareness on throughout the whole of June.

In this blog we will share some information on rabbit’s health, symptoms, treatments and prevention.

Obesity

Like humans rabbits can easily become obese due to incorrect diet and lack of exercise. Obesity is very serious for rabbits as it impacts on their quality of life and is also linked to problems such as gut stasis and fly strike.

The best way of preventing obesity is to make sure your little one is eating the correct diet made up of 85-90% grass or feeding hay, a small amount of nuggets and a handful of leafy greens and by making sure you follow the feeding guidelines on the pack.

Flystrike

Flystrike occurs when flies lay eggs on a rabbits, usually around their back end, the eggs then go on to hatch into maggots and eat the flesh of the rabbit. This can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health condition such as obesity.

If you think your little one may have flystrike then it is important to speak to a vet immediately. The best way to prevent flystrike is to ensure your rabbit is a healthy weight and in good health so they are able to clean themselves effectively.

Snuffles

Snuffles is a bacterial infection in rabbits and if left untreated can lead to respiratory disease. Signs of this are mucus and pus from the nostrils, breathing problems, wheezing, sneezing and coughing, runny eyes, and dirty paws from wiping their nose and mouth.

Symptoms are very serious and your rabbit needs to be seen by a vet as soon as possible for treatment. It is also a highly contagious illness so you will need to be vigilant with any other rabbits, however do not separate them.

You will need to make sure your rabbits living area is cleaned with rabbit friendly disinfectant, regularly cleaned and kept warm.

RVHD1

WHAT…Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 1 (RVHD1) is an extremely infectious virus that is usually fatal, and kills by causing internal bleeding.

RVHD 1 has no symptoms so can be difficult to spot, sometimes there maybe bleeding from the anus, nose and eyes this can be easily missed without daily checks.

HOW…. It is transmitted through the wind, infected rabbit droppings, soles of shoes and car tyres, other pets’ feet, bird and insect droppings and the hands and clothes of us owners.

PREVENT… Rabbits can be vaccinated against RVHD1 on a yearly basis it is usually a combined vaccine with Myxomatosis.

 

RVHD2

WHAT… RVHD2 is a new strain found in the UK in 2015 of the RVHD1 virus. Symptoms of this virus are the same as the RVHD2 in that there aren’t really any, in cases where there have been symptoms they have easily been confused with other health problems such as fever, lethargy and blood clotting.

HOW… RVHD2 is spread in the same ways as RVHD1 and is only a small section of the ways it can be transmitted, practically the only way to prevent RVHD2 in your rabbit is through vaccination.

PREVENT… Vaccination is again the only way to prevent both RVHD 1 and RVHD2 your vet will be able to let you know how often the vaccination will be needed but is usually on a yearly basis.

 

Dental Disease

WHAT… Rabbit’s teeth continually grow and without the correct diet these will keep growing and become overgrown and painful. Rabbits in the wild eat large amounts of fibrous material and spend about 80% of their time eating a variety of grasses which wears their teeth down keeping them from overgrowing. Without the right amount of coarse, fibrous foods their teeth can become overgrown.

HOW… Ideally a rabbit’s dental health should be checked weekly and should be checked to make sure they don’t have watery eyes, weight loss, partly-chewed food, abnormal looking teeth or any drool.

Muesli style foods have been proven to reduce the amount of hay our little ones eat therefore increasing the likelihood of dental problems. There are certain breeds such as lop and dwarf that are prone to dental disease due to their small skull and can lead to teeth growing in the wrong direction.

PREVENT… Ensuring your rabbit eats plenty of feeding hay/grass – at least 85-90% of their diet is the best way to prevent dental disease. Overfeeding your little one on nuggets, fresh greens and treats is likely to reduce their hay intake so always make sure you follow feeding guidelines correctly.

TREAT… If your little one does suffer with dental disease there are a few steps to help them. Your vet will look at relieving the pain to your rabbits, restoring hydration and deliver nutritional support. Under anaesthetic the teeth can then be trimmed making it more comfortable for your rabbit. Sometimes after dental work you may have to syringe feed your little one until they are comfortable eating by themselves.

 

Myxomatosis

WHAT… This disease has been present in the UK since the 1950’s, and kills a high percentage of both wild and pet rabbits very year.

HOW… Myxomatosis affects the eyelids, skin on the ears, lips and genitals causing swelling. It is mainly spread by direct contact by fleas, the disease can be spread by insects’ carriers but rabbit’s fleas are the main culprit.

PREVENT…Your little one can be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and is usually combined with the RVHD1 vaccination. Vaccinations are very effective however vaccinated rabbits can still get a milder form of the disease but the prognosis for vaccinated rabbits is very good.

 

Gut Stasis

WHAT… Gut stasis is a condition where the digestive system slows down or completely stops. When this happens bacterial fermentation of food begins to build up and releases gas into the system – this causes extremely painful bloating and usually results in the rabbit stopping to eat or drink resulting in starvation.

HOW… If your little one stops eating or is eating less it is a very strong sign of gut stasis and needs to be seen by a vet immediately. Other signs include fewer droppings, smaller or darker droppings and undigested fur or hay. As with dental problems rabbits need to eat large amounts of fibrous materials to keep their gut moving. This disease usually develops from feeding a low fibre, high carbohydrate diet. Other things that can trigger this are dental pain, stress, diet change and obesity.

PREVENT… The best way to prevent gut stasis is to make sure you feed a high fibre diet, don’t feed muesli style diets and check their teeth and weight regularly. If you are going to change your little ones diet then make sure it is done gradually over a 2-4 week period.

TREAT… If you notice any of the symptoms of gut stasis you need to take your little one to a vet as soon as possible, even a few hours delay can mean it will be too late. Depending on the condition of your rabbit will depend on the type of treatment your vet prescribes. This can include pain relief, fluid therapy and medication to help increase gastric motility.

 

E Cuniculi

This is a microscopic brain and kidney parasite and is most likely to be caught from the rabbit’s mother, but can still be caught in later life from another rabbit. Symptoms include shuffling, weakness, rolling eyes, head tilting and uncontrollable spinning. There are several treatments options and your vet will be able to prescribe you the best course, it is a good idea to talk to your vet about the different options.

 

Respiratory Disease

Respiratory disease is common in rabbits and can be caused by many bacterial infections, foreign bodies, allergens, irritants and viral infections. Symptoms you may see in your little one if they are experiencing respiratory disease include open mouth breathing, unusual respiratory sounds, rapid breathing, discharge from eyes and flared nostrils. If you notice any of these signs it is best to see a vet as soon as possible.

 

Parasites

Rabbits are at risk of many different [parasites, these include: Mites, ticks, fleas and mosquitos.

Mites feed off the skin and fur cells and irritate the rabbit’s skin. If your little one looks like it may have dandruff this could be mites. Your vet will most likely treat mites with an injection or a spot on treatment.

Ticks stay on rabbits until they have had a complete meal of blood, and then hide until they need more. If you suspect a tick on your rabbit you should contact your vet so they can remove it safely, do not take it out yourself as it can cause them to burrow further into the skin if not done correctly.

Fleas jump on and off rabbits’ bodies biting to get some blood. You can us the same treatment to treat fleas as you can mites however will need to make sure the whole environment is treated too.

 

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