Rabbit Health

The good and bad of rabbit food

I have heard that it is better to feed rabbits on hay rather than rabbit food. Is this true?

Yes, hay should form 90% of a rabbit’s diet. The hay will keep your rabbit’s teeth worn down to the correct length. The other problem with commercially sold rabbit food is that rabbits will pick out the tastiest bits and could miss out on essential nutrients and vitamins

How do I know if my rabbit is the right weight

How do I know if my rabbit is the right weight?

It is very difficult to generalise about the ideal weight for a rabbit due to the number of different breeds. Rabbits all tend to look fat around their abdomen. Rather than visually assessing your rabbit you should be able to feel their ribs and their vertebrae down their spine, but not be able to see them.

Rabbit with an ear infection

I have a young dwarf Dutch rabbit. He keeps moving his head from side to side, his eyes seem weird and he seems unable to balance. He is also very subdued and off his food. What is wrong with him?

It sounds very much like your bunny has got an inner ear infection which has irritated the nerves that affect balance. He will need to be prescribed antimicrobial and anti- inflammatory medication and this should clear it up within 2 – 4 weeks. The infection could be caused by either a parasite or bacterial infection.

Can rabbits and Guinea Pigs pass disease to each other

Can rabbits and guinea pigs pass diseases on to each other?

Both rabbits and guinea pigs can suffer with mites but the mites are different species and therefore cannot be passed from one to the other. Common cat fleas can be found on both. Bacterial infections can occur in both but rather than directly spreading from one to the other it is more likely to be caused by contaminated bedding or feed.

Rabbit looking thin

I have a 7 year old Netherland Dwarf Rabbit who has started to look thin although he seems to be eating well. What could be causing this?

It is difficult to diagnose this without actually examining your rabbit so I would suggest that you take him to your vets. It could be that he is not eating as much as you think because of teeth or digestive troubles or he could have an underlying illness.

Sneezing rabbit

We bought my daughter a rabbit in the Summer and have noticed that he is sneezing quite a bit. Since it has been getting colder we have brought him in at night so I don’t think he has caught a cold. What could be causing it?

Respiratory infections are one of the most common conditions we see in rabbits. Check that there isn’t a discharge from his nose and also check to see whether the hay you are using is dusty. Whilst you mean well bringing him in at night the change in temperature could be compounding the problem. If the problem persists see your vet.

Rabbit eating his own droppings

My rabbit eats some of his own droppings. How do I stop this behaviour?

This is not a bad habit but an essential part of a rabbit’s diet which must not be stopped. The droppings contain partially digested fibre and bacterial proteins which are essential for their health.

Moulting rabbit

I have a male neutered rabbit and a female un-neutered rabbit. I have noticed that the male moults a lot more than the female. Is this because he is not producing hormones because he is neutered?

Moulting is governed by several factors and hormones are just one of those factors. Other factors include diet, environment temperature and the time of the year. The moulting hair should always be replacing itself so the time to be concerned is if bald areas develop. If bald areas appear or your rabbit is scratching these areas they will need further investigation.

With regard to your un-neutered female rabbit we would really recommend that she is neutered. As many as half of female rabbits develop cancer of the womb by the time they are 5 years old

Agrressive rabbit

We rescued a rabbit 2 months ago, and she is quite aggressive when we go to pick her up. How can we make her more friendly?

You should never hit/swat your rabbit as a reaction to her being aggressive as this will only make the problem worse, as you will make your rabbit much more anxious and hand-shy. You need to reassure your rabbit that their environment is safe. They are a prey animal and so it is instinct for them to be cautious and timid, this also means that they very rarely like to be picked up. Spend 10-15 minutes a day just petting your rabbit gently, let them get used to you. Don’t force them to sit on your lap etc. They have to realise that you are not a threat. Rabbits can also be very territorial, bear this in mind when you are trying to get them out of their enclosure – it is best to let them come out on their own. Spaying (neutering) rabbits can also make them less aggressive.

How often do rabbits moult?

How often do rabbits moult ? I thought it was once a year but my bunny moults more than this. Is he OK ? He is a lop and has been neutered.

Moulting can occur at any time due to a number of factors. It can be hormonal or due to temperature, time of year or even diet. As long as he is not itchy and/or the skin is not inflamed it shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

Rabbit with fleas

Our rabbit has fleas. I have two questions – can she have caught them from a cat and if so can I use the same flea treatment I use for my cat for my rabbit?

Rabbits can catch fleas from both cats and dogs and show the same symptoms. Flea treatments for cats and dogs can cause adverse reactions and even death in rabbits so talk to your vets about specific rabbit flea treatments.

Rabbit not eating

My rabbit has gone off his food. What should I do ?

Lack of appetite in rabbits is not good news and can often be a symptom of pain. The problem could also be linked to dental problems. Have your rabbit checked out by your vet to get to the cause of the problem.

How do I know if my rabbit is the right weight?

How do I know if my rabbit is the right weight ?

The correct weight for an individual rabbit is difficult to say because the
different breeds vary so much in size. I usually assess them on how they ‘feel’. You should be able to feel their ribs and the vertebrae of the spine down their back, although these should not be visible. Rabbits usually look ‘fat’ around their abdomen, but that is their natural shape.

Can I let a rabbit go free

My children have grown disinterested with their pet rabbit as they have got older and as we all have busy lives it spends most of its time in its hutch. Someone has suggested it would be happier if I just let it loose in a local field. Would it survive ?

This is a definite no no! Domestic rabbits are generally decended from long lines of domestic rabbits and have little instinct left to protect them from prey. They also often have white patches which makes them an easy target. It would be much better to contact a local rehoming centre.

Rabbit not eating

My rabbit has gone off his food. What should I do ?

Lack of appetite in rabbits is not good news and can often be a symptom of pain. The problem could also be linked to dental problems. Have your rabbit checked out by your vet to get to the cause of the problem.

Rabbit VHD disease

What is the rabbit disease VHD?

VHD is a highly infectious and often fatal virus that first appeared in the UK in 1992. Because it is transmitted by direct contact between rabbits or from surfaces contaminated by other rabbits many owners of solitary rabbits did not want the vaccination. There is a vaccine to cover against VHD and myxomatosis, another disease that can prove fatal to rabbits..

Ideal rabbit weight

What is the correct weight for an adult male rabbit ?

This question is difficult to answer as different breeds vary so much in size. As a vet I would usually assess a rabbit by a technique known as body condition scoring. Ideally you should be able to feel their ribs and the vertebrae of the spine down their back without them being visible. Rabbits can often look ‘fat’ around their abdomen but this is their natural body shape.

Rabbit scent gland

My rabbit continually rubs the underside of his chin on everything. Do they have a scent gland here or will something be irritating him.

Yes, rabbits do have a scent gland under their chin and male rabbits will use this to mark their territories.

My rabbit’s eating his own poo

My rabbit eats some of his own droppings. How do I stop this behaviour?

This is not a bad habit but an essential part of a rabbit’s diet which must not be stopped. The droppings contain partially digested fibre and bacterial proteins which are essential for their health.

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