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Health & Veterinary Care

HEALTH & VETERINARY CARE

 

Rabbits are prey animals so will often hide pain or sickness well, as in the wild, a noticeably ill rabbit is an easy target to predators. [65] That’s why it’s important you do regular checks to ensure any potential issues are detected early, before it’s too late. Look for any signs of pain, illness or injury, and be aware of any changes in a rabbit’s diet, weight or behaviour, as it could be a sign of something being wrong. Always seek advice from a vet if you think there is a problem.

 

 

WHAT TO CHECK [68]

 

Ears – Ears should be clean and dry on both the inside and outside. Rub the base of the ears to check for any lumps, and inspect ears for dry skin, baldness or tears. Seek medical advice if your bunny has lots of ear wax or is frequently scratching their ears or shaking their head. If your rabbit has a head tilt, it could be a sign of ear infection, and should be looked at by a vet.

 

Rabbit Standing Up

Eyes – Eyes should be bright and clear, without any swellings or lumps. Runny eyes could be a sign of something wrong, and if you notice any cloudiness or strange markings you should visit the vet.

 

Nose – The nose should be clean and dry, with no signs of swelling. Visit the vet if your rabbit has a runny nose or frequent sneezes. Rabbits breathe through their noses, if they are gasping for air or breathing noisily it may indicate a respiratory problem.

 

Teeth – Rabbit teeth are constantly growing, so it’s important to check them to ensure they line up correctly and don’t become too overgrown. Signs of dental problems are a change in eating habits, dribbling or loss of weight. See a vet if you think your rabbit has a problem, it’s not advised to clip teeth yourself at home.

 

Skin/Fur – It’s natural for rabbits to shed their fur, and they will moult several times a year. If you see any patches of bare, red or sore skin, or dandruff, then you should get it looked at by a vet.

 

Feet/Hocks – Watch your rabbit moving about to check they’re not having any difficulties. Feet should be clean and fluffy. Any areas of red, broken or infected skin need to be treated by a vet. Nails should be trimmed on a regular basis to keep them at an appropriate length (You should be able to see only the tip of the claw poking out from the foot fur whilst the rabbit is sitting normally). Keep an eye out for wet matted fur on paws, as it could indicate the rabbit has wiped a runny nose or eye.

 

Tail/Bottom – It’s important to keep your rabbit’s bottom clean to prevent ‘flystrike’ (This occurs when flies lay their eggs on soiled fur, which then hatch into maggots and eat into the flesh [65]). A healthy bottom should be free from any waste. If it isn’t, it could mean that your rabbit is struggling to clean themselves properly, which could be a sign of a more serious health issue. 

 

Waste – Rabbits can typically do over 300 poos a day, and healthy droppings should be like plump raisins. If you see them getting smaller or fewer, or none at all, you should take your rabbit to the vet. Small poo can be an early sign of gut stasis, or loose stools can indicate infection. Small, very dark, irregularly shaped droppings, could mean your rabbits are lacking fibre [10], read Ways to Get Your Rabbit to Eat More Hay. You may also occasionally see soft shiny droppings, known as ‘Caecotrophs’, which rabbits will usually eat straight from their bottom. If many of these are left uneaten, it could indicate your rabbit has a health issue. Also look out for signs of your bunny struggling to pass urine, or patches of blood in the urine. [65] A very creamy, white urine indicates a diet too rich in Calcium. [67]

 

Weight – You should check your rabbit’s weight at least once a week for any fluctuations, and to ensure they are a healthy size (See Is My Rabbit Overweight?). Weight loss could be an indication of dental problems or other health issues. Being overweight could potentially lead to other problems, such as sore feet, pressure on joints, decrease in exercise, heat stress, or flystrike if they’re unable to clean themselves properly. [37]

 

 

SIGNS THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG [37]

 

Any changes in behaviour could signify that something is wrong. Look out for any of the following:

 

 

 

WHEN IS IT AN EMERGENCY? [67]

 

You should seek advice from the vet immediately in the following circumstances: