Vet Advice

Rabbit Care Guide ~ Diet ~ Health ~ Behavior During Illness ~ Rabbit Diseases ~ Vet Advice

Vet advice for rabbit

Advice Quick Guide

  • Online Vet Advice -  If you need rabbit health advice, the best place to get it, is from a real veterinarian who specializes in small animals like rabbits. Just Rabbits has teamed up with Just Answer, to give you Just That! (good names hey?!)

Other rabbit health advice topics on this page include:

  • Health Check Lists- Quick, handy, daily/weekly and monthly and check lists to keep your rabbits in tip-top health.
  • Symptom Checker- Quick symptom check chart to help you decide the best course of action if you think you may have sick bunny on your hands.
  • Vaccinations - Why are they so important? Costs and overviews of procedures, to put your mind at rest.
  • Microchipping - A simple, quick and cost effective way of keeping your rabbit safe and with you! Did you know there are mobile microchipping services available?
  • Neutering & Spaying - Why is it important? What are the benefits? What age can rabbits be neutered from? What does it involve? What are the costs?... Just some of the many questions answered on this page.
  • Vet Advice Forum - Ask for advice on this pages mini-forum. Someone 'in the know' will be able to help you, or one of our visitors may have experienced the same problem, share and contribute here.
For a more detailed look at all aspects of bunny health, diet, environment, companionship & longevity check out the revolutionary iRabbit READY System by Kerry Greener of Just Rabbits Limited

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Health Check Lists

Daily/ Weekly Check
Rabbits are very good at hiding signs of illness or injury so you should get up close and personal every day to check they are well and happy. See below for your daily check list.

Monthly Check
There are some things that will take a little more time to check so I have included these in the monthly check list below.

Annual Check
Then of course there's a professional annual check with qualified vet advice at your local veterinarian centre. The usual vet procedure for an annual check is outlined below...

Daily / Weekly Check List

  1. Eyes
    Eyes should be bright and colourful with no sign of discharge or dullness. Discharge maybe down to a scratched or damaged eye. Cloudy eyes could be a symptom of a problem with their teeth. Both cases would require vet advice and treatment.
  2. Nose
    This should twitch a lot ;-) If it isn't, there could be a problem. Also if it is runny or they are sneezing a lot it could be down to Rhinitis or Sinusitis. Again vet advice will be needed where blood tests and x-rays may be needed.
  3. Rear End
    Check your bunny's bum is clean of dirt and poo. If it is it could be a sign that their diet is too rich and they don't need to eat their caecotrophs. (See Dual Action Colon for more on caecotrphs). Unsuitable diet also causes obesity which prevents self grooming as they can't reach! Check twice daily in the Summer months as soiling will attract flies which lay eggs that hatch into maggots within a matter of hours. This is called Flystike and it can be very dangerous, even fatal.

Monthly Rabbit Health Check

  1. Mouth/Teeth
    Check your rabbit's teeth are still growing straight, that they are not overgrown, broken, loose or discoloured and that they're not drooling. Gums should be a nice pink colour.
  2. Fur/Skin
    Check for signs of flakes, fleas and lumps under the skin. Make sure their coat is clean and well groomed.
  3. Ears
    Make sure they are clean inside with no wax build up or flakiness. If they are you will need vet advice as the cause could be a number of factors, each requiring deeper examination.
  4. Nails
    Nails should be kept short as they may tear off, bleed and become infected. Use good quality nail clippers designed for rabbits.
  5. Toes
    Make sure all toes are present and correct and there are no signs of sores or abrasions.
  6. Feet/Legs
    Check the bottom of the feet are still covered with fur and that there is no bare patches or skin that is red and infected. Keep an eye out for limping, leg weakness (front and back), bad balance and any abnormal stance or movements. (in their hopping, running, sitting up on back legs etc.)
  7. Scent Glands
    If the scent glands are dirty, clean gently with a cotton bud dipped in mineral oil.
  8. Eyes
    Make sure there isn't discharge from the eyes. Lift up the lid and check for a healthy pink colour. Check for any discolouration in the eye, redness or swelling.
  9. Nose
    Look for a dry clean nose. Check for any discolouration on outside of nose.
  10. Respiration
    Listen for clear, regular breathing. Learn normal respiration rates for your bunny.
  11. Heart
    If you have a stethoscope, listen to your rabbit's heart. Make sure the beat sounds regular. Learn normal heart rates for your bunny.
  12. Temperature
    Take their temperature. This video shows you how.

  1. Droppings
    These should be large and moist. Small, malformed or dry dropping could be signs of a problem.
  2. Urine
    Watch when your rabbit does this, if they are having trouble peeing you may need vet advice. Check the urine is a normal colour. This can vary and is sometimes red, but red spots or flakes are not normal so you will need to get this professionally checked.
  3. Disposition
    Has your rabbit's personality changed? Not as active? Not as playful? Do they have difficulty moving around? Are they not eating as much? Any changes in behavior can be signs of disease or discomfort. Further evaluation and vet advice will be needed.

Additional Health Check Vet Advice

Log It!
Keep up to date information on your rabbits.

Understand and know what they eat (favourite foods) and drink (usual quantities).

The vet may need this information later!

Rabbit Log

I don't mean
that kind of Log!

Behaviour Monitoring
Monitor their general activity levels and habits. Any changes to normal behavior can alert you to a potential medical problem. This symptom checker may help...

If you keep an eye on your rabbit like this, you can prevent any possible disease from progressing and in turn possibly saving their lives by getting them to the vet in time to receive the appropriate treatment.

Learn more about rabbit behavior during illness or injury...

Quick action can save your rabbit’s life.

Veterinarian Annual Check with Vet Advice

This is a run down of what you can expect to happen when you take your rabbit for their annual health-check...

Veterinary Evaluation and Exam

  1. Rabbit Overview With You
    A vet will assess the rabbit's recent history. (This is when written information on diet and past medical problems will be helpful.) Then they will discuss any new problems, concerns or questions.

  2. Physical Exam

    Teeth
    are checked for malocclusion and the lips checked for sores, abrasions, signs of drooling or swelling.

    E
    yes are a reflection of overall health and are given a thorough check. They check for any tearing or discharge.  Sometimes the conjunctiva gets swollen and infected and sometimes the tear ducts become obstructed.

    Ea
    rs should be clean and not irritated. The vet will check that any debris within the ear does not have mites, yeast or bacteria. The ear is swabbed and the material examined under a microscope.

    Skin and Fur
    is examined for parasites, shedding, any evidence if the rabbit has been scratching or biting at him/herself, actual hair loss and lesions. The doctor (vet) checks the back of the neck and under the tail for fur mites.

    Legs and Toes
    are palpated for any abnormal lumps. The doctor will listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope and will palpate the abdomen to evaluate size and shape of internal organs.

    T
    ail is lifted to ensure the sex of the rabbit is what you think it is. Surprisingly many a rabbit pregnancy has occurred because the sex has been mistakenly identified. If you have not had your rabbit spayed or neutered, you will receive some vet advice about the benefits of this procedure.

  3. Laboratory Testing
    Any neccessary blood tests, urinalysis and bacterial cultures are carried out that may be necessary to diagnose a problem.

  4. Check Out
    The average cost-per-procedure depends upon where you live, lab work done and additional services performed. However some rabbit insurance services offer checks as additional cover.

How Often Should We Go For Vet  Advice & Checks?

  • Rabbit examinations by a qualified vet, should be done annually
  • Twice a year for rabbits over 5 years of age


Additional Notes:

  • Stool samples will be evaluated at the first three visits if the rabbit is housed inside.
  • If your rabbit is kept outside, a stool sample would be checked at every visit.
  • Letting your vet examine your rabbit when they are healthy is good practice and prepares you and your vet for when your bunny is poorly.

Are You a Local Vet?

If you are a qualified veterinarian, and you'd like to help our pet rabbit community, we'd love to have you join our advisory panel.

The vet advice given below is not part of JustAnswer, so for now, there are no payments involved. But it is a great way to promote your business and use your vast knowledge and experience helping others out.

Just click here answer any of our visitor questions.

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Symptom Checker

Better Symptom Checker?

Disappointed
I was a little disappointed when I went online to find a symptom checker when I thought my 'Kisses' was poorly. Most of the symptom checkers on the Internet at the moment are nothing more than a series of questions directing you to make an appointment with a vet or buy medication of some type.

Just Not Good Enough!
I decided that these types of symptom checkers are not really what you need when you are genuinely worried about your rabbit's health. They also have a very limited number of symptoms listed in the first place.

So I made my own... JustRabbits Quick Symptom Check Chart

I am currently working on another, very extensive check system that will be database driven and cover just about any health related issue a rabbit may encounter in it's lifetime. Sign up to my blog to get the announcement...

But That's Not All!
The Just Rabbits database driven symptom checker will also link to the breed and variety of rabbit you may have. Rabbits of different breeds have different problems and certain illness related behaviour can also be a particular trait of a certain breed. So I felt adding this element was important!

Another thing I noticed about the average symptom checker; they are extremely basic, they don't give any indications as to why your rabbit may be showing signs of illness or injury. But also, they offer no additional advice on what actions to take to calm any symptoms, or list any ways to prevent such a problem happening again.

The Just Rabbits Symptom checker will be based on vet advice from qualified veterinarians from around the world and will be the best on the Internet!

Sign up for our Newsletter to stay informed!

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Vaccinations

rabbit vaccinations

The following information is aimed at UK rabbit owners, vaccinations are not yet available in all countries (such as the USA), contact your vet to see if it is available to you.

There are always questions when it comes to vaccinations for pet rabbits, hopefully the following will answer the main ones:

How do vaccines work?
The vaccination works by stimulating the antibodies to set up a protective screen against the disease. This protective response is remembered and triggered whenever the rabbit encounters the disease. This protects them from contracting these diseases and so stops them becoming ill.

Why Vaccinate my Rabbit?
There are lots of reasons but the main ones are as follows;

  1. Vaccination allows your rabbit to develop immunity to dangerous diseases. 
  2. Vaccination is also often required for getting pet insurance
  3. Vaccination is often a requirement of rabbit/pet holiday boarding houses
  4. Vaccination is a strict requirement of your rabbit being allowed to take part in shows and events.

How do I get my Rabbit Vaccinated?
Your vet will examine your rabbit to check that it is healthy prior to vaccination. They will also advise you on which vaccinations are appropriate for your rabbit depending on its age, lifestyle and history.

When Should I Vaccinate my Rabbit?
In young rabbits, maternal antibodies are said to start to disappear progressively between the 4th and 7th week of life. A rabbit’s first vaccination should be given at about six to eight weeks, before this age the kitten is protected by its mother’s immunity, as long as the mother was herself vaccinated.

How Often Does my Rabbit need Vaccinating?
Rabbits need vaccinating every year in most areas. Traditionally the vaccinations for these diseases have been required to be given at separate times but there is now a combined annual vaccine available.

What Should my Rabbit be Vaccinated Against?
In the UK all rabbits should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.

There are three vaccines licensed for rabbits in the UK:

  • two for Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD):

    Cylap® (Fort Dodge Animal Health)
    and
    Lapinject VHD® (Ceva Animal Health Limited)

  • one for myxomatosis:

    NobivacTM Myxo (Intervet UK Ltd)

Which rabbits should be vaccinated?
All rabbits, even rabbits kept indoors most of the time can be bitten by a mosquito or flea carrying this disease.

Will it work?
No vaccine can be guaranteed to provide 100% protection. This is because the vaccine works by stimulating your rabbit’s immune system and if the immune system is not working properly for any reason, the vaccine will also not work properly. However, for the vast majority of rabbits vaccination will provide excellent protection against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.

How much do rabbit vaccinations cost?
Most vets offer a discount for two rabbits done at the same time, sometimes up to 10-20% off.
Generally the cost for each rabbit can vary from £12 to £30 each. There is quite a large price difference between one vet and another so if you are lucky enough to live in an area with lots of vet practises, it may pay off to shop around. This would only be advisable if you don't already have a registered vet, as if you do, your own vet will know your rabbit (hopefully), and your rabbit's medical history will be on file.

Microchipping

Keep Up

Micro chipping is only effective if you keep your details up to date. If you move house or change your telephone number you must make sure that you inform the database you are registered with so that they have your up-to-date contact details.

Microchipping your rabbit gives them the best chance of being identified and returned to you if they become lost or stolen.

Rabbits can be microchipped very easily but it depends on their species, size and condition.

Check for vet advice on microchipping your particular rabbit by asking JustAnswer. They'll give you advice straight away.

The cost can be as little as £12 per rabbit.

Rabbit-microchipping
How Microchipping Works

A tiny microchip is inserted in the fold of skin behind the head. This gives your rabbit their own permanent, unique code.

The microchip can be scanned and checked against a huge pet database such as the national PetLog database. The database contains your name, address and phone numbers.

If your rabbit is found away from home, most vets, animal shelters and local authorities will have a scanner to read the microchip and retrieve your details.

Your rabbit can then be returned to you safe and sound.

Why is microchipping Important?
You may think to yourself;

  • my rabbits are safe indoors, I never let them out.
  • my rabbits are very secure in the garden, they can't possibly get out.
  • I don't need the extra hassle and expense of microchipping

But rabbits are expert escape artists and a very high percentage of rabbits found are not chipped and are moved to rescue centres or re-homed.

However, all micro-chipped rabbits are reunited with their owners within a few hours.

Microchipping Procedure

  • A microchip is slightly larger than a grain of rice. Implanting the chip is a straightforward procedure, just like an injection.
  • The vet puts the microchip in a standard position, behind the head using a sterile pre-loaded implanter.
  • The needle is larger than normal so it can be a little painful for a short while.
  • Some rabbit owners have their bunnies chipped when they are already under general anesthetic for a routine operation.
  • It's a good idea to give your brave bunny a nice treat when they get home to take their mind off the stingy feeling they will have for a few hours afterwards. A small piece of apple or carrot is OK.

National Microchipping Month
June 2013 saw the he start of National Microchipping Month, promoting the importance and benefits of getting your pet microchipped.

The price of microchipping fell to only £12 per animal.

Most microchipping service providers have kept that low price and some even offer a mobile service. If you are one of these providers, enter your details below and we help promote you! Hopefully we can have details of microchippers in every area!

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Ask Your Question -
Vet Advice from Visiting Veterinarians

Are You a Rabbit Vet? Do You Have a Rabbit Health Question

If you are a vet specializing in rabbit health, we'd love to have your input on this page. See if there are any questions from visitors that you can answer. We'd all love the professional advice you can offer.

If you offer any health service for rabbits including microchipping, we'd love to hear from you too. Let's get all our bunnies chipped and never lost again!

If you have a niggling question or you are worried about any aspect of your rabbit's health, why not share your problem here? Someone out there is bound to be able to help, they may have had the same thing happen to them.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Bunny shaking her head.  
I have a girl rabbit who is approximately two years old, and in the last two days I've noticed she has been holding one ear back and sometimes will shake …

Female Bunny Peeing Blood 
My 3 year old female rabbit has been peeing blood for the past week. She is on antibiotics and this seems to be reducing the amount of blood but it …

Help! HUGE lump on bunny's lower back! 
Hello, My lop rabbit is about 5-6 years old. I discovered a large abnormal lump under her skin on her lower back about 2 months ago and didn't think …

Effects of Ciloxan 
My rabbit had a nasolacrimal duct flush recently and I was given ciloxan to apply on her. I noticed her eyes became reddish and were tearing up …

Is my bunny sick? Please help this is urgent! 
Hello! My bunny lately has been having some diarrhea /wet poo and I'm extremely worried about him because he is like another member of the family. …

Rabbit Vomiting Blood 
I have a black male dwarf / lionhead cross rabbit. My dad accidentally stepped on him and we noticed that he was vomiting blood afterwards. This …

Stuck or Retained Kits...  
Hi, I have a 1 year old tort doe (today is her birthday). I bred her on 8/21 and today is day 34. Last night, (day33) I attempted to induce …

My Rabbit is Wounded from Another Rabbit 
My Rabbit is Wounded from Another Rabbit! Our pet rabbit was beat up by our other pet rabbit. The attacked rabbit now has missing fur and some …

Rabbit Very Underweight? 
I've had a pair of rabbits for just 2 months (they are 4 months old). One has always been smaller than the other, but in the last few weeks he's lost …

Weird Doe Behaviour 
My doe 'Poppy' has been behaving strangely and out of her usual character. She had 2 kits last week (8 days old) and all is going well there. She …

Help My Rabbit's Ears Are Going Transparent! 
Help! My rabbit's ear is going transparent! I have a problem with one of my decorative rabbits ears and I really need help finding out what it is so …

My Rabbit May Have Had a Seizure  
My mini lop rabbit is only 4 years old but she was making weird movements in her cage which I didn't see but heard. By the time I got to her she was laying …

Should I Keep the Head Collar on My Rabbit? 
My doe rabbit, Rose has been spayed recently and after the surgery she took a reaction to the stitches that were used to heal her wound after the operation. …

Baby Bunnies Dying... Please Help! 
Baby Bunnies Dying Within a Few Days of Birth. Lost 9 Litters So Far. Please help! I have lost 9 litters of bunnies. They almost always …

Mom Rabbit Hurting Babies? Not rated yet
My rabbit had babies that are now just barely over 4 weeks old. Momma rabbit does not seem to want anything to do with the babies and I think she is …

Seeking Rabbit Advice from Another Vet Not rated yet
We adopted our bunny from a shelter about 2.5 months ago. However, since he has been home with us he has been sick. Symptoms started as mild GI stasis/gas …

Rabbit's Severe Skin Infection Not rated yet
My rabbit is suffering from severe skin infection. Initially it was looking like a fungal infection, so accordingly the Doctor gave him two injections, …

Rabbit in Labor Not rated yet
My 2 year old female Holland lop is in labor now. While I was gone she had 4 and they appear to be dead. I warmed them and put them in the nesting …

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