Caring for your rabbit
Rabbits can make loyal, affectionate and playful companions. If you’ve made the choice to acquire a new four-legged member of your family, the chances are you’re someone who will want to make the very best choices for your pet. But did you know that making responsible choices as a pet owner starts before your furry friend is first welcomed into your home?
Our vets will advise on the best methods of care for your new rabbit, and also on ways in which you can make sure they are happy and healthy at all times.
Parkvets’ vet Dr Daniella Dos Santos writes a regular column for The Times newspaper and has some ideas for your to consider when buying your rabbit. Click here to view the article.
For more information about the services available for rabbits here at Parkvets, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0208 300 8111.
Introducing the Pet Health Plan for rabbits
As a practice we want to help you to look after your rabbit in the best way possible, and our Pet Health Plan is a great way for us to support you in this. By paying a monthly subscription of just £15.45 you are able to spread the cost of your routine veterinary care – and save money.
We encourage you to join this plan because routine care is an important part of responsible rabbit ownership, keeping your rabbit in the best possible health and helping them to lead a happier life. The plan covers the cost of those routine appointments and treatments not covered by your pet insurance and helps you, and us, to keep your rabbit in the best of health.
Joining the plan also gives you access to a range of discounts and benefits, but even if you have no need of these services you will still save up to 20% per annum on your rabbit’s ‘preventative care’.
We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to provide routine veterinary care for your pet to minimise the likelihood and impact of them being unwell. Spreading the cost throughout the year and receiving discounts, makes joining our Pet Health Plan the smart choice.
£15.45 per month
Annual myxomatosis and VHD1 vaccinations
Annual VHD 2 vaccinations
Seasonal flystrike protection
One complementary nurse clinic
10% discount on dental treatments
10% discount on consultations
25% discount on microchips
40% discount of pre-operative blood testing
55% discount on bank holiday consultations
Protecting your pet through vaccination
Did you know that your rabbit is susceptible to a variety of particular diseases that can potentially be fatal if left untreated? That is why it is recommended that all bunnies receive annual protection against the most serious threats.
When your rabbit is a few weeks old, they will need an initial injection and following this, they will only need a ‘booster’ vaccination once a year to ensure that their immunity is always topped up.
Your rabbit should have their first vaccination at around 5 weeks of age, to protect them from:
- Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD1 and VHD2)
What’s more, here at ParkVets we also carry out a full health check on your rabbit every time they come in to see us for their vaccinations, to make sure they are still happy and healthy, and that everything is as it should be.
For more information on the vaccinations that are recommended for your pet, or to book an appointment, please give us a call on 0208 300 8111.
Flystrike is an extremely serious condition for your pet rabbit, carried by ‘green bottle’ flies. These flies are attracted to damp areas soiled by urine or soft faeces – in many cases this may be your rabbit’s ‘toilet area’ or litter tray, or possibly even the skin on their rear end, especially if they are unable to groom themselves properly.
The flies lay their eggs – sometimes up to 200 – in the damp area, which hatch into maggots and grow by feeding on your pet’s flesh. They can very quickly affect large areas of tissue around the bottom, tail, back and abdomen, and infect your rabbit’s insides. When this happens the rabbit develops severe shock, before almost certain collapse and death.
For this reason, it is imperative that you clean out your rabbit’s toilet area or litter tray at least once a day, and ensure that their rear end is always clean and free from any matted faecal matter. Rabbits who are overweight or have long fur or a dental problem will be less able to groom themselves effectively and will therefore be at greater risk of flystrike.
If you ever find maggots in your pet’s fur or in their hutch, please call us immediately as this is an emergency situation.
If veterinary help is received early enough, your rabbit can be saved by removing the maggots, cleaning the fur and providing pain relief and topical soothing products. However, this condition can progress so fast that within a matter of hours it may be too late to save your pet, so make sure you remain vigilant when checking your bunny and their hutch.
Flystrike is particularly prevalent in the summer, when the warmer weather encourages flies to lay their eggs in soiled areas, but it is important that you keep a close eye on your rabbit all year round.
For more information on the threat of flystrike, and how you can help to keep your rabbit safe, please simply give us a call on 0208 300 8111.
Insuring your pet
Even with the best will in the world, sometimes unpredictable things happen. Illnesses are often unexpected, so it’s best to be prepared in case something does happen to your furry friend.
Pet insurance offers you that vital reassurance that no matter what treatment your pet needs, it can be covered. There’s nothing worse than having to weigh up the importance of your pet’s wellbeing against your ability to meet the costs.
That’s why here at ParkVets we work closely with our insurance partner Petplan, to ensure that as many pets as possible are covered against unexpected circumstances. Petplan provide an excellent “cover for life” policy, and deliver great customer service.
You’ll probably find it’s one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
To learn more about Petplan or why insurance is so strongly recommended for your pet, please give us a call on 0208 300 8111.
Finding your pet if they get lost
You know as well as we do how inquisitive pets can be, and that rabbits in particular can gather quite a speed when the mood takes them! Unfortunately this means that their likelihood of getting lost is sometimes higher than normal, but a simple microchip could help reunite you with them if this was ever to happen.
A microchip is a very small piece of technology – roughly the same size as a grain of rice – which is inserted underneath the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades. The chip carries a unique code which can be read using a specialist scanner. When entered into a national database of domestic pets, this code will bring up your contact details and identify you as the owner.
The computerised database can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that no matter when your pet might wander a little too far from home, the relevant animal authorities will be able to scan them and get in touch with you straight away.
The specialist microchip scanners that reveal your pet’s code, and subsequently your contact details, are only held by specific authorities including all veterinary practices, rescue shelters and animal welfare charities like the RSPCA.
The microchipping procedure is very quick, lasting only a few seconds, and can be carried out almost painlessly. Many pets are not even aware that it has happened. Your pet can be chipped during a routine consultation or during a surgical procedure if you let us know in advance.
It’s a small price to pay for the knowledge that your bunny can be traced and returned to you in the event that they ever go missing.
For more information about microchipping, or to book an appointment for your pet, please call us on 0208 300 8111.
Caring for your pet’s environment
As a rabbit owner, you may not be surprised to hear that rabbits are often considered to be one of the best type of domestic pets, whether they live in the house or in a hutch in the garden. However, like many other species of animal, they do require careful looking after to ensure they remain healthy, especially as they are susceptible to conditions like flystrike and myxomatosis which can be fatal within a couple of hours.
It is important to consider a rabbit’s natural environment when you’re caring for one as a pet. In the wild they are prey animals – hunted by foxes, dogs and large birds like hawks. This means that they are genetically pre-programmed to respond to any perceived threats, and even the sight, smell or sound of a noisy cat or dog can cause them so much stress that they can sometimes suffer fatal gut stasis or heart failure.
If you keep your rabbit in an outdoor hutch, it can be a good idea to cover the hutch with a tarpaulin sheet at night; not only does this keep them a little warmer in the winter months, but also prevents them from catching sight of any wandering foxes.
Ideally, a rabbit’s cage should be a minimum of five times their size, so that they are able to completely stretch out or stand up on their hind legs without touching the roof. Remember that caged rabbits need to be let out for exercise – in the house or a garden run – for at least a couple of hours each day to let them stretch their joints.
In the wild rabbits typically live in large groups, and so it is vital for their happiness and mental wellbeing that they live with at least one other rabbit for company. It is most often recommended that groups of rabbits living together should be siblings, to reduce the likelihood of fighting or aggression. We can give you plenty of advice on how to avoid conflict between your bunnies – just give us a call or ask your vet at your pet’s next appointment.
For more information about caring for your rabbit, or to book an appointment for your bunny here at ParkVets, please just give us a call on 0208 300 8111.
Saying goodbye, when the time comes
As much as we’d undoubtedly like them to stay around forever, eventually the time will come for you to have to say goodbye to your pet. This is an understandably distressing experience for any owner, and here at Parkvets we have a series of measures in place to help make it as stress-free as possible for you.
Our staff are specially trained through Compassion Understood to help you prepare for your pet’s passing and to plan any arrangements necessary afterwards – all you have to do is let us know what you’d prefer and we’ll take care of the rest for you.
What’s more, we can guarantee that there will always be someone at our hospital for you to talk to if you ever need a little extra support – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – who will be happy to give you as much time as you need.
For more information about our euthanasia and pet cremation services, please download the PDF file Saying Goodbye. If you have any questions or would like further advice or support from a member of our team, please feel free to call us on 0208 300 8111.