Contrary to popular belief, rabbits can be prone to a number of health issues which owners need to be aware of. They will often hide the fact that they are in pain or injured as they would not appear vulnerable in the wild so it is vitally important that owners get to know their rabbits really well and can handle them easily in order to check for signs of illness, injury or infection.
Common ailments can include:
- gut stasis
- viral haemorrhagic disease (RHD)
Both myxomatosis and haemorrhagic disease (RHD) are prevalent across the UK wild rabbit population and can be vaccinated against so it is worth speaking to your vet when you first get a rabbit to discuss these vaccinations. Myxomatosis is a virus spread by flies and biting insects and sometimes from contact with an infected rabbit. First symptoms tend to include swellings around the face and head and changes to the appearance of your rabbits’ eyes. This disease is sadly almost always fatal so vaccination becomes an even more important consideration.
RHD is also a very aggressive condition which causes a high fever and internal bleeding. RHD is transmitted directly from rabbit to rabbit and can sometimes occur by third party transportation, for example on shoes or clothing. Alongside vaccination, regular flea and fly control can help to minimise the risk of this disease.
Flystrike is relatively common too and is caused when a build up of excrement occurs on your rabbit which attracts flies who lay eggs on the skin and fur. These eggs then hatch into maggots which eat away at the surrounding tissue, releasing toxins which make the rabbit very ill. If left untreated flystrike can be fatal so it is best to check your rabbit daily to avoid this distressing condition happening.
Gut stasis occurs when the rabbit’s stomach ceases to work effectively and slows down resulting in the rabbit producing less and less faeces. This can sometimes happen as a result of lack of fibre in their diet and your vet will be able to advise on how to treat this condition accordingly. It is important that you seek veterinary advice quickly if you think your rabbit is suffering from this condition.
E.cuniculi is a parasitical infection that can result in seizures, kidney disease, lameness, loss of vision and balance and head tilts. It is spread from mothers to their offspring and sometimes via infected urine and can live in the environment for several weeks so it is very important to ensure that your rabbit runs and hutches are cleaned regularly. Again, veterinary advice and treatment should be sought as soon as you think your rabbit may be suffering from this condition.
A large majority of a rabbit’s health issues can be prevented through following effective hygiene processes, parasite prevention regimes, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and preventative vaccinations. If you want to speak to one of our nurses about your rabbit simply contact your local branch
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