Riverside Vets care for your pets: cats, dogs, rabbits, all types of small mammals and birds.  Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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Rabbit Care

Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK, but we still see health problems related to poor housing and feeding. In association with Rabbit Awareness Week we want to change this! With the support of the RSPCA, Blue Cross, Burgess Rabbit Feeds, and The Rabbit Welfare Fund we aim to promote rabbit health and welfare and improve the lives of rabbits everywhere.

Bring your rabbit in for a Free healthcheck

A rabbit health check with one of our nurses is free of charge. You can come and learn about what makes your rabbit happy, collect information and chat with the nurse about all your rabbity issues.


Environment

Rabbits need so much more than just a hutch! Rabbits are athletic and muscular animals capable of running at great speed and jumping to great heights. It is no longer acceptable to confine a rabbit to a hutch where it cannot even stand up on its hind legs. Rabbits need space to exercise.

Rabbits kept in outdoor runs should always be provided with plenty of hiding places. They are always on the lookout for danger and need a bolt-hole to dash to if they are worried. Upturned boxes, lengths of pipe, or boards propped up on bricks will all do the job. Rabbits left in the open without hiding places will try to dig their own so look out for your lawn!

Rabbits in the wild live in large family groups - single rabbits can become lonely and anxious. Keep rabbits together - the best combination is a neutered pair.

Click here for more information about hutches and living space


Diet

Many of a rabbits common health problems stem from poor diet. A rabbit has a very specialised digestive system wich needs large amounts of indigestible fibre (cellulose) to function normally. Fibre is provided by grass, hay, or green leafy plants such as dandelions, weeds, spinach, kale, or savoy cabbage. Salad vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber provide very little fibre and are mostly water. Rabbits may enjoy these but they can cause loose faeces. Offer them in small amounts only, next to green leafy veg and hay or grass.

Rabbits teeth grow throughout their lives. They need to chew on fibrous foods four hours every day to keep them worn down. Provide plenty of hay or grass in a clean area for your rabbit to eat. A wild rabbit prefers to eat at dawn or dusk to avoid predators.

Don't overfeed with rabbit pellets or muesli mix - the high protein levels cause bowel problems and these foods do not provide enough tooth wear. A rabbit on a healthy diet needs very little pelleted food - A MAXIMUM of 2oz (2 tablespoons) per day for an average rabbit.

Click here for more information about diet and nutrition


Preventative Healthcare

Rabbits need vaccinations too! Rabbits can be vaccinated against Myxomatosis, which is carried by biting flies from wild rabbits, and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, which causes sudden death. There is now a combination once a year vaccination which protects your rabbit against both diseases.

Turn your rabbit over every day to check that the undersides of the feet are clean and healthy, and that the area around the anus and genitals is clean. Handle your rabbit regularly.

Click here for more information about preventative healthcare


Neutering

Neutering your rabbit extends their lifespan! Almost all female rabbits will develop uterine disease during middle age if they are not neutered and do not breed. A neutered female rabbit is usually gentler and easier to handle, and can be kept with a male rabbit without risk of having babies. Neutering reduces aggressive behaviour in both males and females and also reduces scent marking behaviours which is paticularly important if you have a house rabbit.

Click here for more information about neutering


Companionship

Rabbits in the wild live in large family groups- a single rabbit can become lonely and anxious. Keep rabbits together – the best combination is a neutered pair. Guinea pigs are not always the best companions, as they can be more timid and easily bullied

Click here for more information about campanionship