Common health issues in pet rabbits
- Dental disease: rabbits’ teeth continue to grow continuously throughout their life. If their teeth are not ground down adequately by an abrasive high- fibre diet, they can become overgrown and cause discomfort, pain, and reduced food intake. Most of a rabbit’s diet should be made up of grass and hay to help wear teeth down adequately. If you aren’t sure about the suitability of your rabbit’s diet, always consult a vet for advice and make any changes to diet gradually.
- Gut stasis: if a rabbit stops eating (anorexia) for example, due to stress, pain, a gut problem, or other condition, this can lead to the rabbit’s guts slowing down (gut stasis). This then makes the rabbit want to eat even less and can be potentially life-threatening. A good diet of mainly grass or hay can help keep your rabbit’s gut healthy, as well as their teeth. If there are any changes to your rabbit’s appetite or toilet habits, it is always important to consult a vet.
- Uterine tumours: Cancer of the uterus is sadly the most common tumour in female rabbits. Neutering at an early age can help to prevent this- speak to your vet about surgery risks, benefits, and details.
- Flystrike: urine staining/ droppings can attract flies, which can lay eggs on your rabbit. Flystrike is a very nasty, but preventable condition. Good hygiene is essential, as well as checking your rabbit twice a day, particularly around the back end, during the summer months. On examination, your vet may be able to identify an underlying reason your rabbit’s back end may be becoming stained, as well as discussing preventative treatments and measures for flystrike.
- Myxomatosis: Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease are caused by nasty viruses, which sadly usually prove fatal in rabbit’s due to their severity. It is important to keep your rabbit up to date with vaccinations for these horrible conditions; ask your vet for advice.
Rabbits feel pain and distress, but often don’t show any outward signs. If there are any changes to your rabbit’s normal routine or appearance, or if you would like advice on preventative healthcare and the best diet to keep your rabbit happy and healthy, please consult your vet.