HEALTH CARE

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Weighing 

Why is weighing important?

  1. indication of overall health

  2. can detect illnesses

  3. allows owner to understand what to feed them

How do you weigh a rabbit?

Weighing your rabbit on a weekly basis is important.

Baby scales work really well for weighing rabbits.

Record weights each week in a diary to keep track.

 

What is a healthy weight?

There are so many rabbit breeds, so it would be difficult to say what a healthy weight is. It is important to check that they are not consistently losing or gaining weight each week, unless they are growing (then weight gain is of course normal and healthy). So long as they are maintaining their weight and they seem healthy in every other aspect; though you may also want to ask the opinion of a vet.

Nail Clipping

Which nail clippers are best?

Those designed for small pets are suitable.

Here is what I use:

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Boredom-Breaker-Options-Deluxe-Trimmers/dp/B001G63FIQ

How often should it be done?

 

All rabbits nails grow at different paces, so you may find yourself doing needed to trim some rabbits nails more often than others. If they are housed indoors, they will most likely need regular nail trims. Outdoor rabbits may not need this doing as often, as they keep worn down in an outdoor habitat (stones, concrete, wood) and digging also helps to keep them trimmed.

 

How do you clip their nails?

Nail clipping is best done little and often. Leaving the nails too long can cause them to become overgrown, and as a result they are usually more difficult to trim. Just take off the very tip, but be careful not to cut into the quick, which is a blood vessel running through the rabbits nail. Generally you can see where the quick ends, but if not, shine a light under the nail so it becomes more visible. With rabbits it may be best to wrap them up in a towel, so they feel safer and can't wriggle out your lap. It may help to do this with someone else, so they can hold the rabbit and you can trim the nails. Alternatively you can take your rabbits to a vet and they will cut their nails for you.

Coat Care

Shiny coat?

If your rabbit appears to have a dull coat, they may require additional fatty acids. To give a boost of fatty acids, 1tsp of oil seeds per rabbit per week may be given as a supplementary feed.

 

For example, flax seeds, sunflower seeds (shelled) and fennel seeds help promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. These are also beneficial during the moulting period, as they may help to dislodge any blocked fur.

Do rabbits need brushing?

Most rabbits don't require regular brushing, particularly the short haired breeds. Long haired breeds may benefit from grooming to de-tangle matted fur. Rabbits may benefit from grooming during the moulting period to help prevent hair blockages (which can cause these chain like poops).

Which brush is suitable?

There are a few options. For general use, soft nylon brushes are ideal as they don't pull and cause discomfort. Combs designed for small animals may be used to remove small tangles, but be very gentle! Grooming mits with plastic ridges also work great!

 

Should they get fur trims?

Longer haired breeds require trims, particularly near their bottom area because urine and faeces can easily get soiled in their fur. During the warm season, trimming the fur quite short is advisable so they are able to keep cooler on hot days. You can buy hairdressing scissors from health & beauty shops.

Syringe Feeding

Why is it necessary?

If a rabbit stops eating, this can become life threatening in just a short time. Their bodies shut down very quickly when they stop eating, so it is essential to act fast! If a rabbit refuses food, it is often a sign of an underlying illness, which should be identified. Remember to visit a vet if you are concerned. Ensure that a blockage has been ruled out before syringe feeding!

 

How do you syringe feed a rabbit?

If you need to syringe feed a rabbit, the following equipment is required:

  1. Syringe (15ml+)

  2. Recovery Feed of choice

  3. Water 

  4. Kitchen roll

  5. Blanket (optional)

 

To syringe feed a rabbit, you place a handful of pellets into a container, then pour boiling water over the pellets so they become a mush consistency. Leave for about 5 minutes to cool, then mash up the pellets using a spoon. Once the pellet mixture has cooled, fill it into a syringe. Put the rabbit on your lap, or on top of a covered table (make sure it is not too high as they could jump off). It may help to wrap the rabbit in a blanket to keep them still. Then gently open their mouth using your index finger and thumb. Using the other hand place the syringe into the rabbits mouth, angled at one side. Little and often is key; give them a few mls at a time and remember to slow down if they are unable to take that much. You should syringe feed water at regular intervals to help prevent them from becoming dehydrated. Syringe feeding can be messy, so remember to keep them clean using kitchen roll. Repeat this process every few hours, or as needed. 

vaccinations

Why is it necessary?

Unfortunately these viral diseases are almost always fatal, and there is no cure. The only way to prevent (or greatly reduce the risk) of the disease is to ensure they are regularly vaccinated. It is quite rare, but some rabbits may still get one of the viral diseases despite having had the vaccination. Although there is this slight risk, they have a much better chance of recovery if they have already been vaccinated (if given prompt veterinary treatment).

 

What vaccinations do they need?

There are 3 different viral diseases which rabbits need vaccinations against. These viral diseases include:

 Myxomatosis,

RVHD-1 and RVHD-2

Due to advanced modern vaccinations, it is now possible to have both myxomatosis and RVHD vaccine provided in the same injection.

 

These viral diseases can be transmitted by biting insects (such as fleas, mosquitos and mites) and contact with wild rabbits. It is important to ensure that if you have dogs or cats, they are regularly given preventative flea treatment (as they could potentially pass it on to rabbits).

 

Each vaccination should be given annually, unless you're in a high risk area, then you may wish to get boosters for RVHD every 6 months. It is best to ask your vet if you have any questions or concerns. Only healthy animals should be vaccinated, therefore a thorough health examination should be carried out by your vet prior to the vaccination.

 

The diseases are more common with rabbits housed outdoors, but even those housed indoors can get the diseases. If your country does not provide these vaccinations, it is advised to keep them indoors or use fly screens to reduce the risk of disease.

flystrike

Why are flies a threat?

During the colder season, flies are not usually a cause for concern, however during the warmer season, especially Summer, they can be a danger to rabbits and guinea pigs. Treatment for flystrike is not always successful and it is a potentially life threatening problem. It is very important to do what you can to keep flies away and hopefully prevent this from happening.

Basic guidelines for keeping flies away:

  1. Cleaning their accommodation regularly is a must! Flies are attracted to animal urine & faeces, so it is essential to maintain good hygiene. Also be sure to keep tight fitted lids on bins.

  2. Use strong smelling herbs like lavender, rosemary, mint & basil to deter flies from their environment. Flies can't stand the scent of these herbs so keeping them nearby is beneficial.

  3. Use citrus peels (especially lemon & orange) along with spices such as cloves & cayenne to put them off, but be sure to keep this far out of their reach!

  4. If you have long haired guinea pigs/rabbits, keep their fur trimmed regularly (especially the rear end) as flies are often more attracted to the longer haired breeds putting them at a higher risk for flystrike.

  5. Use fly screens if possible. They are a great way to keep your rabbits/guinea pigs safe during the peak season.