Some routine healthcare can be done at home, like trimming claws and dressing small wounds, but every day we hear about distressing and life-threatening illnesses that aren't spotted until it's too late.
The following are the most common illnesses and infections that we
see pet owners claim for, so keep an eye out, and make sure you take
your bunny to the vet as soon as you think something's wrong!
As we move into summer it's very important to keep a sharp eye out
for flystrike - especially if you're the owner of a longhaired breed.
This can often be fatal, and a horrific experience for both rabbits and
owners. Unfortunately, we see many rabbits lost to flystrike every year.
Flies lay their eggs in soiled fur around a rabbit's tail, and within
12 - 24 hours, the maggots hatch and burrow into the rabbit's flesh.
Death can happen almost overnight, so it's important to constantly check
your rabbit, and ensure that the hutch is clean, especially when the
temperature begins to rise.
It's a horrendous infection, as maggots can be seen crawling in and
around the rabbit. If this happens, please take your bunny straight to a
vet, regardless of time or day! Rabbits can recover if treated
promptly, but it's often a race against time.
Guard your rabbit from flystrike by making sure you clean out his or her hutch every day, and checking at least twice daily.
Gastrointestinal stasis (or as it's more commonly known - gut stasis)
is the process of a rabbit's digestive system shutting down, and is as
serious as it sounds.
Unlike us, rabbits can't fast, so when they stop eating for a
prolonged period of time, gut stasis occurs. If it's left untreated, gut
stasis is fatal. There are many triggers that make a rabbit stop
eating, and once they stop, it's very unlikely that they'll start again
on their own. Triggers for gut stasis include pain, stress, and internal
blockages in the abdomen.
Symptoms to watch out for include an inability to produce droppings, a
lack of appetite, not drinking, a bloated abdomen, and general
unhappiness! With pain medication, hydration, motility medication,
force-feeding (and lots of cuddles!) rabbits should recover, and then
it's important to get to the bottom of why they stopped eating in the
first place. Treatment varies on whether the cause is in part to an
As prevention really is the best cure, make sure to feed your rabbit a
high fibre diet, make sure it has access to unlimited water, and fresh
greens. Always keep a close eye on your rabbit, pay attention to out of
the ordinary behavior, and ensure that he or she is pain-free, and
housed in a calm, and rabbit-friendly environment.
We see a lot of problems that originate from badly kept teeth.
Malocclusion, the name given to teeth that do not meet normally, is one
of the most common teeth-related problems that we see, and is usually a
consequence of a poor diet. Rabbits have very hard teeth, which in the
wild would be naturally worn down by grazing all day, on tough, fibrous
food. When kept in captivity, rabbits rely on you to provide them with
suitable feed that will keep their teeth in check.
If a rabbit isn't supplied with these kinds of fodder, teeth are not
worn down properly, and will wear down at different rates. This turns
into a vicious cycle: the teeth do not meet, so they grow abnormally.
There aren't always any signs that your rabbit has malocclusion, but you
can look out for decreased appetite, weight loss, lumps on the outer
cheek, under the eye, or under the lower jaw, uneven incisors, and
discharge from the cheek or chin area.
An x-ray is needed to determine whether a rabbit is suffering from
malocclusion, so it's important to take your bunny straight to the vets
if you suspect he may have it. The vet will then be able to correctly
trim and correct the teeth, as well as treat any complications, such as
abscesses or infections.
Or as we know it - snuffles. Pasteurella is very similar to the
common cold, but unlike when we get ill, it can prove to be fatal for
rabbits. It's extremely infectious as well, so prevention and
quick-thinking is necessary when a rabbit starts showing symptoms.
Sneezing, runny eyes, wheezing, and discharge from the nose are among
the top signs that your rabbit has snuffles, and symptoms worsen as the
illness progresses. Abscesses, inner ear infections, and a thicker,
more yellow nasal discharge indicate a later stage of pasteurella.
As this can lead to pneumonia, it's better to be safe than sorry, and
take your rabbit to the vets if it starts displaying snuffle symptoms.
In some cases, rabbits will be able to recover on their own when kept
warm and dry, but it's often better to have peace of mind and know that
you're dealing with it the right way. For more severe cases, pasteurella
can be aided by antibiotics.
If your rabbit starts showing these symptoms, immediately isolate it, and keep a close eye on any other rabbits.
This serious, but very common liver disease is caused by a
microscopic parasite. Coccidiosis can cause death through exhaustion.
The rabbit will become jaundiced and emaciated, and have an enlarged
abdomen from a swollen liver.
Symptoms include a yellow jaundiced appearance, consistent diarrhea,
and extreme weakness. The parasites are spread through droppings, so
rabbits living in dirty hutches are particularly susceptible. It's very
contagious, and any infected rabbits should be isolated.
Coccidiosis can be treated and cured by a vet if caught early enough.
Welcome to our page! We do our best to provide to-be and current bunny owners up-to-date info on the best care for their house rabbits. When we adopted our first bunny in 2005, there was almost nothing on the internet to tell us how to care for him. Just in the past few years, information has exploded online, and now it can be confusing! We try to simplify it by posting weekly articles on current issues, daily care, concerns, proper feeding, and other info so you can enjoy your house-bun! If you are just finding us, feel free to look through the older posts also. Please email us if you have any questions! Happy bunnies make happy hearts!