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Caring for Rabbits

Find out more about how to care for your rabbit. If you have a questions, or need some more advice, please contact us or pop into one of our surgeries.

Feeding

The most important thing you can do to ensure the health and happiness of your rabbit is to provide the correct diet. Pet rabbits, like wild rabbits are designed to chew on fibrous plants like grass or hay for up to 9 hours per day. Feeding the wrong diet can lead to dental problems, eye infections, obesity, digestive upsets and fly strike and can shorten your rabbit’s life. 
It is essential that fresh grass and/or good quality meadow hay is available at all times 

Hay helps keep teeth in shape and prevents boredom. A hay rack ensures that the hay is kept clean. 

Offer a wide variety of leafy green plants and veg at least twice daily. Rabbits enjoy: 

  • Grass 
  • Bramble - Dandelion 
  • Fruit tree leaves - Clover 
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Sprout peelings 
  • Celery 
  • Watercress 
  • Dandelions 
  • Young dock leaves 
  • Clover 
  • Cabbage 
  • Kale 
  • Strawberry or raspberry leaves 
  • Sweetcorn 
  • Parsley, basil and other herbs 

 It is essential that fresh grass and/or good quality meadow hay is available at all times 

Apples, pears, bananas, carrots and other root veg, peas and beans, are treats and should only be fed in tiny amounts, as they can be fattening. 
Chocolate, yoghurt drops, biscuits and bread should never be fed to rabbits. If you want to treat your rabbit it is better to pick him some dandelions! 

It is not necessary to feed rabbits any dried food at all. However, if you would like to feed your rabbit a commercial rabbit food please note: 

  • We recommend pelleted food (such as Burgess Excel) 
  • Pellets prevent your rabbit picking out their favourite parts 
  • They ensure the correct balance of calcium in the diet 

Mixed, muesli-type rabbit food is not recommended, as rabbits tend to select the peas and maize, which are high in energy and low in calcium and fibre. If you feed a muesli, wait until it is has all been eaten before adding more. 

Whether your feed rabbit pellets or rabbit muesli: 
1-2 tablespoons per rabbit (depending on size) per day is plenty 

It is up to us to ensure that rabbits eat enough of their hay and greens. Unfortunately, they just don’t know what’s good for them!

It can be difficult to persuade some rabbits to eat a new food item once it has become accustomed to a particular diet. It can be particularly difficult to persuade some rabbits to eat hay if it has not been introduced into the diet at an early age. If you do need to change your rabbit’s diet, make all changes gradually over several weeks. And remember that rabbits tend to eat at dawn and dusk and so may not appear hungry during the day. 

Rabbits also need the opportunity to run around in natural daylight every day so they can make Vitamin D, needed for bone and tooth health.

Vaccination

Your rabbit can be vaccinated against:

  • Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

Earliest age for vaccination is 5 weeks. you should revaccinate annually.

Parasite Control

Rabbits can be infected with a parasite called Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E.cuniculi). E.Cunicul causes kidney, brain and eye disease. To help control E.cuniculi the following regime is now recommended:

Give PANACUR RABBIT or LAPIZOLE (fenbendazole) once daily for 28 consecutive days:

  • When a new rabbit is acquired
  • If your rabbits have never been treated
  • Before mixing with other rabbits
  • Prior to mating
  • If you are concerned your rabbit may have E.cuniculi

Please ensure that your rabbit’s food is placed appropriately so that is does not become contaminated with urine. This is how E.cuniculi is spread. Your rabbit’s enclosure should be cleaned at least once a week too.

Blow Fly strike (maggots living on a rabbit) can be a potentially fatal problem during the summer months. It can be prevented by:

  • Feeding the recommended diet
  • Inspecting and cleaning your rabbit’s bottom at least twice daily
  • Preventing obesity
  • Treating every 8-10 weeks with REARGUARD

 

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