Hop to it – Caring for your rabbit

Vets4Pets Carlisle offer some top tips to help keep your rabbit in top shape.

Rabbits are Britain’s third most popular pet. They are highly intelligent, inquisitive animals, each with their own unique personality. 

Rabbits can live for up to 12 years and be very rewarding pets but they do need lots of care and attention.

Rabbits are extremely energetic animals and need lots of space to run and jump around. They should have a safe hiding place and a separate toilet area. If their house is outside, it should be sheltered with plenty of warm bedding and be well ventilated. If your rabbit lives indoors, make sure the house is rabbit-proof!

Enrichment items such as cardboard tubes, tunnels and balls are great for entertaining playful rabbits. They are also very sociable animals and should be kept in pairs if possible. Introducing rabbits to each other for the first time can be tricky, do so slowly and seek advice from the vet. Ideally rabbits should not be kept with other species but remember, interaction with their humans is just as important as with fellow rabbits.

Hay should make up 85-90% of your rabbits’ diet. Rabbits’ teeth continuously grow so chewing on hay reduces overgrowth and the painful problems associated with this. They need really high levels of fibre to keep their gut in constant motion and their digestive system working correctly.

Muesli based diets encourage ‘selective feeding’ which can increase the risk of dental disease, gut stasis and flystrike. These diets are also generally high in sugar leading to obesity. Fresh fruit, vegetables and nuggets can be fed to add variety and nutrition. Fresh water should always be available.

Rabbits are prey animals and will generally hide signs of illness. Rabbits should be vaccinated yearly against Myxomatosis and VHD. With warmer weather the risk of flystrike increases. Daily grooming is a great way to bond with your rabbit and check for signs of illness. Neutering your rabbit will avoid unwanted litters, can help reduce aggressive behaviour and reduce the risk of certain cancers.

The majority of rabbit health issues can be easily prevented by correct diet, housing and grooming.  If you need any advice or help we are always here.

Make sure you follow us on Facebook at Vets4Pets Carlisle or call us on 01228

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