We cannot over emphasize the importance of worming rabbits regularly. This advise does not stem from the pathogenicity of rabbit worms or from human health concerns. Rabbit wormers such as Panacur are the only way of preventing a very common infection in rabbits called E.cuniculi. This is a microscopic parasite which can cause head tilt, seizures, blindness and even death. It will also treat roundworms and tapeworms.
Over 50% of apparently healthy rabbits have been exposed to E.cuniculi. It is spread by infected urine or between mothers and babies. Treatment of clinical cases is not always successful which is why prevention is so important. We advise worming rabbits every 3-6months. The wormer is a paste and is very easy to administer by mouth. In addition to regular treatment there are some simple hygiene rules to help keep E.cuniculi away:
- Avoid collecting greens from areas where there are wild rabbits or rodents
- Use separate rather than tiered housing to prevent urine splash
- Ensure wild rodents and rabbits do not have access to the vicinity of hutches and runs.
Neutering of both sexes is strongly recommended. It reduces aggression and prevents unwanted litters. Unfortunately, unplanned litters are a frequent problem because young rabbits are notoriously difficult to sex. Entire male rabbits can spray urine in a similar manner to a Tom cat which can be very unpleasant. It is estimated that 80% of entire female rabbits develop uterine cancer by five years of age. The operation is best performed in both sexes at 4-5 months of age.
Is neutering safe?
The safety of rabbit anaesthesia is very dependent on the anaesthetic agent used and the experience of the veterinary surgeon. We are very experienced in neutering male and female rabbits and we use an inhalational anaesthetic called Isoflurane. This results in a very rapid recovery from anaesthesia and complications are rare.
Should my rabbit be fasted prior to surgery?
Rabbits cannot vomit so food does not need to be withheld prior to surgery. It is important that rabbits have access to food and water at all times. Rabbits admitted to the surgery for neutering have food available before and after the operation.
Pet rabbits should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. At Longmead Vets we use a combined vaccine so your rabbit only needs a single annual injection. We see several cases of Myxomatosis in pet rabbits every year. This deadly virus can be transmitted by fleas, mosquitoes and a common rabbit mite called Cheyletiella. Direct contact with wild rabbits is not required for transmission.
Flystrike (Myiasis) is very common during the summer months and occurs secondary to the matting of faecal material in the tail area. Maggots develop very quickly and can cause extensive damage literally over night. If your rabbit suffers from a regular dirty bottom come and talk to us because it can stem from dietary problems. Flystike can be prevented by addressing any dietary issues and by using a sponge on product around the tail are during the summer months.
Mites are very common and a close inspection of you rabbits fur will reveal areas of obvious dandruff if they are present. They are very infectious and all incontact rabbits and guinea pigs should be treated. Treatment is very simple and involves a spot-on product.
Rabbits teeth grow continuously. If the teeth do not meet properly (malocclusion) the result can be sharp spurs which cause sores on the cheek and tongue. If your rabbit appears to be having problems eating, losing weight, or salivating then the teeth should be examined.
Runny Eyes (Dacrocystitis)
Dental problems and infection can cause a white discharge from your rabbits eyes and matting of the surrounding fur. This can usually be managed by addressing the underlying problems and flushing the tear ducts. Tear duct flushing is a simple painless procedure which can be done during a normal consultation and rarely requires any anaesthesia.