Alexandra Vets, Clevedon
Myxomatosis and Viral Heamorrhagic Disease (VHD).
Myxomatosis is a virus spread by fleas and mosquitoes causing puffy, fluid swelling around the head and face. In time, these are then seen on the lips, anus and genitals. It is very debilitating and most infected animals either die or require anaesthesia.
VHD is caused by another virus, mainly affecting the liver and eventually causing clotting within small vessels of major organs and bleeding from the body orifices. Death is common and can be very sudden.
Rabbits can be vaccinated against both Myxomatosis and VHD with one annual injection from 5 weeks of age.
Routine worming and flea treatment is not necessary for rabbits, although it is possible that they could catch fleas from other pets such as cats and dogs.
The most common problem for rabbits is “Walking Dandruff” caused by mites, this can result in mild itching. Large flakes of white scale are easily observed in the coat where this condition is present.
If you notice this problem this please bring your rabbit to see us and we will be able to treat/advise accordingly.
Fly Strike can be a common problem in the spring and summer, especially if your rabbit is suffering from other problems (see below). Flies lay eggs in any soiled fur of the rabbit; these hatch into maggots which then burrow into the flesh causing severe injury and distress.
During the spring and summer months we can provide you with products to help repel the flies, checking your rabbit twice daily is also advised even if you are using repellents.
All rabbits should receive treatment for this infection as it is estimated that 50% of domestic rabbits are carriers. This is a single-celled organism that can cause kidney failure, paralysis and death. It is essentially passed from one rabbit to another via contaminated food or bedding.
If you are not planning to breed from your rabbit then it is a good idea to arrange for a castration or spay. This can be done from 5 months of age.
Castration – As well as preventing unwanted mating, this can help with behavioural problems such as aggression and fighting.
Spaying – Apart from preventing unwanted pregnancy and territorial aggression, it is also recommended to prevent certain age related problems with the uterus, such as cancer.
Care – Your rabbit could be susceptible to weight gain after neutering – regular checks are recommended.
MICRO-CHIPPING AND PET TAGS
Micro-chipping involves implanting a small chip under the skin between the shoulder blades. It provides a unique identity number which is stored on a national database along with all of your details, allowing your pet to be return to you if it goes missing and is collected as a stray.
Remember to inform the relevant authority if you change address! Micro-chipping is also essential for the pet passport.
The chip is implanted through a needle and the procedure can be performed during a routine consultation. The needle is quite large so we wouldn’t recommend having this done during your pet’s first consultation/vaccination but any time after should be fine. There is now a new, slightly more expensive microchip “Bio-therm”, which also reads the body temperature, saving your pet the unpleasant experience of a thermometer.
We would advise that this is now an essential component of owning a rabbit. Unfortunately there is no “Animal NHS” and with increasing technologies available we would recommend insurance to make sure you pet has access to the best possible facilities and care without you incurring large costs. In some cases, insurance can make the difference between euthanasia and treatment. If you would like any advice on insurance and what is best for you and your pet, our team will be happy to help.
PREVENTATIVE DENTAL CARE
Dental disease is an extremely common problem and a very frustrating one to treat, it’s also very complex and can be linked to nutrition and diet. Problems with pet’s teeth can also cause a number of secondary problems such as; anorexia, poor grooming, facial abscesses, eye infections, colic pneumonia and Cheyletiellosis (Walking Dandruff).
Very simply, there are 3 contributory factors to dental disease, the first being that it is generic or inherited. The second is poor nutrition, which relates to growth and development of the teeth as well as the supporting bones of the skull. The third is due to failure to provide enough roughage for your rabbit to naturally wear down their growing teeth. The first reason can be easily prevented by careful breeding, whilst the second and third can be avoided with responsible pet ownership.
Is it best to feed pelleted food (e.g Supa-rabbit, rather than a coarse mix of cereals? Rabbits tend to leave the parts of the cereal that they aren’t particularly fond of – a bit like when you leave the coffee creams in the bottom of the Quality Street box. A pelleted feed ensures they are receiving a truly balanced diet
Allowing your pet daily access to sunlight is also a good idea as it provides Vitamin D absorption through the skin, enhancing the strength of both teeth and bones.
Fibrous food such as good quality grass and hay should be fed ad lib to provide dental wear and also improve happiness and welfare by decreasing boredom, (ask us about the “Oxbow” range of rabbit foods.) It is best to think of a rabbit as a child – the fibrous food is greens and the pellets are sweets, although these particular sweets are good for you.
No more than small bowl of pellets is all that is required each day and this should be consumed within 2 hours – the majority of your rabbit’s diet should be fibrous. This can also be supplemented with non-poisonous weeds and plants such as; dandelions, brambles, tree leaves (good sources of calcium and fibre). Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and spinach can also be a good addition to you rabbits diet, root vegetables such as carrots are not a great source of calcium.
OUT OF HOURS
If you ever need to contact us out of hours then please just call as usual and you will be given the contact details for our dedicated emergency service – Vets Now Ltd. This is manned by vets and nurses who only work nights, this means that they are fresh, awake and awaiting your call, enabling your pet to receive the best out of hours hospital care possible. The team at Vets Now Ltd are also specialists in emergency as well as critical care and have access to all the facilities required to provide a high class service, around the clock.
We hope you find this information useful and would appreciate any feedback or comments. Remember we’re only a phone call away.
Hillyfields Vets, Winscombe
Monday-Friday: 9am – 6pm
Saturday : 9am to 11am
(Hillyfields Vets, Winscombe)
Consultations: 9am – 10.30am
Saturday:11am to 1:30pm
(Alexandra Vets, Clevedon)
Consultations: 12pm – 1.30pm