Call Today

Proper Care of Rabbits

Taking Care of Rabbits

Easter is just around the corner and rabbits are one of the main symbols of the holiday. Let’s learn more about bunnies in this week’s blog!

Rabbits can live 5-10 years in captivity. They require a large cage or hutch in a draft-free area or may be housed in a “bunny proofed” room. Rabbits like to chew wires so be sure that any cords and wires are out of reach of your rabbit if he or she roams the house.  Rabbits may be taught to use a litter box which can help keep things cleaner in their housing area. If your rabbit is housed outdoors, make sure the hutch is off the ground, is large enough for your bunny to hop around and has an enclosed space filled with hay to keep your bunny warm and dry.

Make sure your rabbit gets proper nutrition. Bunnies need plenty of fresh water as well as hay, vegetables, fresh greens, and pellets.  Foods such as avocado, rhubarb, cauliflower, parsnips, raisins, and onions can be harmful to rabbits. Iceberg lettuce should also be limited as it can cause diarrhea, especially in young rabbits.  Bunnies need roughage and things to chew to keep their teeth healthy as their teeth continue to grow throughout the bunny’s life.  Rabbits also enjoy play and need enrichment in their environment. Cardboard boxes or “castles” provide lots of entertainment for bunnies and there are a variety of rabbit-safe toys available.

While they don’t need annual vaccines, periodic visits to the vet are a good idea as rabbits can be prone to health issues.  Ear infections may occur due to large amounts of wax or debris in the ear canal which can lead to bacterial infection and rabbits also get ear mites. A rabbit with an ear infection may develop a head tilt and trouble staying upright and holding their balance.  They may continuously fall or roll over, stop eating and/or paw at their ears. It is important to have your rabbit evaluated by a veterinarian to confirm the cause. Most ear infections can be treated with medications. Respiratory infections are also common and usually due to Pasteurella bacteria though other bacterial and viral organisms are sometimes found. Stress or poor husbandry can often lead to infection. Affected rabbits may have nasal and/or eye discharge, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing and decreased activity. Rabbits who are very ill may need to be hospitalized for supportive care and treatment with antibiotics. Milder cases may be treated outpatient with antibiotics. Dental disease and digestive issues are also common in rabbits.

Rabbits make fun pets, but just like any other pet, they require commitment and proper veterinary care to remain happy and healthy. If you are interested in keeping rabbits as pets, do your research on proper housing, feeding and care and your rabbit should live a long, happy life.

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.