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Behaviour

Hopping rabbit

Aggressive rabbits

Rabbits have a reputation for being cute and cuddly, and certainly don't give an outward impression of being capable of aggression. However, aggressive behaviour towards people can be a common problem amongst domestic rabbits, and has many possible causes, with treatment aimed at improving the trust between an owner and the rabbit.

Read Aggressive rabbits
Rabbit in garden

Chewing

The fact that rabbits chew is obvious. On walks in the country you can see the evidence of rabbits having chewed the bark of young saplings, or the crop in the field. At home your pet rabbit may have nibbled his hutch, or worse your furniture, books or electric wiring. What is less obvious is why rabbits chew and what you can do about it.

Read Chewing
Rabbit show jumping

Keeping your bunny amused

Does your rabbit have toys and objects to play with to keep him amused? Or have you never really thought about giving him something to play with?

Read Keeping your bunny amused

Caring for your rabbit

A lumpy tumour on the skin of a rabbit

Cancer in your rabbit

Sadly, from time to time, rabbits can be affected by cancer, which can take many different forms. Some cancers are more common than others and this factsheet will aim to look at those more commonly seen in pet rabbits.

Read Cancer in your rabbit
A vet holding a rabbit

Emergencies - what to do

Unfortunately, rabbit owners may have to deal with an emergency involving their pet. It is essential to know how to recognize and deal with such emergencies before they arise and to know who to contact when they do. Immediate veterinary attention can mean the difference between life and death for a very sick or injured rabbit. Getting to the veterinary clinic, where all the necessary equipment is on hand, is quicker and gives it a better chance than calling the vet out to your home. The most important thing to remember in an emergency is - don't panic! - this could cause further anxiety for an already frightened animal and it wastes valuable time.

Read Emergencies - what to do
Two rabbits in a hutch

Exercise - for a healthy, happy rabbit

Exercise is vital for the health of the rabbit. Well meaning but poorly informed people may describe rabbits as easy to keep because they can be caged and don't take up much space. This idea has led to many rabbits being caged most of their lives resulting in both physical and behavioural disorders.

Read Exercise - for a healthy, happy rabbit
Rabbits feeding

Feeding your rabbit

The phrase 'you are what you eat' has never been truer for the rabbit. Recent research by veterinary surgeons and rabbit food companies has shown that most of the common illnesses that rabbits suffer from could be prevented by feeding them a healthy diet. Unfortunately, many pet rabbits are being fed a diet that is the rabbit equivalent of 'junk food'. Feeding your rabbit the correct diet is not difficult - simply follow these guidelines.

Read Feeding your rabbit
A rabbit receiving liquid medication via a syringe

Giving medicines to your rabbit

Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments. In many cases Veterinary Nurses are responsible for administration of medicines to hospitalised patients. It is also important to ensure that you are able to continue medicine administration once your rabbit has been discharged from hospital. Veterinary Nurses may be able to demonstrate administration techniques to you when your rabbit is discharged.

Read Giving medicines to your rabbit
A rabbit on an examination table

Giving your rabbit a health check

It is important to give your rabbit a thorough health check every so often to ensure they are healthy and so any problems can be detected early and treatment commenced as soon as possible. Problems that are treated early stand a much better chance of being resolved, are generally cheaper to treat and mean that the rabbit doesn't suffer unnecessarily.

Read Giving your rabbit a health check
A rabbit chewing a grass stem

Grass and hay

To help promote normal dental wear and provide the high-fibre diet which is essential, rabbits should have access to 'graze' for 4-6 hours a day - this should include hay, grass and wild plants. This is the best way to help ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy.

Read Grass and hay
Grooming brush

Grooming your rabbit

Grooming your rabbit is important to avoid matting of the fur and maintain a healthy shiny coat. It also helps to build a relationship with your pet and provides an opportunity for you to examine your rabbit to check for any signs of illness.

Read Grooming your rabbit
A rabbit with overgrown incisor teeth

How to check your rabbit's teeth

Small dental problems often go undetected in the early stages but as rabbit's teeth grow continuously (2-3 mm per week), small problems can quickly become major problems. It is therefore important to check your rabbit's teeth frequently - perhaps on a weekly basis.

Read How to check your rabbit's teeth
A rabbit having its claws clipped

How to clip your rabbit's claws

Clipping your own rabbit's claws may be something that you feel you would like to do instead of taking your rabbit to the vets and asking your vet or nurse to do it for you. If your rabbit is known to be nervous or flighty, then it is safer to get someone to help restrain your rabbit whilst you are clipping their claws.

Read How to clip your rabbit's claws
Close up of a rabbit's head

How to give eye medication to your rabbit

Eye problems in rabbits are quite common. Tears quickly wash out any treatment put in the eye so eye drops need to be given several times a day. This means you will have to learn how to give the treatment at home.

Read How to give eye medication to your rabbit
Rabbit near burrow entrance

Hyperthermia - overheating

With their dense fur, healthy rabbits in a sheltered environment are tolerant of low temperatures, but cannot tolerate damp or draughty conditions. On the other hand, they cannot pant effectively and don't sweat, therefore are susceptible to overheating. Unfortunately, even with treatment, the prognosis for rabbits with hyperthermia is guarded to poor.

Read Hyperthermia - overheating
A rabbit receiving veterinary treatment

Illness: caring for a poorly rabbit

At some point it is highly likely that you will have to look after an ill rabbit. Rabbits are often stressed in a veterinary environment, so when your vet feels that your rabbit is well enough to go home they may want you to continue with their nursing care at home. Knowing how to do this, and when to be concerned, will help you to confidently provide them with the best care possible.

Read Illness: caring for a poorly rabbit
Rabbit being given an injection

Injection techniques

Administration of medicine by injection is often referred to as giving by the parenteral route (this means that the treatment does not enter the body via the gut). Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments and many medications are most effective when given by injection. Administration of medicine by injection is essential for some drugs that are destroyed by acids in the stomach.

Read Injection techniques
A dog and a rabbit sitting on the grass

Introducing your rabbit to other pets

Introducing other pets, such as cats and dogs, to your pet rabbit needs to be done gradually and in such a way that the dog or cat learns that the rabbit is not overly interesting and certainly not something to be chased, and eaten. Rabbits, are prey animals and dogs and cats are predators. From the rabbit's point of view a dog or cat is a threat to its well-being, indeed to its life.

Read Introducing your rabbit to other pets
A clean litter tray

Litter training your rabbit

An increasing number of people have moved away from the traditional idea of keeping a rabbit in a hutch by bringing it into their home. When considering a houserabbit the most frequently asked question is "but won't it use the whole house as a toilet?" Much to the surprise of some people, rabbits can be easily trained to use a litter tray. The natural instinct of a wild rabbit to use one area as its latrine is still true in our domestic pets. In addition, rabbits are coprophagic, consuming the first production of soft faeces to re-digest the matter and produce hard, dry pellets.

Read Litter training your rabbit
A houserabbit

Living with a house rabbit

More and more rabbit owners are bringing their rabbits to live indoors and become part of the family like a dog or cat. To make the smooth transition from a hutch rabbit to a house rabbit, you first need to prepare your house and then gradually introduce your rabbit to living indoors.

Read Living with a house rabbit
Microchip scanner

Microchipping your rabbit

Various techniques can be used to identify your rabbit. Microchips are a safe and permanent method of identification and have many advantages over more traditional techniques such as the placement of metal leg rings or ear-marking with tattoos. Microchips provide a quick and efficient way to identify a lost rabbit and reunite it with its owner.

Read Microchipping your rabbit
Newborn rabbits

Neutering your rabbit

Everyone knows that rabbits breed like, well... rabbits! The number of pet rabbits born each year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of rabbits find their way to re-homing centres where they wait for adoption. Responsible rabbit owners realise that neutering (sterilising, castrating, spaying) will not only reduce these numbers, but will also safeguard their rabbit's health and welfare for the future.

Read Neutering your rabbit
An obese rabbit

Obesity

Wild rabbits engage in a range of activities that require significant energy expenditure. They have to forage for food and remain constantly alert to danger, when they will flee to the nearest burrow for shelter. They will also use up energy just keeping warm during the colder months. By contrast, the average pet rabbit does not have to forage for food and is indulged with treats. Coupled with the fact that pet rabbits exercise little, this predisposes them to fat gain. The deposition of fat reserves can lead to a rabbit becoming overweight. Further fat deposition may start impacting on a rabbit's health, at which point the rabbit is said to be obese.

Read Obesity
A rabbit prepped for routine surgery

Operations: caring for your rabbit before and after surgery

Many rabbits will have an operation at some stage in their life, e.g. for neutering (spaying or castration) or to treat a disease. Nowadays most operations in rabbits are fairly safe but the success of treatment and recovery depends to some extent on the quality of care that the owner gives before and after the operation.

Read Operations: caring for your rabbit before and after surgery
Close up of a rabbit's head

Pet insurance for your rabbit

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of cats that would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a vet's bill for intricate surgery or a prolonged course of treatment could be thousands of pounds. Many pet owners worry that they will not be able to afford to pay for treatment if their cat becomes sick or has a major accident.

Read Pet insurance for your rabbit
Daffodils

Plants - safe or dangerous

The bulk of a rabbits diet should be made up of fibre grass and hay, with vegetables and other plants making up a smaller proportion of the overall intake. However, whilst some plants are safe to feed, others should be avoided and knowing which category each falls into can be confusing.

Read Plants - safe or dangerous
White rabbit outdoors

Saying goodbye - options for euthanasia

The life expectancy of a pet rabbit is generally much longer than that of a rabbit living in the wild. On average a pet rabbit may live for about 6-8 years and some even survive past 10 years. But at some stage it may become obvious that your rabbit's life is drawing to a close. It is then that you will face a painful and difficult decision on whether your pet should be taken to your vet and put gently and painlessly to sleep.

Read Saying goodbye - options for euthanasia
A young boy taking his rabbit to the vet

Senior rabbit care

Contrary to common wisdom, many well kept rabbits live long and happy lives. With better owner education, improved diets and husbandry, and better medical care, more rabbits are living into their senior years.

Read Senior rabbit care
A rabbit with long ears

Summer safety

By now we are all well aware of the dangers that too much sun can cause to our health, but it's not just the sun that can pose many potential problems for rabbits during the warmer months.

Read Summer safety
Syringe feeding a rabbit

Syringe feeding your rabbit

Syringe feeding (or force feeding) your rabbit is a very important part of recovery from gastrointestinal stasis (gut stasis), and in some cases is the most important part of recovering from surgery or illness. If you need to continue syringe feeding your rabbit following surgery or illness your vet will discuss this with you and will show you how to do this before you take your rabbit back home. It is important to be gentle and persistent with your rabbit, as providing an adequate intake of food can be the turning point of recovery.

Read Syringe feeding your rabbit
Pet carrier

Travelling with your rabbit

A visit to the vet or travelling on a longer journey may be stressful for your rabbit. Make sure that you are properly prepared to avoid your rabbit being frightened.

Read Travelling with your rabbit
Syringe and vaccine

Vaccinating your rabbit

There are several highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases that can affect your rabbit. Fortunately vaccines have been produced that will protect your rabbit against two of these - myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (strains 1 and 2). To ensure that your rabbit is fully protected it is essential that it receives regular booster injections.

Read Vaccinating your rabbit
A rabbit outside of it's cage in the garden

Why does my rabbit... ?

Unlike dogs and cats, which are hunting animals, rabbits are prey animals and so their natural behaviour is very different. It is part of the responsibility of owning a pet that you learn to understand what your pet's behaviour means - this will help you to know when your rabbit is happy, when it is frightened or when it is ill.

Read Why does my rabbit... ?
A rabbit in the snow

Winter care for your rabbit

Rabbits have evolved to be able to withstand the winter weather we get in the UK, but whether or not you keep your rabbit as a houserabbit or outside, they do require some special care and considerations throughout the colder months of the year, to ensure they remain happy and healthy.

Read Winter care for your rabbit

Dental disease

X-ray of a rabbit showing elongated molar teeth

Dental disease in your rabbit

Rabbit's teeth are open-rooted, meaning that they continuously erupt and grow throughout its life. If a rabbit has congenital or acquired dental disease, then the teeth may overgrow or grow distorted, which can cause life-long problems. This factsheet aims to discuss the common causes and treatments for dental disease in rabbits.

Read Dental disease in your rabbit
Rabbit with severely overgrown incisor teeth

Overgrown teeth

The incisors, premolars, and molars of rabbits grow throughout life. Rabbits do not possess any canine teeth, but do have peg teeth which sit just behind the upper incisors. The normal length is maintained by the wearing action of opposing teeth. Malocclusion (mandibular prognathism, brachygnathism) probably is the most common inherited disease in rabbits and leads to overgrowth of incisors, premolars and molars, with resultant difficulty in eating and drinking. However, malocclusion can develop in later life due to incorrect diet, especially one lacking in the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio or through trauma to the teeth or jaw.

Read Overgrown teeth

Gastrointestinal conditions

A rabbit with head tilt

Cerebrospinal nematodiasis

Cerebrospinal nematodiasis is an invasion of the central nervous system by nematode (roundworm) larvae and a cause of neurological disease in rabbits that have access to the outdoors. Infected rabbits may show a variety of clinical signs. These can also be attributed to many other disease processes.

Read Cerebrospinal nematodiasis
Rabbit drinking from a container

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a dysfunction of the pancreas. The pancreas is an endocrine organ that possesses clusters of cells known as islets of Langerhans. These secrete insulin into the blood circulatory system in order to control the glucose level in the blood, and stimulate absorption of glucose into cells. Diabetes mellitus is an entirely different condition to diabetes insipidus, which this article does not focus on.

Read Diabetes mellitus
Rabbit eating pellets

Diarrhoea

In adult rabbits, diarrhoea is quite uncommon. Several conditions can cause diarrhoea, with infections more common in young rabbits (kits/kittens). It is important to check your rabbit daily for diarrhoea as it could be due to a rapidly-progressing disease that requires early treatment or could lead to other problems such as flystrike.

Read Diarrhoea
A pair of rabbits

Dirty bottom syndrome

There are a variety of reasons why rabbits may suffer with a dirty bottom, either with faeces or urine, both of which are potential attractions for flies, especially in warmer months of the year when flystrike is a common occurrence.

Read Dirty bottom syndrome
X-ray of a rabbit with gastrointestinal stasis

Gastrointestinal stasis

When a rabbit's digestive system is compromised, because of illness, pain or stress, then their hydration and food intake is likely to be reduced. This can lead to a reduction in gut motility – known as gastrointestinal (GI) stasis.

Read Gastrointestinal stasis
Rabbit hairballs

Hairballs in rabbits

Rabbits are very clean animals and groom themselves constantly, which means the stomach contents always contain hair. This hair is normally passed through the digestive system and excreted with the faecal pellets.

Read Hairballs in rabbits
Rabbit nibbling at its paw

Intestinal obstructions in rabbits

Rabbits are frequently diagnosed with gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. However, some of these rabbits may be suffering from an intestinal obstruction, which has an acute onset and requires rapid and very different treatment to GI stasis in order to have a chance of a successful outcome. Although intestinal obstruction is rare in pet rabbits, it is considered an emergency and should be addressed promptly.

Read Intestinal obstructions in rabbits
Rabbit doe with her young

Mucoid enteropathy

Enteropathy refers to any condition affecting the intestines. There are several types of enteropathy, but the most common type that seems to affect rabbits is referred to as mucoid enteropathy. Despite having been around for decades, the condition remains confusing and is still not fully understood.

Read Mucoid enteropathy
Rabbit x-ray showing a gastrointestinal obstruction

Peritonitis

Peritonitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs. Peritonitis can be very severe in rabbits and life threatening in many cases. For this reason it is essential to identify and treat the cause as soon as possible.

Read Peritonitis

Miscellaneous health problems

X-ray showing arthritis in a rabbit

Arthritis

Arthritis is a well-known, documented condition affecting humans, cats and dogs. R rabbits can often be affected too, especially as they get older, and sometimes this can go un-noticed.

Read Arthritis
Rabbit with an eye abscess

Eye abscesses

Abscesses develop when bacteria enter a part of the body. It is the body's natural defences to try and 'wall off' infection to stop it spreading elsewhere within the body. This can lead to problems when the abscess is located within the region of the eye, since the location is hard to successfully operate on, and the case is frequently difficult to cure.

Read Eye abscesses
Hopping rabbit

Hip luxation

Luxation (dislocation) is defined as 'dislocation of a joint so that there is no contact between the articular surfaces'. Rabbits have very delicate skeletons, and as their muscle mass is large relative to their skeleton injuries to joints can easily be caused through trauma or abnormal or excessive sudden movements. In addition, congenital abnormalities are also seen in rabbits and therefore hip luxation may be commonly encountered in pet rabbits.

Read Hip luxation
Rabbit in garden

Muscular dystrophy and other muscular conditions

Generalised muscle weakness in rabbits has numerous causes, many of which are extremely rare or have never been conclusively diagnosed in rabbits, but are important to discuss. By its definition, muscular dystrophy is defined as a degeneration of muscular tissue sometimes caused by faulty nutrition. This has been seen to occur in rabbits as well as other mammals.

Read Muscular dystrophy and other muscular conditions

Owning a rabbit

Cuddling a rabbit

Choosing a rabbit

Choosing a new pet is a very exciting time but you should take care not to make decisions about a new rabbit on impulse!

Read Choosing a rabbit
Rabbits sitting behind wire fence

Housing your rabbit

Whether your rabbit lives indoors or outdoors it needs somewhere to call home. Hutches and runs come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one is important to ensure that you have a happy rabbit.

Read Housing your rabbit
Toddlers with a rabbit

Is a rabbit right for me?

Rabbits are now the third most popular pet animal in the UK. TV programmes like Pet Rescue and Animal Hospital and organisations like the British House Rabbit Association are educating people about responsible rabbit ownership. This is resulting in a change in attitude from the rabbit as pet confined to a hutch at the bottom of the garden to one which is as much a part of the family as a dog or cat.

Read Is a rabbit right for me?
A pair of nuzzling rabbits

Rabbit companions

Rabbits are social animals; in the wild large groups will live happily together, providing company, security and physical grooming to each other. Company of their own kind is just as important for pet rabbits too. However, to ensure that the bonding process is as trouble-free as possible, there are some simple, but important guidelines that should be followed.

Read Rabbit companions
Trailing socket with several plugs

Rabbit proofing your home

Living with a house rabbit isn't something that happens with little or no preparation, and one of the most important things you need to do before moving a bunny into your home is to make the environment safe for them. Remember that chewing and digging are natural behaviours for rabbits and they generally aren't fussy about what they test their teeth and claws on, so it is up to you to ensure you possessions are rabbit proofed.

Read Rabbit proofing your home

Infectious diseases

A rabbit with head tilt due to Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection

Encephalitozoon cuniculi

Encephalitozoon cuniculi was virtually unrecognised as a cause of disease in pet rabbits until a few years ago. Nowadays it is much more widely diagnosed amongst pet rabbits, with owners of affected rabbits wanting to learn as much as possible in order to give their rabbits the best care possible. However, the disease isn't a straightforward one, and there is still a lot that we don't understand about it, so it does take some explaining in order to understand what it is, what it does and how it is currently treated.

Read Encephalitozoon cuniculi
Rabbit laying near the entrance to its burrow

Herpes virus infection

The order of herpes viruses is known as Herpesvirales; it is a large group of viruses that includes various strains that infect humans and many types of animals through direct contact with body fluids. The herpes virus is highly contagious and is characterised by latent and recurring infections. It inhabits the cells of the body and lies dormant until it is triggered to re-emerge. It is typically a life-long infection due to the viruses' ability to evade detection by the host's immune system.

Read Herpes virus infection
Rabbit with myxomatosis

Myxomatosis ('myxy')

Italian microbiologist Sanarelli first reported myxomatosis in 1896, when a laboratory rabbit colony he had imported into Uruguay for public health research suddenly died of an extremely infectious disease. The virus was identified in the 1930s and has subsequently been used in the biological control of rabbit populations in Australia and France in the 1950s. It spread from France to the UK in 1953 where it decimated the European wild rabbit population and is now widespread both in wild and domestic rabbits in the UK.

Read Myxomatosis ('myxy')
Rabbit resting among some trees

Viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD)

There are several highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases that can affect your rabbit. Viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD or HVD) is one of the most common. There are two strains of VHD (VHD1 and 'new variant' VHD2). VHD1 was first discovered in China in 1984 in rabbits that had been imported from Germany, and it arrived in the UK in 1992. VHD2 was first recognised in France in 2010 and soon after came to the UK. To ensure your rabbit is protected against these diseases, vaccination is essential.

Read Viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD)

Respiratory problems

Close up of rabbit's face

Nasal discharge

Discharges from the nose can be clear fluid, mucus, pus, blood or a mixture of substances. The discharge can originate from the nasal area or from deeper in the respiratory tract, e.g. the lungs. There are several causes of nasal discharge, not all of them are infections. The prognosis varies depending on the cause the extent of disease when treatment is sought.

Read Nasal discharge
A yawning hare

Snoring

Rabbits cannot breathe through their mouth if their nose is blocked. Attempted mouth breathing is a sign of respiratory distress and is often accompanied by a blue tinge to the lips and nose. This is a serious and life-threatening condition that needs emergency attention by your vet. However, anything that obstructs the rabbit's nasal passages or causes a narrrowing may mean that the rabbit emits a 'snoring' noise when breathing. This can sometimes be caused by the rabbits' breed, a foreign body or bacterial infections, and some rabbits may also truly snore!

Read Snoring
Rabbit in a tree hollow

Snuffles - the facts

Snuffles is a condition in rabbits that every owner dreads. Once a rabbit develops snuffles it is usually a life-long problem. Fortunately, recent research suggests that it can be prevented just by providing your rabbit with a healthy, balanced diet. Here are some guidelines on how to look after a rabbit with snuffles and also how to protect your rabbits from developing the condition.

Read Snuffles - the facts

Skin disease

A normal moulting rabbit

Alopecia - hair loss

Alopecia is also known as hair loss, and it typically means partial or complete hair loss on areas of the body where hair is normally found. Alopecia can occur in virtually all animals with hair and is normal in some situations (such as baldness in human males). In most animals, however, it is usually an abnormal condition which can come on suddenly or progress over time, depending on the cause. Alopecia can be unsightly and reduce the insulating and protective capacity of a rabbit's coat, potentially leading to increased stress and/or development of other conditions for the animal.

Read Alopecia - hair loss
A rabbit in a field

Biting and nuisance flies

The most common flies that affect rabbits include green bottles, house flies, face flies, stable flies, horn flies, horse flies and blow fly species. Some species, like blow flies, are attracted to moist decaying environments in which to lay their eggs. Other fly species such as face flies, flesh flies, screw worm flies and bot flies target living animal flesh, including drinking the tears of live animals, biting the animal for a blood meal, or reproducing by laying eggs under the animal's skin.

Read Biting and nuisance flies
Ear canker in a rabbit

Ear canker in rabbits

Ear canker can be a painful and irritating condition for your rabbit. Signs of this condition tend to appear 2-3 weeks after the animal is first infested with mites, therefore early detection of the mites that cause ear canker is important when trying to prevent this condition from taking hold.

Read Ear canker in rabbits
Rabbit in a tree hollow

Flystrike in rabbits

Vets know that with the arrival of the warmer months, comes the common problem of rabbits affected by flystrike being presented to them. This is a deeply distressing condition for owners, the veterinary team and especially the rabbit, which is literally being eaten alive. However, with some simple preventative measures, hopefully your bunny will never have to endure this condition, or if they are unlucky enough to be affected, you will be able to act quickly enough so they are one of the lucky ones who can be saved.

Read Flystrike in rabbits
Flea/lice infestation on a rabbit

Lice infestation

Rabbits can host a variety of parasites on their fur and skin. These are termed as ectoparasites, since they live on the outside of the rabbit. Lice fall into this classification and can be a problem for pet rabbits.

Read Lice infestation
A sore rabbit hock

Pododermatitis in rabbits - sore hocks

Disruption of the normal stance or locomotion in rabbits may lead to pressure sores on the base of the feet, known as pododermatitis. Starting as a skin problem, this condition progresses over time to affect deeper tissues and can be extremely debilitating.

Read Pododermatitis in rabbits - sore hocks
Female Cheyletiella mite

'Walking dandruff' (Cheyletiellosis)

Cheyletiella infection is a form of mange that is also known as rabbit mites and "walking dandruff". This is an itchy skin condition caused by small parasites living on the skin surface. The mites can be found on many animals including rabbits, dogs and cats, and can be transmitted from pets to people. Early recognition is important as the condition can be simply treated.

Read 'Walking dandruff' (Cheyletiellosis)

Urogenital problems

Rabbits

Excessive drinking and urination

Drinking and urinating more than normal is medically called polydipsia (poly = many; dipsia = drinking) and polyuria (poly = many; uria = urine). Thirst and urine production are a delicate balance controlled by interactions between the brain and the kidneys. Increased urination stimulates thirst, as the body's overall hydration decreases and stimulates thirst mechanisms in the brain. Sometimes the opposite can be true when excess thirst triggers urination, as can be seen with diseases like diabetes when the body tries to dilute toxins by drinking more and the diluted blood then stimulates increased urination.

Read Excessive drinking and urination
Grey rabbit

Kidney problems

Like other mammals, rabbits possess two kidneys. The kidneys are essential for filtering out toxins from the body and excreting them via the urinary system. There are many potential problems which can affect the kidneys, with varying degrees of severity.

Read Kidney problems
Rabbit kittens

Rearing orphan rabbit kittens

Handrearing a rabbit kitten or kittens can be an extremely rewarding experience but is not a job to be taken on lightly. The task ahead is difficult, exhausting and there is no guarantee of success. However hard you try, you are a poor substitute for a kitten's natural mother and despite the best efforts of human volunteers the death rate among orphaned kittens is often high.

Read Rearing orphan rabbit kittens
Bloody urine sample

Red urine

Bloody urine is rare in rabbits and rodents. Cases of bloody urine in rabbits often turn out to be normal rabbit urine which is simply a deep red colour due to the extretion of plant pigments within the diet. True cases of blood in the urine (haematuria) are often due to stones/sludge within the urinary tract, cystitis, uterine adencarcinoma, polyps or abortion.

Read Red urine
Struvite stones

Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis is the formation of calculi in the urinary tract, also called kidney and bladder calculi or stones, or urinary tract stones. The stones are rock hard crystal aggregations of all shapes and sizes. Sludge is the name given to the thick, almost toothpaste consistency deposit that can build up in the rabbits bladder or kidneys.

Read Urolithiasis
Hair plucking in a female rabbit with pseudopregnancy

Uterine problems

The female rabbit's reproductive tract varies greatly compared to dogs and cats. Although there is a difference in the anatomical make-up of rabbits, they can still experience some of the diseases that affect dogs and cats.

Read Uterine problems

Veterinary procedures

Urine sample

Samples and tests - how they help your vet

Laboratory tests are used by vets to help them diagnose disease in animals that are ill. Increasingly, they are also used as part of a routine health check to detect hidden disease before the development of obvious symptoms. This allows your rabbit to be treated earlier and more effectively. Tests may be used to show whether a rabbit is carrying infections that could pose a threat to other rabbits it comes into contact with.

Read Samples and tests - how they help your vet
MR scanner

Scanning - the inside picture

Until a few years ago, diagnostic imaging was limited to radiography (x-rays), ultrasound and endoscopy. Although these are still very useful diagnostic tools, there are now far more advanced diagnostic imaging methods, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT), that are being more commonly used in rabbit medicine.

Read Scanning - the inside picture
Vet reviews x-ray

X-rays and ultrasound

Veterinary medicine has made many advances in the last 10 years and many local veterinary practices are now able to perform x-ray and ultrasound examinations.

Read X-rays and ultrasound