Most individuals think the only animals that need to be seen by a veterinarian are dogs and cats. Unfortunately, almost any type of animal needs to be seen by a veterinarian. This includes your typical pocket pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets. In fact, rabbits should technically be seen by a veterinarian at least twice a year for a physical exam. Rabbits are very sensitive animals and typical issues, such as a cold or a stomach issue, can become fatal. The toughest part about owning a rabbit is keeping an eye on any health issues that might be present. Rabbits tend to hide their sicknesses since they are at the bottom of the food chain and they think they will be killed if they show any signs of illness.
Many rabbits are prone to getting gastrointestinal issues. In fact, rabbits cant vomit, unlike dogs and cats. This makes things tougher for this type of animal. So in this case it’s always best to make sure a pet rabbit is being fed a healthy diet. There are many symptoms to look out for when a rabbit has a GI issue. Symptoms such as diarrhea. When a rabbit is seen having diarrhea, it’s very important to seek veterinary attention. A situation like this can be fatal to a rabbit and cause dehydration. Most likely the rabbit will need to be put on some sort of medication to treat the diarrhea. When consulting a veterinarian for a rabbit, make sure it’s a veterinarian who has experience dealing with rabbits, such as a exotic veterinarian. When owning a rabbit, it’s important to have these numbers ready just in case if there is an emergency. A pet rabbit should be getting physical exams done by a veterinarian after purchasing. Just because they are smaller and cheaper then dogs and cats does not mean they don’t need to be seen by a veterinarian. Furthermore, a rabbits stool sample should look like a normal round dry fecal pellet. If they ever appear smaller or misshaped, then it’s best to contact a veterinarian. Especially if they have diarrhea!
Another sign of illness that can be noticed in a pet rabbit is runny eyes, runny nose, or coughing sounds. it’s very common for a rabbit to develop a bacteria called Pasteurella. Sometimes they will develop a fever when they have a bacterial infection. It’s important to contact a veterinarian if any of these signs are noticed. Again, if left untreated it can become fatal. A veterinarian will usually prescribe antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. Make sure your pet rabbit is NEVER prescribed Amoxicillin! Any medication containing penicillin is extremely toxic to rabbits and will result in more deaths then it would helping the rabbit. That’s why it’s important to do research when finding a veterinarian to care for your rabbit.
Hairballs is a common problem in rabbits. Again, rabbits cant vomit so sometimes it’s hard to pass. Rabbits are constantly grooming themselves, just like a cat does. To prevent any issues, it’s best to brush your rabbit often to pick up any loose hair. Also, providing fresh timothy hay will help things pass easier since it’s high in fiber. If hairballs become an issue with your pet, a hairball remedy can be found at your rabbits veterinary hospital. Just make sure you let the veterinarian know about the issue.
Always make sure your pet rabbit is nibbling on something, such as hay. Rabbits are very similar to rodents and always need to nibble on something to file their teeth down. If not, the teeth continue to grow to the point where the rabbit cant eat or drink. If left untreated, the rabbit will die. If a situation like this happens, the rabbit needs to been seen by a veterinarian to get the teeth clipped. Signs of malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth) include, drooling and not eating.
There are a few things to keep in mind when owning a rabbit. Just like dogs and cats, it’s best for a pet rabbit to be spayed/neutered, depending on it’s gender. Rabbits that have not been spayed or neutered are prone to reproductive cancers and will most likely live a shorter life if nothing is done about it. If a rabbit undergoes surgery, it’s very important to feed your rabbit, even before surgery. Don’t fast your rabbit! Remember, rabbits cant vomit. When dogs and cats get surgical procedures performed, they are fasted because there is a chance they can vomit during the surgical procedure. Moreover, another thing to consider is making sure you rabbits bedding is safe. This means, don’t use Pine or Cedar bedding! The aromas from these beddings can cause liver damage and respiratory issues in a rabbit. It’s best to use recycled newspaper, or hay as bedding.
Please remember to consult a veterinarian (that deals with rabbits) if you have any questions or concerns. Always remember, rabbits need veterinary care too! They get sick just like every other animal.