There are few things more adorable than the wiggle of a bunny’s nose or their soft, puffy tail. These days, pet rabbits are much more common and are making their way from the backyard into our homes. House rabbits are often free-roaming and can even be taught to use a litter box, which is why they’ve become one of the most popular exotic pets.
While they certainly make an exceptional pet, rabbits do have special needs. The team at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital is happy to provide a crash course in rabbit health and connect you with the tools and information to successfully raise your rabbit companion.
Rabbits are wonderful pets and can offer owners a world of affection and entertainment. However, in terms of husbandry, rabbits do have very specific needs that can lead to sickness or injury when left unmet. Here are a few things you need to know when it comes to rabbit health:
- Bunnies need clean, safe housing. Even if your rabbit is indoor-only, there are several situations in which they might require a secure place to stay. Look for a cage that’s big enough for them to hop around in or a pen that’s 36 inches or higher. Look specifically for indoor cages designed for house rabbits. Keep the cage free from feces, and dump ground cover frequently. Scrub out the cage between refills.
- Rabbit-proof your home. Consider your pet the same way you might a toddler, especially when it comes to wires. Bunnies will try and chew on wires and cords and can sometimes ingest items they shouldn’t. Tack up wires and cords well out of your pet’s reach or cover them with plastic tubing. Remove any small items that can be chewed on. You may also want to invest in baby gates to keep your pet in one section of your home.
- Provide excellent nutrition. Along with bunny pellets that provide fiber and nutrients, make sure to offer additional food, like washed greens and carrots, as well as hay or alfalfa. Keep water clean and full to encourage hydration. Hay and pellets are also essential to rabbit teeth. Like horses, rabbits have adapted to chew down fibrous plants. Without this, they develop spur teeth and other problems. Talk to us about the right nutrition for dental care and overall wellness.
- Offer a litter box. If you want to train your rabbit to use a litter box (and why not?), invest in a shallow box lined with newspaper or paper pellets that are safe and suitable for bunnies.
- Provide activities. Enrichment is integral to your pet’s well being because it keeps them safely occupied, as well as provides necessary exercise. Look for toys and games that are designed just for bunnies.
- Groom your rabbit. Using a suitable brush for rabbits, it’s important to brush your pet out on occasion, especially if they’re long-haired.
It’s also a great idea to read up about rabbit husbandry. Look for credible online resources or ask us for help!
Rabbit Health and Wellness
We recommend your bunny be seen at least annually until they reach 4-5 years of age. Past that point, they will need more frequent exams (much like other senior pets). With small mammals, health issues often go unnoticed until it’s too late. That’s why preventive care is so important. Your pet’s exam will include the following:
- Nose-to-puffy tail exam and palpation of internal organs
- Eyes (should be bright without discharge)
- Ear health (free of yeast, bacteria, and mites)
- Teeth (check for malocclusion and spurs)
- Skin health
We also highly recommend spaying/neutering your pet (they don’t call it “breeding like rabbits” for nothing!). Of course, during the exam, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have about at-home rabbit health.
If a bunny has hopped into your life, rest assured knowing Animal Kind is here to help. Please give us a call to schedule an appointment.