ALERT: 
  Welcome to new vet Amy Stamp, who is joining our team while Victoria Isherwood is on maternity leave

Pet Information - Rabbits

Rabbits are becoming ever more popular pets, they can make excellent pets, and many of the diseases they suffer from are preventable. Here is our guide to rabbits and rabbit care.

 
 

I'm considering buying a rabbit, what should I know?

Rabbits can live to 10 years or more, which is worth bearing in mind especially if you are considering buying one for a child.

They are sociable animals, so like being kept in pairs. They should be handled regularly from a young age.

They should not be kept with guinea pigs. This is because the dietary needs of guinea pigs and rabbits are very different, and rabbits can pass infections to guinea pigs.

Rabbits need sunlight and exercise to remain healthy. Try to have a large cage for them, they should be able to take 3 good hops from one side to the other. Allow them to exercise as often as possible. Most rabbits won’t stray far, and many voluntarily return to the hutch for security.

They should not be kept in small, dark hutches in sheds/garages, away from sunlight.

In very cold weather, ensure they have plenty of deep bedding to snuggle into, plus cover part of the front of the cage with some sheeting to provide protection against cold and wind. 

 
 
 

 

I've heard that a good diet is crucial for a healthy rabbit, is this true? 

YES! If there's one message we'd like all rabbit owners to take on board it is this:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT FEED YOUR RABBIT MUESLI-MIX DRIED FOOD.

FEED ONLY PELLETED FOOD IN RESTRICTED QUANTITIES!!! AND GIVE YOUR RABBIT PLENTY OF HAY!

One of the main reasons we see rabbits at the practice is for conditions resulting from a poor diet, typically by rabbits eating too much muesli-type dried food. To minimise the risk of them developing illnesses such as dental disease and obesity, it is important to have a good understanding of what your rabbit needs.

Rabbits need a high fibre diet, and food needs to pass through their bodies twice!! So, they eat the hay and dried food, the food travels through the bowel, resulting in the rabbit producing a soft large motion called a caecotroph. The rabbit immediately eats this, which then passes through the bowel again, then the rabbit produces small hard droppings that we find when cleaning the hutch out!!

Things start to go wrong when the rabbit doesn’t eat the caecotroph - this sticky motion can stick to their bottoms, leading to sore areas and potentially fly strike (see later).

So, what do I need to feed my rabbit to make sure he has a good diet?

Hay is a very important part of your rabbit’s diet and there are lots of varieties available to buy. Good quality hay that is free of dust is ideal for your rabbit. It is very high in roughage, which is very good for their gut! Hay should be the main part of your rabbit's diet.

Grass is also a very important factor of their diet. However never feed your rabbit grass mowings.

Prepared rabbit foods should be fed as a complementary element to their diet with hay and grass forming the bulk of their food. These MUST be pelleted/nugget foods. You should NEVER EVER feed a muesli type diet. If you offer muesli foods, rabbits tend to pick out their favourite bits, leaving the calcium-rich foods. This leads to them eating too little calcium, their bones soften, especially in the jaw - so the teeth move and no longer grind against each other when eating. The teeth will overgrow, leading to major teeth problems (see later). We would strongly encourage you to offer a pelleted dried food from an early age. If your rabbit is used to eating muesli, it can be difficult to retrain them to eat pelleted food.

DO NOT FEED TOO MUCH DRIED FOOD!! Ideally, offer a small amount once a day - so that once the rabbit has eaten it, if it is hungry it will eat hay, grass or vegetables. Some veterinary dentists advise not to feed any dried food at all!

Vegetables rabbits can eat a variety of vegetables and herbs which we have listed below.

Asparagus

Curly Kale

Basil

Baby sweetcorn

Fennel

Coriander

Beetroot

Green beans

Dill

Broccoli

Parsnip

Mint

Brussels sprouts

Peas

Parsley

Cabbage

Peppers

Oregano

Carrots

Pumpkin

Rosemary

Cauliflower

Radish

Sage

Celeriac

Spinach

Thyme

Celery

Swede

Cucumber

Courgette

Turnip

Watercress

Fruit should be fed in moderation due to high sugar content:

Microchipping

Microchipping

All dogs and cats should be microchipped, and it's compulsory for all dogs over the age of 8 weeks. It's very important to keep your contact details up to date eg if you move house. Please click the photo for more information about microchips. It costs just £12 for us to chip your pet.

Keyhole Surgery

Keyhole Surgery

We are pleased to offer keyhole surgery here at Alfreton Park for bitch speys and other procedures. Smaller wounds, and quicker recovery times. For more info, click on the photo above

Vaccinations

Vaccinations

Find out more about dog vaccinations by clicking on the photo above

Senior Pets

Senior Pets

Did you know that, as dogs and cats are living longer, they are more likely to develop senile problems, just like in people? Sadly many owners aren't aware of this, and think it's just 'old age'. Find out more by clicking on the photo above