Rabbits are generally healthy animals. If a rabbit has a healthy life it can live between 6-12 years. For a longer lifespan getting your rabbit de-sexed is definitely advised, as this can stop cancer developing.
The most common factors that can lead to ill health include:
There are many health problems your rabbit could contract – and we have listed a few common problems below.
Prevention really is the best treatment; so follow these steps to keep your bunny as healthy as possible:
One of the most common problems in rabbits is obesity. Being fed too many pellets is often the cause of obesity in rabbits as pellets are high in calories and low in fiber. Other causes of obesity include; being confined to a cage or hutch; lack of exercise; and too many sugary treats (like carrots).
Obesity can contribute to many other health problems such as stomach and urinary problems, foot problems, heat attacks and maggots.
To prevent obesity your rabbit needs time out of the cage to run around and play each day. Your rabbit should also be fed the correct diet.
A good test to see if your rabbit is the right weight is to ensure you can feel your rabbit’s ribs but not see them.
Pododermatitis is an infection of the feet common in overweight rabbits.
Common causes of pododermatitis include wire flooring in the hutch with no access to flat ground and solid bottom hutches that are not cleaned often enough as urine on the floor will irritate and burn the bottom of the rabbit’s feet.
To prevent pododermatitis make sure your rabbit’s housing is cleaned often and there is somewhere besides wire to sit (cardboard is easily changed when it becomes wet).
Rabbit snuffles are similar to a human cold, usually resulting in sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge.
Often a rabbit develops snuffles as a result of stress in their environment such as extreme cold or hot weather. Overweight rabbits are also more likely to develop the snuffles, as their bodies have to work to harder to survive.
It is best to take your rabbit to the vet if the symptoms persist.
Snuffles are contagious so if you have multiple rabbits quick treatment is advised.
Any cuts and scratches should be cleaned straight away and treated with sulphate ointment or powder. Deep punctures or lacerations should be treated by a vet.
Like the name suggests, head tilt is characterised by the head tilted to one side. It is often accompanied by either one or both eyes rolling backwards towards to tail every few seconds and loss of balance.
The most common cause for head tilt is an ear infection or parasite.
If you think your rabbit has head tilt, take it to the vet ASAP. If it is an ear infection it may spread to the brain, this is a serious problem.
Weepy eye is a bacterial infection of the eyelids, usually caused by dirt or dust. You can try treating the eye with salt water, if this doesn’t work an antibiotic eye drop or ointment from your vet will.
Rabbits’ teeth continually grow. The lack of tough stuff to chew on can result in teeth overgrowing – which can cause eating difficulties.
Make sure your bunny has good quality hay and twigs to chew on. If your rabbit’s teeth get overgrown they may require trimming by a vet.
Diarrhoea in adult rabbits is often caused by overfeeding green food or not introducing a new food slowly enough. To treat diarrhoea stop feeding the new food or greens, and then introduce them again very slowly once the bunny has fully recovered.
If your rabbit does not improve something more sever such as E-coli could be the cause and a trip to the vet is needed.
Many things, even stress, can cause diarrhoea in baby rabbits and a vet should see them as soon as possible as the fatality rate in babies is high.