Southampton Rabbit Rescue - ''because bunnies deserve better''
This page will cover issues such as health, care and the welfare of your rabbit. Topics covered will be diseases, diet, behaviour & illness. 
If you have any questions on a subject not covered then please feel free to email me.
 
Not all rabbits will experience these issues and often with a good diet and lots of love may not experience any, Know your bunny and it will be apparent when something is wrong. If in doubt consult your vet straight away.
 
The information below is here to help you and to offer basic advice and support, in all cases of sickness please contact you Vet.   
Summer Worries!!
 
Flystrike
 
Flystrike is deadly if not caught early enough. Certain species of flies (blowflies) become attracted to an area, usually the vent/rectum, which is soiled by urine & faeces. Maggots can hatch within 24 hours. These maggots eat under the skin and release poisons, which will be fatal to your rabbit.
Signs: quiet, depressed,  no appetite, twitchy (grooming rear end), on closer examination the back end will be damp and odorous, and maggots will be seen around the vent, and under the skin, often extending part way up the back of the rabbit.
Treatment: If the maggots have not hatched or broken the skin the prognosis is good. Thoroughly clean the area being careful to remove all the maggots and eggs. Keep the area clean and dry. If the maggots have broken the skin the prognosis isn't so good, your rabbit must be taken to the vets immediately. Your vet will remove all maggots, clean and disinfect the area and apply creams to promote healing as well as antibiotics and pain relief. If in shock fluids will be administered. Sometimes with flystrike euthanasia may be the kindest option.
Causes/Prevention: obesity, Sticky Bottom Syndrome, old age, long furred rabbits require constant grooming to prevent faeces building up in the fur around the anus, clean your hutch regularly, poor inappropriate diet.
Rearguard is a product that can be sponged onto your rabbit's rear end and will stop the larvae hatching, this product can last 8 - 10 weeks. Can be purchased from any Veterinary practice (prescription only)
Check your rabbit regularly, ensure the hutch is always clean this will help to deter flies.
 
 
Heat Stroke
 
Rabbits are susceptible to heat stroke, hutches should have shelter from direct sunlight.
Signs: mouth breathing, weakness, depressed and sometimes will foam at the mouth, convulsions.
Treatment: Get him to a vet for urgent treatment. Before you transport your rabbit to the vet try to bring his body temperature down.
Wrap him/her in a wet towel
Wrap a wet towel around his ears.
If conscious, offer him water.
Prevention: Keep your rabbits hutch away from direct sunlight. provide plenty of water, provide shade.
 
Sticky Bottom Syndrome
 
This describe the very common condition where the rabbit has soft faeces that stick to the fur around the anus. In the summer these rabbits are at high risk to flystrike.
Signs: build up of soft & smelly faeces around the anus and tail, these cake onto the fur.
Treatment: Diet is often the biggest cause of this, a high-fibre diet should be fed, unlimited hay at all times, reduce dry mix or remove completely as long as the rabbit is eating hay.
Prevention: diet is the biggest issue here, obesity in pet rabbits is very common. Reduce treats, fruits, and bread. It may take several months for the changes to take affect and in this time the rabbit's bottom will need to be kept cleaned, check 2 or 3 times daily to avoid Flystrike.
 
Rabbit Diseases
 
Bloat
 
Bloat is when the stomach fills up with gas, symptoms can appear suddenly. The rabbit will be reluctant to move and the abdomen will feel swollen and hard. The rabbit will grind its teeth in pain and often no droppings are passed.
Cause: The rabbits stomach is designed to be moving all the time and requires high amounts of fibre. If the guts stops moving, ingested food can start to ferment and creates gas that fills the stomach. As the rabbit stops eating fluid is drawn up from the ingested food causing food and hair to impact. Leading to blockages.
Treatment: Bloat is an emergency and the rabbit should be taken to a vets immediately. Treatment will involve drugs to get the gut moving again, pain relief and antibiotics. Plenty of fluids will also be given orally, intravenously or directly under the skin.
Prevention: A diet high in fibre and low in protein and carbohydrate.
 
NB: Pineapple juice can also be offered, this can break down the impaction.
 
Encephalitozoonosis Cuniculi (EC)
 
EC is a very unpleasant protozoan parasite that can virtually disable your rabbit. EC is shed through urine and can be passed to other rabbits through infected urine. The disease affects the brain, kidneys, heart and spinal cord. The affects of the brain cause the rabbit to develop; headtilit, difficulty in using hind legs and clumsiness.
Treatment:Medication given is normally Panacur on a 28 day course along with an antibiotic (Baytril). In severe cases steroids and anti-inflammatories may also be given.
 
Gastric Stasis
 
If gut motility is reduced, food stays in the stomach longer and fluids are removed causing it to become hard and solid which then acts as a blockage.
Signs: Depression, unwilling to move, stops eating with no droppings. Stomach will feel hard.
Treatment:The rabbit should be taken to a vets immediately. Treatment will involve drugs to get the gut moving again, pain relief and antibiotics. Plenty of fluids will also be given orally, intravenously or directly under the skin.
Prevention: A diet high in fibre and low in protein and carbohydrate
 
NB: Pineapple juice can also be offered, this can help break down the impaction.
 
Fur Mites
 
Fur mites are tiny spider like parasites, also known as Walking Dandruff.
 
Signs: Clumps of fur falling out, dry, flaky skin, red crusty and itchy patches of skin mainly seen along the spine and rump.
Treatment:The treatment for this parasite can include topical or injectable parasitic medications.
 
Pasturella
 
Is the most common infection in rabbits. The most well-known condition is often reffered to as ''Snuffles''.
Signs: heavy cold, thick white discharge from eyes and nose, head tilt, pneumonia and abscesses. Often the inside of both front legs the fur will be matted where the rabbit attempts to wipe its nose.
Treatment:Antibiotics often for a long period of time, fluids, pain relief and anti-inflammtories can also be given.
 
 
Important Vaccinations & issues
 
Myxomatosis:A viral disease which is spread by biting insects and fleas. Incubation period is 5 - 14 days. Not spread from rabbit to rabbit.
Signs: Swellings around eye lids, genitals and base of ears. Fever, lethargy, discharge from eyes, eventually the rabbit will stop eating,
Treatment: The acute form is fatal, and often euthanasia is the best option. The chronic form can be supported by fluids and antibiotics.
Prevention: A vaccine is available and is given to most rabbits annually. However, in high risk areas this should be done every 6 months.
 
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD): A calici virus in which most cases prove fatal. RHD affects major organs, with a short incubation period. The rabbit will often die within a few days after exposure to the disease.
Signs: High fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, spasms, bleeding from the mouth, nose or rectum, sudden death.
Treatment: If your rabbit has contracted this disease the kindest option is euthanasia.
Prevention: A vaccine is available and can be given to a rabbit form 8 - 10 weeks of age and is repeated annually.

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RHD2) A mutated strain of RHD1 and kills the host slower, this being the case the virus is in 1 single rabbit for a longer period increasing the risk of infection between animals. It does appear to have a lower mortality rate than RHD but it is no less dangerous and your rabbit will need to be vaccinated. RHD2 can also affect rabbits of any age (RHD1 over 8 - 10 weeks of age) The virus is difficult to prevent without vaccination due to it's ability to live in the environment for over 200 days!! The virus can be spread on your shoes and clothing, other animals such as birds and even hay which has had contact with an infected animal. Because the vaccine has to be imported from France, vets have to apply for a Special Import Licence and stocks at present are limited. The vaccine can take from 2 - 4 weeks to arrive at the practice. Once vaccinated your rabbit will be protected against the disease two weeks after the injection. F10 is the reccomended disenfectant for RHD2. 

Please note the Myxo/RHD combined vaccination does not protect against RHD2.


 
 
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