Rabbits are fun and gentle animals that can be a wonderful addition to your family. Dr. Carmine Bausone, our exotic animal veterinarian here at Companion Animal Wellness Center, loves his bunny clients and has been treating rabbit companions in San Diego for over 20 years. Rabbits have very different environmental and dietary needs compared to our dog and cat family members. For starters, rabbits need to be kept indoors and not in outdoor enclosures or hutches. The more rabbits socialize with their family, the more tame and fun they become. They need a diet consisting of fresh hay, veggies and limited pellets for optimal health. A proper diet is one of the most important ways to keep your rabbit healthy. Rabbits are easy to potty train, and need time to stretch their legs every day. Many rabbits do very well loose in the house like dogs or cats, but special attention must be given to household hazards that may cause your bunny harm like outlets and wires.
It is critically important that rabbits are spayed or neutered. Female rabbits have a very high (over 50%) incidence of mammary or uterine cancer if left unspayed. Spay rabbits early to prevent unneeded pain and premature death in your pet rabbit.
Husbandry issues such as poor diet, poor socialization, poor hygiene, lack of sleep and stress, inappropriate toys, toxins and many other factors often cause illness in rabbits. It is very important that food and water are changed daily and that the stool production of your rabbit is monitored daily. This is not only for hygiene, but be alert to one of the first signs of illness which is often a subtle change in appetite and stool production. Food should be measured out daily and the animal not overfed, so appropriate food consumption can be monitored and changes rapidly noticed. Changing water daily ensures fresh clean water and allows you to monitor how much water the pet drank during the day. Evaluating and changing the cage and litter box substrate daily allows you to notice any change in stool size, shape, consistency and odor. Because rabbits often hide signs of illness, these daily habits will often make the difference in your pets health.
The most common sign of illness in a rabbit in not eating. If a rabbit doesn’t feel well for almost any reason, they often stop eating. Rabbits get sick quickly and can go downhill even quicker. Bring your rabbit in to seek medical attention immediately if any of the signs below occur.
Signs of illness in rabbits include:
decreased fecal production
straining to urinate
head tilt or loss of balance
hind end weakness
Common diseases in rabbits include:
There are some great resources out there for rabbits. Please click the following links to learn more:
DIET RELATED TOPICS
RABBIT NUTRITION AND CARE
RABBIT FOOD PYRAMID
BRINGING YOUR RABBIT HOME
RABBIT FLOORING AND X-PEN LIVING
WHY NEUTER YOUR RABBIT
PAIN CONTROL IN RABBITS
HEAD TILT IN RABBITS
If would like to adopt a rabbit in need or support a San Diego non profit organization dedicated to house rabbit care please visit
SAN DIEGO HOUSE RABBIT SOCIETY