CASTLE VETERINARY CENTRE

61 - 63 Castle Boulevard, Nottingham NG7 1FD see map

Telephone 0115 9417894

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Caring For Your Rabbit

Feeding          Vaccination          Neutering          Protect Your Rabbit

More and more people are keeping rabbits these days - and not just in a hutch at the bottom of the garden. They can make excellent pets, either for children, for couples who are both out at work all day, or for people who would like a pet but feel that a dog needs too much exercise and a cat can be too independent.

Many people choose to keep their rabbit indoors, allowing them to roam freely; they can be litter-trained just like a cat! If going out for the day, most people will use an indoor cage for their rabbit (to stop them chewing cables!). There are many, many different breeds to choose from; we can give suggestions as to what sort of rabbit would be suitable for you in your situation.

One of our vets, Ewan McNeill, has made a special study of rabbit medicine in the Unites States and is well placed to advise you on the best treatment for your bunny. There are certain rules and guidelines to follow to keep your rabbit as happy as possible.

Feeding

Rabbits tend to be selective feeders, and have a very sweet tooth! We recommend that you feed a pelleted complete diet - otherwise a rabbit will pick out the tastiest bits from his mix and leave the more nutritious, but less tasty, parts in his bowl. A good diet has to be high in fibre and with a reasonable amount of calcium, otherwise many problems can arise; we can suggest the best diets and amounts to feed. If your rabbit has access to a lawn where he can nibble to his heart's content this is ideal. The occasional treat will not harm your bunny but if he gets fed nothing but say, banana, he will not be getting the proper nutrition, and will refuse to go back to normal rabbit food afterwards!

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Vaccination

There are two diseases in rabbits that we can prevent by inoculation. The first is myxamatosis, which can be transmitted from wild rabbits by fleas and other vectors. The other is haemorrhagic viral disease (HVD), a disease that can cause sudden death in rabbits. A single injection, repeated yearly, is all that is required to protect against both diseases.

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Neutering

We routinely recommend that female rabbits, if not to be used for breeding, should be spayed. Uterine cancer is very common in female rabbits over the age of 4 years; spaying will prevent this. We also castrate many male rabbits, this helps to reduce aggression and may be beneficial if you should have a behavioural problem with your rabbit.

We have lots of helpful leaflets on rabbit care, including advice on vaccination and even insurance schemes to pay for vet's bills! If you contact our reception desk they will be happy to help!

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Rabbit Protection With Rearguard…

As a responsible rabbit owner did you know that blowflies can cause a maggot infestation on your pet which can cause serious tissue damage and even death? Maggot infestation (or Fly Strike) can seriously affect your rabbit’s health & welfare, so it is vital to protect your pet. This has never been easier thanks to REARGUARD.

The threat of ‘Fly Strike’ is most common in hot and humid weather. Generally the fly season runs from April through to October, although it can occur at any time of the year.

Flies are attracted to rabbits when the living conditions and hygiene are poor, e.g., dirty hutches. It is VERY IMPORTANT to keep the living area clean and disinfected and to regularly remove waste and soiled bedding (ideal breeding grounds for your average fly!). Even rabbits kept in clean conditions may develop soiled hindquarters and attract flies.

Protect your rabbit from this increasing problem, by using REARGUARD. This contains an insect growth regulator, which prevents the maggots developing to the stage that causes damage to your rabbit. It is available in a single use bottle (in liquid form), which when applied provides protection for 10 weeks.

Did you know that the entire lifecycle of the fly can be completed in 7 - 15 days? The adult lays eggs on any material that will provide the maggot with food. This is more often in fur on the hind quarters of rabbits. Eggs can hatch into maggots in as little as 12 hours. The maggots moult through 3 stages. Stages 2 & 3 feed on the skin of the rabbit, causing damage and disease, and in severe cases, even death. The maggots pupate in just a few days and produce new adults, and the cycle begins again.

The damage caused by ‘Fly Strike’ is entirely preventable. A 10 week course of REARGUARD provides the protection your rabbit needs. A typical operation to try and repair the damage caused by ‘Fly Strike’ can cost in excess of £220, which does not include post operative care. However, in severe cases, euthanasia may be the only option.

REARGUARD is available from the surgery now.

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