Obesity in Rabbits

24 Jun 2019

Obesity is a growing problem for all of our pets and rabbits are no exception.  Obesity can have an effect on the overall health of your rabbit.  Extra weight puts extra stress and pressure on other parts of the body such as bones and joints and the cardiovascular system, just as it does in humans.

pet-size-o-meter-rabbit_001In the wild, the vast majority of a rabbit’s diet consists of grass or dried grass but they will also graze on wild herbs, fruits and roots – they eat a LOT of fibre!

We have become accustomed to feeding our rabbits a manufactured muesli diet which has contributed to their overall health, but like us humans, rabbits will selectively feed on the more digestible parts of  muesli.  With continuous selective feeding, your rabbit’s diet will not be balanced as a result of the high fat and sugar intake, making it more likely that your rabbit will become obese.  This, on top of confined living conditions which restrict their ability to move and exercise as they should, creates an ideal environment for them to take in more energy than they use.

A muesli diet alone is also low in fibre which is needed to help your rabbit wear down their ever growing teeth and to maintain the balance of their digestive system.  This might also lead to them not being able to eat which is very dangerous for rabbits.

Take a look at the information showing the body condition of a rabbit and see where your pet sits.  If you have any concerns about your rabbit’s health, get in touch!  You can also download a useful leaflet HERE which provides lots of information about rabbit health and care in general.

Due to the size and the many folds of skin within their ears, rabbits can be prone to inflammation and infection from even the smallest build up of dirt.  Ear mites can also lead to infection especially if  left untreated.  While all breeds of rabbit can get ear infections and ear mite infestations, lop-eared rabbits are more susceptible to infection than other rabbit breeds.

Spotting the symptomsRabbit Ears

 Ear infections

  • Head tilt
  1. An inner ear infection can cause a head tilt because the inner ear is where the balance organs are.
  2. Your rabbit may lose their appetite due to a feeling of dizziness and nausea from the ear infection, or the fact that it can hurt to chew.
  • Behaviour changes
  1. Discomfort can cause some rabbits to become subdued or irritable, while others may begin to grind their teeth.
  • Cold-like symptoms and discharge
  1. Occasionally, an ear infection can spread to the nose and throat, and there may also be visible discharge in the ears.

Ear mites

Ear mites are generally easier to spot than bacterial ear infections and you may see the following signs:

  • Scratching
  1. Ear mites cause itchiness and some discomfort, so rabbits may scratch their neck and ears more than usual and have scaly, peeling skin around the ear area.
  • Hair loss and lesions
  1. Affected rabbits may lose patches of hair and lesions might appear around the neck, feet and abdomen due to scratching and over-grooming.
  • A thick, brown fluid
  1. This fluid forms in response to the ear mites and can clearly be seen in the ear canal.


Quite often your rabbit may not show any signs that there is a problem so trust your instincts and get them checked by a vet.  Regular checks of your rabbit’s ears will help you to know what is normal for your rabbit so it will make it easier to spot when changes occur.

You can tell a lot about the health of your rabbit from their eyes so taking care of them or checking them regularly is important.

Rabbit’s eyes are positioned on either side of their head to provide the ability to see all around them.  With their far sighted vision, this gives the rabbit a better chance of seeing approaching predators in the wild.  The do have blinds spots; directly in front of them, directly behind them and under their chin.  They are also partially colour-blind and in very bright  conditions, their eyesight diminishes significantly.

Rabbit eyeThe main problem that a rabbit can have with its eyes are with their tear ducts. These can become inflamed and watery, with a sticky discharge that gathers round the eye and surrounding fur.  This is usually linked to poor dental health as your rabbits’ tear ducts run from one corner of the eye to the other just below their eyes and above their top teeth. If their teeth have grown too long, it puts pressure on the narrow ducts so they become blocked and infected. This can be treated by flushing out the ducts with a saline solution to get rid of the puss and any infection.

Other conditions your rabbit may be affected by are conjunctivitis, cataracts and abscesses.  If you notice any changes in your rabbit’s eyes such as redness or cloudiness, get a vet to check them out.

Rabbits have very different teeth to us.  We have a set of “baby” teeth which are replaced by adult teeth that have to last the rest of our lives.  Rabbits only have a single set of teeth which are not replaced, but continue to grow up to 12cm in a year!Front Teeth Rabbit

Overgrown teeth can cause eating and grooming issues for your rabbit.  Molars which overgrow can produce “spurs” which rub and cut into the delicate flesh of the tongue causing wounds which can become infected and are very painful.

Making sure your rabbit has access to the right diet is very important to help keep your rabbit’s teeth under control.  You can download our leaflet HERE for more information on keeping your rabbit’s teeth healthy and if you need further information and guidance, why not book in for a complimentary dental assessment!

Fly Strike #RAW2019

10 Jun 2019

Fly Strike is an often fatal condition affecting rabbits and is caused by the green bottle fly laying their eggs on rabbits.

rabbit-18296-sThey are attracted to damp fur, urine, faeces and the odour of rabbit scent glands.  Eggs are laid around the rabbit’s rear and hatch within hours into maggots that eat the rabbit’s flesh as well as releasing dangerous toxins.

This activity is especially prevalent during the Summer months and is a serious problem for domestic rabbits.

So what can you do to avoid this happening to your rabbit?  Download our leaflet HERE for further information on the causes and how to prevent flystrike and if you need further advice on any aspect of caring for your rabbit, get in touch!

It’s really important that a rabbit is offered the right diet, not just for their overall health but for their dental health too.
So, what is the right diet? A good quality hay/grass should make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet and should ALWAYS be available. It is key to healthy digestion and dental health and an essential source of fibre.
Commercial rabbit food, such as muesli, comes in many varieties for different life stages. Whichever food you buy, portions should be carefully measured and controlled in line with pack guidelines. This food should not be the main-stay of your rabbit’s diet.
For additional fibre and to provide some variety, you can offer a handful of leafy greens as well as an occasional treat such as a piece of fruit or a root vegetable such as a carrot. Rabbits have evolved to require a high fibre, low sugar diet so treats should be kept to a minimum as these contain high levels of sugar.
Your rabbit should also have access to clean, fresh water on a daily basis.
Download our Rabbit Care leaflet HERE and if you have any concerns about your rabbit’s health, get in contact.

As part of #RAW2019, we’re taking the opportunity to raise awareness of the care needs of our rabbits in general.  We’ll be visiting different topics raw-mot-sheet_001throughout the month to help owners with the care of their rabbit.  We’ll also be giving away a little rabbit goody bag for anyone who books in for a complimentary rabbit MOT during the week, but spaces are limited!

We are taking part in this years’ Rabbit Awareness Week #RAW2019 from 1st to 9th June 2019.  As part of the campaign we are offering rabbit owners the opportunity to book in for one of our complimentary rabbit MOT health consultations and receive a great little goody bag.

This years’ focus of #RAW2019 is “Protect & Prevent”, raising awareness of a new variant of Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RVHD2), first reported in the UK in 2015.raw-2019-protect-prevent-poster_001

The virus causes internal bleeding and often has no symptoms so it is VERY hard to spot early on and is often fatal.  The only way to protect your rabbit from this disease as well as RVHD1 is with vaccination.

It is transmitted in several ways:

  • birds and insects and their droppings.
  • the wind.
  • soles of shoes, car tyres or other pets’ feet.
  • an infected rabbit or their droppings.
  • owners’ hands or clothes.


To fully protect your rabbit against the three viral diseases that are endemic in the UK; Myxomatosis, Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 1 and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2, you would need two vaccinations at least two weeks apart.

 For information on this new disease, download our leaflet HERE

Spaces are limited so it will be on a first come, first served basis.

Hayley Winston_001Finally, in our month of celebrating our fantastic team of RVNs, we celebrate Hayley who is our Head Nurse and has been qualified for 7 years.  Hayley leads and manages the nursing team as well as undertaking a nursing role and runs a very successful Senior Cat Clinic.  Read Hayley’s bio HERE #whatvnsdo

If you’d like Hayley’s support with your cat, be it advice on behaviour, diet or general health screening, get in touch and book in for a complimentary consultation with a free blood pressure and urine test.


24 May 2019

Amy Eddleston (2)It’s been a year since Amy qualified and in celebration of #whatvnsdo, read what she’s been up to over the last year in her bio HERE