Knowing what to do if your rabbit becomes unwell or injured is an important part of being a rabbit owner. As prey animals, rabbits are very good at hiding signs of illness so, by the time it is obvious, the problem is usually quite severe or advanced and therefore needs to be dealt with quickly.
Your rabbit should be registered with a veterinary surgery as soon as you pick them up. All veterinary practices have to make provision for 24 hour care so, even if this is at a different location to normal, your rabbit will have access to veterinary assistance 24/7.
The vast majority of veterinary practices operate an appointment system so always call first to book an appointment. If you just turn up you may be refused an appointment, you may have to wait some time and you may cause significant inconvenience to other clients and the practice.
If you have a genuine emergency, your pet will always be seen but it is always helpful for you to phone first so that staff are prepared for your arrival and can provide the support you and your rabbit need quickly.
- Not eating – rabbits normally spend a lot of time eating. If you notice that your rabbit is not eating as normal, this requires urgent veterinary attention.
- Not passing faeces – sometimes you will notice fewer faeces being passed, or they might be smaller than normal. This is an early sign of problems so speak to your vet as soon as possible.
- Lethargy – not wanting to interact
- Grinding teeth
- Matted faeces around tail
- Unpleasant smell from rear end
- Maggots visible – all the above can be a sign of fly-strike, where maggots start eating the rabbit alive
- Difficulty breathing
- Head tilt or falling to one side
If in any doubt about your pet’s health, always speak to your vet for advice.