Brachy breeds – not just dogs! Rabbits too.

We see a range of common problems in rabbits which have been bred for shorter, “cuter” faces, such as the Netherland Dwarf and Lionhead, due to the shortening of the upper jaw relative to the lower, giving a slightly undershot appearance. In rabbits, with their continuously growing teeth, which need to grind against their opposing number to maintain their length and shape, the consequences are more severe than in dogs. The front teeth grow in an uncontrolled fashion, jutting out of the mouth, and preventing them from eating. And their roots become elongated and distorted at the same time, causing problems below the gum line, such as blocking the nasolachrimal duct. That short top jaw means that this duct, the tube carrying tears from the eye to the back of the nose, is already tortuous and easily blocked. This is one of the reasons (along with the effects of front tooth dental disease), why rabbits may have tears or even pus overflowing from their eyes, an unpleasant and potentially painful condition. The effective “crowding” of the back teeth inside the mouth may also be a factor in the huge number of rabbits which go on to develop dental disease there.

2 new signings to the retailer charter – please welcome them and support them if you can. Handmade-Hutches-4u Please welcome Handmade- Hutches-4U to the retailer charter. This is what Beverley told us: Rabbits need to be able to have plenty enough room to be able to exercise, play, sleep, relax and go to the toilet but most of all they need to be able to feel safe. Rabbits need to be able to rest, sleep, eat and drink in comfort. Exercise, play and feel safe. Shelter from all types of bad weather and the hot sun too. Having a good size Hutch and run and having lots of love and time for your rabbits is the first stage on making a suitable health happy environment for your Rabbit. We support ‘A Hutch is not enough’ campaign because their priority is to make sure rabbits are treated the same as their owners would expect to be treated. Afterall a human would not like to be left in a small box and just thrown food and drink once a day so why should rabbits and every other animal too be treated like that. Beverley Lees https://www.facebook.com/pages/Handmade-Hutches-4U/1509420569307527?fref=ts They can make anything bespoke so get in touch if you have something in mind! They are based in York and can only offer local delivery at present. Manor Pet Housing

The latest signing is Manor Pet Housing, who offer a range of delightful hide outs and enrichment items. There is sure to be something that you love! This is what Liz told us: Manor pet housing specialise in bespoke craftsmanship to create good quality products that are built to last as pet homes. We have many of our own designs, but are also happy to work with you to create an exact made to measure home/setup/enclosure to fit into the space you have. We currently do not keep rabbits ourselves, however when I was a child I was guilty to owning a rabbit that was kept in just a hutch!……. If only I knew then what I know now, that rabbits life, could have been so If only I knew then what I know now, that rabbits life, could have been so much more!! With that in mind we are now building these rabbit hideouts and enrichments to help you as rabbit owners create a more suitable environment for your pet, one that promotes the rabbit to have the ability to perform natural movements such as hopping, jumping and stretching out, foraging behaviours such as digging, and places to hide from things that scare them. We want to work with existing owners, perspective owners and the RWAF organisation to increase awareness that rabbit welfare is extremely important. To be able to educate people that if you do not fully research a rabbits requirements they will be indirectly causing pain, suffering, injury and disease through poor husbandry skills and lack of knowledge. Rabbits are intelligent animals, therefore if allowed to get bored and lonely with nothing to do, their health will suffer. That is simply the reason as to why Manor Pet Housing chooses to support ‘A Hutch Is Not Enough Campaign’ A website is coming, but in the mean time please check out their facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/Manorpethousing?fref=ts

Time to Make Your Rabbit Resolutions!

We can all be a bit critical of New Year’s resolutions but some do stick, so here are some resolutions for anyone who wants to help pet rabbits – amongst the most neglected and misunderstood pets. Please take a look at the below and make some rabbit resolutions! And yes, some resolutions do only last a month, so we’ve included some January specific ideas too! Please share! 1. Order a ‘Hop To It’ booklet and give it to someone you know who has a bunny, they could use some extra advice and information. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=JL2BSNX5M8ZFE 2. Raise money for the RWAF’s “A Hutch is Not Enough” campaign at no cost to you by using Give as You Live when you shop on-line. https://www.giveasyoulive.com/charity/rabbitwelfarefund Or use Easy Fundraising, which does exactly the same thing: http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/rwaf Or The Giving Machine: http://www.thegivingmachine.co.uk/beneficiary.php?ben_id=58569&return=true#.VKQGaCusWSo 3. Adopt a bunny! If you have a single rabbit then think about adopting another. Sociability is a huge part of a rabbit’s make-up so every bunny needs some bunny to love. Rescues have been inundated this winter and most are full and not able to help any more. Please check out saveafluff.co.uk or rescuereview.co.uk to find a rescue local to you, and talk to them about adopting a friend for your bun. 4. If you can not adopt, then you can support your local rescue by offering to help clean out, or donate hay and food. 5. Spread the word – during January please pledge to share one of our posters or messages every week. Help us educate lots of other rabbit owners about good diet, housing, companionship and health issues because sadly, many owners don’t know what their rabbits need to live happy and healthy lives. Please share this post for starters and keep an eye out for future postings and get busy with that share button! If and when we share a poster, please print it off and ask a local pet shop, garden centre, school or place of work to display it. 6. Change your cover photo to our ‘A Hutch is Not Enough’ image (attached to this posting) for a month. 7. Order one of our “A Hutch is Not Enough” car stickers for only £2 and help spread the word! If you don’t have a car then any window will do! https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=KVKXBPXNNAMDE 8. Look for the leaping bunny logo: www.leapingbunny.org and make sure any cosmetics and household products you buy are not tested on bunnies (or any other animals). M&S, Superdrug, Co-op, Sainsbury and Barry M are among the brands that all offer cruelty free options. 9. If you are not already a member then please join us! You will love Rabbiting On Magazine. We do our best to keep our members up to date on the latest health, behaviour and welfare issues and use recognised experts, so you can trust us. And of course there are plenty of pictures of our favourite pets too! Why not check out our Winter issue, which has been our most popular yet: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=M3CR69KWKKRP4 Or Join up on a subscription and get all 4 issues as they come out each year. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=XXGQ5BWJWUY3A Please note these links are for UK delivery only, for outside of the UK please contact us at hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk 10. Last but by no means not least – please remember to always give your bunnies the lives they deserve. They need plenty of space, the right diet, companionship, health checks and an enriching environment to allow them to display their natural behaviours. Let them be rabbits! Thank you everybody, have a fantastic new year!

Think Run!

Think Run! Sadly, we’re close to the last knockings of summer and before we know it, the winter months will be upon us For pet rabbits that are kept in a hutch with no attached running enclosure, that’s when their exercise time goes down to virtually zero. The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) are the UK’s largest charity with the sole aim of improving the health and welfare of domestic rabbits, a pet that all too often are kept in conditions that fall well short of the needs of the species. They are advising rabbit owners to take advantage of the few remaining weeks of summer to attach a permanent exercise run to their rabbits’ hutch in time for the weather to turn. “In the summer, owners will often lift their rabbits from the hutch to the run, or give them supervised exercise time in a walled garden,” said Richard Saunders, Expert Veterinary Advisor to the RWAF, “even this isn’t ideal because the time is still limited to well below their natural requirement, but in the winter it is a great deal worse because owners don’t want to put their rabbits out into the rain or snow.” As the charity points out in its literature and on its website, Rabbits keep different hours to humans so shouldn’t be reliant on their owners to be lifted from their hutch into the run, and they should be able exercise in all weathers. Having a hutch inside or connected to a large secure enclosure is vital to allow them to display their natural behaviours. The exercise area should be at least partially covered with tarpaulin which is inexpensive from garden centres and DIY stores. There has been a recent increase in the availability of better quality products that meet rabbits’ needs and it is now much easier for people to get hold of 6 foot hutches and large exercise runs. The RWAF recommend a minimum floor space of 10ft x 6ft for a pair of rabbits (rabbits should be kept in netuered pairs or compatible groups). The RWAF urges owners to use their imagination when providing accommodation for their rabbits. As Richard Saunders explained, “There are several manufacturers that stock good quality runs that fall short of the minimum recommended size but that doesn’t mean they can’t be combined to double the space!” Check out http://www.rwaf.org.uk/exercise for more information about the importance of an attached exercise area for your rabbits.

To burr or not to burr? When is a dental required?

We have been contacted by several people regarding something very interesting they have read on another page so here are our thoughts on dental issues in rabbits: 1) Incisor teeth should always be burred and not clipped. Clipping causes further damage to the tooth roots and should be avoided. It is also painful and should not ever be attempted as a DIY measure at home. We consider this to be barbaric. 2) Have regular dental checks with a rabbit savvy vet. (Don’t forget we hold a rabbit friendly vet list e-mail us at hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk) 3) Weigh your rabbits at home every week. 4) If your rabbits are eating normally, not loosing weight, not slobbering, , and have no abscesses that you can feel along the jaw then there is generally no need for the rabbit to under go a dental. The main reasons for a rabbit to require a dental are: A) A molar spur or significantly elongated molar tooth which is pressing in to the tongue or cheek and causing discomfort,change in food preference, ie avoiding hard foods, loss of appetite, slobbering. B) Misaligned teeth are sadly very common, and very few rabbit mouths will look good under inspection, however this does not mean that a dental is required. If in doubt, then have a check the following week or so to make sure that the problem has not worsened and that weight has been maintained. C) Abscesses or bone infection developing around teeth. This may not be detected with the naked eye, and is one reason why your vet may recommend xrays of your rabbit’s skull

Preparing for a trip to the vets

Lulu and Jake had their vaccinations last week, and as part of this had a full check. Our vet, Orlaith noticed that Lulu had the a spur on her molar. She was eating well, not slavering, so we booked her in today to have it burred. If she had been showing any signs of discomfort or not eating she would have needed it doing much sooner. So, we had 5 days to prepare Lulu for her dental today. We get a lot of calls to the helpline from people that have brought rabbits home from the vet who are not eating for example so we thought the following would be useful. Before any of this of course make sure you have a rabbit savvy vet. We hold a list of rabbit friendly vets and this is available to anyone from the helpline, 0844 324 6090 or by e-mailing us on hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk 1) Carry case. Make sure you have a carry case that opens at the top. You do not want to be trying to get a rabbit out of a front opening carry case because they always splay their back legs and it ends up being a battle. Much easier if they are easily accessed from the top. Also, if you know your vet trip is a few days away, place the carry case in the rabbits’ environment and let them get used to it, feed them in it, so that the journey to the vet is less stressful. 2) Food. On the morning of the vet trip make sure you give your rabbit her favourite breakfast. Take a packed lunch with you, of all of your rabbit’s favourite foods (herbs and dandelions are a favourite. and some of their usual pellets) We do not recommend fruit as part of a daily diet, but after an operation we can relax a little bit, we want them to be eating asap so we need to tempt them. A juicy nectarine or bit of apple would not be something we would give every day, but it might be just the thing to get the rabbit to start to eat again on her own. And don’t forget to have some critical care / recovery sachets to hand in case you need to syringe feed too. 3) Travel. Sounds obvious, but rabbits find car journey’s stressful, so no loud music, and make sure the carry case is secure on the seat with the seatbelt secured through the handle. 4) Companion. If your rabbit lives with another rabbit companion, take them both to the vet. Bonded pairs should not be separated and it will be less stressful for them to be kept together. This can often help the recovery of the rabbit that is having the operation. 5) Back home. Your rabbit should be alert and eating before being discharged. Make sure you keep them warm overnight, so this might mean keeping them indoors unless it is very warm outside, and be vigilant. Make sure they are eating and drinking as normal, otherwise you will need to syringe feed. Rabbits that are in pain will not eat, so make sure that your rabbit has had pain relief if needed, and you have some to give at home in the days following the procedure. If in any doubt, ring your vet!

Rabbit Awareness Week 2014

PET AND VET INDUSTRIES REUNITE FOR THE BIGGEST EVER RABBIT AWARENESS WEEK – RAW 2014 confirmed to start from 10 May – Record numbers have signed-up to be part of annual initiative Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) 2014 is set to be the biggest yet with more than 3,400 vet practices, retailers, rescue centres and schools taking part in the initiative. Exceeding forecasts, 2,650 vet practices are supporting this year’s ‘One Small Hop’ campaign, a 19 per cent increase on 2013’s RAW. 110 rescue centres have also joined the fight for better rabbit welfare, an increase of a fifth since 2013; along with 635 retailers, up by 9 percent on last year, and 69 schools, over two fifths (41%) more than last year. The RAW initiative highlights the health and welfare needs of the nation’s third most popular pet. The aim of this year’s campaign is to encourage the one million rabbit owners in the UK to make ‘One Small Hop’ of change to the care routine of their rabbits. Free health checks are available throughout the month of May, not just the week of RAW. By offering these free health checks over a one month period, we can ensure pet retailers and veterinary practices can health check more rabbits than ever before and provide those who sign up to the service with more opportunities to speak to potential new clients and customers. The high profile 2014 event will run from 10th May this year and is backed by leading pet food company Burgess Excel and last year’s RAW partners, including MSD Animal Health, RSPCA, PSDA, Blue Cross, Wood Green, The Animals Charity, Bayer Animal Health, Practice Plan for Vets and RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund). Once again, the organisers are urging vets, retailers and rescue centres more than ever before to offer a helping hand to consumers to highlight the importance of preventative healthcare and welfare advice for rabbits, by signing up to the 2014 initiative at www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk.

If you need to complain to your vet.

We are occasionally contacted when something has gone wrong at the vets and the owner is wondering what action to take. Our sympathies are with the owners following any incident but we are unfortunately unable to discuss individual cases or recommend specific treatment, although your vets are welcome to contact our veterinary advisor for specific advice. We have, however, the following advice regarding reaching as satisfactory an outcome as possible for you and your pet. there are two issues here. The first is obtaining the best possible ongoing care for your rabbit. This may be with your existing practice, with another practice, by obtaining a second opinion, or by being referred to another practice, particularly one with a specific expertise in rabbits, or the particular condition with which your rabbit is affected.This MUST involve communicating your concerns with the practice, to give them a chance to give you the greatest level of assistance possible, and to ensure that, if your rabbit is seen elsewhere, that all his or her details are transferred fully to best care for him or her. The second issue is to resolve any complaint that you may have with the vet or the practice, if necessary. The first stage in this process is to discuss things fully with the senior person (practice owner, principle or manager) at the practice in question. If the practice is part of a group or chain, you may then, or if unsatisfied, decide to take the matter higher up the management line. The best way to initially communicate is in writing, as this gives you an opportunity to order your thoughts and to express them logically, and for them to reply to that. depending on the outcome at this stage, you may both decide to meet and discuss things further. If these avenues have not solved the problem, then the correct course of action is to take the matter to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (the RCVS).

Richard Saunders gains his Specialist certificate

We are very lucky to have the wonderful Richard Saunders on our team and could not be more proud to share this news with you all. Richard is now a ‘Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife’ medicine, he is one of only twelve vets in the UK to have this certificate so this is obviously a huge achievement. What has Zoo and Wildlife got to do with rabbits? Rabbits are classed as ‘exotics’ and not covered in depth via the standard vet training, but by obtaining this standard Richard has demonstrated that he is indeed a specialist where our favourite animals are concerned. As our ‘Vet Specialist Advisor’, Richard guides our health and welfare strategy and also supports our Vet members.