December First Alert and Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings to all our followers.  We hope you and your rabbits have a great, safe and happy festive season
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Hurry, there is still time to enter our Bunnies of the Year competition.  Not much time though, so make sure you don’t miss this important opportunity.  We’re planning changes for the competition next year so watch out for that, but for now, RWAF members, please enter here https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product/bunnies-of-the-year-competition/ and then upload your photos of your wonderful rabbits here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/about-the-rwaf/photo-submissions/  We’ll be judging soon and then we can look forward to seeing some great new cover stars in 2019
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Keep your rabbits safe over Christmas.  There’s a variety of dangers
  • Chewing the tree or its lighting cables.  Real dangers.  Whether you have a real or an imitation tree, put up a barrier around it and keep those electric cables where your bunnies cannot get to them
  • Holly and mistletoe are both very toxic.  Make sure your beloved pets can’t get to either.  If you have them, keep them both well away from rabbit accessible areas
  • Wrapping paper and the gifts themselves.  Nobody wants a chewed present and of course ingesting that paper with its inks and possibly sometimes polymers too is very dangerous for rabbits, so keep gifts out of reach of bunnies
  • Eating too much of the wrong thing.  We all eat some treats in the festive season, probably more than we should, but be careful not to let your rabbits get to anything that might be toxic to them or too much of what they might like.  Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and in fact is bad for most species including us.  For rabbits, the sugars may well be the biggest problem, so as with other treats, keep them away from your rabbits and if you have appropriate treats for them – low carbs, no egg, no dairy – remember, they are still just that, treats, and should only be given in very small amounts.  You don’t want to be taking your beloved rabbits to the emergency vet on Christmas afternoon!
  • Company, hustle and bustle – Christmas and New Year are times for families, visitors, people who generally wouldn’t be in contact with your rabbits, and likely not in large numbers.  It’s often noisy as well. Remember this can be very confusing and sometimes frightening for your rabbits.  They are prey animals, used to you and your immediate family so make a visitor-free zone where your rabbits can feel safe and can keep away from noise and bustle, won’t be handled inappropriately and won’t be fed the wrong things….and cannot escape out of your door when people are coming and going.
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Sadly we are still receiving reports every single day of cases of sudden deaths.  We know people getting this message will have ensured their rabbits have fully up to date vaccinations – both Nobivac (Myxo & RVHD1) plus either Filavac or Eravac (RVHD2) – but not everybody receives this, not everybody knows about our advice and there are very clearly a lot of rabbit owners out there still not vaccinating.  Please share our new vaccination poster wherever you can.  You can download it here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Vaccinate-Poster-new.jpg
Owners don’t all follow our social media, not all of them are aware of our website and sadly for whatever reason, aren’t getting proper advice from vets, so we’re asking you to find places to display the poster.  Pet shops, vet waiting rooms, libraries, any shop/supermarket that sells rabbit food (ask them to display it beside the food), anywhere else you can think of that rabbit owners might see it, including any online social media you might visit.
We’re also adding this message to each and every email that goes out from our hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk and info@rabbitwelfare.co.uk email addresses so please feel free to share this too
IMPORTANT – VACCINATIONS
This important information is being added to all emails.  Please disregard if your rabbits have already been vaccinated with both Nobivac Myxo RHD and either Filavac VHD K C + V or else Eravac.
There is a mutated strain of RVHD that is deadly, RVHD2.  Unvaccinated rabbits don’t stand a chance against it.  It is present all over the UK and vaccination against it is vital.  Unfortunately the standard Nobivac combined vaccine doesn’t cover it, although that is still essential to protect against Myxomatosis and RVHD1.  If your rabbits aren’t already vaccinated against it, what you need is either Filavac VHD K C + V  or else Eravac.  Discuss frequency of vaccination with your vet.  The two vaccines (Nobivac and the RVHD2 vaccine) should not be given at the same time, there should be at least 2 weeks between them.  If you need to have this done and your vet doesn’t stock the vaccine, there is a map here that shows vets who do.    Another tab on the same website shows reported cases, which we know only shows the tip of a very large iceberg, as this disease is very hard to recognise having few to no symptoms at all and so is generally unreported.
See our Health section for further information https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-health/vaccinations/ and please share our poster wherever you can http://www.rwaf.org.uk/vaccs
If you are in the sad position of losing a rabbit unexpectedly please let us know, along with the first part of your postcode so that we can notify the owner of this map http://rhd2map.buntools.org.uk/index.php?&p=cases and also our own social media followers.  Another tab on the map site also shows vets who stock vaccine, useful information for us all.
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We’ve been asked to share this survey.  Chloe Macgeath, who is second year veterinary medicine student at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is undertaking a research project. She says, “I have decided to do mine on rabbit behaviour, specifically looking at whether there is any behavioural differences between outdoor rabbits and those that kept entirely indoors and have no access to outdoor space. I will also look at the influence of other factors such as diet, sex and companionship.”
Her survey is online and can be found here https://rvc.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/do-rabbits-kept-entirely-indoors-show-more-behavioural-pro Let’s help her with this really interesting topic which will help owners and vets alike better understand even more about the needs of our favourite pets.
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If you don’t follow our Social Media you may not have seen the story of the rabbits we rescued recently from a commercial breeding facility.  Their story is here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/winter-rescue-appeal/
We’re very happy to see photos and videos from rescue and of those already in their forever homes, where they are finally able to exercise all the typical rabbit behaviours that they haven’t ever been able to previously.  Such a very sad start in life for these lovely souls, but a great life for them now, at long last.  We inevitably incurred significant bills – some had health problems, all needed to be vaccinated, all the adults neutered, and once the babies are old enough, we’ll be funding their neutering too, so if you haven’t already donated, please do.  People have already been very generous and although we haven’t yet had the final bill, we estimate it to be about £3000.  Even £1 will help though of course if you can manage more, that would be fantastic – and don’t forget Gift Aid if you pay Income Tax.  That will bring us in an extra 25% direct from HMRC, at no cost to you.
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Of course we can’t leave without reminding you to keep membership subscriptions up to date.  We’ve been able to introduce Direct Debit for online subscription so you no longer need to have a PayPal account to have automatic renewals.  You still can if you want, but Direct Debit costs us less per transaction (which helps keep down your membership subs costs) and doesn’t rely on you keeping your card details up to date with PayPal.  You can renew here https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product-category/memberships/renewal-memberships/
If you have friends or family who have rabbits or who are thinking of getting them, as always help them research properly by directing them to our site and encouraging them to join us https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product-category/memberships/new-members/
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Advanced news!  Fiona Firth’s very useful and popular book, Bonding Rabbits, is going to be back in print very soon, new, lively format and published & sold exclusively by the RWAF.  Keep your eyes open for that, it’ll be in our shop here in our books collection https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product-category/advice-booklets-leaflets/
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Take care everybody and have a great Christmas and a very happy, safe and healthy New Year

Campaign Update Winter 2018

Welcome to another Campaign Update, keeping you informed of our constant fight to make things better for bunnies.

Richard’s new qualification

As if Richard Saunders was not already fantastic enough, he has added another qualification to his name. He now has the European College of Zoological Medicine, Diploma Specialist in Zoo Health Management to add to his accolades. This gives him more letters after his name, and he is now on the Scientific Committee for EBVS.

RVHD2 HIPRA webinar

Richard has recorded a webinar with HIPRA, who are the manufacturer of Eravac, on the ever-popular subject of RVHD2. As soon as it is available we will share the link to it on social media, so keep your eyes peeled.

Vet list

We now have over 110 rabbit friendly vets on the rabbit friendly vet list! This is free to access to anyone via our website. Due to huge demand we have had to close applications for the rest of 2018, because we have such a backlog to get through, but we will be opening it up again in the New Year. This is great news as it shows that practices are keen to be considered rabbit savvy, and realise the rising status of rabbits in the UK. Anyone who is looking for a rabbit savvy vet can find our list here: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-care-advice/rabbit-friendly-vets/rabbit-friendly-vet-list/

Save the dates

We are finalising the conference dates for 2019 so you might like to save these dates:
1st June– Non clinical day (owners, rescue workers) in Birmingham.
1st June– Clinical͚Rabbit Essentials͛ day, in Birmingham. This is for vets and vet nurses. It is lecture based and will cover subjects that we think are essential for every small animal practice.
22nd June– Advanced Rabbit Practice, at The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead. Lecture based, but covering more advanced rabbit care and investigation using the fantastic team at the RVC.
23rd June– Rabbit Interactive Roadshow – 2 x 3-hour workshops covering dentistry and airway management, also at the RVC, with the fabulous Craig Hunt. Small group so be sure to book early.
1st December– Rabbit Interactive Roadshow – 2 x 3-hour workshops covering dentistry and airway management, in Newcastle Upon Tyne, using the awesome Kevin Eatwell. Small group so book early to grab a place.
Full details will follow shortly. Please keep an eye on our website, and social media, or sign up to our First Alert service.  You will be able to book via our shop website shortly.

Consultations and new legislation

Despite the amount of work and debate that Brexit has generated, there is still some progress with animal welfare legislation. There have been consultations for the UK for animal sentience and for Scotland with regards to breeding and licencing. This is obviously an area we are very keen on, given our Capone Campaign work, and something we can respond to with a lot of confidence. There have also been consultations on licencing of pet shops, riding schools etc., and on the 1st October 2018 the English government launched new regulations for the sale of puppies in the UK. This is great news, and we will be looking into the possibility of this legislation applying to rabbits also.

BBC Radio Shropshire – The rabbit and guinea pig debate

BBC Radio Shropshire phoned the helpline in October after an on air discussion between listeners who were discussing keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together, which caused some contention. We were invited on the next day to put the record straight, which is exactly what Richard did!

For interest, this is our official stance:

We are often asked about keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together. This is not advisable for the following reasons: ͞Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract of a number of species, including dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs, related to B pertussis, which causes whooping cough in humans. It is often described as commensal in rabbits (i.e. found in this species without causing harm), however, it can be a primary disease-causing organism, and can complicate other infections such as Pasteurella. It can, though, be fatal in guinea pigs, and so keeping them in the same airspace as rabbits is not advised.
͞Rabbits and guinea pigs have different dietary requirements, particularly guinea pigs’ need for Vitamin C. ͞Rabbits and guinea pigs are not the same species, and cannot respond appropriately to one another’s behaviours. This may result in inadequate social behaviours, up to and including severe bullying. ͞
The main reason these species used to be kept together was for companionship without the risk of pregnancy. With improvements in anaesthetic safety and more widespread neutering of both species, this is less of a problem now. Whilst we would not recommend putting them together in the first place in this day and age, we would not advocate splitting up a stable sole rabbit:sole guinea pig pairing͟.

Please share our new vaccination poster

New vaccination poster

 

We are still hearing of owners who do not know about RVHD2 and the need for a second vaccine. Feedback suggested that our vaccination poster did not get the message across so we have a new vaccination poster which we hope will be more effective. If you are on social media please share. You can find it on our own social media pages and website. Just to clarify, this is our advice on vaccinations: ͞You will need to give your rabbits two vaccines every year to protect them. The most common are Nobivac (protects against myxomatosis and RVHD1) and Filavac (protects against RVHD1&2), or Eravac (protects against RVHD2)͟.

A full size version of the poster is on our Campaign page, under Resources

Latest on RVHD2

In addition to the confusion over the vaccines there seem to be rumours surfacing about more diseases. Just to put the record straight we have released this statement:

͞”Here at the RWAF we are aware of 3 significant fatal viral diseases of rabbits in the UK. ͞

Myxomatosis (covered by the vaccine Nobivac Myxo-RHD); Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 1 (covered by Nobivac Myxo-RHD), and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (covered by the vaccines Filavac KC and V, or Eravac).

͞We are not aware of any further versions of RVHD present in the UK, although the variant K5 has been discovered in Asia and Australasia. ͞

We are not aware of any viral infections that are acutely fatal to rabbits and rodents recently arriving in the UK. ͞

If anyone has documentary evidence of any exotic diseases arriving in the UK in future please inform us and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)͟.

A number of causes are being explored to explain the sudden deaths of numerous hares-(R Hale)

Myxomatosis in hares

Just as we were going to press there was an article in the news about a hare being diagnosed with myxomatosis in the UK.

Here at the RWAF we have been asked, over the past week or so, about myxomatosis in native wild brown hares in the UK. It’s important to be aware that this information is subject to change as the investigating continues, but is correct at time of posting.

Sporadic cases have been reported in the past, of suspected or confirmed myxomatosis in hares, including one which was written up in the veterinary press in 2014. However, this appears to be different in that multiple cases, from a wide geographical spread, are being reported to Dr Diana Bell, University of East Anglia and, whilst some have obvious external symptoms of myxomatosis, other dead hares look fine/in good condition or are seen dying with unusual neurological symptoms including an inability to move and seizures. A number of possible causes are being explored, including a change in virulence of myxomatosis virus, infection with Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RVHD2), or European Brown Hare Syndrome, individually or as co-infections, and it’s possible that other factors are involved.

What would really help the ongoing study into the large scale deaths of this iconic species would be for any members of the public finding a dead or ill hare to contact Dr Bell on: d.bell@uea.ac.uk. Please try and keep the body refrigerated whilst contacting Diana to arrange for a full post-mortem analysis.

Richard filming for our You Tube channel

Filming for RWAF YouTube channel

 

We are aware that our YouTube channel is in need of more content so we have recently spent the day with the lovely people at Vets4Pets Emmerson Green, Bristol, to film standard procedures and best practice. We hope that this will be accessible and useful to a wide range of people. Huge thanks to Sylvie Bolioli for giving up her time to do this

Watch this space for more videos in 2019

for us. We hope to have a lot of content for vets and owners in 2019. Again, watch this space for an update.

New RWAF Team member!

 

Baby Eden looks set to follow in her mums footsteps-(E Boyd)

We are excited to announce the newest member of the RWAF Team – please welcome baby Eden. Emma (Boyd) gave birth to gorgeous little Eden on 15th September. It will be no surprise to read that Eden is already a rabbit fan and has a good collection of rabbit themed clothes and toys. Emma is on maternity leave until the New Year but she will soon be back in the swing of things and working alongside Rae to organise the CPD for 2019. If Eden is anything like her amazing mum then animal welfare is going to have a fantastic new advocate.

Keeping cool tips

With the heat wave continuing, please remember any outdoor rabbits. Here is some advice from Richard Saunders BSc(Hons) BVSc MSB CBiol DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS

RCVS Specialist in Zoo And Wild Animal Medicine

Offer a water bowl so that they can get a better drink; they will drink more efficiently and faster this way, and that’s important in the heat. Cool water will help to cool them down a bit. Don’t chill the water, but make sure it’s not boiling in the sun

Do not give your rabbits to ice cubes as they can cause problems with their digestion system.

Sun tan lotion is a no. They are likely to lick it off, and we have yet to see a rabbit with ear skin cancer. Instead, make sure you offer them plenty of shade, but if you are draping something over a run, make sure the air can circulate. Use of a battery operated fan on runs or enclosures can help.
Frozen water bottles or cool pods are helpful. ,

No need to change diet at all just, to stick to usual diet and make sure they drink lots by following the tips above.

Access to a safe shady exercise area 24/7 is even more important in this heat as they will want to exercise when it cools down am and pm.

Summer Dangers

FAQ cont’d

The new vaccine is arriving in vet practices this week. The UK tests have been
completed and although we do not have the results as yet we will update everyone
when we do.
Q5)
I’m interested to know more about the new combined vaccine…and in particular
there’s something in the data information which suggests that if a bunny has had
the other myxi vaccine in the past, the VHD element of the new vaccine might not
work. I‘d be interested to now why this is. What does this mean in practice?
Will the new vaccine therefore only be used for first time bunnies, or will it
be used in conjunction with one of the former VHD vaccinations? What advice have
vets been given about this?
A5)
The new combined vaccine has been tested in rabbits given the continental
Myxi vaccine, and there were borderline low protective titres to VHD. This is a
different vaccine to what is used in the UK against Myxi so there is now work
underway to see if the UK Myxi vaccine interferes to the same degree, though
they expect it not to be a problem. We expect results shortly.

EC
Q6)
Are Trigene and Vanodine safe for use with rabbits and would they kill
EC?

A6) Vanodine
is an iodine based product, which claims to kill other spore based
bacteria/fungi etc, and so I would imagine it to be effective after cleaning as
per our cleaning protocol:
Thoroughly
clean the area to remove any scale or residue.
Use
Ark-Klens , which is a benzalkonium chloride disinfectant and as such it should
be effective against EC and Myxi, to routinely disinfect the housing.
Periodically
use Virkon (as an inorganic peroxygen compound) to kill any other
viruses.Note: Other benzalkonium chloride disinfectants and inorganic
peroxygen compounds may be available, in addition to those named
above.
Trigene
is safe at the dilutions recommended, and should be as effective as above
(product is claimed effective against spores, bacteria, fungi, mycobacteria and
viruses) assuming the above cleaning procedure is followed
beforehand).