Dear Rabbit Owner
This is an update of our previous advice on rabbit veterinary care at this difficult time.
The BVA (British Veterinary Association)/RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) have advised veterinary practices to carry out case by case risk assessments on when to see animals in person (other alternatives being phone or video consulting). This is to conserve essential supplies, protect the health of owners and veterinary staff, and minimise further spread of the disease throughout the whole population.
A direct link to current BVA guidance:
and RCVS guidance:
(updated 19th may 2020, although advice to minimise the number of people entering the practice was confirmed to be current on 13.07.20)
It isn’t possible here to say which conditions justify being seen directly by a vet, and each practice will be making their own, case by case decisions, based on practice layout, parking and outdoor space, staff levels and medical issues, etc.
Please, in the first instance, check your practice website, to see what protocols they are following, and what they recommend that you do. Contact them by phone to discuss your specific situation if it is not totally clear. Discuss your individual situation with your vet to find the best option. Prescribing medicines remotely, based on phone or video consult is still permitted and this will be reviewed no later than 18th August 2020.
In the meantime you need to give your rabbits the best protection you can from diseases and other problems requiring veterinary attention, and where possible, make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and get a veterinary check over at the same time to help spot early signs of problems..
If your rabbits live indoors:
• If you have open windows, have mosquito screens over them because biting insects are a known vector of both Myxomatosis and RVHD 1 and 2.
• Practice barrier care – when you come into the house from outside change your shoes, remove outer clothing and thoroughly wash hands before handling your rabbits or any of their food, toys, etc.
• Have a footbath at the door as well, and dip outdoor shoes in that. Use Anigene HLD4V or Virkon disinfectant in the footbath
• Thoroughly wash and dry any wild or garden forage before feeding to your rabbits
If your rabbits live outdoors:
• Buy mosquito nets to completely cover hutches and runs. These can be bought online and large nets are available.
• Only handle your rabbits and their toys or food after you have thoroughly washed your hands
• If you have walk-in accommodation for your rabbits, you should change footwear at the door in case you have picked up any virus on your shoes while walking across the garden.
• Thoroughly wash and dry any wild or garden forage you have picked for them
Animals and COVID:
This is (like everything to do with COVID!) a fast moving area, with new information coming in all the time, but also, further work disproving previous assumptions, so watch this space, as advice may change.
Right now, following the news of a pet cat in the UK contracting COVID, BVA have put out the following information
From what we know about previous respiratory coronaviruses (https://jvi.asm.org/content/89/11/6131) it seems hopeful that rabbits and rodents are resistant to it, although it’s worth pointing out that they could carry it on their fur etc.
This site also likens COVID to previous SARS/coronavirus infections, specifically looking at the similarities between them and this exact virus.
It would appear that rabbits are much much less at risk than pigs, ferrets and cats, and so our advice would be to be sensible, wash hands in soap and water before and after handling any animal, and contact your vet if you have any concerns”
We know that in the Netherlands, work is ongoing to look for evidence of infection in farmed rabbits, and new information may come out of this in the near future.
Full advice on appropriate disinfectants and how to clean effectively can be found here Disinfectants
Our very best wishes, we hope you and your rabbits stay well