Because rabbits are prey animals, they hide symptoms of illness for as long as possible. If you’re worried about your rabbits’ health, visit your vet straight away.
There are two very common illnesses caused by viruses that are fatal to unvaccinated rabbits. Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (1+2). Whether yours are indoor or outdoor pets, they can catch either, so vaccination is essential every year.
Bunnies can’t catch cold, but if they look like they have, it’s called snuffles, caused by bacteria.
Head-tilt looks exactly like it sounds. The rabbit’s head tilts over to one side and won’t straighten up. It can also cause a loss of balance, weakness in the hind legs, incontinence and in severe cases, spinning and rolling. This, and losing the use of their back legs or dragging them, can be caused by a brain parasite called E. cuniculi. Don’t worry; it can be treated. Bear in mind ear infections can also cause this, so it’s important to have regular ear checks with your vet.
Dental disease is a common problem. Often poor diet is to blame. Rabbits need to eat hay, hay and more hay. Grass is much the same thing as hay, with a higher water content, but NEVER feed your bunny grass clippings from the lawnmower. They ferment and cause gastrointestinal disease. Every rabbit should eat its own body size or more in hay every day to keep the gut healthy and keep teeth ground down. So between 80% and 85% of what they eat should be hay or grass.
If you find a lump or an oozing spot, then it may well be an abscess. These can be extremely serious and need to be treated straight away. Take your rabbit straight to your vet.
Rabbits can get cancer too. The biggest risk is uterine cancer in females. This can be avoided by having your female rabbits spayed. By the time they’re 4 years old, most unspayed females will already have uterine cancer. Please make sure yours isn’t one of them.
It’s a good idea to budget for healthcare costs throughout your rabbit’s lifetime. Set aside funds and think about having an insurance or health care plan.