Rabbit Care Guide

Caring for your Rabbit
Rabbits make delightful pets and come in a variety of sizes, colours and coat types.  They are very clean animals, can be trained to use a litter tray and may live as a house pet or be kept outside.
It is important to realise that your pet will need daily care, grooming, and companionship.  In the summer it is important to check your rabbit everyday, especially under the tail, for soiling or sores, and around the eyes and ears.
Rabbits are socialable animals and when in the wild live in groups, so when choosing your pet remember this.  If you get 2 or more rabbits it is wise to have them neutered as adult females (does) might fight, as will adult males (bucks).  Rabbits tend to be more active at night and sleep alot during the day.
Rabbits need to be properly socialised from the start, initially by offering food in your hand and gently stroking their head.  Do not offer your hand to be sniffed as your pet may be uncomfortable with this.
Never pick your pet up by their ears and don't touch their chin or their nose as they may not like it.  If you do have to pick up your rabbit then do so by placing one hand under the chest and the other around and under their rump, supporting the hind legs.  Hold your rabbit close to your body and reassure them by stroking and talking quietly to them.  It is important that young children are always supervised when playing with their pet.

Housing your Rabbit
Before getting your rabbit you need to decide where to house it.  Do you want it in the house itself, in a shed or outside?  In all cases the accommodation has to be large enough to provide separate living and sleeping areas.  It must also have enough room to allow your pet to lie down full length or stand stretched up on its back legs if it wants to.  If the hutch is too small the rabbit may become depressed and, possibly, agressive.  An outdoor hutch needs to be raised off the ground, insulated, weatherproof, predator proof and draught free.
Your pet will need daily exercise.  If this takes place inside the house your rabbit must be supervised at all times, protected from risk and prevented from chewing through things such as electric cables.  If outside then it must have a suitable enclosure that is predator proof, moveable to prevent over-grazing, and of sufficient size to allow them to graze and hop about safely.
Bedding should be plentiful but dust free.  It may consist of shavings, hay, straw or shredded clean paper.  Pine or cedar wood shavings should be avoided, as should printed paper, as they can all be toxic to your pet.
The hutch and feeding bowls should be cleaned out every day and the bedding changed at least once or twice a week.  Because rabbits are very clean animals they will keep a specific corner of their hutch for passing faeces and urine.  This area should be cleaned at least every 1 - 2 days.  Ceramic or stainless steel feeding dishes, which are shallow enough for your pet to feed from but difficult to tip over and resist chewing, should be used.  Clean water, in a gravity bottle attachd to the side of the cage, must always be available.

Feeding your Rabbit
Because rabbit are grazing animals their teeth continue to grow throughout their life.  It is, therefore, important to feed your pet a specialist diet that contains sufficient plant fibre to keep the teeth from becoming too long and to maintain optimum health.
When introducing a new diet to your pet it should be done slowly over a 10 day period.  This is achieved by adding small amounts of the new foodstuff to their existing food and gradually reducing the level of the old food.

Vaccinating your Rabbit
Rabbits also need to be vaccinated and there are two main diseases that we can Vaccinate rabbits against, we start rabbit vaccinations from 9 weeks of age.

1. Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
VHD is a highly infectious and lethal disease killing up to 75% of rabbits affected. The virus causes internal bleeding and death and can attack rapidly.
Fortunately we have a vaccine to prevent the disease, the vaccine should be given to your rabbit from
12 weeks of age, and a yearly booster vaccination is needed to maintain immunity.

2. Myxomatosis (Myxo)
Myxo is a disease that is spread by blood sucking insects, it causes swelling around the eyes and face, infections and respiratory problems.
Vaccination for Myxo cannot be given at the same time as the VHD vaccine so we recommend that you leave 3 weeks between the vaccinations.
Myxo vaccines can be administered from 9 weeks of age, and six monthly vaccinations are recommended for rabbits at high risk (outdoor rabbits).

Maintaining your Rabbit's Mobility
Rabbits can live up to 12 years of age and, like humans, can suffer from painful joints and loss of movement as they get older.  This may make them less able to hop and run and they may become prone to urinary and faecal scalding.  There are a number of good quality foods that contain Glucosamine which aids the renewal of joint cartilage. 
Finally, your pet should have bright eyes, a healthy coat, good appetite and plenty of energy.  If you think your pet may be unwell, is listless or not eating, then it is essential you take your pet to see a veterinary surgeon. 

Caring for your Rabbit
Rabbits make delightful pets and come in a variety of sizes, colours and coat types.  They are very clean animals, can be trained to use a litter tray and may live as a house pet or be kept outside.
It is important to realise that your pet will need daily care, grooming, and companionship.  In the summer it is important to check your rabbit everyday, especially under the tail, for soiling or sores, and around the eyes and ears.
Rabbits are socialable animals and when in the wild live in groups, so when choosing your pet remember this.  If you get 2 or more rabbits it is wise to have them neutered as adult females (does) might fight, as will adult males (bucks).  Rabbits tend to be more active at night and sleep alot during the day.
Rabbits need to be properly socialised from the start, initially by offering food in your hand and gently stroking their head.  Do not offer your hand to be sniffed as your pet may be uncomfortable with this.
Never pick your pet up by their ears and don't touch their chin or their nose as they may not like it.  If you do have to pick up your rabbit then do so by placing one hand under the chest and the other around and under their rump, supporting the hind legs.  Hold your rabbit close to your body and reassure them by stroking and talking quietly to them.  It is important that young children are always supervised when playing with their pet.

Housing your Rabbit
Before getting your rabbit you need to decide where to house it.  Do you want it in the house itself, in a shed or outside?  In all cases the accommodation has to be large enough to provide separate living and sleeping areas.  It must also have enough room to allow your pet to lie down full length or stand stretched up on its back legs if it wants to.  If the hutch is too small the rabbit may become depressed and, possibly, agressive.  An outdoor hutch needs to be raised off the ground, insulated, weatherproof, predator proof and draught free.
Your pet will need daily exercise.  If this takes place inside the house your rabbit must be supervised at all times, protected from risk and prevented from chewing through things such as electric cables.  If outside then it must have a suitable enclosure that is predator proof, moveable to prevent over-grazing, and of sufficient size to allow them to graze and hop about safely.
Bedding should be plentiful but dust free.  It may consist of shavings, hay, straw or shredded clean paper.  Pine or cedar wood shavings should be avoided, as should printed paper, as they can all be toxic to your pet.
The hutch and feeding bowls should be cleaned out every day and the bedding changed at least once or twice a week.  Because rabbits are very clean animals they will keep a specific corner of their hutch for passing faeces and urine.  This area should be cleaned at least every 1 - 2 days.  Ceramic or stainless steel feeding dishes, which are shallow enough for your pet to feed from but difficult to tip over and resist chewing, should be used.  Clean water, in a gravity bottle attachd to the side of the cage, must always be available.

Feeding your Rabbit
Because rabbit are grazing animals their teeth continue to grow throughout their life.  It is, therefore, important to feed your pet a specialist diet that contains sufficient plant fibre to keep the teeth from becoming too long and to maintain optimum health.
When introducing a new diet to your pet it should be done slowly over a 10 day period.  This is achieved by adding small amounts of the new foodstuff to their existing food and gradually reducing the level of the old food.

Vaccinating your Rabbit
Rabbits also need to be vaccinated and there are two main diseases that we can Vaccinate rabbits against, we start rabbit vaccinations from 9 weeks of age.

1. Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
VHD is a highly infectious and lethal disease killing up to 75% of rabbits affected. The virus causes internal bleeding and death and can attack rapidly.
Fortunately we have a vaccine to prevent the disease, the vaccine should be given to your rabbit from
12 weeks of age, and a yearly booster vaccination is needed to maintain immunity.

2. Myxomatosis (Myxo)
Myxo is a disease that is spread by blood sucking insects, it causes swelling around the eyes and face, infections and respiratory problems.
Vaccination for Myxo cannot be given at the same time as the VHD vaccine so we recommend that you leave 3 weeks between the vaccinations.
Myxo vaccines can be administered from 9 weeks of age, and six monthly vaccinations are recommended for rabbits at high risk (outdoor rabbits).

Maintaining your Rabbit's Mobility
Rabbits can live up to 12 years of age and, like humans, can suffer from painful joints and loss of movement as they get older.  This may make them less able to hop and run and they may become prone to urinary and faecal scalding.  There are a number of good quality foods that contain Glucosamine which aids the renewal of joint cartilage. 
Finally, your pet should have bright eyes, a healthy coat, good appetite and plenty of energy.  If you think your pet may be unwell, is listless or not eating, then it is essential you take your pet to see a veterinary surgeon. 

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Ballyclare Hospital
75 Ballynure Road
Ballyclare
BT39 9AG
028 9332 2223

Abbey Clinic
163 Doagh Road
Whiteabbey
BT36 6AA
028 9036 5573
Cavehill Clinic
136 Cavehill Road
Belfast
BT15 5BU
028 9071 8134

Carrick Clinic
Unit 1 Victoria Road,
Shopping Centre,
Carrickfergus, 
BT38 7JE



                                                   

Ballyclare Hospital
75 Ballynure Road
Ballyclare
BT39 9AG
028 9332 2223

Abbey Clinic
163 Doagh Road
Whiteabbey
BT36 6AA
028 9036 5573
Cavehill Clinic
136 Cavehill Road
Belfast
BT15 5BU
028 9071 8134

Carrick Clinic
Unit 1 Victoria Road,
Shopping Centre,
Carrickfergus, 
BT38 7JE