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Caring for your pet rabbit Featured

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Caring for your pet rabbit


Flystrike

Flystrike occurs normally during warmer weather. It is caused by flies that land on rabbits and lay eggs. It almost always starts around the rabbit's bottom as flies are attracted to faeces. The fly eggs very quickly hatch into maggots and the maggots eat the rabbit's skin and causing tissue damage and if not found in time, shock will soon follow. Badly affected rabbits may have to be put down.
To prevent flystrike: Remove all soiled bedding daily; ensure your rabbit is not being overfed, as this can result in diarrhoea, leading to a dirty bottom. Check your rabbit twice daily to ensure that it is clean and dry and disinfect the hutch every week. Rearguard can also be applied to your rabbit and can protect against flystrike for up to 10 weeks!


Internal and external parasites
Worms are not generally an issue in rabbits; however a protozoan called E. Cuniculi. E.Cuniculi is a parasite that lives in the brain, eye or kidney tissue and can be fatal. Symptoms include: head tilted to one side, balance problems, incontinence and weak back legs. It can be treated with Panacur Rabbit oral paste for 28 days, but response depends on duration and severity of infection.
Rabbits like cats and dog can also harbour parasites. Cheyletiella mites are responsible for a scurfy coat or ‘walking dandruff’ in rabbits. Fleas can live on rabbits too and can spread the disease myxomatosis. Ear mites are also common in rabbits which cause uncomfortable scabs to form in the ear canal.


Vaccinations
Rabbits can become affected by two infectious diseases: Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) and Myxomatosis, both of which can be fatal. Vaccinations can be given for these diseases at 8 weeks old and is advised they are repeated every 12 months. VHD is a virus spread by saliva and nasal secretions; passed from rabbit to rabbit or via people, clothing or objects. Signs include blood stains from nose or mouth, high temperature, internal bleeding which can lead to liver failure.
Myxomatosis is a virus passed on via fleas, mites, flies and contact between rabbits, and sometimes in the hay if not sterilised. Symptoms include: puffy face, ears or eyes, fever and blindness. Sadly most rabbits die within 10-14 days.


Neutering
Neutering is recommended for all pet rabbits, not being used for breeding. Neutering reduces fighting between rabbits, avoids unwanted pregnancies and prevents womb cancer in females. 80% of females by the age of 8 develop womb cancer. Rabbits can be neutered from the age of 16 weeks

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