We all want our pet bunny to live a long and happy life. But in order for that to happen we need to be vigilant! Just like any other animal, Rabbits are prone to a number of common diseases and illnesses that can effect their quality of life. Luckily, there are steps you can take detect rabbit diseases early, get your rabbit the treatment it needs to continue being a happy bunny.
1) Overgrown teeth
Your pet bunny’s teeth never stop growing, and loves to chew and gnaw on his/her food to keep them in check. However without the right diet, your rabbits teeth can grow too long. Without the right food, both a rabbits front and back teeth can overgrow and dig into the side of their cheeks, causing pain. In extreme cases, front teeth can grow so much that they loop around, preventing the rabbit from closing it’s mouth. If a rabbits teeth are left to get to this stage, they can no longer eat and illness soon follows.
How to prevent overgrown teeth:
Luckily, there’s an easy and simple way to make sure that this doesn’t happen! As explained in our “What Do Rabbits Eat” article, around 90% of a pet rabbits diet should be grass or hay. One reason for this is that these rabbits foods are high in fibre. Chewing on fibrous food helps to keep your rabbits teeth in good shape, preventing rabbit diseases such as overgrown teeth. You can check out prices of our favourite rabbit hay here.
2) Rabbit Snuffles
Snuffles is the common name of the Pasteurellosis virus that commonly effects pet rabbits. Snuffles causes nasal and eye discharge, sore eyes, sneezing and shivering. The symptoms bear similarities to the common human cold, but can be much more dangerous for a small animal such as a rabbit. Snuffles are contagious, and often spreads between pet rabbits in regular close contact.
How to prevent snuffles:
Snuffles is rabbit disease best prevented before it’s begun, rather than treated after the fact. Your rabbit needs a HEALTHY DIET, and a clean rabbit hutch to prevent bacteria build-up. You should also keep you rabbit away from other pet rabbits showing symptoms of snuffles. In the event that you rabbit does catch snuffles you should visit a qualified vet, who will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics.
3) Ear mites
Ear mites are probably the most gruesome rabbit disease, but try not to panic too much! Ear mites are small brown insects that make themselves at home inside the warm folds of your poor pet rabbit’s ears. Itchy ears is common early sign that your bunny is suffering from ear mites – you might see them using the claws on their back feet to catch their ears a lot.
How to prevent ear mites
You can prevent ear mites in a number of ways. First of all, you should regularly clean your rabbits ears with cotton wool soaked in warm water or a couple of drops of olive oil. You can also try keeping your rabbit’s hay in a hay feeder, rather than allowing your rabbit to lay down in it. If you do discover ear mites on your rabbit, you should head to your local vet who will likely administer ear drops.
Myxomatosis is the most dangerous of all rabbit diseases. If contracted it is almost always fatal, so it’s important that you do everything you can to prevent it.
Myxomatosis is a virus that is spread amongst close populations of rabbits, and is also spread by blood-sucking insects such as fleas and mosquitos. Warning signs include swelling and discharge from the eyes, nose and genitals.
How to prevent myxomatosis
As of 2017, there is not a cure for myxomatosis in rabbits. Luckily, it’s most commonly seen in wild rather than domestic rabbits. To reduce the chance of your pet rabbit catching the virus, you should invest in a good rabbit hutch that is easy to clean, with a living area that is raised off the ground. See our pick of the best rabbit hutches here. You should also always keep your pet rabbit away from wild rabbits.
5) Rabbit Hairballs
You may often see your pet rabbit licking itself, to keep it’s fur clean. This inevitably results in hair inside the rabbit’s digestive system. This is normal behaviour for rabbits, and isn’t a cause for concern by itself. However, if swallowed fur cannot easily pass through the digestive system then hairballs can sometimes form. These kinds of hairballs can be a serious problem, causing obstructions inside your bunny’s digestive tract.
How to prevent hairballs
Hairballs are usually a problem in rabbits with poor diets. As with most rabbit diseases, a good diet can go a long way to prevent this ailment. Eating lots of high-fibre food such as grass and hay should ensure that your pet bunny’s digestive system is in good working order. This will allow swallowed hair to pass through without issue.
Preventing Rabbit Disease
Ultimately, the best thing to do if you have any doubts about your rabbits health is to take him/her for a check-up at a qualified veterinarian. Regular visits to the vet can often detect rabbit disease early, when it can be easily treated. Here’s to happy, healthy bunnies!