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Sleeping rabbit

Health Checklist for Rabbits

9.12.2019

A regular and thorough rabbit health check is very important. As flight-animals, rabbits are masters at hiding health problems

Regular daily interaction and caring for your rabbit contributes to timely detection and treatment of life-threatening abnormalities, thus enabling the animal to lead an almost pain-free life, or saving its life.

The following points show which aspects a rabbit owner must pay detailed attention to. They do not raise, however, the requirement of the completeness!

Health Checklist

  • Eyes: Some of the most common problems with a rabbit's eyes are blocked tear ducts, abscesses and scratches. Healthy eyes are
    • bright and clear
    • free of any discharge/secretion
    • not red
    • not swollen
    • not cloudy
    • uninjured
    • do not protrude

→ Eye problems can be caused by issues in their teeth!

 

  • Teeth: In particular, the molar teeth can cause eye and nose problems with rabbits. In extreme cases, rabbits can die due to dental problems. Healthy teeth
    • are not too long
    • show no misalignment
    • are not broken
    • are clean

→ Rabbit teeth grow back constantly and always need a healthy abrasion!

 

  • Nose: Outflow or secretion from the nose can have various causes. If the secretion occurs only on one side, there may be a foreign body in the affected nostril. However, if both nostrils are affected, there may be causes that need to be clarified by a veterinarian (e.g. a cold). A healthy nose is
    • free of discharge
    • clear
    • without audible breath sounds

→ Jaw issues can cause nasal secretion!

 

  • Fur: A healthy rabbit has a shiny coat. Frequent causes of changes are infections by ectoparasites or ringworm. Affected rabbits have
    • itching
    • redness of the skin
    • dandruff
    • crusts
    • hair loss
    • bare patches
    • felts

→ Clinical signs of mite infestation often occur only with a weakened immune system!

 

  • Ears: Rabbit ears (especially hanging ears) tend to abscess and ear mites. A healthy ear is without
    • crusts
    • sheds
    • scab
    • odour
    • filth
    • smallpox

→ Thick smallpox on the ears is an indicator of life-threatening myxomatosis!

 

  • Body: During the regular checks, special attention must be paid to
    • crusts on the skin
    • abdominal swelling
    • swellings else wear
    • thickenings of skin
    • palpable changes in the skin

→ Inflammation and swelling of the body are also typically first signs of life-threatening myxomatosis!

 

  • Backside /Buttocks: Contamination of the anus of the animal is often caused by being overweight, old age and diseases (arthrosis). The animals are no longer able to excrete unwanted toxins from the anus or have diarrhoea. In the case of recurring soiling and even more so in the case of diarrhoea
    • the veterinarian should be visited
    • it is checked whether fly eggs have settled in the area
    • the rear part must be cleaned carefully

→ The groin glands should also be checked when cleaning the rear part!

 

  • Claws: The claws of a rabbit can become too long very fast. As a result, it comes to painful deformations and adhesions. Optimal claws
    • protrude only a little from the fur (does not apply to long-haired rabbits)
    • do not bend to the side
    • do not grow upwards

 

  • Urinating: Deviations in normal urination can indicate urinary tract diseases. Deviations are
    • increased urination
    • bent posture when urinating
    • sounds of pain during urination
    • changed colour of urine

→  It is important to always check the urine for blood!

 

  • Faeces: The optimal dropping is dark, small, drop-shaped/round and soft. Deviations in shape, colour and consistency can have many causes, e.g. an unbalanced feed composition or diseases. Please have the veterinarian clarify if the faeces are
    • old/hard
    • extremely hairy and not excreted properly
    • too soft
    • covered with slime
    • excreted as diarrhoea

→ In order to be able to exclude intestinal parasites, a regular faecal examination by the veterinarian is recommended!

Changes of habits

  • Eating and drinking habits: Any deviation from healthy eating and drinking behaviour is an indicator of an underlying disease. A healthy rabbit
    • likes to come to the feeding place 
    • likes to eat
    • usually eats fast
    • also eats solid food
    • does not drink too much

→ Even if a rabbit eats normally, it can have dental problems!

 

  • General behaviour: A sudden change in the behaviour of the rabbit can be an indication that the animal is not well, and that it is in pain. Warning signs are
    • an unusually calm behaviour
    • sudden aggression
    • a curved posture
    • apathy
    • seclusion
    • unnatural movement pattern

→ Aggression can also be an accompanying symptom during sexual maturity.