There are several health checks that you can carry out at home to help you keep your rabbit healthy and to help you spot anything that may need further treatment at the earliest opportunity.
Rabbits are prey species and as such if they are in pain or are ill, they will hide it so as not to become a target for predators. This means that any illness’s our domestic rabbits have may not be obvious to us.
The more you safely handle your rabbits the more they will become used to being handled. This will make completing your checks easier, and can prove invaluable when taking your rabbits to the vet for treatment, vaccinations and health checks.
It’s essential that you check the rear end (tail and bottom) every day, during hotter weather twice a day. Your rabbit’s rear end should be clean and dry and free from urine or faeces. If your rabbit has soiled areas (messy bottom) this can lead to fly strike, which is fatal if its not spotted and treated immediately. Fly strike occurs when flies lay their eggs on the rabbit; the maggots hatch and eat the flesh of the rabbit. If you see any signs of fly strike, take your rabbit to your rabbit savvy vet immediately.
It’s important that you regularly check your rabbit’s ears to make sure that they are clean and free from mites.
The outside of your rabbit’s mouth should be clean and dry, any signs of moisture or dribbling could indicate that you rabbit has dental problems.
You rabbits nose should be clean and dry and should not be runny. If you notice that your rabbit’s nose starts to run or that they are sneezing often, take your rabbit to your vet for a check up. This could be an indicator that your rabbit has snuffles.
Your rabbit’s eyes should be bright, clean and dry. If you notice that your rabbits eyes are running then take them to your vets for further investigation. This could also be a symptom of snuffles or dental disease.
Your rabbit’s nails should be clipped as and when needed. If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself you can take your rabbit to the vets and ask them to show you. If you are clipping your rabbits nails at home make sure that you don’t clip the nails where the blood vessel is visible. Always use nail clippers designed for use on rabbits. Follow this link to find out how to safely cut your rabbits nails and what to do if you cut them too short.
Your rabbits coat should be clean and shiny, rabbits moult several times a year especially in summer, moulting hair will need to be groomed out. Grooming also helps you to build a relationship and bond with your rabbit.
It’s important to check a rabbits back feet to make sure they don’t have sore hocks. A small pink patch without fur is normal, however if the skin is sore, broken or infected then it will need to be treated by a vet. There may be other underlying health issues that if addressed can help reduce the chances of sore hocks recurring.