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Rabbit health practices of 202 rabbit owners

02 February 2018
14 mins read
Volume 9 · Issue 1



Owners often underestimate the management needs of pet rabbits. Determining rabbit owners' health management practices, and where they gain healthcare information, will facilitate veterinary professionals in providing advice to rabbit owners.


Rabbit owners in the UK (n=202) completed an online questionnaire providing information on health checking, vaccination and parasite control practices. Where owners gain information on rabbit health care was also determined.


The majority of owners performed daily health checks of their rabbit's appetite, posterior, skin, faeces, face and behaviour; weekly checks of their coat; monthly checks of teeth and occasional checks of bodyweight and gums. Most owners had vaccinated their rabbits against myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease but were not using parasite prevention methods. The majority of owners stated that they would respond promptly to seek veterinary assistance in response to inappetance. Owners preferred to obtain health information from veterinary professionals, though suggested more information on digestive problems and dental disease would be useful.


Greater education of owners on the appropriate frequency of health checking is warranted. Veterinary practices could play an integral role in improving owner knowledge of rabbit health practices via providing leaflets in centres, information on veterinary centre websites, and dedicated rabbit clinics.

Rabbits are commonly kept, with an estimated 0.8 to 1.2 million rabbits being kept as pets in the UK (People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), 2015; Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA), 2016). However, the management of pet rabbits can be complex, and their needs are often underestimated by potential and current owners (Edgar and Mullan, 2011; PDSA, 2015). A number of rabbit health problems are commonly presented in veterinary practice including dental disease, myiasis, gastrointestinal stasis, and skin conditions, e.g. pododermatitis (sore hocks) (Bisdorff and Wall, 2006; Lennox, 2008; Meredith, 2010; Mancinelli et al, 2014; Nielsen et al, 2014).

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