Improving outcomes for Bunnies

Bunnies make very endearing pet companions and more of us are enjoying having these cute fluffy mammals in our lives. Fortunately along with their growing popularity has come some dramatic advances in our knowledge of rabbit Veterinary care.

Advanced anaesthesia

Rabbit anaesthetic safety has lagged behind cats and dogs due to the difficulty of consistently securing their breathing airway. Even when a tube can be placed, it is very small so it can easily block with mucous and it creates airway resistance like breathing through a straw.

The new V-Gel device, created specifically for rabbits, solves this problem and also allows us to use our high technology anaesthetic monitoring in rabbits such as capnography. We will be the first general practice to have these devices available in New Zealand for rabbits under our care. (www.docsinnovent.com)

Additionally we can keep rabbits warm during surgery with the advanced HotDog warming blanket and post operatively in their own warm intensive care unit. Operative fluids, pain relief and post op feeding complete the picture.

Desexing surgery

Desexing is strongly recommended in pet rabbits at around five months of age. Rabbits are social creatures and we advise keeping them in pairs. Desexing will not only stop unwanted pregnancies but also make a pair of rabbits more friendly to each other and their human friends. Behavioural benefits are best seen if desexed early.

Female rabbits become mature at 5-6 months of age and may mark their territory more frequently as do entire males. False pregnancies can occur causing persistent nesting behaviour which is a source of stress and frustration for the rabbit. Unlike dogs and cats entire female rabbits are also quite prone to cancer of the uterus as they age.

Critical care

Being prey animals, rabbits hide their illnesses well and often present in a very unwell state. Intensive care to resuscitate a sick rabbit is often required. With intravenous fluids, syringe feeding, controlled temperature and humidity environments and good nursing, great results can be achieved.

To assist providing the best care we have imported the specialised intensive care unit recommended and used by rabbit specialists around the world. (www.lyonvet.com)

Our high end IDEXX blood testing laboratory is able to provide accurate results for rabbits also. Blood chemistry and haematology results can be provided in minutes when required.

Dentistry

Rabbits have continuosly growing teeth which are growing at a very rapid rate of about 3mm a week.This creates unique problems for rabbits. Any rabbit eating less than normal or the wrong food will develop overgrown teeth. Rabbits primary food source needs to be fresh green hay and grass. Crushing cylindrical commercial pellets is achieved with an up and down movement of the molar teeth with minimal grinding action. Hay promotes a side to side grinding of the teeth providing the wear they need.

Signs of dental disease can be varied and include weight loss, poor appetite, wet chin, bulging or discharging eyes, nasal discharge, matting of fur and swellings under the jaw.

Xrays are extremely useful for assessing the full extent of dental disease and our digital xrays provide the detail required.

Anaesthesia is required to assess the mouth of a rabbit properly and burr back overgrown molar teeth with any projecting spikes. We have the required equipment to do this procedure.

General health care

Vaccination

The deadly Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is present in New Zealand and is like the rabbit version of Ebola virus with a high rate of fatal outcomes. Pet rabbits should idealy be vaccinated against this disease with one dose of vaccine after twelve weeks of age and then annually for best protection.

Microchipping

Rabbits that have access to the garden often go missing. A simple microchip can greatly improve their chance of being returned home.

Annual health checks

Since rabbits age so much faster than us an annual health check is a must. Monitoring weight, checking teeth and a clinical history and examination can catch issues early.

Insurance

To help provide ideal care for your special rabbit "Pet n Sur" insurance does provide rabbit cover at a very reasonable rate www.petnsur.co.nz