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Routine Rabbit Health Care

What routine medical care do rabbits need?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: November 27, 2011, 5 a.m. EST

Q: What medical care do rabbits need? I have two very young rabbits that I plan to get spayed/neutered before sexual maturity. Is there anything else they need? I know dogs need shots and heartworm stuff as well as cats, but as far as I’ve researched, I haven’t really found anything expressly stating that rabbits need anything else.

A: One of the many wonderful reasons to keep rabbits is the fact that medically, they need less preventive medications than dogs or cats. In the United States, there are no routine vaccinations that are necessary for pet rabbits. We do not usually need to routinely deworm pet rabbits and those that live indoors, almost never need deworming medication. Rabbits also are not prone to heartworm disease or other blood-borne parasites. In fact, after you have neutered your rabbit, the most important thing you can do to keep your rabbit as healthy as possible is feed an appropriate diet, provide a safe home environment and give your rabbits lots of love.

That being said, yearly visits to the veterinarian are recommended for rabbits for a number of reasons. Rabbits, because they are a prey species, are masters at hiding disease. Your veterinarian may be able to find early signs of disease before it becomes obvious. Detecting many diseases early gives us the best chance for a cure of the disease.

Also, even the best-kept rabbits can develop dental disease, and once-a-year visits to the vet’s office (and more frequently as they age) can help find early changes in the teeth, which may help prevent some of those terrible dental abscesses that can plague our pet rabbits.

Finally, rabbit medicine is constantly changing, and veterinarians continue to refine our recommendations as we learn new information about the best methods to keep pet rabbits healthy. So by visiting your veterinarian yearly, you receive the most up-to-date health information that you can on rabbits.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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