Rabbits are the 4th most popular pet in the UK with 0.8 million being kept as pets.
Therefore, rabbit welfare is very important for owners and prospective owners to consider.
According to the annual PDSA Animal Welfare (PAW) Report 2017, inappropriate diet has been consistently cited by vets as the top issue that needs to be addressed for rabbits. This report suggested that 25% of owners still feed muesli as part of their rabbit’s main diet which is a lot of rabbits being fed a harmful diet that can cause disease such as obesity, dental problems and sticky dropping leading to flystrike. A high-quality, hay-based diet is preferable.
Rabbits also spend a large proportion of their day grooming themselves and their companion rabbit(s) if they have one. However, housing needs to be cleaned out frequently and must be adequately ventilated to deter flies. Leave some used bedding material each time, as this will smell friendlier and so provide assurance and clean toilet areas every day if possible. It is particularly important in the warmer months to check your rabbit at least 3 times a day for fly strike, a potentially fatal disease wherein flies lay eggs in soiled rabbit fur and these hatch into maggots.
Vaccinating your rabbit against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) is important especially in rural areas where domestic rabbits may come in contact with wild rabbits, or their fleas.