Tips for a Vet trip with your rabbits
Taking your rabbits to the vets is essential to keep them happy and healthy. Whether this is for annual vaccinations, six monthly heath checks or for routine surgical procedures, it is fundamental as your rabbits’ owner to maintain good health and welfare. A trip to the vets can be a daunting and stressful experience for everyone involved. So, how do we make a trip to the vets a positive experience for you and your furry friends?
Preparing for your visit
You may already be a client at a rabbit friendly veterinary practice, however if you are not, it is a good idea to do your research into the right practice near you. A great tool to use is the RWAF Recommended Rabbit-Friendly Vet list Recommended Rabbit-Friendly Vets | Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF). This provides a map of the UK and a small part of Europe where you can find your nearest gold and silver approved rabbit friendly practice.
Rabbits are prey animals and therefore being taken to the vets, outside their home environment can be a stressful time for them. There are a number of things you can do to help support your rabbits.
Step one, transporting your rabbits safely:
- Purchase a hard secure carrier with good ventilation.
- A carrier should be big enough for the rabbit to turn around, but not too big that they feel exposed.
- A carrier with two openings is recommended, a front and a top opening. This allows your rabbits to hop in at their own leisure, or the top opening can allow for easier access for examination and the potential to examine the rabbit inside the carrier, so your rabbit feels more comfortable.
- When moving the carrier, hold it with your hands on the base and keep it flat to minimise movement and provide the best security.
- Ensure your carrier is safely secured in your vehicle.
Step two, make your rabbits comfortable in their carrier:
- Get your rabbits used to the carrier, by introducing it into their environment before their vet trip, include treats inside to associate the carrier as something positive.
- Place a towel or a blanket in the bottom of the carrier for comfort and to soak up any urine.
- Include your rabbits favourite hay for them to have the option of nibbling on some food.
- Add your rabbits favourite toy and water bottle (the water bottle can be removed for travelling if you wish and provided on arrival).
Safety in numbers! – If you have a pair of bunnies, bring them together even if only one of them needs to see the vet, not only does this provide comfort, but it also means one rabbit won’t return with a foreign scent.
During your visit
Waiting rooms can be busy and loud, with lots of different animal species around, which can be stressful for your rabbits. Some practices have rabbit friendly areas separate to the main reception – if this is an option, take advantage of this area! To reduce the stress levels that your rabbits may experience, you can place their carrier securely on a chair or on a raised area, so they are not at the same level as dogs in the waiting room. You can also provide them with a blanket that covers their carrier to try and muffle the sounds of barking.
If you are going to the vets for a check-up or annual vaccinations, you will be seen by a vet who will provide a general health check for your rabbits. They will check your rabbits from the top of their nose right down to the tip of their tail to ensure all is well. This will include checking their teeth, taking their temperature, and weighing them.
Remember to take your vaccination card or health logbook if you have one.
During your appointment you will have the opportunity to ask any questions and raise any concerns you may have.
If you are taking your rabbit to the vets for surgery such as neutering, the same health check will be provided and then you will sign documentation and hand your rabbits across to the vet or vet nurse.
Top tip! – when leaving your rabbits at the vets for a surgical procedure, pack your rabbits a little lunch bag with their usual nuggets, hay, and favourite veggies. You may also want to pack a blanket with their scent on to make them feel more at home.
Written By Ellie Parkes BSc (Hons), Nutritional Advisor at Burgess Pet Care & Rabbit Owner