Prepare your rabbit for winter

2nd November 2016

With the summer gone, we turn our attention towards animal care in the winter. In this feature our vets in Bollington Veterinary Centre give you some practical tips on keeping your pet rabbit safe and well.

 

What are the risks?

 

  • Cold temperatures
  • Rain and snow
  • Short days, long nights
  • Lack of grass and grazing
  • Respiratory infections
  • Overgrown teeth
  • Foot sores and pododermatitis
  • Lice and mites

 

Here are 9 ways to cut those risks?

 

  1. Clean and dry - keep everything clean, dry and free from wind. It may be best to move the housing and run into a more sheltered part of your garden.
  2. Controlled temperatures – perhaps use your garage or home where the temperature extremes can be better controlled. Many owners will bring their pet inside before the hard frosts and gales begin.
  3. Provide extra lighting – with the longer nights drawing in, our veterinary team would recommend you give extra lighting to keep your pet active, particularly after the clocks change and the days are so much shorter.
  4. Quality hay - grass and hay is essential in a healthy fibrevore diet to maintain gut activity and to help grind their teeth. We can order this for you from our specialist suppliers. Speak to our reception team if you’d like us to do this for you.
  5. Watch and observe - we would always suggest you check your rabbit at least twice a day. Look for all normal signs of good health, such as normal eating, drinking, defecating, urinating, breathing and general activity.
  6. Check for ill health - the damp and cold days of winter will bring along more illnesses, particularly respiratory problems. If you notice any increased effort to breath, any unusual lung or nasal sounds, or any discharges from the eyes or nostrils (snuffles), you should get one of our vets to have a look. Rabbits are so prone to pasterellosis, so don’t delay. Call us on 01625 573375 for help and advice.
  7. Check the teeth - if you see abnormally long twisted front teeth or saliva dribbling from the cheeks, it probably means the teeth need attention. 
  8. Check the bedding – damp or soiled shavings will cause foot infections such as pododermatitis. Keep all the floor space scrupulously clean.
  9. Check for mites and lice - examine the fur of your pet thoroughly at least once a week checking for any signs of dandruff, scurf or red skin.