Your rabbit's health and well being is dependent on your observations and support. Rabbits are delicate, sensitive and will attempt to hide illness. It's up to you to watch over them and check carefully to make sure they stay healthy and happy. Keep up to date information on your bunny. Know what they eat, drink, their activity level, their habits, favorite foods, body temperature, and overall condition. Any changes in normal behavior can alert you to a potential medical problem. If you are observant, you can catch early signs of illness, prevent disease progression and possibly save their lives by getting them to the vet where they can receive appropriate treatment.
We suggest that you take your rabbit to the veterinarian once a year for a check up; Additionally, you should be monitoring your rabbit's behavior and health every day. If you notice anything out of the ordinary and you have questions, contact your veterinarian. Quick action can save your rabbit's life.
Refer to the list below for a guide to carry out a rabbit home health exam:
- Nose: The nose should be dry and clean with no green or yellow discharge.
- Mouth/Teeth: Check your rabbit's mouth and teeth. Verify that the teeth are still growing straight, not overgrown, broken, loose, discolored and that the rabbit isn't drooling. Check the gums. Look for a nice healthy pink color in the gums. Check mouth for any sign of drooling which may point to tooth issues.
- Eyes: Check the eyes. They should be bright, clear and free of discharge, drainage, redness or any spots. Eyes should be able to open/close easily.
- Ears: Look inside to see if they are clean, free of debris, wax and odor free.
- Respiration: Listen for clear, regular breathing. Learn normal respiration rates for your bunny.
- Heart: Learn normal heart rate for your bunny. If you have a stethoscope, listen to your rabbit's heart. Make sure the beat sounds regular.
- Fur/Skin/body: Make sure that your rabbit's coat is healthy, free of white flakiness or fleas and that there are no injuries or lumps on the skin. Check to see that fur is clean, dry and well groomed, with no fur mats or excess loose fur that bunny may ingest. Check with your vet if you feel any usual swelling or lumps.
- Droppings: Check the dropping of the rabbit to see that they are round of normal size and well formed. Small or malformed droppings are usually a sign of a problem. Diarrhea is a serious health concern.
- Urine: If your rabbit suddenly starts urinating outside the box, or appears to have trouble urinating, contact your vet. Observe urine color. Rabbit urine can vary in color and is sometimes. orange to red, due to foods given. But, if you notice anything in it such as red spots or blood in urine, urine staining or wetness on your rabbit's fur or hindquarters, please see vet ASAP.
- Legs/Feet/Hocks: Check each leg and foot to see that they are straight, moving properly and that the bottoms of the feet are covered with fur. Check for any hock injury or abrasion. Look for any limping or weakness in front or back legs. Assess for normal stance and movements. (Hopping, running, sitting up on back legs, and proper balance). Check inside of forepaws- they should be clean and free of damp or matted fur.
- Nails: Check nails on each foot to make sure they are well trimmed, not torn or bleeding. The rabbit has 5 nails each front foot (including the dewclaws) and 4 nails on each back foot.
- Toes: Make sure all nails are straight with no broken area and no signs of sores or abrasions.
Disposition: Rabbits use body language to communicate how they feel. If bunny is having difficulty moving around, refuses favorite food, is hunched up or lethargic, there is a problem. Rabbit behavior/actions will change in response to pain, disease or discomfort. Learn what is normal for your rabbit and how to spot signs of problem. We encourage you to learn the variety of ways rabbits communicate and to carefully review signs of rabbit illness and what constitutes an emergency. Your observation and prompt attention to your rabbit's health concerns, in conjunction with vet care, will help your rabbit have a healthy, happy life for years to come.
Regular home health checks are an important part of your rabbit's care.