is very important that you find and use a veterinarian skilled in
working specifically with rabbits. Rabbits are considered “exotic”
in the medical world because it takes different medical knowledge
as well as special techniques and knowledge of rabbit-safe drugs
to deal with their specific needs. Using a vet that does not
specialize in working with rabbits can seriously endanger your
rabbit’s life, even with something as routine as a spay or
neuter operation. It is important to find a vet BEFORE an emergency
arises, to save yourself the panic and possibly vital time when
an urgent situation occurs.
by checking the yellow pages for vets who advertise as exotics
vets. Write down the names and numbers of several (3-5) vets that
seem close enough to get to in an urgent or emergency situation.
Write down also the names of several vets that are NOT advertised
as exotics vets and call them and ask whom they recommend for
rabbit care. If you have your own trusted dog or cat vet, ask
him or her for a recommendation.
Hopefully the vets you ASK will refer you to two or more of the
vets on your list. Call these vets and ask their receptionists
if you could come by and talk to the vet for just a few moments
or if s/he would be willing to give you a call at an appointed
time (with leeway for vet emergencies!) so that you could ask
a few questions, as you are trying to locate the proper vet for
your pet bunny.
vets are very pleased to have clients that care about their animal's
health and will be glad to answer a few questions for you. Following
are some good questions to ask and the answers to expect from a
vet who knows rabbits:
How many rabbits do you see per month?
A Should be at least 15, better if 20-30; depends on size of
How many spay/neuter procedures do you perform per month?
A Number depends of size of practice. Should be at least 5-10.
What anesthesia do you use on rabbits?
A Isofluorane is still the preferred anesthesia for rabbits,
although some are now using sevofluane with spectacular results.
What do you recommend as a healthy rabbit diet for adult rabbits?
A Limited plain, high fiber, low protein pellets AND unlimited
timothy, oat and other grass hays, plus a daily vegetable assortment
(amount based upon buns weight), and of course plenty of fresh water
at all times. Salt licks are unnecessary for healthy rabbits on
Q What antibiotics are NOT for use on bunnies (dangerous)?
A Lincomycin, clindamycin, amoxicillin and most of the ‘cillin’
drugs can be fatal to rabbits, even just one dose! Should they mention
proper drugs, some of the common names you would hear are Baytril,
Trimethaprin Sulfa (Bactrim) and Maxaquin.
What do you advise owners to do to prevent rabbits from getting
A It is important that a rabbit has access to timothy, oat or
other grass hays 24 hours a day, because the process of digesting
this long, dry, indigestible fiber is what keeps their gut functioning
properly. Exercise and consistent grooming/brushing, especially
during a shed, are also very important. Vet may also mention that
“hairballs” are a secondary symptom of problems in the
Do you advise rabbit owners to remove food from their rabbits the
night before surgery?
A NO. Period. Rabbits should not ever be fasted; it can cause
stomach ulcers, as well as inhibit recovery time.
Have you ever treated GI Stasis, Pasteurella, e. cuniculi or abscesses
A If your vet answers NO to all of these, I would think twice
about using him or her. The above problems occur with some frequency
in rabbits and a vet that has not treated any of the above, either
hasn’t had enough rabbit experience, or may not be properly
Don’t let ignorance kill your rabbit: A vet who works specifically
with rabbit breeders or 4H clubs may not be the
vet that you want. Our House Rabbits are pets and many
breeders and their vets will consider the financial bottom line
over any sort of extended health care. What does this mean to you?
It means that if your rabbit gets ill or if there is an emergency
situation the vet may not have the experience to recognize or handle
the problem; or s/he may suggest that you euthanize rather than
treat a medical situation that could be easily diagnosed and taken
care of by an experienced House Rabbit vet.
you have found the right vet: Make an appointment for a check up
so that all of you can get acquainted and you and your new vet can
discuss any outstanding or on-going medical concerns, as well as
a long-term health plan (diet, spay or neuter, etc.). If you and
your rabbit have recently moved, be sure to provide your new vet
with your rabbit’s past medical records.
this point it may also be a good idea to ask your new vet where
you should take your rabbit for after-hours emergencies. If this
is a new area you may even want to do a drive-by so that when an
emergency does arise, you don’t panic and get lost.