Caring for a rabbit should not only include yearly vaccination, but a monthly health check by yourself. Problems caught early are much easier to deal with and much less stress full for the rabbit in question.
If you have had a rabbit/s from us-we would of completed a health check form with you when you collected your pet, this would of included the rabbit/s leaving weight and all the treatments the rabbit would of had in our care. Just go through this on a monthly base. If you are worried about how well your pet is doing, by keeping a monthly weight chart you will know quickly if there is a problem. The information below is for a guide only-if you are unsure please consult your vet.
Rub your hands over your bunny's body. Check for lumps, bumps, scratches, & cuts especial if you have a pair or group of bunnies. Cuts and scratches can turn into abscesses so be sure that cuts are cleaned and check frequently, a dab of Vanodine is an excellent product. You will soon know what is normal for your bunny-so any change will be spotted very quickly.
Check these are clean and free of discharge, if you are regularly treating your bunny with "spot on" the chance of ear mites is greatly reduced. If in doubt please see your vet. Ears can be easily damaged if you keep more than one rabbit together - so check for any bites or scratches.
Sometimes rabbits get sleep in their eyes. Just wipe this away for them. If there is excess gunk or a lot of tears, your bunny may have a problem. A rabbit's eye can become diseased or infected just like any other body part. The eyes should be discharge free, not cloudy or runny. At the first sign of a damp eye, check that there is not a hay seed or debri in it- remove any thing and bath with warm boiled salt water or use an eye wipe, it maybe worth while checking that the rabbit is not in a draft as this can cause a damp eye. If this continues see your vet.-Back teeth problems are some times the cause of a damp eye.
Check for discharge, and crusts in the nose. Make sure there is a clear airway. If your hay or feed is dusty then there will be traces of this in the bunnies nose, do not feed the tail end of your food and give your hay a shake prior to feeding. Check your bedding- is this dusty? If you do not clean out your hutch regularly the build up from this can affect the nose as well as the eyes, as urine can burn.
If you have been following our guidelines from when you collect your bunny from us, you would of been playing with the bunnies feet on a daily basics- so bunny should now be use to you touching them-check the feet for crooked toes or sore hocks, this is sometimes a small visible pink pad-that is normal-what you are looking for is, if it is bright red or bleeding, this needs to be treated right away before it becomes infected. Nails: Rabbits need their nails/claws trimmed regularly,they have constantly growing nails, if they are left to grow unchecked, this can lead to health problems and pain for your rabbit. If you're new to rabbit keeping, you may find that clipping the nails is a scary proposition. You don't want to hit the nerve and make your rabbit bleed. If you have trained your bunny from a young age to lay over in your arms then toe nail cutting is not a daunting task. If nails are cut monthly the quick will not grow down the nail, this is the pink flesh part inside the nail, that you do not want to cut-if you do don't panic trimex or the blood stop swaps are very handy, corn powder will work as well but does not come with pain relief that the other two do. So basically if it is a dark nailed bunny just trim the nail that you can see past the fur line, in a light coloured or white nailed bunny you can see the red vein, just trim beyond this. If your pet is not used to being handled then you could be entering into a battle with a tiny creature that isn't afraid to hurt you or its self, so a visit to the vets maybe called for.
To cut the toe nails: Turn the Bunny gently in your arms, If you got the bunny from me, I would have shown and explained to you how to do this. If your bunny is on the large side then they can be laid upside down on your lap whilst you sit on the floor, to do this slide the bunny down between your legs so it is well supported by your thighs. With the four offending feet sticking up in the air, Carefully clip the tip of the nail; do not go too far along the length of the nail, even if it has grown a little long. Unless the nerve is very clearly visible, you must be careful. Trim back slowly, taking a little at a time. If you accidentally go too deep and cut the quick, dip a cotton swab in styptic powder, (like Trimmex) and dab it against the bleeding nail to stop the blood flow.-If in any doubt then please get your Vet to cut your bunnies toe nails, or show you how.
Teeth should be checked monthly for any problems. Providing you had a healthy bunny from day one, (when buying or re-homing a bunny always check its teeth before committing to it.) If the rabbit/s have come from us, we would of showed you the rabbits teeth and how to check them. Most problems are then either down to incorrect feeding, or an injury. Providing your bunny with plenty of hay and grasses in their diet to chew on with rabbit food kept at a minimum will aid in good teeth wear. Provided your bunny with wood and toys to chew, if your rabbit keeps pulling and chewing at the bars of their cage, provided more simulation or out time to discourage this behavior as this can damage the alignment of the rabbit's teeth. Check the gums to make sure they are a healthy pink, these should not be white, red of off purple, your bunnies breath should not smell un pleasant. If it does this may well be an abscess- so a trip to the vets will be needed as these can be very tricky and difficult to shift. To check the front teeth to make sure these are wearing properly and the alignment is correct. The bottom set should slot neatly under the top set, occasionally you may see a chip, just keep a check on this-you will be surprised at how quickly the teeth grow back and the chip disappears. If your bunnies chin is very wet, this could be down to the fact that they like to chin every thing in sight, but if the eyes are damp as well and the bunny looks like it is chewing the cud-this could be back teeth trouble, making the bunny dribble and pressure on the tear ducts. The back teeth can only be checked by your vet, don't put this off as if caught early can some times be correct by changing how and what you feed. If your bunny is a good hay eater the chances of back teeth problem are greatly reduced.
If you are feeding your bunny correctly it will keep its bottom nice and clean, if you have trained your bunny to turn in your arms a quick daily check will be sufficient. If your bunny is a little sticky down below, ease the worse off with baby wipes, then cover with a dry shampoo or baby talc, rubbing in to the damp soiled areas, and then gently comb the powder and poo out. If your bunny is in a real mess, then you may have to rinse the bottom under a warm running tap or wash in a shallow bowl, do not get the whole bunny wet. Then dry with a towel and use the powder and comb through, do not make your bunny sore. In the winter months the rabbit will have to stay indoors until completely dry. You then need to think what have you changed that could of upset your bunny so much. You may need to remove all the bunnies' food just leaving hay for the rabbit to nibble on, until the rabbit is producing hard poo's. Magic or a Probiotic in the water will increase the beneficial bacteria in the bunny's tummy helping them to get back to normal. Make sure your rabbit is drinking. If there is no change and the rabbit is still getting messy please consult your vet and re-think how you are feeding the rabbit and what on. It maybe that you need to reduce the feed or change to a higher fibre one and increases the amount and types of hay you are giving to the rabbit
Remember Diarrhea can kill. if your rabbit regular suffers with a messy bum, as they will also be at risk from -Fly Strike: this is a particularly nasty condition that can affect rabbits with damp or dirty fur. Green Bottles lay their eggs in the fur, where they hatch into larvae and migrate down into the skin. Not only does this cause distress and discomfort to the rabbit, it can also cause blood-poisoning, which can in some cases be fatal.
Dirty bottoms in pet rabbits can be greatly reduced with correct feeding. Once you have cleaned your bunnies bottom removing all the attached droppings and trimming back the effected fur- you need to look closely at your rabbits diet. A change is needed, this can be as simple of cutting the rabbit food to just an eggcup amount a day and feeding a quality hay or hays- we stock 8 different types- so there will be something your bunny will like.