It is important to give your rabbit regular health checks, perhaps once a week in the winter and once every day or so in the summer when they are more at risk of fly related diseases...
It is important to give your rabbit regular health checks, perhaps once a week in the winter and once every day or so in the summer when they are more at risk of fly related diseases. Put your rabbit on a non-slippery surface or wrap in a blanket; never leave your rabbit unattended on a table as it will probably try and jump down, from whatever height.
What to check
Mouth, nose and dewlap
Check that the mouth, nose and dewlap are clean and dry with no discharge. A dirty or wet dewlap may be a sign of dental disease and should be checked out. Look at your rabbit's front teeth by holding its head and drawing its lip up with your other hand. If the teeth are broken, crooked or very long, it may affect your rabbit's eating.
The eyes should be clean and dry. If there is any discharge, draw the eyelid back carefully and see whether there is any redness or pus inside the eye. Runny eyes can be a sign of dental disease, ingrowing eyelashes or a problem with the eye itself.
Look inside your rabbit's ears; if it is difficult to see, hold them up to the light or shine a torch. Check that there are no red marks, scabs or heavy build up of wax.
Hold your rabbit with its back against you and one hand under its bottom (do not try and put it on its back). Spread the toes to check there are no abcesses, scabs or build up of dirt between them. Pay particular attention to the heels of your rabbit's back feet - this is where sore hocks can occur. This shows as a small pink dot and is not a problem unless the skin becomes broken or inflammed. Check that the nails are not too long or broken.
This is a very important area to check, particularly during the summer when the risk of flystrike is high. Again, hold your rabbit against you with one hand under its front feet and the other under its bottom. Check there are no soft or dried up droppings sticking to your rabbit's hair. If so, it may be necessary to bath your rabbit's bottom.
Brush your hand along your rabbit's back against the direction of hair. Check there are no white flakes, scaly, broken or inflammed skin. Check your rabbit all over for any lumps or swellings.
Spotting signs of illness
Rabbits are reluctant to display signs of illness as in the wild this would mark them out as easy prey to a predator. Often the only sign will be that the rabbit is not moving as freely or has stopped eating. Your rabbit may also be shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot, or be sitting hunched up in a corner showing no interest in anything.
Always take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible at the first sign of any illness. Rabbits can deteriorate very quickly, sometimes dying in a matter of hours, so early medical help is essential.