Having previously held a waiting list for new clients, we are pleased to now be able to open this up. If you were on the waiting list a member of the team will be in touch shortly. If you would like to register your pets with us please contact us by phone or email and we will be happy to register you. Thank you.
Due to popular demand we have decided to focus our spring newsletter on Rabbits. We hope you enjoy and find the information both useful and interesting. Please do let us know if there are any subjects you would like us to cover in future newsletters.
Rabbits are now the third most common pet in the UK. They are a social species and should ideally be kept in pairs. Rabbits are active and inquisitive animals and their living accommodation should reflect this. They can be kept in hutches, indoors, in large garden runs or using a combination of these spaces. Whichever you choose, as a minimum, their accommodation needs to provide them enough room to be able to stretch out, stand on their hind legs without their ears touching the roof, turn around and hop 3-4 hops, but preferably much more space would be provided.
Rabbits need to feel secure from predators and be able to shelter from rain and wind, whilst still having space to explore, play, forage and display their natural behaviours. They are most active in mornings and evenings and enjoy playing with toys during these times as well as foraging for food. Toys can include cardboard boxes which double as shelters, wicker balls stuffed with hay, and tunnels.
Rabbits are intelligent and can be trained to use a litter tray which can be especially useful if housed indoors. However they will still need to be protected from chewing wires and other dangerous items as their inquisitive nature can overcome them at times!
Disease prevention is very important for all of our pets and with rabbits three main areas can be concentrated on. These are diet, infectious disease and fly strike.
Correct diet in rabbits is vital to prevent problems such as gut stasis, obesity, loose stools, fly strike and dental disease. Rabbits are herbivores and should be fed a diet consisting of 80% hay and grass, supplemented with 15% fresh leafy greens and 5% pelleted diet.
Getting this diet right ensures the rabbit eats enough fibre daily to wear down their teeth. As rabbit teeth grow constantly throughout their lives, and without enough fibre to chew, tooth overgrowth can lead to pain and lifelong problems. The fibre in their diet is also vital to produce ceacotrophs which are an initial type of faeces the rabbit needs to eat in order to gain full nutrition from their diet. If there is not enough fibre in their diet they will not eat their ceacotrophs. Another reason to feed a correct balance is that if rabbits become overweight, they cannot reach their bottoms to eat these ceacotrophs.
The other important part of disease prevention for pet rabbits is to ensure they have an annual health check with your vet and that they are vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD and RHDV2).
Myxomatosis is an viral disease which has been present in the wild rabbit population in the UK for approximately the last 50 years. The disease is spread by biting insects carrying the Myxoma virus eg rabbit flea, Chyletellia fur mites and mosquitos. Direct rabbit to rabbit transmission can also occur. The clinical signs include pronouced swelling of the eyes and face, lethargy, loss of appetite, depression and in nearly all cases the rabbit dies within 4-10 days. This disease can be seen at any time of year but is most common in the spring and autumn months. There is no cure but there is a vaccination which provides protection. The virus is able to change year by year making annual vaccination of your pet rabbit especially important.
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is another fatal disease that only affects rabbits. It only entered the country during the early 1990’s but has since spread across the country. RHD is highly infectious and causes sudden death. The calicivirus affects the liver and causes blood clotting problems so bleeding is seen. Death can occur within hours of the onset of illness. The virus kills has 90% of infected rabbits. There is no cure for this infection but you can protect your rabbits with annual vaccination. In 2010 a varient of RHD was identified which has been named RHDV2. This is less lethal with 5-70% of rabbits dying if infected but many surviving rabbits are left with liver damage. RHD usually would not infect very young rabbits, but RHDV2 will and there is no cross protection between the two variants. This means vaccination for one varient does not protect a rabbit from the other. The virus is spread by many different routes making prevention of spread very difficult. There is a dual vaccine for Myxomatosis and RHD which offers protection agaist RHD but not RHDV2. A vaccine against RHDV2 is also available and can be given 2 weeks apart from the other vaccine. RHDV2 has only been identified in the UK since 2015 and the vaccine is also new so is imported under special licence from Europe into the UK for vaccination of our rabbits.
One last area of preventative care for rabbits involves daily checking of your pet. Rabbits should always have clean dry fur and if they develop sticky wet feaces, an injury or any other lesion which creates matted fur they become more suspetible to fly strike. In warm, humid conditions flies will lay eggs on the soiled fur (particularly around the bottom), these can hatch into maggots within hours. The maggots cause skin damage and tissue trauma and can kill your rabbit. Checking your rabbit once daily, as a routine and twice in the summer will allow cleaning of any dirty areas before problems arise. If your rabbit frequently has a mucky bottom then booking a check-up with your vet would be recommended to establish the cause and work out a solution. Preventative insecticides are available through the practice for situations where there is an increased risk of fly strike. Fly strike is an emergency. If you suspect your rabbit is affected please phone us immediately to arrange an urgent appointment
Rabbits are a very special species which with correct understanding of their needs make fabulous pets. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Hillside Mobile Vets for further advise about your rabbit if you have any concerns, or would like to book an annual health check and vaccination.
Fly strike in rabbits
Fly strike in rabbits
Referred to as fly strike or myiasis, this is when flies lay their eggs on your rabbit and these hatch into maggots which eat your rabbits flesh.
Sounds horrible? It is and it’s serious.
If you see maggots on your rabbit take it to your veterinary surgeon.
In mild cases the vet will need to clip and clean the affected area, remove the maggots and give your rabbit antibiotics.
In more severe cases, your rabbit may need surgery.
Severely affected cases can be fatal.
Can you prevent this? Hopefully yes.
Check your rabbit frequently. Make sure your rabbit is cleaning itself. Check its rear end is clean . Use fly screens on the hutch and runs. Get an insect repellent from your veterinary surgery to apply to your rabbit.
Special points of interest:
Check your rabbit twice a day
Fly prevention is better than cure
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support of Hillside Mobile Vets during our transition to ownership by Priory Vets last year. Georgie, Melanie and Laura were really pleased to meet so many of you and your pets over the last few months. Sadly Melanie has left the team but some of you may have already met her replacement, Nicola Brooks-Williamson who has already started working with the team.
Services offered by Hillside Mobile Vets continue to inclued vaccine, routine health checks, prescription checks, flea and worm treatments, nail clips, blood sampling and blood pressure monitoring. In addition to these services we are able to offer some more specialist services. Georgie is an acupuncturist so if you have any concerns about the mobility of your dog, cat or rabbit it may be worth calling us to talk about the options. Georgie trained as a veterinary acupunturist in 2007 and has been using acupuncture as part of her treatment plans ever since. She is a member of the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists.
Nicola is an ophthalmology certificate holder so any eye problems with your pets will be superbly managed by Nicola.
This is the first of what will be a regular newsletter from us, where we aim to give you updates on subjects relevant to your pets. Please let us know if there are any subjects you would like covered in the future.
How many times have you heard someone say, "he's old," or "I'll just wait until they're dead." Shocking if they were talking about elderly relatives, less shocking if they're describing your pet? As a vet, to me it is a shame that people say this all too often about their pets. Why? Because medicine and anaesthetics have moved on. There is always a risk with an anaesthetic, but nowadays they are safer and shorter. Take Gravy, he is nearly 15. He has had a pacemaker put in and leads a happy, active life. Before he was lethargic whilst out on his walks and taking lots of breaks, but he wasn't just old. Now he runs across the fields.
Or look at Sam, he had his 14th birthday in November, his arthritis does not bother him on his personalized treatment plan. For him a combination of weight control, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), supplements and a specialized diet work best, but every dog or cat or even rabbit should be individually assessed.
Using Acupuncture To Treat Arthritis
Although sadly there is no cure for arthritis, there are several treatment options available to support our pets, enabling them to continue to enjoy an excellent quality of life for as long as possible. These include exercise plans, joint supplements, non-steroidal ant-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioid pain relief, acupuncture and laser therapy. Every pet is an individual, experiencing arthritis differently, so will need a medical review by your vet once arthritis is suspected. This will allow a personalised plan to be set up between you and your vet detailing the best treatment for your pet at that point in time. This should then be reassessed regularly to ensure that the plan remains appropriate and to discuss if alternative or additional support would be benefitcial. Many of the treatment options can be used together and the support they offer can build on the pain relief offered by other treatmens, making packages of support greatly beneficial especially to patients with moderate to severe arthritis.
Acupuncture is a treatment which has evolved from the ancient art of placing very fine needles into specific locations on the body called acupuncture points,to alleviate pain, treat and prevent disease. It has been practiced by the Chinese and other Eastern cultures for thousands of years and may be used to treat a wide variety of illness including arthritis.
When considered from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, acupuncture works by addressing imbalances in Yin and Yang, improving flow of Qi ('energy') and blood. This all aims to restore equilibrium between physical, emotional and spiritual factors enabling restoration and maintenance of heath. This is a very holistic method of practicing medicine. The Western approach to acupuncture has been to research the effects of acupuncture scientifically. It is now recognised that the the patient's own opioid responses are activated by acupuncture, providing natural pain relief. In addition there are normalising effects on parts of the patient's nervous system which explain the systemic effects seen from acupuncture treatment. This research supports acupuncture to be used in a holistic manner as shown in TCM. Treatment plans for arthritic pets would always consider the patient in a holistic way so acupuncture fits in well with these plans.
For patients with arthritis, acupuncture can offer pain relief and improved mobility either as a sole treatment, or in conjunction with conventional medicine such as NSAIDS and/or opioid pain relief.
Acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced correctly and is well accepted by the majority of animals. Most animals, even cats and rabbits, will readily accept acupuncture treatment. The needles used are inserted into points on the animal that are not painful. The needles are usually left in place for up to 10 minutes, although this will vary depending on the case.
Every animal is different and will respond differently to acupuncture. On average five weekly treatments are required initially then additional 'top-up' treatments may be needed to maintain the therapeutic effects long-term with chronic conditions such as arthritis. Every pet will have a treatment plan tailored to their individual needs.
If you are interested in arranging a geriatric or arthritis assessment for your pet, please contact the clinic as both Nicola and Georgie would be very happy to visit for this. If you would like any more information about acupuncture and whether this would be suitable for your pet, either for arthritis or for another condition, please contact the clinic so we can arrange for Georgie to visit to discuss this further.