Dee Millen Rabbits: Hobbyist Show Breeder & Exhibitor of Pedigree Bunnies
So what's involved in caring for your new pet?
If in any doubt about the health or care of your Rabbit, please take it or consult a Rabbit savy Vet.
|Basic Dietary Guidelines for a Healthy Netherland Dwarf Rabbit|
Feeding your Netherland Dwarf Rabbit. When feeding a Netherland Dwarf rabbits, it is important to remember that they do not need a high level of sugar or protein or a large bowl full of food. When feeding a mixed food the rabbit must eat everything that you give it. If you over feed the rabbit it will only pick out it's favourite bits and leave everything else and will not get a complete diet. Fibre is of the utmost importance to keep your rabbit fit, healthy and using their teeth correctly.
ADULT RABBITS:The basic diet for a healthy adult rabbit should consist of unlimited access to freeze dried grass or/and a good Quality Meadow hay, along with a variety of fresh vegetables (these need to be introduced slowly) and a limited amount of rabbit food---every day about 1.5oz's . Obesity is common in pet rabbits, and excessive amounts of food should be avoided. The first, soft stools that a rabbit passes are eaten again (a process called coprophagia). This is thought to supply the rabbit with most of its Vitamin B requirement,it also containsabout healthy bacteria that the rabbit needs to digest their food. Thus helping to prevent diarrhoea.
BABY RABBITS:Rabbit food about 2-2.5oz's, freeze dried grass or/and hay should be available in unlimited quantities to baby rabbits starting at about three weeks of age.
Hay/ freeze dried grass:is crucial to your rabbit's health as it is the main source of fiber/roughage which aids the digestion, helps prevent g.i. stasis and hairballs and it is helpful in keeping your rabbit's teeth in good shape. Grass hays or freeze dried should be available in unlimited quantities to all rabbits.
Rabbit food, should always be fresh. Don't buy more than three month's supply at a time or they may get stale and lose nutritional value.
Rabbits rely on a stable population of "good" bacteria in their gut, any changes in dietary intake should be introduced gradually to avoid sudden changes in types of bacteria present, as this can result in diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can kill.
My Rabbits are feed on my own mix of Rabbit food, along with Millen Munchy Grass and a Lovely Green Meadow Hay. These can be viewed at Dee Millen Rabbit Accessories.
Millen Rabbit Food:A complementary food for rabbits, to be fed in conjunction with forage such as clean hay or freeze dried grass, fresh water must be available at all times. Oil 4%, Protein 13%, Fibre 10%, Ash 5.6%. VitA 1000iu/kg, Vit D3 1400iu/kg, Vit E 40iu/kg, copper 20mg/kg.
Millen munchy grass:is a freeze dried grass, made from pure grass with only the water taken out. Protein 15%, Fibre 32%, Oil 2%, Prosphours 4g/kg. Very good for making a rabbit use it's back teeth corectly. This is a natural product which may vary in appearance throughout the season, this does not affect the nutritional value
Meadow hay:Last years cut,lovely and green, smells great the bunnies love it,
Water:Clean water must be accessible to rabbits at all times. A sipper water bottle is the best choice because it cannot be contaminated with bedding, food, feces and urine. Rabbits unfamiliar with a sipper bottle may have to be trained to use it. It is not necessary to add vitamins to the water if the recommended diets are followed. The disadvantages of adding vitamins to the water include; making the water taste disagreeable and promoting bacterial growth. Bio plus can be added to the water when you first bring your pet home, this will help him settle in. Medications can be added to the water but only under the advice of your vet. If you are not sure whether your bunny is drinking, place a small bowl by the rabbits water bottle. If a rabbit stops drinking, within a couple of days, it will stop eating. So always check that the bottle is working, by flicking the end.
Freezing Water Bottles: I use a product called Vyderphor this is a four in one disinfectant, not only does it help to stop the water from freezing, it also stop the bottles from going green in the summer. It keeps the water fresh and clean. it can also if used stronger be used for cage and aerial disinfecting as well as scrubbing out food dishes and litter trays, i find it very good for getting rid of buck wee from up the walls of cages.
An idea is to have two bottles on the go, one on the cage with a bottle cover on, the other indoors, when you go out to check
bunnies you swap the bottles over, the rabbits will drink almost straight away because the water will be at room temperature,
which they enjoy, and they will soon learn that when it is cold, mummy or daddy will swap bottles.
We all need to take care of our teeth, but that is especially true in the case of pet rabbits. The most common complaint is overgrown molars and enamel spurs that grow from teeth. These spurs generally develop because rabbits aren't eating enough forage and hay. These naturally-abrasive, fibre-rich foods are important because they wear down the teeth Rabbits' teeth grow continuously by an astonishing 2mm every week, or 10-12cm every year, a lack of fibre in the diet means that problems can quickly develop. Left untreated, uneven or insufficiently worn molars can lead to secondary complaints. Even if dental disease has already been diagnosed, the Excel Feeding Plan or correct feeding, can aid the chances of recovery and stop problems deteriorating further.
Vaccinations and Health Care. Back to top
Caring for a rabbit should also include vaccinations against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) yearly, Myxomatosis twice yearly, and worming twice yearly with Panacur as well. Neutering of your pets, especially when keeping pairs together is a must, to prevent fighting, un-wanted litters as well as protecting the Female rabbit against the risks of Uterine cancer.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is highly contagious and most often fatal. The disease can be transmited by direct contact with infected animals, contaminated food, water, bedding, cages, hutches, etc as well as by insects such as fleas and flies. Symptoms of Viral Haemorrhagic Disease can include lethargy, collapsing, convulsions, lack of co-ordination, paralysis, breathing difficulties, bloody discharge from the nose, jaundice, weight loss, fever and groaning. Rabbits usually die within a 12-36 of showing symptoms and there is no cure. However, in some cases infected rabbits may show no symptoms at all and may simply appear to drop dead.
Myxomatosis is a severe viral disease and although often associated with wild rabbits, domestic rabbits are also at risk. Myxomatosis can be transmitted by biting insects such as fleas, mosquitoes, mites, etc as well as direct contact with infected rabbits or hares. Myxomatosis is most often fatal and affected rabbits often die within 2 weeks of contracting the disease. The symptoms of the classic form Myxomatosis are runny eyes developing into severe conjunctivitis that results in blindness, swollen genitals, swelling in the head, thick pus discharge from the nose, swollen eyes and lumps on the body. Myxomatosis is most often fatal and as the disease causes severe suffering euthanasia is usually recommended upon diagnosis. However, pet rabbits can be, and should be, vaccinated against Myxomatosis. Rabbits can be vaccinated as young as 6 weeks of age and any rabbit should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis every six months. Although vaccinated rabbits may still contract Myxomatosis, the disease is much less severe in vaccinated rabbits and it may simply result in the rabbit being a bit unwell or developing a lump on the skin. In vaccinated rabbits Myxomatosis is often treatable and but may still be fatal.
Vaccination against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease must not be done within 2 weeks of vaccination against Myxomatosis.
Wormer for rabbits, Panacur®Rabbit is an oral paste. As an aid in the control of Encephalitozoon cuniculi and Intestinal worms in rabbits. Easy to use. Idealy you pet should be treated twice a year. One tube will worm two medium sized rabbits.
Often overlooked, the protozoan Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E. cuniculi) affects up to 50 per cent of all domesticated rabbits and can lead to convulsions, kidney damage, blindness, ataxia and sudden onset head tilt, cataracts, hind limb paralysis, urinary incontinence and sometimes death if left un-treated. Encephalitozoon cuniculi is a single celled parasite
The disease is spread by spores shed in the urine of infected rabbits and is usually ingested in contaminated food. Spores can also be spread transplacentally or inhaled.
Rabbits with E. cuniculi can carry the disease without showing any clinical signs and potentially spread it to other species such as guinea pigs that live with rabbits.
To help control E. cuniculi and intestinal worms in rabbits, Intervet UK has launched Panacur®Rabbit, an easy to administer paste that should be administered daily for nine consecutive days, two times a year. Rabbits should also be dosed during periods of higher risk, such as when the rabbit is acquired, prior to mating and when mixing with others.
Panacur Rabbit should be administered orally by squeezing the paste from the syringe into the side of the mouth. 1 syringe graduation per 2.5 kg bodyweight should be administered daily for 9 consecutive days. Dosing is recommended 2 times a year and at times of higher risk, such as when the rabbit is acquired, prior to mating and when mixing with other rabbits.
Mites, Lice and Fleas
Many small animals become infected with fleas, lice and mites by their own siblings, other animals or even bedding or its surroundings. When rabbits suffer from lice this can lead to the following symptoms, depending on the severity of the infection: itchiness, hair loss, crusts and sometimes skin ulcers. The nits and eggs that stick to the hair of the rabbit, stand out. You will mostly find them on the back and the side of your rabbit and they indicate poor care and housing. Fleas are generally spread via wild rabbits and they can also bite people. The female flea latches onto rabbits’ ears and will cause itchiness and sometimes allergic reactions. Rabbits can also play host to cat fleas, so look out for these if your rabbits and cats mix. You can treat your pets with Small Animal Insecticidal Spray, or Anti-Parasite Spot On. The living quarters, should also be treated. You can do this by removing all the bedding and using a good disinfectant. The term “scabies” is generally used for mite infections of the skin. Rabbits of all ages can suffer from scabies. The mites live off flakes of skin. Most of the time, they cause itchiness, which causes agitation and the animals start scratching and biting, which may lead to skin infections. Other symptoms are a poor coat, dandruff and eczema. Ear mite infections are far more serious for rabbits. They are common and very contagious. The mite causes serious itchiness, scratching and causes the rabbit to frequently shake and tilt its head. In the longer term, crusts may form in the auditory canal, under which is a bloody, purulent infection. If the infection breaks through to the middle ear and the cerebral membranes, this might lead to problems with balance, convulsions or epilepsy. If your rabbit is suffering from ear mites, you should seek veterinary help. To prevent your rabbit from becoming infected with ear mites, you can keep its ears clean with an Ear Cleaner. You can fight all species of external parasites with Anti Parasite Spot on this is also effective against internal parasites, such as roundworms and whipworms. A pet suffering from worms will lose a lot of weight. Its condition will deteriorate and so will its resistance to other diseases.
Other concerns Back to top
Uterine cancer is a common cause of death in female rabbits (does), which can often spread to other organs before it is diagnosed. This can be prevented by spaying (neutering) if the rabbit is not intended for breeding and is best done when the rabbit is between 5 months and 2 years of age. Neutering also means no un-wanted litters, and no mood swings with pairs of rabbits living together better. I do offer a neutering service, please e-mail me for details. Click here.
Rabbits become adolescent from 10-12 weeks of age, and at this time they tend to become moody and restless. They start to become more aggressive towards other rabbits and people, and also become less reliable where litter training is concerned. Both males and females may treat a family member of the opposite sex as a surrogate mate, following and circling that person and trying to mate their arms or legs. In male rabbits, courtship can include nipping the surrogate mate.
Neutering is one of the best things you can do for your rabbit. It will ease or illuminate these problems without changing your rabbit’s personality. Your bunny will not realize that anything has changed but the pet will become happier and more relaxed. Neutered rabbits are easier to litter train and their urine and droppings will become less smelly.
Female rabbits should be neutered when they reach 5-6 months old and male bunnies can be neutered as soon as the testicles have descended at around 3-4 months of age. Spaying your female rabbit is extremely important because as many as 85% of adult does die of reproductive cancers if they are not neutered.
It is important to realize that the changes in behavior associated with sexual maturity do not suddenly disappear - female rabbits take a couple of months to generally calm down, and male bunnies may continue to spray for a few months after being neutered. Not all aggression is caused by hormones.
Neutering is particularly important if you have more than one rabbit. It will of course prevent unwanted pregnancy, and make it possible for two rabbits to live happily together. A neutered pair of bunnies can form a strong bond and often spend a lot of time huddling together and grooming each other. Two bunnies who have grown together (even siblings) can suddenly become hostile and very aggressive towards each other. This can result in serious injury to one or both of the rabbits, and them losing the bond they had forever. Neutering both rabbits can prevent this happening, providing it is done early enough. Neutering after the event may help but there is no guarantee that their friendship will be restored.
Many facets of your rabbit’s sexuality will remain post neutering, but in a gentler more subdued form. The extent of the sexual activity really depends on your rabbit’s personality before neutering. Many neutered rabbits retain a certain amount of sexual interest and may continue some courting behavior - a spayed doe is more tolerant of a buck’s advances than an un-spayed doe will be. Some rabbits lose all interest in sexual activity but their need for cuddles and affection, from humans and play mates alike, remains the same.
Pre Operation Care
No preparation is needed prior to operation. Give your rabbit food and water as normal, starvation is not required, as rabbits cannot vomit.
Post Operation Care
Make sure your rabbit is eating, drinking, urinating and defecating within a couple of hours of surgery. If your rabbit does not eat/drink/poo/pee within a few hours contact your vet.
Rabbits can be kept outside or indoors as they make good house pets, being easily litter trained. The decision as to where the rabbit is to be kept will affect the type of Cage or Hutch required for the rabbit
More information on housing and hutches please click here. Back to top
The Bedding your Rabbit will need:
Your rabbit's hutch will be its home so make sure it is really comfortable. For bedding, wood shavings are ideal as they are clean and absorbent. Sometimes straw and hay on top of the shavings helps with insulation. Dusty or old hay or straw can cause irritation to the eyes and nose, so check it before you buy. Good hay should always smell sweet, not musty. When bedded with hay or straw the rabbit will probably eat some with its food but don't worry, this is natural "roughage" and will help with teeth wear. I use a combination of a layer of wood shaving with a good layer of my lovely Lavender straw on the top. The rabbits are given a handfull of my sweet smelling meadow hay twice a week to chew or play with, my female bunnies that are due to have babies have a thick layer of hay in their nest box. If you house your pet outside, in the cold months you must provide pleanty of hay for them to snuggle in.
Cleaning out you pet.
Rabbits should have their bedding changed completely once a week. Rabbits like to use one or more corners as a toilet area so you will need to clean corners out more frequently, perhaps every third day. Also the hutch should be scrubbed thoroughly with a good disinfectants once a month but make sure your rabbit has somewhere else to go whilst it dries. Rabbits can be trained to use a litter tray and this will cut down on the amount of bedding that you are using.
Litter training your pet bunny
Some rabbits litter train themselves, however most need a little encouragement from their owners. Rabbits usually learn to urinate in a litter tray but will still scatter a few faeces around. This is normal rabbit behaviour and the droppings are easy to pick up. Rabbits can be litter trained from as soon as you take them home as many of my rabbits are used to using a litter tray. Neutering is very important if your bunny lives in the house. When a rabbit is growing they can becomes very restless and territorial marking with urine and droppings. Even litter trained rabbits will start urinating outside their trays and this may happen every spring if they have not been neutered. Neutering will make your bunny more reliably trained and also reduce or prevent spraying.
It is important to fill your rabbits litter box with an absorbent, non-toxic litter. Most bunnies will try and chew their litter or will ingest some during grooming. If the litter is not absorbent then the rabbit is at risk of urine burn caused by splash back of the urine. Avoid softwood and clumping clay litters that can be harmful to your rabbit. It is advisable to try lots of different litters to see what your rabbit likes best. As most rabbits enjoy rolling and digging in their litter boxes use a soft litter if you bunny is prone to sore hocks or spends a lot of time in the tray. Other things to consider are if your rabbit chews the litter, in this case you are better to use an organic litter, but change frequently to avoid mould. Even so you do not want you bunny to ingest a large amount of litter so if your bunny finds it very tasty, then try another variety. Light weight litter is easier to use but it tends to track more. Also if your rabbit likes to pull the tray around the room it is better to use a heavier litter or secure the tray.
Rabbits, in general are very clean animals - in the wild they only use certain places to relive themselves and don't soil inside their warrens. Pet bunnies also tend to toilet in just one or a few places, and are easy to house train.
To litter train your bunny you will need to start with at least one litter tray. Buy one with low sides for a baby or small rabbit, for a larger rabbit get a big litter tray. You should get your rabbit used to the litter tray from day one. Put a litter tray in the rabbit’s pen or near the bedroom. Put a few pellets in the tray and a piece of urine-soaked tissue in the tray. This will give your rabbit the scent, helping her get the idea. Experiment with different types of litter to find the one your bunny prefers. Many rabbits enjoy digging and rolling in their trays or even sleeping in them. This behaviour should be encouraged because if your rabbit enjoys being in the tray they are more likely to mark it with their urine and droppings.
Dee Millen Rabbit Accessories........When only the best will do!