How to care for your rabbit

Alpha Vets provides a variety of services to our rabbit clients. Along with routine health checks and vaccinations, we can provide rabbit neutering procedures, emergency treatments and much more!

Our experienced team of rabbit vets, based at our practice in Teddington, have put together the following information to help you provide the best care for your rabbit.

Contact us today about your own rabbit and book an appointment with our vets.

Register your pet


Also, don’t forget to collect your Alpha Card – our free loyalty card which gives you 1% back on everything you spend with us! The Alpha Card lets you collect points that can be redeemed against our services. We even give you 500 points (=£5) to get you started! Remember, it’s completely free to join, so ask at reception for more details when you arrive – learn more.

To ensure your rabbit receives essential preventative healthcare regularly, why not enrol them in our Healthy Pet Club. We have designed our pet healthcare scheme with both you and your pet in mind. By spreading out the cost of their routine healthcare and receiving discounts throughout the year when your rabbit visits Alpha Vets, your rabbit’s healthcare has never been so easy!

Learn more about exactly what is on offer by visiting our dedicate page on our Healthy Pet Club.


You can begin your rabbit’s vaccinations from 5 weeks of age. We routinely vaccinate against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) – these are delivered as a combined vaccine and will protect your rabbit against both strains of VHD.

Both of these diseases have extremely high mortality rates and are prevalent in our area – these diseases can be transferred from wild to domestic rabbits so protect your pet and book a vaccine appointment with one of our rabbit vets. Learn more about vaccinations here.


Alpha Vets recommends booking regular health checks with our team to keep your rabbit(s) in good health. Book an appointment shortly after you have brought your new rabbit home and do not introduce them to other rabbits until our vets have diagnosed them as healthy, to avoid the spread of infection to other pets. Following this initial appointment, we recommend 6-month check-ups.

At the ‘Health Check’ our vets will perform a full physical examination. This includes assessing your new pet’s overall condition, their eyes and ears, their muscle and fat levels, hydration levels and checking for anaemia (lack of red blood cells in their body). We will also examine teeth but will not perform a full dental check on a young rabbit if their incisor teeth look normal.

We will be paying particular attention to parasites on their skin and looking for signs of any infectious diseases they may be carrying. We will also focus on gut function and their diet, including whether the foods are appropriate, whether the amount is suitable and if we believe any changes should be made to avoid any deficiencies.

Once your rabbit reaches 6 years of age, they will be classed as senior (although this can depend somewhat on their breed size). As well as a full physical examination, our vets recommend a blood test every 6-12 months to screen for any underlying kidney/liver issues. We will also be looking for any pressure sores, as older rabbits may have restricted movement which could mean these sores appear on the hind legs.

Book a health check for your rabbit here.


It is essential your rabbit has 24-hour access to fresh water, either from a sipper bottle or a water bowl. Offer both and observe which one your pet prefers. For their diet, have a read of the following:

  • Wild rabbits survive on a diet of grass and leaves, which has, over time, made their gut adapt. Domestic rabbits need a high fibre diet with virtually no fat and restricted carbohydrates and protein to stay healthy.
  • Fresh vegetables are an essential part of your rabbit’s diet as they provide essential vitamins and minerals. Organic vegetables are best and your rabbit will need 1 – 2 bowls a day. Include vegetables such as pak choi, broccoli leaves, chinese lettuce, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, carrots, spinach and parsley.
  • Alpha Vets recommends that adult rabbits should only receive a small amount of fresh pellets daily – up to 2 soup spoons worth. If your rabbit is under 6 months old, pregnant, sick or senior (over 6 years old), they should have a larger amount of pellets. Chat to our rabbit vet to understand the specific amount that your pet needs.
  • Fruit is an acceptable treat to give to your rabbit but only small amounts once or twice a week as part of their balanced diet.
  • Your rabbit must have unrestricted, 24-hour access to high quality, loose hay. This should be first-cut or high fibre hay, alternatives being orchard grass, botanical or mountain hay. Alfalfa hay is too rich for rabbits and contains too much calcium and protein.
  • Any changes to your rabbit’s diet must be done gradually, otherwise you are putting them as risk of bacterial imbalances in their gut which can prove fatal. Introduce new foods over the course of a week so their gut adjusts.


Neutering your rabbit provides many health and behavioural benefits, including removing the risk of unwanted pregnancies.

Female rabbits

Disease linked to the female rabbit’s reproductive system becomes increasingly more common as they age. We recommend neutering at around 7-8 months of age. By removing the ovaries/uterus, you are helping to protect your rabbit from a number of cancers and diseases, and the procedure may reduce territorial aggression.

During the procedure, your rabbit will be put under general anaesthetic and our experienced vet surgeons will remove their ovaries/uterus via an abdominal incision. We use a variety of pain relief to keep your rabbit as comfortable as possible and use intravenous fluids during and after surgery to reduce the risk of dehydration. At your rabbit’s discharge appointment, our nurses will run through aftercare you need to provide to ensure a successful recovery.

Male rabbits

We recommend neutering male rabbits from 5-6 months old, but the procedure is viable once their testicles have descended. Benefits of neutering include removing the risk of testicular cancer, the inability to accidentally breed, it minimises urine marking and decreases aggressive/dominant behaviour.

This surgery is completed under a general anaesthetic, with pain killers and fluids used to keep your rabbit comfortable at all times. Recovery is usually pretty quick and we will advise on what you can do to help your male rabbit recover from his castration.

Contact us to discuss a neutering appointment for your rabbit.


It’s important to monitor your pet for signs of gut stasis – this is a serious condition that must be treated as a veterinary emergency. If they have not eaten or passed faeces in the last 12 hours, contact us immediately.

Gut stasis is caused by a number of problems, such as stress, a diet change, too mush sugar/carbohydrates, dental disease, liver/kidney problems, dehydration and over-grooming.

To reduce the risk of your rabbit suffering from gut stasis you should:

  • Follow our diet advice and provide them with a high fibre, hay based diet
  • Do not overfeed them with pellets or junk food
  • Always make sure they have fresh water available
  • Groom your pet as often as possible
  • Encourage them to exercise
  • Keep stress levels down and reduce change in their surroundings
  • Introduce dietary changes smoothly and gradually


It is essential that rabbit owners constantly monitor for signs of flystrike.

Flystrike, also known as myiasis, is a serious condition that can affect all rabbits at any time of the year. However, we see an increase in cases during the warmer months.

It occurs when flies lay eggs onto your rabbit’s fur. These eggs then hatch into maggots which feed on your rabbit’s flesh. This leads to infection and severe tissue damage and is life threatening. If you believe your rabbit may be suffering from flystrike, treat it as a veterinary emergency and contact Alpha Vets immediately.

As well as regularly checking your rabbit for signs of fly eggs or maggots, there are measures you can take to reduce the risk of your rabbit becoming affected by flystrike:

  • Hygiene – regularly clean your rabbit’s living areas and remove damp and dirty bedding to avoid attracting flies.
  • Fly control – as well as keeping the area clean, invest in fly screens or fly traps to use around your rabbit’s living areas.
  • Regular grooming – keeping your rabbit’s fur free of faecal matter, particularly around their hind end, will reduce the risk of flies laying their eggs on your rabbit’s fur.
  • Bunny-proofing their hutch by using very fine mesh will stop flies entering their living areas, making them less susceptible to flystrike.
  • Fly repellent – check with our vets about which products are safe to use around your bunny’s home.


Flea infestations on your rabbit and their living areas will cause itching, discomfort and there is the risk of skin infections. By cleaning their living areas and grooming them regularly, it will help prevent flea infestations. Contact us if our vets need to advise on an appropriate flea treatment for your rabbit.


Rabbits can be affected by two different kinds of mite:

  • Ear mites – tiny parasites that cause itching, head shaking and inflammation of the ears. Regularly inspect ears for ear mites or evidence of them, such as darkened ear wax.
  • Fur mites – microscopic parasites that cause itching, hair loss and skin irritation. Keeping bedding clean and regularly grooming will reduce fur mite infestations.

If your rabbit is exhibiting symptoms of either fur or ear mites, contact our team for advice on the best treatments.


These parasites attach themselves to your rabbits’ skin and feed on their blood. They can transmit diseases that also affect humans so regularly checking for signs of ticks is essential to keep your household healthy. If you do find a tick on your rabbit’s body, contact us for the best ways to remove them. Incorrect removal can result in infection, so it is best to consult a vet.

Keeping your rabbit’s living and exercise areas free of tall grass/vegetation will reduce the risk of them becoming affected by these parasites and certain parasite prevention products will help keep your rabbit protected.

Intestinal parasites

Practicing good hygiene and a clean/balanced diet will reduce the risk of intestinal parasites. Chat to our team about what products are available to reduce the risk of certain intestinal parasites in your rabbit, such as pinworms or roundworms.

By following basic hygiene, regularly grooming and ensuring your rabbit’s living environment is as clean as possible, you will provide your bunny with the best chance of avoiding parasite infestation. Remember, if you do notice signs for any of the parasites listed above, contact us for further advice immediately.



Unfortunately, dental disease in rabbits is very common and it means they are in pain every time they eat.

Your rabbit’s teeth will grow continuously throughout their entire life and if they are not worn down properly through the correct diet, it can change their jaw position and create sore wounds in their mouth.

This can be extremely painful and some animals will stop eating and starve to death without proper care and attention.

The most common symptoms to look for include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Salivation
  • Dropping foods when eating
  • Change in attitude (either more aggressive or more affectionate)
  • Weight loss and producing less faeces
  • Hearing a grinding or clicking sound when they over/close their jaw.

To combat dental disease, we will examine your rabbit’s mouth under general anaesthesia and use specialist equipment to reduce the length of teeth, their sharp edges and remove any if necessary. This will help your rabbit return to their happy and health selves.

Learn more about our dental services here


As your rabbit matures, make sure they do not become overweight. Encourage them to live a comfortable life by exercising regularly and feeding them the proper diet they need.

If you are worried your rabbit is overweight then we can book them for a Weight Consultation with our rabbit vets, who will help you to understand your rabbit’s ideal body condition and then prepare a weight loss programme for you to follow. We will then make free weight monitoring appointments every couple of months with our experience vet nurses to make sure your rabbit is still on track.

Book a Weight Consultation for your rabbit


Providing your rabbit with the toys and housing they need to mimic their natural behaviours will ensure their mental wellbeing and their health, benefitting their bones, muscles and gut function.

Rabbits are sociable creatures and love to have a companion (or two) to keep them company. In the wild, they spend a lot of time digging and exploring and having other rabbits with them helps to protect them from predators. Try to encourage these activities with your pet rabbit.

To ensure your rabbit is happy in their home, make sure their cage is high enough so they can sit upright without their ears touching the top. It also needs to be 1 – 1.5 metres long to allow them space to hop around. Having different levels in their hutch also helps to keep them active and allows them to see their surroundings from different perspectives.

Ensure they have a hiding space in their cage where they can retreat to. This will help them feel safe and secure, mimicking their burrow in the wild. Also include chewable toys and a digging box to use when they’re roaming. Allow them out of their hutch once a day to ensure their mental wellbeing and to get their exercise. They will also need an amount of time getting vitamin D from sunlight to aid their digestion, but always keep them out of direct sun when it’s hot and make sure they are safe from predators – an outdoor run can help with this.

Encourage their natural foraging behaviour by making them work for their food. In the wild they need to search for their food, and they feel rewarded when they find it. You can do this by:

  • Filling a toilet/kitchen paper roll with hay
  • Scattering pellets around when they are out having their free roaming exercise
  • Providing an enriched environment for your rabbits is lots of fun for both you and your pets!
  • Creating a forage box – fill a cardboard box with hay and hide pieces of vegetables inside it
  • Poking pieces of vegetable high up in their cage so they have to stretch to reach them



If you are a rabbit owner in Teddington and would like to register your pet with our experienced team of vets, contact us today or register your rabbit online using the button below.

Register your rabbit


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