There are many issues that might cause a problem when you’re dealing with rabbits. In fact, there are diseases that you could get from a bunny. You can prevent these conditions by knowing the signs of an unwell animal. With a good guide, you’d be able to tell that the rabbit you’re dealing with is problematic. Of course, it’s nice to deal with domesticated rabbits as pets but never forget the issues.
Is Your Bunny Healthy?
You should not forget that these domesticated pets are close relatives to those rodents you see in the wild. That means they can be prone to various diseases. In this article, we will list down some of the ways and tips that you can do to check if your pet is healthy to play with. Let’s start.
The first thing to do to make sure that your pet bunny is healthy is to get it vaccinated. There are free vaccinations you can get today from your state’s pet centers. Volunteer groups are also everywhere that can help you in this. Just look around. Getting the bunny vaccinated could also help you avoid future problems. Diseases may complicate. When you vaccinate, you get the preventable ones out of the way.
Some of the common issues that can be seen in rabbits include uterine infections, snuffles, abnormal teeth structure and hairballs. If you’re worried about overgrown teeth, you should know that they’re not a cause of worry as people would like you to believe. They’re just aesthetics. They’re not harmful to you, but could be painful to the rodents. The best way to prevent this is to improve their diet. Make sure you let your bunny eat a lot of fiber. Also, add a lot of leafy greens into their diet. Limiting the pellet food they eat and other hard treats may also improve the condition.
If your pet is already suffering from overgrown teeth, don’t fret. There is a general anesthesia that could fix it. In fact, it’s the only available treatment right now that can help remedy the rabbit’s issue.
Snuffles or what is technically called Pasteurellosis is characterized by a bacteria that affects the eyes and nose, which gets the rabbit to emit a specific abnormal discharge. You should get this issue addressed immediately because it can transfer to other rabbits quickly. Uterine infections could also worsen with this issue at hand.You should also remember that even after treatment, there remains a strain of the disease in the rodent’s nasal tract. This usually happens when there are sudden changes in the diet of the bunny, or it is under severe stress. One good way to prevent your pet rom experiencing this is to make sure that they’re not overcrowded in a cage. Doing so adds a level of stress to them that worsens the condition. You may also like to consider putting the rabbit into quarantine. Letting them rest and recover in a quiet environment is a great booster. The pet recovers faster.
Hairballs are another common rabbit disease that is usually occurring in the rabbit’s stomach. This usually happens after the bunnies self-groom. Because they cannot do a vomiting reflex to get rid of the hair, all the balls are accumulated in their stomach. What happens is that there will be an obstruction in the stomach and causes various complications. These hairballs are so ubiquitous among rabbits that every owner should concern themselves with it. When a pet is not eating well and is not moving about, the condition is even worse.To prevent hairballs, it’s good to address the issue of the gastrointestinal condition. That’s where it all starts. You can’t be simpler than that. When a rabbit is not getting enough fiber-rich food in their system, they won’t be able to get rid of the hairballs smoothly. If the hairballs are too much, the only way to get rid of it would only be through surgery. The hairballs could affect the natural mechanism of the rabbit’s stomach and create blocks in the gut. Another alternative is to use a medication to get the gut normally working again.
The team at United Veterinary Center is the team you’ve been looking for!
If you have been hesitant about changing up vets or about giving our team a call, we’re currently offering a full exam for as little as $25 to all first-time visitors. Our goal is to help the animals of Connecticut live long, healthy and happy lives. If your goal is to provide that for your pet too, then we might just be a great fit for you.
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Our services are top of the line, and include everything from laboratory services to diagnostic testing, and from allergy testing to diagnostic imaging. We provide stem cell therapy, perform surgery and perform routine vaccinations. In addition to all that, we offer routine wellness checks to ensure our patients are experiencing optimal health all year long.
We Work With Dogs, Cats and Exotics Too
If you’re the proud owner of a rabbit, a chinchilla, a fennec fox, salamander or any other exotic species, you probably have a hard time finding your pet the care they need to live an optimal life. At the United Veterinary Center, we are specially trained in the preventative care, diagnosis and treatment of exotic creatures. While veterinary school does a great job in teaching students the basics of feline and canine care, those who wish to help an array of animals must go through additional schooling as well as study under the apprenticeship of an already established exotic pets vet.
Moreover, our staff has been trained in the handling of small animals and in how to use the special equipment necessary to provide treatment in a safe and comfortable manner. For all these reasons and more, if you own an exotic pet, you should entrust them to our care, as our entire team possesses the knowledge necessary to help your exotic pet live a long and healthy life.
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If you’re not a dog or a cat person, but if you truly love animals, an exotic pet may be right up your alley. No, we’re not talking lions and tigers and bears (oh, my!), but exotic animals that are legal. And while some exotic pets, such as monkeys or llamas, are high maintenance, there are a host of exotic animals that are easy to care for and that will be just as happy in your home with a ball to play with as any domesticated canine would be.
What is an Exotic Pet?
First, it’s important to establish what, exactly, is considered an exotic pet. An exotic animal is one that is not domesticated or that is uncommon. There are many animals that are technically exotic (as in not domesticated or changed very little from their wild ancestors) but are not viewed as such, like several birds and fish. On the other hand, there are just as many non-exotic pets, such as pygmy hedgehogs and chinchillas, that are considered exotic but that are very changed, both physically and mentally, from their wild counterparts.
With that said, this list is meant to provide you information about exciting and truly exotic animals that are easy-ish to care for. But what is easy, you may wonder? The exotic pets listed here are considered lesser maintenance than other animals (yes, even the domesticated ones) due to the following:
They come with reasonable housing needs;
They have a fairly simple diet that is easy to maintain;
They’re small in size;
They don’t require a great deal of attention; and
They pose a lower house destruction potential than most other animals.
In general, these animals are low maintenance and don’t require much to live a long, happy and healthy life.
Sure, rats and mice are cute, but if you want a small exotic pet, those rodents aren’t going to cut it. For a truly exotic animal that is likely to impress your houseguests, consider one of the following:
Flying Squirrel: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s a flying squirrel! Similar to sugar gliders but much easier to house and care for, these animals are cute and cuddly and the ideal pet for someone who wants the love of a dog but not the responsibility.
Chipmunks: If you want an animal that can fit in the palm of your hand but just aren’t into adopting a pet mouse, the chipmunk might be for you. These creatures are extremely active and require a large cage in comparison with their size. Though these animals aren’t ideal for cuddling with, they are entertaining to watch.
Prairie Dogs: Just like domesticated canines, these little “dogs” are affectionate and can be trained to walk on a leash. They are very social creatures, so if you adopt one, you should expect to give it a significant amount of your time and attention. Despite their social needs, however, they are easy to care for and thrive in an adequately sized environment and off of a simple diet of hay, pellets, grasses, fruits and veggies.
Degus: The degus is cute and small like a gerbil but is actually more closely related to the chinchilla and guinea pig. They’re highly social in nature, so it is recommended that if you’re going to adopt one, you should adopt two. Highly active creatures, the degus needs plenty of space to run around and exercise.
Hedgehogs are apart of the Erinaceinae family, and are neither rodent nor are they related to the very similar porcupine. By far the easiest exotic animal to care for, hedgehogs are ideal for someone who wants a pet but who doesn’t have a significant amount of time or resources to devote to their care and attention.
Hedgehogs require a simple terrestrial enclosure big enough for them to run around and play in. They thrive off a simple diet of fruits and insects, all of which can be found in your kitchen or backyard. Hedgehogs are not social creatures, unlike many other smaller animals, so it is not recommended to house more than one in an enclosure.
3. Non-Domesticated Canines
If you’re the typical “dog person” but you like to defy social norms, you can find compromise with a non-domesticated canine such as a fennec fox or a Russian domesticated silver fox. Bear in mind though that their non-domesticated traits may be a challenge if you’re expecting the tame behavior of a normal feline or canine.
Foxes are active predators, which means that they require the same amount of space to roam freely as you would grant to a domesticated canine. If you do plan to cage a fox, make sure that the cage is large and that you let it out frequently. Foxes can also be quite noisy and playful, much like a standard domesticated dog, so if you want a tame exotic animal, a fox may not be ideal for you.
The pit fall of owning a domesticated foxes is their price tag. If you want to adopt a fox, you can expect to pay $2,000-$7,000 to bring one home. Non-domesticated foxes such as the white artic fox or red fox have undergone little to no selective breeding, and thus are much more affordable, costing as little as $200-$400. Keep in mind that the more affordable foxes tend to have a strong smell and are much less tame than their domesticated counterparts.
Skunks make great pets so long as you de-scent them first! Most pet owners are surprised to find that skunks are actually rather playful and enjoy their freedom; they are not animals to be cooped up in cages all day. They like plenty of toys to play with and a large environment in which they can exercise both their physical and mental strengths. Skunks are easy to care for and require a simple diet of fruits, vegetables and dog food. While many skunk owners love their bi-colored pets, not all state legislatures are on board with the animal, and it is banned from the pet list in several states due to the fact that many skunks are easily susceptible to rabies. However, that is not to say that skunks inherently carry the virus; rather, they can contract the virus easily from another rabid animal.
5. Wild Cats
Not all felines are your typical house cat. There are many exotic cats that are just as cool as their ferocious ancestors. Two felines that make great house pets are the Savannah cat and the Bengal cat. The Savannah cat is a hybrid of the domesticated cat and the Serval, a wild cat from Africa. Some Savannah cats have more Serval in them than others, so breeders categorize them as a F1 to F6. A F1 cat has approximately 53% to 75% Serval in their genes, while a F3 has as little as 12.5% Serval. A F6 have very little Serval, but enough to rank as a Savannah cat. A F1 can be extremely challenging, especially if the percentage of its Serval genes errs towards 75, while a F6 will be almost as tame and complacent as your ordinary housecat. A F3 is a happy medium, as these animals typically have the fun loving and excitable personality of a regular canine but with all the exotic physical features of a Serval.
The one downside to owning a Savannah cat is that they are expensive, which is to be expected as they look very much like a cheetah and are likely the closest you will ever get to owning such a wild creature.
The Bengal cat is basically a domesticated cat but with a more interesting personality. Bengals have a small amount of Asian leopard genes in them, which is essentially the only “wild” in them. They are the ideal pet for someone who wants a pet with an exotic look but all the tame tendencies of a domestic cat.
Exotic Pets That Are Not So Easy to Care For (And That Are Likely Not Legal to Own)
While there are many exotic pets that are easy to care for, there are many more that are not. In fact, most pets—domesticated or not—are not considered “easy” to care for by most standards. That being said, a few animals that are very difficult to care for include:
Non-Domesticated Canines: Non-domesticated canines, especially the large ones, require large, outdoor enclosures, special accommodations and an almost wholly meat diet.
Non-Domesticated Felines: Cats in general have a tendency to spray indoors, but non-domesticated felines have the urge more often. Additionally, wild cats destroy furniture and require an escape-proof enclosure.
Primates: Monkeys and other primates may be cute, but they are extremely high maintenance and require a significant amount of attention, which most pet owners find that they’re unable to give.
Small Exotics: While some small exotics are fairly easy to care for, others are much more difficult, such as sloths, genets, kinkajous, coatimudnis, porcupines, wallabies and tamanduas. Each of these animals requires large cages and special living accommodations, which most people find difficult to provide.
Too often, people adopt monkeys, large cats, wild dogs and other exotics without giving much thought to what it would take to raise an undomesticated animal. Once those animals grow into adults and start to act on their wild instincts, their owners become unwilling (or unable) to put up with them. To prevent these animals being passed from home to home or shelter to shelter, let these types of animals live in the wild, and only adopt what is legal and easy to care for.
Work With a Knowledgeable Veterinarian
At the United Veterinary Center, we specialize in the treatment of exotic animals, both large and small. While it is your job as your pet’s owner to love and care for them in your own home, you can count on us to ensure that your exotic family member has the medical care they need to live a long, happy and healthy life. This includes advising you on the proper diet for you exotic pet, providing the necessary vaccinations, administering the proper medical treatment, and being there for your pet when they need medical attention the most.
Owning and caring for a rabbit is much different than owning a cat or a dog, as even pet bunnies are similar in nature—and therefore, require similar needs—as wild rabbits. Though a huge undertaking, if you care for your pet properly, you will find that your hard work will have paid off, as rabbits can live for as long as 8 to 12 years. With that said, while many parents believe that bunnies make great pets for young children, this is not generally the case. Rabbits’ needs are extremely complex, and you must consider everything from its living environment to its diet, and from cage companions to proper protection before even adopting one. Moreover, once you have a care plan in place, you must be vigilant with that plan and continue to provide adequate care for the remainder of your pet’s life.
The Five Basics of Rabbit Care
According to the Animal Welfare Act, individuals who adopt any pet—including a bunny—are required to provide for the animal’s basic needs. This includes doing the following five things:
Providing a suitable place to live.
Providing the animal with a healthy and consistent diet.
Ensuring that your rabbit behaves normally.
Providing appropriate company for the animal, including knowing which and which not cage companions to introduce your bunny to.
Providing adequate protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
Establishing an Appropriate Environment
First and foremost, it is important to note that your pet needs a home, not just a hutch or a cage. Animals are living, breathing creatures just like humans and, as such, deserve the same level of respect and care as humans. This includes providing them with an environment in which they can move freely. Rabbits like to hop, run, dig and stand up straight. Providing them with an environment in which they can do all of those things will ensure that your rabbit is not only happy, but that he is healthy and fit as well.
Additionally, you want to make sure that your pet has a separate and established toilet area. No animal likes to defecate where they live, so be kind to your bunny and provide an area separate from where they eat, sleep and play to do their business.
Some additional considerations to make when creating a suitable environment for your pet include:
Provide plenty of toys. Rabbits like to stay active, so preoccupy them with new and interchanging toys.
Provide hiding places. Bunnies tend to scare easily, and if they spot a dog, cat, fox or other potential predator, they may become stressed if they cannot find a place to hide.
Provide a SAFE environment. Rabbits are inquisitive animals, so if there are any hazards in their space, remove them to prevent injury.
Provide both a safe, indoor living space for your pet to relax, and attach it to an escape-proof outdoor area for them to run, jump and play in.
Provide a space that is well ventilated, and that is protected from the elements.
Provide enough bedding for your pet bunny to comfortably burrow into. Rabbits like to feel warm and snug, and skimping on proper bedding could mean that they won’t rest easy at night.
Maintaining a Proper Diet
Rabbits are grazers and as such, require plenty of plants and grass in their diets. Actually, without grass and hay, a rabbit could suffer from significant health issues. For one, rabbits who do not have enough grass, hay and other leafy green plants in their diet suffer from dental health issues, as those types of plants keep rabbits’ teeth at an appropriate length. For two, a rabbit’s pellets are an essential part of their diet. Bunnies produce two kinds of pellets: hard, dry pellets and softer moist pellets, which they eat directly from their bottom for nutrients. Without an adequate supply of leafy greens, they produce less nutritious pellets, and therefore, miss out on an essential part of their diet.
How much to feed your rabbit all depends on their age, breed, activity level and size. If your pet eats too much, they will suffer from obesity, which could lead to other health complications, including diabetes, heart disease and an early death. If they eat too little, they may suffer from malnutrition, which poses its own set of serious health risks.
Encouraging Proper Behavior
Rabbits are naturally social animals, which means that they require a good deal of social interaction. The best thing for your pet would be to have a second or multiple rabbits around, but if that is just not feasible for you, you must provide them with entertainment. Gently pet your bunny multiple times throughout the day, and train them to do tricks. Provide positive reinforcement when they learn to do something new.
If you notice that your pet shows signs of fear or stress (such as excessive chewing, skittishness or fear) talk to an animal expert about what you can do to bolster your rabbit’s confidence and happiness. It may be changing something small, like providing more room to play, or it may be something significant such as getting a companion rabbit for your pet. As a pet owner, it is your job to ensure his continued health and happiness, so it’s important that you consider all the possibilities of what you might have to do prior to adopting a pet.
Give Your Pet Company
Again, bunnies are social creatures, so if you are going to adopt one, you should really adopt two. A second rabbit, along with your own petting and training efforts, should ensure that your pets remain happy and healthy for the duration of their lives. Most experts recommend getting one neutered male and one neutered female; if you adopt rabbits that are not neutered, or if you do not neuter them yourself, you may find yourself saddled with a bunny farm (literally).
When introducing two new rabbits to each other, do so gradually and under supervision. It is best to introduce bunnies in a neutral space (as in, not in either rabbit’s home environment). Always consult with your vet first to ensure that neither rabbit is carrying a contagious disease or illness.
Protect Your Pet
Finally, it is up to you to provide protection for your pet and ensure their ongoing good health and welfare. Rabbits are capable of pain and suffering just like any other animal, but they are not too good at showing it. It is up to you to learn the difference between how your pet normally acts and how they act when under duress. This will ensure that they do not suffer for long if something should happen to them. Many rabbits are susceptible to dental disease and inherited disorders, so it is important that you take your new pet to the vet right after adoption so that you know what, if anything, to look out for. Some other health tips to consider include:
Ensure that your pet is up-to-date on his vaccinations;
Take measures to ensure that your bunny does not become stressed, as stress leads to illness;
Check your pet for signs of injury, illness or change in behavior every day;
Check teeth and nails once a week;
Check the fur around your bun’s ears and tail twice a day;
Only use medication specifically prescribed for your rabbit by your vet; and
Groom your bunny regularly.
Finally, if you think that your pet has been poisoned by herbicide or some other chemical, never “wait and see.” Take them to your vet right away for confirmation and swift treatment.
If you are thinking about adopting a pet bunny, bookmark this plan and share it on social media so that you can find it more easily when it’s finally time to take home your new pet. For ongoing tips for caring for your bunny at every stage of his life, subscribe to our email newsletter; include your rabbit’s age and details regarding its breed for reminders about when it’s time to visit the United Veterinary Center.