Tag Archives: Rabbit

Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

Soya and Danielle


Myxomatosis is a virus spread by fleas, mites and mosquitoes. Symptoms include puffy swellings around the face, blindness, high fever and usually death within 10-14 days. This condition is widespread in British wild rabbits. Since the disease us spread by biting insects, even indoor rabbits can be, and often are infected. There is no specific treatment and recovery is rare. It is therefore important to focus on prevention and protection.

Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is also prevalent in British wild rabbits. It causes high fever, internal bleeding and liver disease. It is almost always fatal. Pet rabbits may be found dead with bloodstained fluid at their nose or no other visible signs. It is spread by rabbit-to-rabbit contact and persists in the environment (eg carriers). There is no treatment so vaccination is essential.

Prevention and protection

Rabbits should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease, to help protect against possible suffering. There is a new vaccination which combines Myxomatosis and RHD. This only needs to be given annually but we recommend a 6 month check up too as a lot can change in 6 months.

Ensure your pets are treated for fleas, as infection can be spread by insects. You should also regularly clean and disinfect your rabbit’s enclosure. If possible, prevent contact with wild or affected domestic rabbits and keep hutches away from ponds that may collect mosquitoes.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at http://www.tiptreevets.co.uk or http://www.willows-vets.co.uk

Pet Insurance

Prep room

As medicine advances, costs go up. Ten years ago we wouldn’t have considered doing MRI scans but now these are done quite routinely at referral practices. Chemotherapy protocols have advanced and we can do much more now in treating and diagnosing illnesses for our pets. These advancements in medical science have made some modern treatments more costly, so having Pet Insurance is one of the ways of providing the best care for your patients. It also covers Third-party liability so if your pet injures someone or damages their property you will be covered.

Types of Pet Insurance

Lifetime Cover

This policy will cover any condition (as long as it occurred after taking out the policy) for the life of your pet. This may be one of the more expensive options but it gives the best protection. There is usually a maximum amount allowable for vets’ fees. This amount depends on the policy.

Annual Cover

The annual insurance is cheaper and will only cover new conditions for one year. If your pet was limping on one leg and you did not put in a claim but the next year you decided to claim, this would probably not be covered as it existed the year before you renewed the policy. This is not as comprehensive as Life cover but maybe affordable or adequate for your needs.

Per Condition

Cover for vets’ fees up to a specified maximum, with no time limit as long as you pay your premiums.

Accident only

This policy only covers for injuries caused by accidents.

We would recommend a Life policy but if you cannot afford it one of the other policies would be worth considering depending on your needs. Consider looking at excesses and the extra costs that may be incurred as the pets get older when deciding which company and policy to use.

Please speak to us if you are unsure. We are happy to explain and help you to make the best choice for your pets. You can call us on 01621 818282 (Tiptree) or 01206 561407 (Willows). You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

Rabbit behaviour and training


Lying down with back legs stretched out (like Soya above) and eyes half open is a sign that your rabbit is very relaxed and comfortable. Some rabbits may even roll on their back. Ears back and feet tucked in is also a sign that your rabbit is relaxed and happy.

Ears pricked and big eyes are a sign that your rabbit has been startled by something or is a bit anxious.

Putting its head flat on the ground is usually a sign of submission or that your rabbit is requesting grooming.

When your rabbit circles you, it is usually a mating behaviour. They are showing excitement and interest.

Rabbits are most active first thing in the morning and in the evening. If your rabbit is running around and twisting in mid air, it is a sign that they are happy and burning off excess energy.

You can clicker train your rabbit, just like training a dog. Here is a step-by-step video to help you get started: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbxxCBIBjJc

If your rabbit growls, lunges with its feet or tries to bite you, it is a sign of aggression or fear. It may help to have them neutered to reducing mating behaviours. It will also help to give them a safe, quiet area to go to as a lot of aggressive behaviours are due to fear.

Never hit your rabbit as punishment. It will only make them more scared and more prone to biting.

When a rabbit thumps its back legs, it is generally a sign of fear or that they are annoyed.

Light grinding of the teeth when being stroked is generally a sign of happiness. However, heavier grinding may be a sign of pain or discomfort.

When a rabbit rubs its chin on something, it is marking its territory. It may even mark people.

Rabbits like to groom themselves and others, as a sign of affection. Your rabbit may even try to groom you by licking your hands.

Your rabbit may nudge you lightly to get your attention or more forcefully to move you out of the way.

Rabbits love to chew things so try to give your rabbit chew toys as an alternative to your furniture.

To prevent boredom, you can try building your rabbit an obstacle course. They especially love running through tubes. You can also give them cardboard boxes to play in. If you lie on the floor, your rabbit will probably play by jumping on you or running around you.

If you have a house rabbit, you can litter train them by placing a litter tray in the corner that they most frequently urinate in. Rabbits generally like to go in the same place each time. If you rabbit messes elsewhere, move it into the tray until they start to get the idea.

Panting is generally a sign that your rabbit is ill, overwight or too hot.

Pulling fur is a sign that your rabbit is bored or possibly experiencing a phantom pregnancy.

Sometimes behavioural problems are a sign of ill health or incorrect husbandry. If your rabbit continues to show unusual or problematic behaviour, it is a good idea to get them checked by a vet.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets.


Don with two kittens

Vaccinations were developed to protect animals against infectious diseases that are difficult to treat and ones that can often be fatal. The diseases are difficult to control as the dog conditions can be spread by foxes and pests such as rats and the feline ones by feral cats.

Recently there have been outbreaks of Parvovirus which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea especially in puppies and often results in death. There have also been cases of Leptospirosis.

Dog Vaccines

We endeavour to use vaccines that will cover the important diseases and last longer so we do not over vaccinate. Our puppies are vaccinated against Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis and  depending on their age, Coronavirus. We offer rabies vaccinations which are essential for travelling overseas.

Cat Vaccines

Our kittens are protected against Snuffles, Cat Flu and we would recommend Feline Leukaemia as well as there is a lot of Leukaemia in our area. Cats also need rabies vaccinations if travelling abroad.

Primary Vaccinations

Initial vaccinations are given at 8 weeks of age in a puppy and at 9 weeks in a kitten. The second vaccination is given 3-4 weeks later as we have to boost the first vaccination so it will then give cover for at least a year. If vaccinations are not kept up to date then we would restart the course as the immunity to these diseases fades with time.

Health Check

A vaccination is only given to healthy animals so we would always book you in to start a course of injections with a veterinarian so that they can just check that your pet is fit for the injection. If there is any possibility of an illness we would try to treat that illness first so that the immune system can respond to the vaccine properly.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

A guide to neutering

Operating Theatre


We would recommend spaying dogs and cats if owners do not want to breed. This means removing the ovaries. Uneutered animals have much higher health risks such as developing mammary cancer (breast cancer) and pyometras (uterine infections) which can be fatal and are often difficult to identify. There is a 1 in 200 chance of getting mammary tumours if spayed before the first heat. This increases to 1 in 4 if spayed after the third heat. It is also easier to cope with neutered pets as they are not going to come on heat and will not have the risk of male dogs chasing them when they are on heat. Females do not have to have a litter before they are spayed.


In male animals the testicles are removed. Castration can make pets less aggressive if done early and less likely to show territorial traits such as spraying or marking. In cats there is less risk of fighting and so less risk of getting FIV (Feline Aids virus). This is spread by bites and scratches and can’t be treated.

Neutering male dogs protects against testicular cancer and against some of the prostate diseases. It is also difficult to keep male pets home if there is a female on heat in the neighbourhood and some dogs can become dominant if not neutered. However if you have a problem of aggression with your pet, please get advice as there are lots of causes and neutering may not be the correct solution in certain cases.

Side effects

Once pets are neutered they can have a tendency to put on weight. If you have your pet neutered just watch their weight and cut back on their food if they are gaining weight. Neutered animals do not have to be overweight. Female dogs may have a higher tendency to incontinence but this can usually be medically managed and can occur in older uneutered female dogs too.

As neutering has been shown to increase life expectancy by approximately a year due to less diseases we would recommend neutering within the first year.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets.