Veterinary Care for Rabbits

Rabbits make amazing pets, when cared for properly. They are quiet, compact and incredibly intelligent.

Though their care does resemble that of their canine and feline counterparts, they also have some very specialized needs in order to stay healthy. Dr. Cameron Rain of Hampton Park offers high quality veterinary care for rabbits. With over 20 years of experience, he offers everything from surgery and dentistry to daily care for these pets.
  • Like all pets, getting your rabbit’s diet correct is vital for long term health.

    A poor diet can lead to dental disease.

    Where as dental disease in dogs and cats can sometimes be very obvious, rabbit dental disease is sometimes difficult to detect.

    Rabbits’ teeth continuously grow and require constant wear to prevent overgrowth.

    Inadequate wear due to a poor diet can result in the back teeth developing spikes that will ulcerate the tongue or cheeks. The front or incisor teeth can overgrow and prevent the mouth from closing. Imagine every time you chewed you hurt your mouth? Ouch.

    • Signs of dental disease in rabbits include: Nasal discharge.
    • Inability to close the mouth.
    • Facial swelling and protruding front teeth.
    • They often stop eating and dribble from the mouth.
    To adequately wear teeth rabbits need to eat plenty of fibre this is found predominantly in grass and hay.

    They also need plenty of fibre for their gut to work properly so unsurprisingly diarrhoea can be another sign that their diet is poor and needs revising.

    The rules

    Out in the wild they have one choice : Grass or dry grass . We want to mimic that.

    Stick to the 80:20 rule. 80% quality grass/hay and some pellets and 20 % quality greens/vegetables.

    Remember not all hay is tasty: try quality high protein oaten, lucerne or timothy hays. Stay away from straw. Straw is only useful for bedding.

    Why pelletised commercial diet? It stops your rabbit selectively eating. Watch the amount of pellets your rabbit eats , they can easily be overfed and become obese.

    Safe Edible Plants

    Plants can be either commercially available or wild. Green leafy plants are recommended. Examples are:
    • Broccoli, cabbage, chicory, chard, parsley, watercress, celery leaves, endive, radicchio, bok choy, dock, basil, kale, carrot, and beet tops.
    • Wild plants include bramble, dandelion, chickweed, plantain, sunflower, wild strawberries, dock, yarrow.
    • Rabbits loose condition quickly if you notice any of these make an appointment to see us.
  • Rabbits are very popular pets. It’s vital you be vigilant for flystrike. During the warmer months especially, flies will be attracted to urine and faecal soiled breaches or open wounds.
    Rabbits can have soiled breeches for many reasons:

    • Poor grooming and obesity
    • Teeth problems
    • Diarrhoea
    • Illnesses causing excessive urination
    • Poor sanitation

    Flies lay sometimes 100s of eggs in the areas, which hatch into maggots. They proceed to eat away the layers of the skin and can bury into the body. This leads to massive open wounds, deep infections often in body cavities. This problem can arise quickly.

    Myiasis or fly strike can be so severe that it results in death or euthanasia of your rabbit!

    How to Prevent

    Tip 1 : Vigilance:
    • Check your rabbit twice daily for any soiled areas and clean them if needed.
    • Clean and dry any soiled areas.
    • Seek veterinary attention to any open wounds that could be attractive to flies.
    • Make an appointment to see the vet if your rabbit often has a soiled breech, there is often a medical reason why.

    Tip 2 Prevent flies Laying Eggs.

    Use Advantix spot on monthly. It’s an insecticide used for flea and tick control for Dogs but is useful for Rabbits. It repels biting flies. If an egg is laid , the resultant larvae will be killed when tries to graze on the skin.

    If your Rabbit Gets Flystrike ?

    • Do not wait. Seek veterinary attention immediately. Flystrike progresses very quickly.
    • Rabbits do not show many outward signs of illness, but your rabbit is likely have circulatory shock, serious infection and be in pain. Your vet will assess this.
  • 2 main viruses we protect against are:
    1) Myxomatosis
    2) Calicivirus


    How is it caught?

    Blood borne infection from biting insects mostly mosquitoes but also fleas.

    Pet rabbits are most susceptible. The wild rabbit population has some resistance to the infection.

    What Does it Do?

    The virus initially spreads to the skin causing thickening of the ears, anal areas and severe swelling of the eyelids causing in effect blindness.

    The infection then causes severe infection of the nostril, infection of the head and neck making it difficult to breathe.

    Death occurs in about 2 weeks later from severe infections, often pneumonia.

    Is there a cure?

    There is no cure or vaccination for this disease in Australia.

    How can I prevent Myxomatosis?

    The easiest way to prevent Myxo is to reduce exposure of your rabbit to fleas and mossies. Avoid the outdoors during risk periods: Dawn and Dusk. Mosquito netting over the hutch helps but I have seen many rabbits with Myxo that have been in seemingly well protected cages.

    The good news though is that we can treat rabbit for fleas like we treat dogs using ADVANTIX . This will kill fleas and repels flies and mosquitoes.

    We vaccinate rabbits for a disease called Calicivirus (also known as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, or RHDV).

    How is it caught?

    The virus is spread via the air, biting insects such as mosquitos, as well as coming into contact with the urine, faeces or saliva of infected rabbits. Objects, other animals and people who have come into contact with infected rabbits are another potential source of infection.

    What Does it Do?

    Signs of Calicivirus include rabbits becoming lethargic, seizures, bleeding from the nostrils or sudden death (particularly in young rabbits – kittens – up to 12 weeks of age). Recently, a new type of Calicivirus has appeared, called, RHDV2. It may present in the same ways to the original virus, but is more likely to show signs of lethargy or gut stasis (not eating or defecating) prior to death, rather than presenting as sudden death.

    It has been reported that some rabbits recover and develop immunity without showing any signs of disease. Even though they don’t get sick, these rabbits may spread infection to other rabbits they come into contact with.

    Is there a cure?

    No, prevention and vaccination are the only ways to protect your rabbit.

    How can I prevent HVD?

    The risk of infection can be reduced by keeping your pet away from unvaccinated rabbits or rabbits where you are unsure of their history.

    The virus can remain in the environment for months, even at moderate temperatures. Hot wash their bedding.

    Keeping your pet inside at dawn and dusk – high risk times for mosquitoes – and using Advantix to further discourage mosquitoes and flies also helps.

    While all these prevention methods can help reduce risk, the most important part of prevention is vaccination.

    When to Vaccinate?

    Rabbits should be vaccinated at 4 weeks of age, with repeat doses at 8 and 12 weeks. Adult rabbits should be vaccinated every 6 months.

    If adults have not been vaccinated previously, or if vaccination has lapsed, they should be vaccinated twice (a booster one month after the first vaccination), and then once every 6 months.

    This increased frequency of vaccination is designed to give our pets the best protection against Calicivirus we can provide.

Wellness Plans for


8 wks


Flea mosquito control (monthly)


12 wks



Flea mosquito control (monthly)


Vaccinations (every 6 months)

Flea mosquito control (monthly)

Health & dental exam (every 6 months)

Weight (every 6 months)

Preventative Care

We offer vaccines for rabbits that protect against Calicivirus (also known as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, or RHDV). Symptoms of the disease include lethargy, seizures, bleeding from the nose and eventually sudden death. Rabbits under 3 months of age are especially susceptible to it. Since there is no known cure, vaccinating all rabbits in and around Narre Warren South is particularly important. Rabbits should be first vaccinated at 4 weeks of age, with follow-up vaccines at 8 and 12 weeks. Adult rabbits should be vaccinated every 6 months.

Rabbits are also common targets for fleas and mosquitoes. These parasites can carry diseases, such as myxomatosis, that can be fatal for pet rabbits. Avoid exposure to the outdoors at dawn and dusk, and consider preventative medications to kill fleas and repel mossies.

Illness Treatment & Surgery

Sick rabbits don’t react like other sick pets, making diagnosis more challenging. Rabbit dentistry requires species-specific equipment to perform the procedure effectively and safely. Surgery can be challenging for inexperienced veterinarians, especially as rabbits react to anaesthesia quite differently. At Hampton Park, we often use specialised anaesthetic equipment like V Gel tubes especially built for rabbits making the procedure safer. This is especially important for desexing procedures as rabbits are commonly prolific breeders with a short gestation period starting at only 4 months old.

Caring For Life

Centrally located, Hampton Park Veterinary Hospital offers veterinary care for rabbits in Hampton Park, Lynbrook, Narre Warren South and the surrounding areas, including Narre Warren North, Lyndhurst, Berwick, Hallam, Doveton, Dandenong South, Cranbourne, Cranbourne East, Cranbourne West, Cranbourne South and Endeavour Hills.
Cnr Somerville Rd & Outlook Dr
Hampton Park, VIC 3976
Phone: 1800 446 329