Nearly half a million of rabbits in the UK are unvaccinated

Vet charity, PDSA warn that many owners do not realise that rabbits should receive regular vaccinations.

According to the latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, nearly half a million rabbits (49%) in the UK have not received their primary vaccination course when young, and 58% of UK rabbits have not had regular booster vaccinations.

PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “We would always recommend vaccinating your rabbits. This is because many diseases can be spread not only from other animals, but through insects and even your own clothes. Vaccinations help them fight off serious diseases that could be fatal without the protection. During Rabbit Awareness Week, this year, we’re urging rabbit owners to speak to their vets about vaccinating.”

PDSA advise that young rabbits can usually have their first vaccinations from five weeks old. After this, they will need regular booster vaccinations throughout their lives to keep their immunity up.

You can speak to your vet about your rabbits will need theirs. Vaccinations protect your rabbit from Myxomatosis, and Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease 1 (RHD-1) and 2 (RHD-2). Myxomatosis and RHD-1 have been active in the UK for a long time.

RHD-2 is a newer strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) which originally was seen more in Europe, but it has now become common here too. The PDSA advise that it’s important to get your rabbits protected against both types of RHD virus, as well as Myxomatosis. Your vet will be able to advise which vaccines your rabbits need to be fully protected.

Symptoms can vary and sadly often all of these diseases can come on so quickly that the first symptom is sudden death. If symptoms of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease are seen, they can include:

  • Blood at the nose, mouth and bottom
  • Low energy (lethargy)
  • Loss of appetite
  • High temperature
  • Spasms

PDSA vet, Olivia added: “Prevention is simple – make sure your rabbits are covered by the right vaccinations as soon as you get them. Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent this tragic disease. If you have rabbits that have never been vaccinated, take them to the vets to get it done as soon as possible. There is no current treatment or cure, so most cases of RHD-1 or 2 are fatal. Owners need to act now to ensure their rabbits are protected.”

Rabbit owner Catherine Harding knows the importance of vaccinations, and recently took her four-year old Netherland Dwarf, to Stoke PDSA for his boosters.

She said: “I’ve always kept up-to-date with my rabbit’s vaccinations. For me it’s a simple choice – pay for protection or risk losing my beloved Jaffa to these truly horrible diseases. We started coming to PDSA after we attended a Rabbit Awareness Week event last year, we love visiting and the staff are absolutely brilliant.”

For more information you can visit www.pdsa.org.uk.