As vets and pet owners, one of the most important things we can do for our rabbits is to make sure they are protected against infectious disease by vaccinating them. At their annual health check appointment, your vet will carry out a full physical health check and let you know what vaccinations they recommend your pet receives.
Pet rabbits in the UK require vaccination to protect them from myxomatosis, and both strains of viral haemorrhagic disease – VHD 1 and VHD 2.
Pet rabbits are actually even more vulnerable to infectious disease than dogs or cats. After all, there are almost no stray or feral dogs roaming the streets in the UK, and very few wild or feral cats. But there is a large population of wild rabbits that are genetically the same as our pet bunnies. In addition to this, deadly infectious diseases were deliberately introduced into this wild population in past attempts to control numbers. Myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease remain common, and in some cases are even increasing in frequency. Fleas carry myxomatosis, and VHD can even be carried short distances by wind, so direct contact with wild rabbits isn’t needed for infection to be transmitted. While cases of disease such as distemper in dogs or panleukopaenia in cats are luckily rare now due to excellent uptake of vaccination, we still regularly see pet rabbits with myxomatosis or VHD, and very few survive. Protecting rabbits is just as important as protecting dogs and cats
Our combined vaccine can be given from 5 weeks of age but we recommend postponing their first vaccination, if possible, until 7 weeks old. This is to make sure their immunity is not reduced by protective factors in their mother’s milk.
Rabbits should be re-vaccinated every year.
Vaccination stimulates the immune system, which can trigger a mild fever. This is most commonly seen after initial vaccinations, though it is sometimes seen after re-vaccination.
Your pet might be a little sleepy after their appointment: don’t be alarmed if this is the case. In most cases, pets feel and behave absolutely normally.
An allergic or adverse response to a vaccination is possible, as with any medication, but very rare. Signs of an allergic reaction may include swelling around the nose or mouth, or occasionally diarrhoea. If you have any concerns that your pet seems unwell after a vaccination, please contact the surgery for advice.
Pets can a go about their normal routine in the run up to their vaccination appointment and after it. There is no need to withhold food before or after, or restrict exercise or activity.