Do rabbits need vaccines?
Preventing disease is much easier than curing it. If you own a dog or a cat, you know that regular vaccinations are recommended to keep them as healthy as possible. This involves a trip to the vet, where they will also be given a complete exam and health check. But what about rabbits? Do they require the same type of care?
Are there vaccines available for rabbits?
The story is a little different if you have a pet rabbit. There are currently no licensed vaccines available for rabbits in the US. In other parts of the world, vaccinations exist to protect against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD.) These are both acute and fatal diseases.
Both Myxomatosis and RVHD used to be uncommon in the US; however, they’re beginning to emerge as problems in some rabbit populations, particularly in the Southwestern United States. In these states, if an outbreak is detected, your vet may be able to import a vaccine if the state vet authorizes it. At this time, the special import of vaccine is only available for RVHD2. The Myxomatosis vaccine is not yet authorized in the US.
What causes Myxomatosis and RVHD?
Both diseases can be transmitted by flies. Therefore, the prevention of flies and other biting parasites can reduce the risk of disease in your rabbit. Flea treatments exist to apply to rabbits. Use extreme caution and speak to your vet before applying flea or other preventative treatments to your rabbit - some are very toxic to bunnies and can be fatal if not used appropriately. Using fly screens and repellants around the hutch can also help.
The RVHD virus is very stable and can survive in the environment for many months. If there has been a local outbreak, do not feed hay produced in the local area as it may be contaminated.
How else can I keep my rabbit healthy?
Lastly, although vets can’t routinely vaccinate your rabbit, it’s a good idea to take them for an annual wellness check. Your vet can examine their teeth and weight, as well as other body systems. Problems in these areas can be early indicators of disease that may otherwise remain undetected.
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