Health Checking Your Rabbit at Home!
It is important to give your rabbit a health check 1-2 times a month. This should not, however, take place of your annual vet checkup, nor should you try to identify issues you come across on your own or give your rabbit any treatments you're not sure of (giving human medicines, etc). If you notice any problems during a health check, you should call your vet immediately and describe any issues you may have discovered.
Health checks should consist of:
- Feeling belly for irregular bumps or lumps. This could be a sign that your rabbit has tumors, cysts, or ulcers.
- Checking inside of ears for blood, scabs, or scratches. Scabs could be an indication of mites or fleas and you should call your vet for treatment advice if you notice any of these things.
- Checking the nose for discharge or wetness. A rabbit's nose should be very slightly damp underneath but should never have gooey discharge or be very wet at all.
- Checking eyes for discharge, swelling, or redness. Any discharge that is green coming from the eye could be a sign of infection and needs an antibiotic prescribed by your veterinarian. Any swelling or redness in or around the eye could be a symptom of dental disease or conjunctivitis (pink eye). White/opaque "sleepys" or "tears" are fairly normal and can be cleaned off gently with a slightly damp cloth. If sleepys are green, they are signs of an infection.
- Checking paws for blisters, ulcers, or redness. These could be signs of sore hocks, a condition caused by lack of excersize and lack of proper flooring in the cage.
- Checking teath for crookedness or overgrowth. Overgrown teeth will need to be clipped by a veterinarian (this does not require a full checkup). Certain cases of crooked teeth are effects of dental problems that may need to be discussed with your veterinarian. If you let your rabbit's teeth grow too long, it can stop them from eating and they will starve. Preventing tooth overgrowth is simple: supplying lots of wood, timothy, and willow chews for your rabbit to gnaw on as well as lots of hay. Most rabbits will not have an issue with over-grown teeth, so don't worry too much about that.
- Check the bum and private area for poops stuck to the bottom and also swelling of genitalia. If you see this (aka: poopy butt), simply get a damp paper towel or cloth and wipe away the poops. Make sure that your rabbit is eating plenty of hay as this can sometimes be a sign of GI (Gastrointestinal) issues. More hay should fix this promptly, but if it contines, contact your vet. If you see any redness or swelling of your rabbit's privates, this could be a sign of cancer, infection, disease, or cysts. Contact yor vet right away.
- Check fur for bald spots. Bald spots are indications of stress or agression in rabbits. If you notice your rabbit has been pulling fur, try to find out what has been stressing your rabbit out and fix it promtly. If the fur pulling continues, contact your vet.
- Check skin for redness, flakes, scabs, bloody areas, fleas, or dryness. Skin that is red, flakey, or dry is irritated. This could be a sign that your rabbit is allergic to something she's eating or something that is in her cage such as litter. Change your litter and if that doesn't help, contact your vet for advice. If you detect any scabs or fleas, contact your vet as your rabbit will need flea medicine.
- Check claws for overgrowth. If your rabbit's claws get too long, it can make walking uncomfortable for him. Make sure to clip your rabbit's nails every 3 weeks or have them clipped by a groomer or vet every 3 weeks.
See the video below for a full How to and what a healthy rabbit should look like!