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Checks to reduce bugs in bunnies

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 03, 2012

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CITY vets and animal welfare organisations say more needs to be done to help keep pet rabbits healthy.

The PDSA and a host of other charities have been helping raise awareness of the correct way to care for rabbits, including providing information on worming, hutch sizes, and feeding to make sure your rabbit is healthy and happy.

A number of free rabbit health checks have been running at Exeter veterinary centres, including Beaumont Veterinary Centre in Pinhoe, St David's Veterinary Clinic and City Vets in Heavitree, Alphington, Whipton and St Thomas.

Mandy Small, a registered veterinary nurse at Beaumont Veterinary Centre, said: "A lot more can be done for rabbit care. The health checks make people more aware of the care involved and give owners confidence.

"Some of the most common conditions we see tend to be overgrown teeth, skin conditions and fly strike in the summer."

Pets at Home, based at Rydon Lane Retail Park, ran free rabbit workshops giving present and future owners the chance to learn more about rabbit care.

Annie White, assistant manager at Pets at Home, said: "The workshops gave people a chance to hold the rabbits and learn the ins and outs of rabbit care and in-depth information about feeding and the correct diet.

"The most common health problem we see is bloat, where the stomach swells. This is caused by overfeeding, often from too much dry food or too many greens. It is better to feed greens little and often.

"When we sell rabbits we always run through the care pack and basics."

The PDSA is also offering an e-learning rabbit care course, What Rabbits Need. The online course, produced by PDSA veterinary surgeons, provides rabbit owners with information on the five welfare needs for rabbits – environment, diet, behaviour, companionship and health.

Sean Wensley, senior veterinary surgeon at the PDSA, said: "With improved information and education on each of the five needs we can begin raising standards of wellbeing for the UK's pet rabbits."

Exeter RSPCA's the Little Valley Animal Shelter has several rabbits who currently need adopting.

Hawthorn and Heather are two fairly confident adult rabbits who want a home together.

They were thought to be abandoned by their previous owner. To find out more about rabbits in need of homes you can call the shelter on 01392 439898.

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