Vaccination rabbits: which vaccinations are necessary?

If you want to enjoy your rabbit for a long time, you should think about vaccination. Against which diseases are vaccinations possible? And how necessary are these?

When vaccinating rabbits, this small "knocker" now be very brave – Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

When it comes to rabbit vaccinations, this little “knocker” has to be brave – Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

Many rabbit owners believe that vaccination is not necessary for animals kept in apartments or houses. Some experts are against it, while others see a certain risk of disease for the rabbits despite keeping them indoors. Pathogens can also be transmitted via feed, parasites or hay. Once the rabbit has a serious illness, it can usually hardly be treated and there is little chance of survival.

The three major rabbit diseases

Myxomatosis, RHD (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease) and rabbit cold are the three most common diseases against which you should vaccinate your rabbit. The corresponding vaccinations are recommended from the 5th week of life.

  • myxomatosis – the so-called rabbit plague is transmitted directly from already sick animals or indirectly by parasites (mosquitoes, mites, fleas), often from wild rabbits to domestic rabbits. Infection is also possible via feed or hay. The disease usually ends fatally.
  • RHD – is also called the China epidemic and usually ends in death. RHD, like rabbit plague, is highly contagious and can therefore also be transmitted directly or indirectly.
  • rabbit flu – Due to the large number of different pathogens, there are not appropriate vaccines for all of them. In general, this vaccination is only recommended for breeding facilities or fattening stocks, but not for pets. If a rabbit falls ill, this does not necessarily mean its death. In acute cases, antibiotics are used. Vaccination against rabbit cold should not be given at the same time as vaccinations against RHD and myxomatosis, and not even in pregnant animals!

Vaccinating rabbits: are there any risks?

There are situations in which we humans are advised not to vaccinate. There is also a lot that speaks against vaccination for our cuddly friends. At least the following points should be considered in advance:

  • ● In the case of acutely ill and therefore immunocompromised animals, vaccination is not recommended for the time being. So first check the health of your pet: What does the coat, eyes and teeth look like? Is the rabbit behaving strangely or not eating? Is it parasitized?
  • ● Chronically ill and senile rabbits should not be vaccinated. In this case, it is advisable to consult your trusted veterinarian, because it all depends on whether the chronic disease is just a hip problem or something more serious.
  • ● In the case of severe reactions, it is advisable not to have any vaccinations. Did your little fur boy struggle with severe side effects after the last vaccination? Then you should consider not having the next vaccination. This can happen if you are allergic to certain ingredients or have other intolerances.
Rabbits, hares, and other lagomorphs can learn tricks, but don't overdo them - Shutterstock / anetapics

05/11/2016 – 5:30 p.m

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But nothing replaces veterinary advice

In principle, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian if you are unsure or in special cases. In the best case, this person is already experienced in the treatment of rabbits. You may find that there are very different opinions. There is no perfect timetable when choosing the right vaccination and several factors always play a role. Does your rabbit live indoors or outdoors, in rural or urban areas? How many conspecifics does it live with? And are his companions all well? All of these questions should be considered and discussed with your vet beforehand.

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