Do Rabbits Need Veterinary Care?

Find out if rabbits need veterinary care in this Howcast video featuring bunny lover Amy Sedaris and rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter.

Mary: Does your rabbit need veterinarian care? The answer to that question is yes. We now have good, skilled rabbit savvy vets in various areas of the country and it’s really a good idea to have your rabbit visit those vets or visit one of those vets for what we call a well bunny visit.
What does a well bunny visit do for you? Got any idea?

Amy: I’m hanging on every word.

Mary: A well bunny visit allows your vet to see the bunny when he’s not sick. So the vet can see what’s normal for your bunny. His normal behavior, how he feels, his various body parts, how they feel, how his belly feels when he’s healthy. We encourage owners to do this about once a year. Just go to the vet, let the vet have a hands-on visit with your rabbit and write up a record. So that when you do have a problem, if you have a problem, the vet will know what was normal for your bunny have a good point of comparison.

Amy: And how do you know it’s a good. Because a lot of times they say exotic animals and that means, you know, parrots, rabbits, whatever. But sometimes they don’t really know anything about rabbits. So how do you know?

Mary: Yeah, and interestingly enough, the word specialist is regulated by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinarians are not allowed to call themselves specialist unless they go through certain kinds of training. There is no such thing as a straight rabbit specialist. So when people come and say, ‘Well, I went to a rabbit specialist and now my rabbit is sicker than before,’ I always say, ‘Well, did the vet tell you he or she was a rabbit specialist?’ Well, that’s what the front desk said so you have to be really careful. There’s no such thing as a rabbit specialist. There are vets who have taken special training after vet school, continuing education workshops or courses to learn about rabbits and that’s terrific. That’s what you want. And when you want to find a rabbit vet the best thing you can do, well one of the best things you can do, is to go online and look for the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians. And it’s abbreviated A-E-M-V. At their website they have a list of veterinarians who like seeing various species, whether they’re specialist or not. And by calling around you’re likely to find a vet in your area that has substantial experience with rabbits. You have to ask, though.

If you have a rabbit rescue organization in your area that’s a great way to find a rabbit vet because those people are bringing in rabbits all the time. And they’ll know what vets are best at what. And they’ll steer you accordingly. Some vets are really terrify at rabbit tooth problems, for example, and they’ll send you to those vets. Others are good at rabbit gut problems. Some are good at everything. Those vets are hard to find but they’re around and they should be looked for. So, yeah, find yourself a good rabbit vet and make sure you visit that rabbit vet about once a year. You don’t need to do it more than that.

Amy: Unless they’re elderly and need to go twice a year.

Mary: Well, yeah, once they’re elderly they’re already at a stage in their life, like humans, where you do want to go more often. You want to have a checkup more often. There’s real value, when the vet tries to ask you to have things done for example. A lot of people resent that and they say, ‘Oh, he was trying to get money out of me. Because he tried to tell me I needed a blood test done on my rabbit.’ That’s not something the vet is trying to get money out of you for. If the vet takes a blood test from a healthy rabbit it’s fantastic information because now the vet has a series of normals. And if anything varies from that at a later date the vet can look back and say, ‘Well, on this date the rabbit’s kidney values were this and now they’re this.’ And that’s really useful information to have if you’re treating a sick rabbit. So, you know, do go in for a well bunny visit. Let your vet . . .

Amy: You don’t want to wait until the last minute. Just get it when you get the rabbit and get it over with. Don’t wait until it’s an emergency and you’re freaking out and you’ll call anybody.

Mary: And if you’re willing to spend the money and this is not an excessive amount, you might want to try, if you’re lucky enough to have several rabbit vets in your area, you might want to spend the money for a visit to two or three different rabbit vets and just see which ones going to work best with you and with your rabbit. There’s a real difference in personalities from vet to vet. And some people will go in one direction, some will go in another direction. So it’s worth the expenditure or the investment.