Health Check-Ups

Rabbit check-ups should be done about every 6 to 8 weeks. This doesn’t replace a veterinarian’s semi/yearly physical exam. Regular checkups are necessary for the health and longevity of your rabbit. Ask your vet to show you ways to make these checkups easier on you, and more comfortable for your rabbit.

  • Eyes: Rabbits like any other animal and human accumulate crust around their eyes. This is nothing to worry about and can be wiped clean with a moist cotton ball or tissue. However, if you notice purulent discharge, then you’ll need to have your rabbit examined by your vet. Eye discharge can mean several things as the nose ears and eyes are connected.
  • Ears: Check inside each ear for wax or dirt build-up. If ears do not appear clean, see your vet.
  • Nose: Look for moisture or discharge around the nasal cavities or for a mucous/purulent substance inside. Even if you don’t hear sneezing, if you see a slightly moist nose, check the insides of each front leg for dirty spots. Rabbits will wipe their nose with the insides of their front paws and can easily mask the early signs of Pasteurella (snuffles) problems.
  • Teeth: Rabbit teeth should be aligned, some rabbits suffer from malocclusion, meaning the top and bottom teeth are not being worn down when eating–this can be a serious problem. If you noticed your rabbit’s teeth are very long, they’ll need to see the vet, most likely they’ll need their teeth clipped.
  • Chin: Check the underside of their chin for a waxy type of buildup from their scent gland. If you find this condition, you can try to wash it off with warm water, but it will often be mixed in with their fur and will need to be cut trimmed. Rabbits that drink from bowls can sometimes get dermatitis so also look for redness and irritation under the chin.
  • Feet: Check the soles of each rear foot for worn fur and for sores. This is usually the result of living on a wire floor but can also be due to an overweight rabbit sitting on hard surfaces. It is very easy for Pasteurella or other infections to start in these sores so see a vet right away if they are found.
  • Nails: Check and trim nails as needed, preferably every month. If you find a broken nail, make sure it has healed properly since these are prone to infection. It is common for a rabbit to break a nail and it is usually nothing to worry about unless it becomes infected.
  • Fur and Skin: If fleas are found only use prescribed medication provided by your vet. Most over the counter flea treatments sold for cats or dogs are harmful to rabbits, so please check with your vet. When checking your rabbit’s skin, keep an eye out for dandruff or fur mites. A sure sign of mites is scabs or crust on the skin, usually around the neck area. Like always, when in doubt talk to your vet.
  • Genital Scent Glands: In addition to the scent glands under their chins, rabbits also have much more powerful scent glands on both sides of the genitals. Most rabbits are good about keeping their scent glands clean, but if your rabbit is overweight it’s always good to check them monthly as they may not be able to clean themselves. You’ll notice a musky smell if it’s time to clean them. When checking, look for dry, waxy build-up, you may confuse it with old poop. You can easily clean this with the help of a partner. With a wet cotton swab you can clean this, read Cleaning your rabbit’s scent glands to learn more.
  • Lumps & Bumps: This is also a good time to inspect your rabbit’s body entirely, check their legs, stomach, head, bottom, between the legs, everywhere. Both male and female rabbits will have nipples on their stomachs, but other than that, if you feel any strange lumps or bumps, have your vet check them. Just as with humans, the earlier you find and treat a problem, the easier it is to cure.