Healthy Summer Rabbits
Although rabbits are generally viewed as lower-profile pets when compared with cats and dogs, they have specific needs and require lots of care and attention to make sure they thrive. With this in mind, the heat of summer introduces the risk of your rabbit suffering two particularly nasty and potentially fatal diseases.
Fly strike is a serious condition that affects rabbits in the warmer months. Flies lay their eggs close to your rabbit’s back end, and within a couple of hours the eggs hatch into maggots that feed on the rabbit.
The sheer speed of fly strike means you need to be alert, check twice a day that your rabbit is clean. It’s also advisable to disinfect the hutch at least weekly, and not to overfeed them. If your rabbit lives outside, you can also protect them from fly strike to some extent by fixing mosquito netting around their hutch.
Myxomatosis is usually fatal for rabbits, and is caused by fly, flea, tick, or mosquito bites. It can also be carried between rabbits on infected bedding and straw. Myxomatosis is a highly infectious virus that causes the mucous membranes around the eyes to swell, but there is a vaccine that typically lasts for 12 months.
The vaccine doesn’t remove the risk of this awful disease entirely, but if your vaccinated rabbit is infected by the virus it can increase its chances of survival if treatment is also administered as an emergency.