Most small-animal vets will be happy and very capable to provide veterinary treatment to rabbits. However, like everything you will find that there are some vets who will have a particular interest in treating rabbits. These vets may have made provisions in their practices to make sure they are as rabbit friendly as possible and equipped to deal more confidently with rabbit health issues. So how do you find them?
Where Do I Look?
The best place to look for these rabbit-friendly practices is on the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) website. The vet practices listed here are recognised for meeting criteria, including:
- General approach to health advice/care of rabbits
- Approach to rabbit dentistry
- Approach to gastrointestinal disorders in rabbits (gut stasis/ileus)
- Facilities (waiting rooms, hospitalisation, anaesthetic set-up, other equipment)
- Knowledge and resources within the team
- Protocols ( anaesthetic and post-op pain protocols)
This recognition is available at two levels: silver or gold, and must be reapplied for every 12 months. This ensures that knowledge and attitudes within a practice are up to date and remaining consistent. The application includes a detailed questionnaire/report and photographic evidence to assess the facilities.
Do not get caught up in trying to find a gold practice over a silver one. The difference in criteria is minimal with some factors beyond the vets practice’s control. This includes the lay out of the practice building and/or the presence of a vet with an exotics certificate (a very specific level of further education).
With any animal you hope not to have to spend too much time at your veterinary practice; however, it’s reassuring to know that you have one you can trust to look after your pet. Hopefully you will only need them for yearly vaccines and routine health checks!
Where Else Could I Look?
Trusted word of mouth is valuable – if you have friends locally who are also rabbit owners, why not ask them for their recommendations and experiences? However, do remember that every case is different particularly with rabbits, which are stoic and fairly fragile creatures. There are also various social media groups for rabbit owners which may be able to offer recommendations of vets – this can be useful but always be careful, remember everyone’s experience is different (and some people may be more vocal than others).
Contact The Practice.
I would always advise a telephone call over an e-mail as in a busy practice these can sometimes get overlooked and you may be waiting for a reply. Don’t be afraid to call the reception team and ask them a couple of friendly questions – you can always ask whether they have time to answer a few questions on rabbit treatments or whether they would prefer an e-mail. This gives them the option and ensures you get the answers to the questions that are valuable to you.
Things to consider:
You may wish to ask which vaccines they use – do they have myxomatosis/RHD1 and RHD2? There is also a newer vaccine available now which offers protection from all three diseases in one. It is advisable to ensure that you can vaccinate against all three of these diseases – whether it be via one or two vaccines.
Waiting room/clinic times:
Some practices have certain times of the day that they invite rabbit owners in. This is usually a time that is quieter, without predators such as barking dogs/cats which can stress rabbits. If they don’t have a particular time you could ask to wait outside the practice in your car and be called through for your appointment when they’re ready for you.
Out of hours/emergency provisions:
Rabbits (and other pets) don’t follow diaries or opening times and often require urgent treatment outside of practice opening hours. Make sure you know whether your practice provides emergency care, and if not which practice they will direct you to.
If you have booked your rabbit in for an operation (e.g. dental/neutering), don’t be afraid to ask the practice whether they would like you to bring anything with you. It’s always useful to bring some of your rabbit’s own food, bedding and favourite treats to encourage them to eat afterwards.
Ask reception if there is a particular vet they would recommend you see. This is not a test or a dismissal of any other vets in the practice and their abilities BUT if there is a particular vet within the practice that has an interest in treating rabbits the reception team will know. A vet who is enthusiastic and interested will often go the extra mile.
In summary the RWAF list of rabbit friendly vets would be the first place to look, speak to fellow rabbit owners and don’t be afraid to speak to any practice you’re interested in.
Share your experiences with finding a vet for your rabbit in the comments below. Whether you’re currently looking or have previous experience, we’d appreciate your input.