Rabbits are a popular pet in the UK, the PDSA Paws Report estimated there are around 900,000 pet rabbits! Despite them being so popular their needs are sometimes not well met, and issues with diet and husbandry are seen. This can result in increased risk of certain diseases or illnesses.
Having said that, rabbits are charismatic little animals and often become integral to their owners’ happiness and enjoyment. Many owners are researching well before getting them, providing excellent complete diets, providing enriching accommodation and environments, using preventative veterinary health care (such as vaccinations) and bonding closely with their pets.
Thus, when they get ill it can often be upsetting and very stressful.
Rabbit health issues
Rabbits can get a wide range of health issues which they need to visit the vet for. Common issues in rabbits include digestive tract disorders, eye and ear disorders, bone and muscle issues, lung/respiratory abnormalities and infections, skin and parasite issues, reproductive issues, injuries and many more!
You may think that rabbit’s veterinary costs will be fairly low as they are small. And yet this often isn’t the case.
- Your amazing veterinary team may need to use higher dosages of medication for rabbits because they metabolise certain drugs quicker than cats or dogs. This means the amount of drug is often equal to or more than a dog would get!
- Rabbits are also prey species and as such conceal and hide illness well. This means that when they present to a veterinary team, they can often be a lot sicker that you originally thought!
- Although GP vets and nurses are perfectly capable of treating many common disorders of rabbits, sometimes they require a more specialist hand. This means that they need referral for treatment or diagnostics to an exotic specialist vet.
- Rabbits’ veterinary care during illness can often be very intensive and time consuming, as well as providing adequate and appropriate accommodation etc. Registered Veterinary Nurses often have to spend a huge amount of time using their skills and expertise to medicate, monitor, treat and work up your rabbit. Their time and work are accounted for in hospitalisation fees.
- All this can result in a fair but higher than expected veterinary bill. As rabbits’ illness can be both complex and ongoing, requiring lots of input from your lovely veterinary team.
Your personal finances
So, when it comes to paying for your rabbit’s veterinary costs – is insurance worth it?
The honest answer is not an easy one – it is down to your individual and personal circumstances.
Choosing to insure will depend on:
- How much money you have in savings
- How much of those savings you would be willing to spend on your rabbit should they get sick
- If you can afford to pay for a large and unexpected veterinary bill up front should the worst happen
- If you would put your rabbit though intensive veterinary treatments
Pet insurance can be confusing, so research first and even ask your veterinary team for advice. See more here: Pet Insurance – Vet Help Direct
Main things to look for that will be individual to your finances:
- Is the insurance a monthly or annual fee
- Can you afford that fee?
- Is it lifelong cover or yearly?
- What is the excess payment?
- Are there any clauses that say you have to pay a percentage of the bill?
- What amount does the insurance cover up to?
The bottom line is that rabbits are often a 10 years+ commitment and, during that time, they may have complex veterinary health care needs.
As such, it is important that when you decide to take on a rabbit as a pet (ideally two, as they are happier in a bonded pair) then you must also ensure you are prepared financially should they become unwell.
To ensure you have back up for this, you may prefer to have insurance so that you know (depending on the company you chose) you will be able to either directly claim via the veterinary practice or claim a veterinary bill back after you have paid it. This may make you feel more financially prepared for unexpected or long-term chronic conditions that your rabbit may experience.