Veterinary care of rabbits

spotlight topic:

Veterinary care of rabbits

‘In the Spotlight’ features bring together collections of published papers on topics of interest and importance to the veterinary professions.

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Published 14 November 2022 | Updated 16 May 2023

There are estimated to be between one and two million rabbits kept as pets in the UK, and they are the third most commonly presented species in small animal veterinary practice. Despite this the evidence-base relating to veterinary care of rabbits is less developed and well known than that for dogs and cats.

The purpose of this collection is to bring together a selection of the most relevant published evidence and resources relating to the veterinary care of rabbits with the aim of improving the care that we can provide to this species in practice. This is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of the veterinary care of the rabbit, but rather a collection of recently published papers and review articles relating to areas of rabbit care where the evidence-base is developing.

The first section provides an overview of current knowledge about the health and welfare of rabbits kept as pets, including husbandry, the most frequently seen problems, and expected standards of care.

This is followed by sections covering common reasons for consultation including infectious disease, with an emphasis on prevention, and dental disease, including conditions that may occur secondarily to dental disease such as abscesses and dacro-cystitis.

There is then a section on inpatient care including the management of gut stasis and anaesthesia and analgesia. References specifically relating to pain assessment in rabbits can be found in our Spotlight feature on Quality of Life assessment tools.

The collection ends with short sections covering other relevant literature including conditions of the reproductive tract, which links to the section on Rabbits in our Spotlight feature on the Benefits and risks of neutering pets – what is the evidence.

As with our other collections, papers are chosen for relevance and accessibility, with the full text of articles either being available through the RCVS Knowledge Library or from other publications to which a significant number of veterinary professionals are likely to have access to, for example through the BVA or BVNA.


  1. Health and welfare of pet rabbits in the 21st Century
    • Welfare codes
  2. Infectious disease
    • Myxomatosis
    • Rabbit haemorrhagic disease
    • Myiasis
    • Encephalitozoon cuniculi
  3. Dental care
  4. Behaviour
  5. Critical care
  6. Anaesthesia and analgesia
    • Anaesthesia
    • Airway management
    • Monitoring
    • Analgesia
  7. Miscellaneous
    • Reproductive tract and neutering


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