Vaccinations: protecting your rabbits

It's important to vaccinate your rabbits to protect them against infectious disease that could be fatal.

Our vets would always recommend vaccinating your rabbits, whether you keep them outdoors or indoors. This is because many diseases can be spread not only from other animals, but through insects and even your own clothes. Vaccinations can help them fight off diseases that would be fatal without this protection.

 

What do vaccinations protect my rabbits from?

Vaccinations are available to protect your rabbits from:

In the UK, a combined vaccination is available against Myxomatosis and RHD-1. To protect rabbits against RHD-2, they usually need a separate vaccination. It's usually recommended the vaccines are given two weeks apart. Your vet will discuss the best option for your rabbits.

Do vaccinations have any side effects?

It is possible, as with any medication, that your rabbits may experience some side effects from their vaccinations. Side effects are usually very mild and can include:

  • Small increase in body temperature (happens to between 1% to over 10% of rabbits who are vaccinated)
  • Temporary swelling where the injection has been given (happens to between 1% and 10% of rabbits who are vaccinated).

Side effects should improve within 24-48 hours (or a few weeks in case of swelling at the injection site) but you should always contact your vet if you have any worries or side effects are serious or don’t go away after a short period.

Always contact your vet immediately if your rabbit stops eating – they may be at risk of gut stasis (a serious condition in which the bowels stop working).

 

When should I vaccinate my rabbits?

Your rabbits can have their first vaccinations from five weeks old. After this, they will need regular booster vaccinations throughout their lives to keep their immunity up. Speak to your vet about when your rabbits will need theirs.

Your rabbits will likely need two or more injections each time they are vaccinated. These are usually spaced out by a couple of weeks – your vet will be able to give you more advice and exact timings.

Most rescue and rehoming centres will neuter and vaccinate their rabbits for you before rehoming, so make sure you have all these details when you register them with a vet so they can work out when they are due. Remember, where you get your rabbits from is really important when it comes to their health.

 

Do indoor rabbits need vaccinating?

Our vets would recommend vaccinating both outdoor and indoor rabbits. Although indoor rabbits are less likely to come into contact with wild rabbits, myxomatosis, RHD-1 and RHD-2 can easily be spread by insect bites, on other pets, and even on their owner’s clothes and shoes.

Alongside their vaccinations, remember to treat your rabbits regularly for fleas as these can carry harmful diseases.

 

How much do vaccinations cost?

The cost of vaccinating your rabbits will differ depending on your veterinary practice and where you are. Speak to your vet and they will be able to price up vaccinations for you.

Some vet practices will offer affordable packages where you pay a set amount a month for all your pet’s preventative healthcare (vaccinations, flea treatments, worm treatments, check-ups etc.). Speak to your vet to see if they offer this.

 

Myxomatosis

What is myxomatosis?

Myxomatosis is a disease common in wild rabbits that spreads easily to pet rabbits by direct contact and by insect bites. Myxomatosis is a very serious disease that is nearly always fatal.

Read more about myxomatosis on the Pet Health Hub.

How can I stop my rabbits getting myxomatosis?

The best way to stop myxomatosis from spreading is by vaccination and regular boosters. Find out more about preventing myxomatosis.

 

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

What is RHD?

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD, also known as ‘Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease’, RVHD or VHD) is a nasty disease that affects rabbits by attacking their lungs and other organs – it spreads very easily and is almost always fatal. There are two different types of RHD virus - RHD-1 and RHD-2 and rabbits need to be vaccinated against both.

You can find out more about both types of RHD on the Pet Health Hub.

 

How can I stop my rabbits getting RHD-1 and RHD-2?

Vaccination and regular boosters is the best way to protect your rabbits from RHD. Find out more about preventing RHD-1 and RHD-2.