Vaccinations: protecting your rabbits

It’s important to vaccinate your rabbits to protect them against infectious diseases 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 could be fatal without this protection.

 

What do vaccinations protect my rabbits from?

Vaccinations are available to protect your rabbits from:

Make sure your rabbits are vaccinated regularly against all three diseases.

In the UK there isn’t a vaccine that protects against all three diseases, so your rabbits are likely to need two or more injections. 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 can include:

  • Being quieter than usual
  • Eating less
  • Sleeping more
  • Swelling around the injection site.

Side effects should improve within 24-48 hours but you should always contact your vet if you notice any of the above symptoms. 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 usually 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, but your vet will be able to give you more advice and exact timings.

Remember, where you get your rabbits from is really important when it comes to their health. 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.

 

Do indoor rabbits need vaccinating?

Our vets would always recommend vaccinating both outdoor and indoor rabbits. Although your indoor rabbits are unlikely to come into direct contact with wild rabbits, myxomatosis, RHD-1 and RHD-2 can easily be spread to them through other pets, insects and even germs 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 fatal disease common in wild rabbits that is easily spread to pet rabbits through direct contact with a poorly rabbit or commonly through insect bites.

You can read more about myxomatosis on our Pet Health Hub.

How can I stop my rabbits getting myxomatosis?

Vaccination is the best way to stop your rabbits catching myxomatosis. Find out more about preventing myxomatosis on our website.

As the myxomatosis virus can live on hutches, food bowls and water bottles, make sure you keep your rabbits’ enclosure clean and never re-use items from a rabbit that has been infected with the disease.

 

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

What is RHD?

RHD – also known as ‘rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease’ – is highly infectious and often fatal. It attacks a rabbit’s lungs and other organs. There are two types of RHD virus known as RHD-1 and RHD-2.

You can find out more about RHD in rabbits on our Pet Health Hub.

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

Vaccination is the best way to protect your rabbits and prevent the spread of this disease. You can find out more about how to prevent RHD-1 and RHD-2 on our website.