Vaccinating rabbits: yes or no?
Rabbits should always be vaccinated to protect them from potentially fatal diseases.
This applies to both outdoor and indoor rabbit keeping, as the pathogens for certain infections can also be transmitted by mosquitoes.
Nevertheless, there are differences in the immunizations and the various diseases, so that not every vaccination is useful in every case.
You should therefore consider some factors in advance to make the best decision.
general state of health
type of vaccination
Three rabbits kept in hygienic housing have lower risks than a stocking of 20 animals kept indoors. If there are pre-existing conditions, some risks are also increased.
Which vaccinations are useful?
Vaccinations against myxomatosis and RHD are absolutely necessary.
What is myxomatosis?
Myxomatosis is a viral disease that can be transmitted by wild rabbits, for example.
Thus, transmission routes include, among others, green fodder and hay.
However, mainly mosquitoes and biting flies are responsible.
The disease is often fatal and highly contagious.
Since mosquitoes and biting flies not only occur in outdoor enclosures or stables, but can also occur in the home and there is no high-quality protection against them, vaccination is absolutely necessary.
The infection is indicated by apathy, loss of appetite and low fluid intake. Subsequently, considerable swelling of the mucous membranes may occur.
Thus, mainly affected by this are:
What is RHD?
RHD is also a virus and causes infection.
The disease is also known as China disease. It is often fatal and treacherous. This is because the infection usually goes unnoticed for a long time.
Apathy and loss of appetite can occur in conjunction with fever.
Direct external signs do not exist.
As with myxomatosis, which is also known as rabbit plague, the transmission routes are starting from wild rabbits, food, hay and mosquitoes.
Therefore, a safe prevention in the pure apartment keeping is not possible. For this reason you must vaccinate your animals against it.
In addition, rabbits that survive the disease are still at risk of infecting other members of their own species.
The topic of “vaccinating rabbits” always leads to discussions and is also quite controversial in the trade press.
To bring some light into the darkness, we have asked the most important questions on this topic in this article and answered them for you based on current scientific findings.
While some vaccinations for rabbits are not mandatory, there are two that you should not neglect.
You can find out which ones they are now.
Other potential risk diseases
Two other diseases that can be rapidly fatal to rabbits are rabbit rhinitis and clostridia.
Vaccinations against these diseases are possible, but the respective vaccines are not licensed in Germany. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile for you and your animals to always check with your veterinarian.
Because the legal regulations can change, so that appropriate means can come nevertheless into question, if a vaccination recommends itself due to the attitude or the entire state of health of your rabbit.
What is the cost of a rabbit vaccination?
It depends on the vaccine chosen and the rate the veterinarian charges.
The fees for vaccinations, as well as for other treatments, are regulated in the Veterinary Fee Schedule (GOT). However, the veterinarian is free to apply the single, double or triple rate.
For a normal vaccination during normal opening hours, it is usually the single rate and therefore about 15 euros per vaccination, per animal.
However, the costs can rise to 45 dollars and more if, for example, examinations are necessary beforehand, the treatment takes place outside normal office hours or it is particularly difficult for other reasons.
In addition, the vaccine can be administered individually or in combination.
Which option is better depends on the constitution of the rabbit.
However, the costs tend to be limited to less than 50 Euros, which is much cheaper than treating an outbreak of the disease.
What side effects can occur with vaccination?
Vaccinations, like any other drug or medical remedy, can have side effects.
- Fatigue / apathy
- Loss of appetite
Vaccinations with live pathogens can also cause the exact symptoms that occur with the particular disease.
Especially in the case of the dreaded rabbit cold, the vaccination can even trigger an infection.
Therefore, preparatory measures are useful before immunization takes place.
What should be considered before vaccination?
Rabbits with a severely weakened immune system and a previous illness should not be vaccinated at first, but should be prepared for vaccination.
This includes checking body temperature, weight, and feces, and possibly a blood test if there are already known problems.
A worm infestation should be excluded urgently before the vaccination.
A fecal examination after collecting droppings for three days and a fresh sample are suitable for this purpose. Otherwise, a worming treatment should be carried out as a precaution.
A time interval should be observed so that the intestine can recover accordingly.
Usually one week before vaccination is sufficient for this.
Frequently asked questions
Core and non-core vaccinations – what is the difference?
Core vaccinations are the two immunizations that every rabbit should receive: Myxomatosis and RHD.
All other possible vaccinations fall under non-core vaccinations.
When can you start vaccinating rabbits?
The first immunization is ideally given between the fourth and sixth week of life.
It should therefore be carried out when the animals are still with their mother. After that, the rabbits should be vaccinated as soon as possible if this has not already been done at the breeder or pet shop.
Again, note that prior deworming and examination is required to avoid unnecessary stress on the rabbit’s organism.
Are rabbits from the pet shop already vaccinated?
Some rabbits are already vaccinated, others are not.
Therefore, always ask for a vaccination card belonging to the animal. If you don’t have it, you will need to see a veterinarian as soon as possible to get the vaccination done.
In addition, you should not place new, unvaccinated rabbits directly with existing pets. Since they could be carriers of certain diseases or become infected, quarantine is advisable.
During this time, your new addition can get used to its new home. However, you should follow strict hygiene rules, avoid direct contact and make an appointment with the vet immediately after or, if possible, even before the purchase.
Can rabbits be kept outside without vaccination?
Rabbits should not be kept indoors or in the garden without vaccination.
In outdoor keeping the risk is increased many times.
With collected green fodder, by mosquitoes or even by footwear and clothing pathogens can be transferred, which cause diseases.
Also, newly arrived rabbits and other pets pose a risk.
How often do rabbits need to be vaccinated?
The basic immunization takes place successively at intervals of two weeks. After that, the intervals depend on the particular vaccine.
A rough guide is one year.
The duration should not be exceeded.
In any case, after the vaccination you should ask the veterinarian concerned about the required booster. A reminder on the vaccination card will help not to exceed the time and thus increase the level of safety.
What is the proof of vaccination for rabbits?
Just as with dogs, cats and humans, a vaccination card is issued for rabbits.
- the name of the animal
- a description of the coat color
- the date of birth, if known
- the breed
- the name and address of the owner
- the name of the vaccine(s)
- date of the vaccinations
This must also be shown if you want to present your rabbit at a show, for example, which may be necessary for breeding, among other things.
Is follow-up care necessary after vaccinations?
It depends on the effects of the vaccine. These can be different for each animal.
Avoid touching the area where the vaccination was given for the first few days after the injection. This is because the injection site can be sensitive and painful.
Also, do not stress your pet.
Immediately after the vaccination, you should also stay for a quarter to half an hour. This is because some excipients in the solution can trigger allergic reactions, even anaphylactic shock.
In these cases, it is crucial that immediate intervention by the veterinarian is possible.
But: they rarely occur.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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