It’s common for dogs and cats to get their vaccinations, but rabbits need them too. Many people do not know that rabbits also need vaccinations or they do not think it is necessary because, for example, a rabbit does not come into contact with other animals. However, this is not protection against diseases and a rabbit must have vaccinations to guarantee a healthy life.
Rabbit Disease Contamination
Many rabbit keepers think that it is not necessary to vaccinate their animal, because it does not come off their own property and has no contact with other animals. However, this is a misconception and the rabbit is indeed at risk of contracting diseases.
Causes of serious diseases are not only spread from animal to animal, but also through insect bites, food, and in some cases even through the air. This makes all rabbits susceptible, including those that live only indoors, and all rabbits are at risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from a disease against which they could have been vaccinated.
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There are two diseases that are highly contagious to rabbits and that are almost always fatal. Only vaccination can protect the animal against infection.
These two diseases, myxomatosis and VHS, are transmitted by viruses and infect the rabbit through flies, fleas, mites, mosquitoes, and dirty food. VHS, Viral Haemorrhagic Syndrome, is also sometimes referred to as VHD or RHD.
An inoculation ensures that a rabbit is fully protected against both diseases, but if a rabbit has not been vaccinated and gets the disease it is too late. There are no veterinary treatments and the diseases are fatal.
Does every infected rabbit die?
Fortunately, rabbits that are infected do not always die, but in most cases, they do not survive. The only thing a vet can do is fight the symptoms with medication and strengthen the natural defenses in the rabbit’s body. With a bit of luck, the rabbit will then be able to fend off the disease itself and recover. Unfortunately, almost all rabbits die, despite veterinary treatment.
When should you vaccinate?
Anyone who wants to protect the health of a rabbit against these two diseases must vaccinate. That is the only way to avoid contamination. Vaccination is possible from the age of four weeks and should continue until very old age.
The basic vaccination for both VHS and myxomatosis should actually be given when the rabbit is four to six weeks old. The repeat should be given between eight and ten weeks of age. Subsequently, the vaccination against VHS must be repeated every year, and the vaccination against myxomatosis every six months.
The rabbit must be healthy when the vaccinations are administered, otherwise, the immune system will not respond to the stimuli of the vaccine and no antibodies will be produced.
The basic intentions at the same time or separately?
You can choose whether to do the basic and follow-up vaccinations on the same day or at intervals. It is important to consider the welfare of the rabbit. Many people think that a rabbit suffers a lot from the injections and therefore choose to do it in two visits to the vet, in order to save the rabbit the second jab right after the first.
This is a sweet thought, but completely wrong. The vaccinations can be given on the same day and it is advisable to do so, precisely for the welfare of the rabbit.
A rabbit experiences a lot of stress during a visit to the vet and this causes the immune system to weaken. It is, therefore, better to put the rabbit in such a stressful situation once than twice.
Many vets hold a vaccination day for rabbits twice a year. It’s cheaper than going. 10 rabbits can be treated with a bottle of liquid.
When you come in with a rabbit, you often have to pay for the whole bottle, because the liquid does not have a long shelf life, while you only pay for the little liquid that is used by your rabbit when several rabbits are used at the same time. This makes a huge difference in costs. Vaccination days take place in the spring and autumn.