The pygmy rabbit is an animal that often lives indoors. Unlike our cats and dogs, he rarely has the opportunity to contact his relatives. As a result, some owners are wondering: should their dwarf rabbit need to be vaccinated? The answer is yes!
Rabbits can contract two very serious diseases: myxomatosis and hemorrhagic disease. They are caught through fleas and mosquitoes or hay. Fortunately, some vaccine exist to protect our little long-eared comrades.
Vaccines for rabbits: from what diseases?
Vaccination of rabbits is to protect the animal from microbes that can make it sick. Dwarf rabbit can be vaccinated against two life-threatening diseases :
Myxomatosis is a disease caused by a virus. Originally present on the American continent, it was introduced to Europe in the 19th century. It occurs in both wild rabbits (wild) and domestic rabbits.
It appears in many lumps all over the body. It also causes swelling of the eyelids and genitals. There is also a respiratory form leading to pneumonia. Myxomatosis is transmitted from a sick animal to a healthy rabbit from mosquito or flea bites.
Hemorrhagic disease manifests itself, as its name suggests, multiple bleeding. These hemorrhages are most often internal, the main symptom of this pathology, unfortunately, is sudden death of a rabbit. Sometimes there is a fever, trouble breathing, or blood loss from the nose or anus. Either way, death is inevitable.
Hemorrhagic disease appeared in France only in 1988. It is caused by a virus. Since the 2010s, a new virus (known as variable) appeared. This mutant virus is widespread among the population wild rabbits. Vaccines against this new variant have been on the market since 2015.
Infection occurs between rabbits through droppings or nasal discharge. These viruses are very persistent and can survive in the environment up to 4 months ; this is why food or plants that have been in contact with sick animals can be contaminants.
My rabbit never goes outside: should he be vaccinated?
The answer is always Yes ! It is advisable to vaccinate your dwarf rabbit, even if he never goes outside.
Mosquitoes and fleas can enter the apartment. Unless you’re in the middle of a big city, it’s possible that these insects have infected a sick rabbit and passed on myxomatosis to your companion.
Your indoor dwarf rabbit can also contract hemorrhagic disease from wild-harvested dandelions or other herbs contaminated by a sick wild rabbit. Same commercial hay immune to such contamination.
If you live in a rural area, next to meat rabbit farm or wild rabbits frolicking around your house, your NAC is highly exposed and vaccination is highly recommended. Also be careful if you take your city rabbit on holiday to the countryside for the holidays.
There is no cure for myxomatosis and hemorrhagic disease. Only vaccination can protect your rabbit. In wet areas, you can supplement this protection by mosquito nets for windows. Treating cats and dogs for fleas is also a good measure. And avoid collect grass or dandelions in nature.
When should I vaccinate my dwarf rabbit?
You can start vaccinating a dwarf rabbit aged 5 to 6 weeks. If possible, vaccination against myxomatosis should be started before biting insects become active (approximately February-March). For optimal protection of your rabbit against myxomatosis and both hemorrhagic disease viruses, two vaccinations per year required.
Your veterinarian provides vaccines and injections. Then he gives you vaccination card for your dwarf rabbit and informs you of necessary reminders. These visits are also an opportunity to have your NAC checked out, nail trimmed, or teeth checked. Provide a shipping box and feel free to let your veterinarian know if your dwarf rabbit is especially scared. In this case terry towel can be useful to wrap him up and prevent him from hurting himself by fighting back.
Vaccines for myxomatosis and hemorrhagic disease are very safe. Side effects are rare; myxomatosis vaccine may be responsible for a small lump under the skin without heavinessyou
Don’t delay vaccinating your dwarf rabbit. It’s worth it!
Also Read: Should You Spay Your Rabbit?
Isabelle Vixej, veterinarian