Is your bunny healthy?

Some advice to help you complete a basic physical exam of your bunny...

Start by watching your bunny’s activity level, attitude and breathing. In upright-eared bunnies, the ears are perked up and the bunny is paying attention to what is going on around them. They should be able to walk around on the floor without dragging any legs or feet and be curious about what they find there. Your bunny’s breathing should be even and regular - a nervous bunny will often sniff the air quickly, but it should never seem to be fighting to take a breath.

To do an exam, start at the front and work toward the rear. Look at your bunny’s eyes, nose and ears - all should be clean, with no matted fur or abnormal smells. The eyes should not be cloudy and the rabbit should be able to see well - you can evaluate vision by watching your bunny move around the floor, possibly putting obstacles in the way. Your bunny should also not be sneezing more than once or twice in a row and hold their ears evenly and not be sensitive about having them touched (but never try to clean your bunny’s ears with q-tips!)

Next, look at your bunny’s front teeth (incisors). These should be even length on top and bottom i.e. both top teeth the same; both bottom teeth the same without much food stuck between the teeth. There should not be any cracks in the teeth and the teeth should not be able to be moved. Back teeth usually require a trip to a vet to examine them properly.

Check the chin and insides of the front legs for matted fur, which can indicate drooling and teeth problems then check the bottoms of the front feet for redness, stuff coming from them or pain when the feet are pushed on – same with the back feet.

Look at your bunnies’ stomach (underside) and behind. Again, there should not be any matted hair or material stuck to the hair around this area. This can be a sign of obesity or a sign of diarrhoea.

Finally, look at the bunny from the top - they will usually look slightly pear shaped! If your bunny looks more like an apple with a head, it is probably too fat and needs to go on a diet!

In a future blog, we will look at some of the diseases that your bunny may get, what causes them, and what you can do to prevent them. In the meantime, give your bunny this basic physical to help keep them in tip-top shape – and of course if you have any concerns, pop along to your vet for advice.