Vaccinating Pet Rabbits – What You Need To Know

Here at The Oak we are firm believers in preventative medicine – because why wait for your pet to get sick before treating them, if we can stop them getting sick in the first place?!
This is why we always recommend vaccinating all cats, dogs and pet rabbits.


What can you vaccinate rabbits for?

We routinely vaccinate rabbits against two major life-threatening diseases: Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.
Myxomatosis:is a viral disease spread by mosquitos and biting insects. There is no treatment or cure once a rabbit is bitten by an insect carrying the virus unless they are protected by an up to date vaccination. The first clinical signs of infection are usually swellings or lumps around the eyes and/or genitals, which progresses to cause blindness. The disease progresses over about 14 days causing listlessness, inappetance and eventually death.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD): is another viral disease which is fatal in rabbits. It can be spread by direct contact with infected rabbits, through their urine, faeces, mucus or secretions. It has been known to be transported on the wind so is highly contagious. Unfortunately the disease works its way through the body so quickly that often the first sign noticed by owners is that their pet rabbit has died or is unconscious. There is no treatment or cure but it is really important to be especially strict with hygiene – disinfect all feeders, water bottles and cages and keep a close eye on any other pet rabbits.
There have been reports recently of a new strain of RVHD – RVHD Type 2 in the UK. Currently there have been no confirmed cases of this newer strain in Pembrokeshire but we are keeping a close eye on the situation and will advise on vaccination if the disease becomes a risk in the area. There is a vaccination for RHVD2 but at present it is not licenced for use in the UK. We have applied for a special import licence to get hold of the vaccine should vaccination become recommended.


When should vaccinations be started?

You can start vaccinating rabbits from 5 weeks of age and the vaccine takes 3 weeks to become fully active in their system. We have a combined vaccine for Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease Type 1 so they only have to have one injection to protect against both.

Will my rabbit need booster vaccinations?

Yes. The combined vaccine lasts for 12 months so your pet rabbit will need booster vaccinations annually to keep their protection maintained.