Vaccinating Rabbits: Important Health Precautions From the Laboratory

China disease, rabbit flu, myxomatosis – if the rabbit is attacked by a contagious disease, it is every owner’s nightmare. In fact, there are infections among rabbits that have the character of an epidemic because of their rapid spread and the most fatal consequences. Fortunately, vaccines against some of these epidemics are now available. Vaccinated early enough can protect your long-eared from some infections. Even so, routine vaccinations for rabbits are controversial on some points. Read here why.

Why Should I Have My Dwarf Rabbit Vaccinated?

The problem with infectious diseases in rabbits is that they can spread so rapidly within a herd. In nature, rabbits live in large groups in close contact with one another; Pathogens quickly migrate from animal to animal in the underground structures and via droplet and smear infections through the feces. This happens so exponentially and uncontrollably that an epidemic can wreak havoc on entire rabbit populations in a very short time. The reason for this mass effect: the sensitive organism of rabbits can collapse in a very short time, once disrupted and weakened. In addition, in the past, pathogens such as the Chinese epidemic were targeted in some places in order to curb rabbit plagues. The causative agents of fatal diseases are everywhere and are not only dangerous for wild rabbits or animals in free-range husbandry, but they can also be introduced into apartment buildings. As with any infectious disease, the following applies: good vaccination protection helps prevent diseases and curb epidemics as a whole.

What Diseases Should I Vaccinate My Rabbit Against?

Veterinary medicine dealt with the development of vaccines against typical rabbit diseases very early on. A certain economic pressure was in the foreground because a rabbit epidemic can quickly lead to high losses in breeding farms. Rabbits that live as pets also benefit from these vaccinations.

Vaccinations are generally possible against the following diseases:

  • RHD1 and RHD2 (Rabbit haemorrhagic disease, colloquially “China epidemic”): If left untreated, diseased rabbits die within a few days.
    Myxomatosis is also transmitted indirectly (for example through forage harvested in the meadow) by wild rabbits. The vaccination protects against the symptoms or significantly alleviates the disease.
  • Rabbit cold: Protects against individual pathogens of the disease, but is to be assessed critically, as considerable side effects can occur. Vaccination is useful for larger herds (breeding, fattening farms), but not necessary for small private groups.
  • Enterocolitis: The so-called intestinal paralysis occurs only rarely in species-appropriate private housing; Mass housing and industrial feeding favor the outbreak. This disease hardly plays a role in rabbits kept as pets.

For your rabbit as a pet, only the myxomatosis and RHD vaccinations are important. It should be noted that these are not administered at the same time, but a few weeks apart, unless a combination vaccine is used. The vaccination protection should be refreshed annually or every six months, depending on the serum used. In order to maintain an overview even when changing vets, your rabbit will receive a vaccination certificate in which the vet will note exactly which substances he administered and when. Interestingly, it seems that the time spans given by many manufacturers for the respective vaccination protection are very tight and the protective effect actually lasts longer; However, there are no clinical studies to substantiate this. The scant research on rabbit vaccinations is a hotly debated issue among medical professionals and pet owners. You should therefore ask your vet whether a six-monthly re-vaccination is absolutely necessary, as long as there is no acute risk of epidemic in your area. It is also important that only healthy rabbits are vaccinated: The vaccination should always be preceded by an examination of the general condition and a fecal sample. Illnesses at the time of vaccination can reduce protection or even lead to a so-called “vaccination breakthrough”, in which the serum causes the disease that was vaccinated against, as the immune system is too weak to produce antibodies.

When Can I Have Rabbits Vaccinated?

The timing for the necessary first vaccination, i.e. the basic immunization of young animals, is somewhat complicated. They are particularly susceptible to the typical rabbit diseases but receive partial immunity to the serums through breast milk, so you have to have the basic vaccination repeated every few weeks in order to achieve a reliable protective effect. Depending on which vaccine is used, different vaccination dates apply; Please consult your vet for advice. As a rule, the first vaccination against myxomatosis should be given in the fourth to sixth week of life and then re-vaccinated in the eighth to tenth week; alternatively, the basic immunization can be carried out with two vaccinations 14 days apart from the sixth week of life. RHD vaccination can be given in the fourth week of life with a re-vaccination in the tenth week; other sera are given in the sixth week of life with a re-vaccination one month later. In the case of the adult animal, the booster vaccinations are then carried out as specified in the vaccination certificate.

What are the Costs of Vaccinating Rabbits?

The prices for a vaccination vary depending on the amount of time the vet advises (advice is mandatory in connection with vaccinations), the cost of the vaccine used, and the issue of the vaccination certificate. In addition, there may be laboratory costs for the excrement examinations. The framework for the costs is specified in Germany by the fee schedule for veterinarians (GOT). The consultation costs are currently between 10 and 29 euros, the vaccination costs between 1.30 and 3.80 euros; the certificate costs 4 to 11.55 euros. A vaccination costs a total of between 20 and 50 euros plus sales tax. Compared to the cost of treating a sick animal, vaccinations are a sensible and inexpensive investment.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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