The Six Do’s and Dont’s of Rabbit Exercise and Fitness

1)Starting From Scratch – a Rescue Adult With no or unknown Previous Exercise or Fitness Level

Congratulations on Your New pet! The first thing to note about rabbits is that you should keep them in bonded pairs, this will always provide a happier life (and also a hoppier one!) as rabbits will encourage each other to move around. In addition they will also require a good spacious area to do this in. For more information on happily bonded pairs and suitable housing see https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/housing-and-companionship-your-rabbits . To develop your new pair of rabbits exercise and fitness level you can:

DO: Provide your rabbits with a secure and run attached to their hutch as large as possible with access for a few hours a day.

DONT: Rehome a single rabbit from a bonded pair by separating it from its partner.

2)Baby Rabbits!

Is there anything cuter than baby rabbits? A pair of baby rabbits of 8 -12 weeks of age need a little more care in two ways:

DO: Keep your babies warm. While an outdoor hutch and run provides room to exercise in our climate in the winter is not suitable for rabbits this young
DON’T Allow an unneutered male/female pair time together. As Rabbits will breed from six to eight weeks of age, and while mating may be argued as a good form of exercise, it comes with the consequences more baby rabbits!

3)Indoor Rabbits

About half of the Pet Rabbits we see at Petcare Vets are “Indoor Bunnies”. Rabbits can make great indoor House Pets for houses and apartments with the following tips

Do: Hazard Proof All bunny accessible rooms. Bunnies love to chew and can snap wires in half in seconds.

Don’t: Lock your rabbits up in a small cage inside a room 24/7, they need to stand up on their back legs, lie with their legs outstretched to one side and hop and jump around otherwise they will experience cramping and aches.

4)Older Rabbits

Rabbits can live from 8 to 12 years. A rabbit is considered middle aged from age 3 and geriatric from 6 years of age. Exercise and Fitness for Older Rabbits is just as important

Do: Consider getting a replacement buddy for your rabbit if their old partner has passed away. They can be introduced slowly and will increase your older rabbits fitness levels and happiness levels

Don’t: Assume that if your rabbit is moving less or not displaying certain movements it is just “OLD AGE”. Older rabbits can suffer from arthritis (which is severe pain in the joints), we can help you with diagnosing this and treatment options.

5)Overweight & Lazy Rabbits

Your rabbits body condition score should be 3/5. For more information on body condition scoring see here;https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-health/further-reading/body-condition-score/ . Like ourselves exercise should be increased slowly and steadily:

DO: Ensure your rabbit has access to their run at dawn and dusk, as that is when they are naturally most likely to move around more.

DON’T: Guess if your rabbit is an okay weight. Check ups at Your Local Vets are recommended every 3 months for pets that live 8-12 years. Most clinics offer discount rates for rabbits and these are available through our plans see
http://www.petcarevets.ie/petcare-plans/ for more information

6)Rabbits With Medical Conditions

If your rabbit is suffering from a longterm illness such as arthritis, your will still need to encourage exercise and fitness to keep them as healthy as possible . A sedentary rabbit will develop many more health issues such as scalding of the back feet, fly strike and urinary infections. for more information see here
http://www.petcarevets.ie/rabbit-health/ 

DO: Ask your Vet about how to keep your rabbits exercise and fitness levels up during the period of illness.

DON’T: Asssume that your rabbit must now sit still or remain very confined for certain conditions.

Written by Mairead Kilbride MVB here with her dog Chip
Mairead has been Practice Principal at Petcare Vets since its opening in July 2017
She is very proud of her team and facitilies and is constantly striving to improve the welcome that all pets but especially rabbits receive so that their stress levels are minimised in the clinic

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