Myxomatosis is often thought of as a ‘wild rabbit problem’ as the disease can be spread rapidly by summer’s ubiquitous supply of biting insects. However, domestic rabbits across the East Renfrewshire area from our base in Giffnock to Barrhead, Newton Mearns and Pollokshaws can contract this deadly disease too after being bitten by the same parasites.
Rabbit vaccinations are the only viable protection for your rabbits against diseases like Myxomatosis, and the two strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD), all of which are nearly always fatal. So, it’s vital that every domestic rabbit’s jabs are kept up to date annually.
How to reduce the chance of your rabbit contracting Myxomatosis
Apart from vaccination, other ways to reduce the chances of infection include:
- Protecting your pet rabbits from biting insects by putting mosquito netting around the hutch. This will help to prevent flystrike as well.
- If your rabbits are allowed to exercise outside avoid letting them out in the early morning or late afternoon when mosquitoes are more prevalent.
- Talk to our team about flea prevention for your rabbit. Our team can talk you through the most effective treatments.
A few words on RVHD
Like Myxomatosis, the two strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD-1 & RVHD-2) are nearly always fatal if contracted by un-vaccinated rabbits. RVHD can be spread on inanimate objects that have been contaminated with the virus including shoes, clothing, car tyres, rabbit hutches, and even your hands. Rabbits that have contact with an infected rabbit or their faeces, fur, or meat, are also likely to contract it.
How to reduce the chance of your rabbit contracting RVHD
The RVHD virus can survive on surfaces for up to 6 months, especially in colder climates. Given your rabbit can contract the disease from everything from human clothes and hands to the wind, this virus is pretty much impossible to avoid. So there really is only one practical method of protection and that is vaccination.
We hope you’re getting the clear message that rabbit vaccinations are vital for the ongoing health of all domestic rabbit populations in East Renfrewshire and beyond. If your rabbit has not been vaccinated or you’re not sure when their last jabs were, then please contact us for immediate advice.
Even though they are small animals, the risk that hot temperatures pose to rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters is big. In fact, for most small pets, their ideal temperature range tops-out at 23-25°C and anything above can quickly become life-threatening. Some bunnies can tolerate temperatures as high as 30°C but it’s a risk not worth taking.
As rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters cannot sweat like humans do, and have limited options to cool themselves down, it’s up to their owners to help them survive summer heatwaves.
If you have questions after reading our article or concerns about your pet’s health, get in touch with our Giffnock team.
Symptoms of heatstroke in small furry pets
If your rabbit, guinea pig, or hamster starts to exhibit any of the following symptoms of heatstroke you should get them somewhere cool and call us on 0141 620 2580 for emergency advice.
- Shallow, accelerated breathing (panting)
- Excessive drooling (thick saliva)
- Hot ears
- Wet nose
- Bright red or blue tongue and gums
- Less urine output due to dehydration
- Lethargy and weakness
- Cardiac arrest
How to help small furries cope in summer
When the mercury is rising, there are some steps you should take to make sure your small furry pets stay safe. Rouken Glen Vets’ team of experienced Vets have the following advice:
- Rabbits regulate their temperature through their ears so one way to boost their natural cooling system is to spray their ears with water – it will evaporate as it warms up. Avoid soaking your bunnies as this could put them at risk of respiratory illnesses.
- During hot weather in East Renfrewshire, move their hutch or cage out of direct sunlight and into the coolest spot that is practical.
- Keep water bottles and bowls topped up and if there is access to power nearby, think about setting up a fan (not pointed directly at the cage) to keep the air moving.
- Make a ‘cold water bottle’ and wrap it in a cloth for your pets to lounge against or set up frozen water bottles around their housing.
- Place a cooling mat or pop some cold tiles in the cage or hutch for your pets to lie on.
- Rabbits and guinea pigs can be more prone to flystrike in warm weather so make sure your pets are clean and dry (check for urine stains) and keep their bedding and housing impeccably clean.
All these little tricks should ensure your small furry pets do not succumb to the heat. Remember, our Giffnock Vets are here to help if you are concerned about your pet’s health.
When looking to get your child’s first pet, many parents will automatically think, ‘small furry animal’. Whilst some small furries can be rewarding first pets, they also require a lot of dedication and commitment to make sure they are looked after appropriately. Get Rouken Glen Vets’ advice on what to consider before buying a small mammal for your child.
Common small animals kept as pets include guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats. According to our Giffnock nursing team, they have many differences besides appearance, so it is crucial that you fully research the species and what their requirements are before committing to any of them. For example, guinea pigs are typically easier to handle than rabbits, meaning they might make a better option for your child.
Other things that need to be considered include:
- Home setup – what do you need?
- Who is responsible for cleaning them out and feeding?
- Lifespan of the animal?
- Do they need a companion?
- Are they nocturnal?
- Do they hibernate?
Having a good understanding of the above questions means that choosing the most suitable pet should be easier. Read our helpful guide on the different types of small furries you can keep as pets – download our Small Furry Pet Stats here.
Home setup needed for small furry pets
Some small animals need to be kept outside in a hutch (that can be brought inside a shed or indoors in very cold weather and has shade from the sun), whilst some need to be kept indoors in a suitable cage. Either way, they will need decent-sized housing with room to grow, especially if they need a companion. Small furries also need items inside their housing for enrichment, such as toys, hideouts, exercise equipment, and things to gnaw. All species need cleaning out regularly, so estimating how long this will take and deciding who is responsible is very important.
Some small animals may only have a life expectancy of 1-2 years while others may live 10+ years. This may be a deciding factor when choosing your child’s pet, as it will give you an idea of the long-term commitment that you are making.
Regular health checks at our Giffnock vet practice will help our team to spot any problems that need addressing. Just like cats and dogs, each type of small furry pet comes with their own set of typical health problems you should make yourself aware of before buying one. For example, rabbits and guinea pigs can be prone to deadly flystrike if their housing is not kept clean. Some small furries have a higher risk of respiratory issues and lumps too.
Small furry pet companions
When it comes to companionship, some small animals may be happy to live on their own whilst others need a companion to be happy and healthy. Same or opposite sex pairings and groups will depend on the species (and the individual animal), as not all will get along – then comes the question of neutering. The veterinary team at Rouken Glen Vets advise that rabbits and male guinea pigs are typically neutered if living in same-sex pairs or groups. This is also important as multiple animals means more responsibilities and costs.
There are many places you can go to for advice on what small animal may suit your family most. These include speaking to the vet nurses at your local veterinary practice, pet shops, reliable internet sources, and rescue centres. Doing the research at the beginning will make the whole process more rewarding and easier in the long run to ensure your pet is kept healthy and happy, and your child has a pet they can enjoy being responsible for.
Did you know that some animal rescue centres also have small furry pets in need of a loving home?
Remember to check out our helpful Pet Stats to aid your decision making:
Due to their thick covering of fur, rising temperatures can become dangerous for rabbits as summer approaches. Rabbits can easily overheat and develop life-threatening gut problems or disease with these seasonal changes. Do not panic, the team at Rouken Glen Vets are here to help you learn how to prepare your small furry pets for the warmer months ahead.
Rabbit checklist for dealing with rising temperatures
A big problem for rabbits during summer is overheating. Here are some ways to reduce that risk:
- Position the hutch in the shade – if outdoors, maybe think about creating a burrow (that they cannot escape from) to help them mimic their natural ‘wild’ behaviours.
- Rabbits do require some time in the sun during the day to get the vitamin D they need for digestion – give them short amounts of supervised time outdoors with shaded areas.
- Make sure their water bowl/bottle is filled up with fresh water more regularly.
- Wrap an ice pack or a 2-litre drink bottle of frozen water in a towel for them to lean on.
- Provide a cooler space to lie on such as a cooling mat or a cold tile.
- Use water in a misting spray bottle on their ears to cool them down – never soak them as this could put them at risk of respiratory problems if they catch a chill.
- Make sure their hutch is well-ventilated – a fan can be used but avoid pointing it directly at your bunnies and make sure they have enough space to move away from it if they want to.
- Give frozen veggies as a cooling treat.
The signs of heat stroke in rabbits include:
- Increased heart rate
- Head tossing
- Red or hot ears
- Seizures or a coma
If your rabbits are suffering from heat stroke, do not submerge them in water or leave them unattended for long periods of time. Dampen their fur, offer them cool water, and call our Rouken Glen Road vet practice right away for advice on 0141 620 2580.
Despite the warmer weather during spring and summer, there can still be cold spells, so make sure there is extra insulation and bedding if required. In addition, spring grass (which is high in sugars) can cause gut issues in your rabbits, so gradually introduce them to this within their feed.
Summer rabbit diseases
Another topic of concern is disease. During warmer months, the risk of diseases such as flystrike, myxomatosis, and VHD (Viral Haemorrhage Disease), as well as parasite infections increases. You can significantly reduce the risks with optimal hutch hygiene and the correct vaccinations. If you are concerned about any of these, contact us right away on 0141 620 2580 to book a rabbit check-up.
A great way to reduce both the risk of overheating and disease is grooming. Brushing can help to remove some of their thicker winter fur and any debris, which will help to cool them down. If your rabbits have long fur that needs a trim, it is wise to consider using a professional groomer for this as a rabbit’s skin is quite thin and easily damaged.
Should I bathe my rabbit to cool or clean them?
Rabbits tend to keep themselves meticulously clean. If your rabbit gets extremely dirty and needs some help, spot cleaning is the safest method. If they get hot, it is best to follow the advice above. Being bathed could frighten your rabbit, leading to injury from thrashing about. Also, they could catch a chill and suffer from pneumonia, respiratory infections, hypothermia, and other life-threatening health conditions. If your rabbit is struggling to clean themselves or you spot urine or faeces on their fur, contact our veterinary team as soon as possible as they may be at risk of
We hope our tips on how to keep rabbits cool and healthy in summer will help you have a happy and trouble-free season with them in East Renfrewshire.
As part of National Pet Month (April 1st – May 2nd), Rouken Glen Vets are celebrating the lives of small furries by sharing why our nurses believe they make excellent additions to many households. That’s right, we are talking about rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, chinchillas, and all other small furry pets.
Join in with our celebrations by sharing photos of your adorable small furry pets on our Facebook page using the hashtag #GiffnockSmallFurries
If handled the right way (and regularly) from an early age, small furries can become extremely friendly and loveable pets. Read our nursing team’s thoughts on them below.
9 reasons to love small furry pets
1. They are cute, funny, adorable, and can make truly wonderful companions for children and adults alike.
2. They don’t take up much room other than a cage or a hutch, and a safe, enclosed space to run around in – rabbits & guinea pigs need some sunlight hours to aid digestion.
3. They are generally less expensive to keep than cats, dogs, and other larger pets in terms of housing, food, veterinary care, and holiday sitters.
4. They can be fairly easy to keep, although it is important to research what your particular species likes to eat, and their housing, enrichment, and companionship needs.
5. They don’t need walking for hours around the park, but they do need exercise on things like hamster wheels, rolling balls, and in an enclosed run.
6. You can have lots of fun creating DIY activities and boredom busting toys for them.
7. Grooming rabbits and guinea pigs can be therapeutic for you both.
8. You can grow some of their food in your back garden, keeping costs low and helping the planet. Make sure to give them non-toxic greens in addition to hay and specially formulated pellets if that’s what they need to thrive.
9. Taking care of small pets can teach children about responsibility and caregiving.
Do small furry pets have ‘issues’?
Like all pets, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, and chinchillas come with their own set of health and care issues. These small pets might not be right for every family, home setup, or budget, so be sure to research thoroughly before buying. If buying for a child, think about how long the species typically lives for and how long before your child goes off to university or leaves home!
Rouken Glen Vets’ nurses have also put together a list of things to be aware of when thinking about getting a small furry pet:
- They may bite and move quickly, and are skilled escape artists
- Larger pets see them as prey and may attack them given the opportunity
- Some species need to live in pairs; rabbits and male guinea pigs need to be neutered in mixed gender pairs or groups (female guinea pigs over 7 months can have first-time birthing issues)
- Many species are nocturnal – research, invest in earplugs, or re-locate the cage at night
- You will need to make sure they are not too hot or too cold as the seasons change
- Cages/hutches need cleaning out regularly to prevent deadly flystrike amongst other issues
We hope you found our nursing team’s advice helpful. Pop over to our Facebook page to share your small furry pet photos, or to ask us questions about these wonderful creatures if you are thinking about becoming an owner.
Remember to use our hashtag #GiffnockSmallFurries
Owning a small furry pet is great! They are cute, friendly, and active, but they do suffer from their own share of diseases, just like cats and dogs. Lumps and bumps are common in pet rodents however they are not always harmful and do not always need removing. Follow Head Vet Richard’s guide below to find out more.
Common lumps and bumps on pet rodents
Lumps and bumps come in many different shapes and sizes, so here are the common problems each of the furry animals suffer from.
Hamsters are prone to testicular or mammary lumps. If either of their testicles or nipples are hard or even distended, there could be a tumour or mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland) present. Facial lumps are often caused by dental issues or abscesses. Any lumps on the body (if ulcerated) could be dangerous, so contact Rouken Glen Vets for an appointment
With Guinea Pigs, abscesses often appear on the head, neck, and in the mouth; cysts appear on the back; and tumours often develop on the tail and chest.
Rats and Mice
These rodents are prone to abscesses, enlarged lymph nodes, and tumours due to their high oestrogen levels leading to rapid cell division.
Gerbils are prone to abscesses formed from bacterial build-ups and tumours developing on their scent glands, skin, testicles, and teats.
So how are these lumps and bumps treated?
Not all lumps need to be removed. If the lump is due to a bacterial infection, it will most likely be treated with a course of antibiotics. However, if the bump is caused by excess fluid (a cyst or enlarged lymph nodes), they can be drained by a Vet. However, tumours can usually be surgically removed if benign or at an early cancerous stage.
To help spot any of these abnormalities, there are some typical signs you can look out for:
- A change in behaviour
- A reduced appetite
- Smelly breath
- You can feel or see lumps or sores on your pet
If you spot any of these signs, contact Rouken Glen Vets’ team at Rouken Glen Road for further advice or to book an appointment.
With spring just around the corner, you will likely be flinging the windows open by your rabbit’s hutch or moving it back outside. You may even treat them to more time in the garden. Before you do, it is wise to make sure your rabbit’s vaccinations are up to date.
At Rouken Glen Vets in Giffnock, we want to be sure rabbit owners are aware of the deadly diseases that can affect their pets and how to protect them.
Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease can strike even if your pets live well away from other rabbits. These diseases sadly have high mortality rates. Fortunately, rabbit vaccinations are available to protect your pets. So why not get in touch with our team to check if your rabbit vaccines are up to date, or to book a booster right away?
Why rabbits need vaccinating
Rouken Glen Vets’ Head Vet Richard Black, shares the key facts about these horrible rabbit diseases below.
- Domestic rabbits do not need to be in contact with wild rabbits to catch it
- It spreads quickly and is passed through fleas, mosquitos, midges, and mites
- Symptoms include nasal and eye discharge, eye inflammation leading to blindness, swelling, redness/ulcers, problems breathing, appetite loss, and lethargy
- Even with the best possible veterinary treatment, very few pet rabbits survive Myxomatosis so vaccination is essential
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
- VHD often occurs in outbreaks, spreading rapidly from rabbit to rabbit
- Your rabbit does not need to be in contact with other rabbits to catch it as the virus can be carried in feed, on bedding, by wild birds and insects, and on the feet of rabbit owners who have been walking in an infected area
- There are two strains – VHD-1 has a higher mortality rate (almost 100%) but VHD-2 can also affect younger rabbits under 6 weeks old that may not succumb to VHD-1
- Symptoms of VHD-1 include respiratory distress, fever, appetite loss, lethargy, convulsions, paralysis, and bleeding from the nose before death. Signs of VHD-2 can be vague.
- VHD is easily preventable with vaccines
What vaccinations do rabbits need & when?
You can protect your pet against Myxomatosis and VHD with annual rabbit vaccinations from just five weeks old. In some circumstances, our veterinary surgeons may advise more frequent vaccinations.
If your rabbit has been vaccinated and you cannot remember when their booster is due, get in touch and we can check.
A rabbit vaccination appointment also gives you the perfect opportunity to talk to Rouken Glen Vets’ experienced team about your rabbit’s health in general.
What do hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits have in common, besides being cute small furry pets? Well, they all have teeth that grow continuously and need the correct diet to keep them in-check naturally. Well done if you guessed it correctly!
Rouken Glen Vets are hopping onboard with February’s Pet Dental Health Month and sharing advice to help small furry pet owners in East Renfrewshire learn about their pets’ dental needs.
Common small furry pet dental problems
A common dental problem that rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters face is overgrown teeth. If teeth are not kept at a healthy length by chewing food and gnawing, they can become too long and cause a variety of issues such as:
- Pain and discomfort
- Difficulty eating – after around 6 hours this becomes an emergency situation for rabbits & guinea pigs who should graze almost constantly
- Roots get pushed back into the jaw & skull
- Teeth break off causing discomfort (typically in hamsters)
- Overgrowth digs into the mouth and gums causing cuts and abscesses
- Dental disease
How to spot the signs
Spotting dental health problems in rabbits and other small furry pets can be tricky to the untrained eye. As prey animals, their instinct is to hide pain and avoid showing any sign of weakness.
That’s why it is important for you as an owner to keep a lookout for any, or a combination of the symptoms below. Take a note of your pet’s general health, as well as how the inside of their mouth looks.
14 signs of dental problems to look out for:
- Long, deformed, misaligned, or broken teeth
- Redness of the gums
- Grinding teeth
- Bumpy jawline
- Weepy eyes
- Runny nose
- Swollen face
- Mouth sensitivity
- Eating less
- Weight loss
- A dirty bottom (grooming becomes difficult & painful)
- Diarrhoea or unusually soft faeces
- They are less active or quiet
How to avoid hamster, guinea pig & rabbit dental problems
Diet is the key to avoiding these types of issues. Hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits need the right type of fibrous food they can chew on to keep their teeth at a healthy length. Balanced nutrition also helps them develop strong bones and teeth, just as it does in humans.
- Rabbits need lots of fresh timothy hay to chew on as part of their daily diet.
- Guinea pigs need to bite, chew, gnaw, and grind food; hays, grasses, vegetables & herbs.
- Hamsters store food rather than graze all day. They need nutritionally balanced ‘complete’ rodent pellets, small amounts of fresh produce, and the occasional seed treat.
Enrichment is important too. Bored pets tend to gnaw on their cage, which can damage teeth. Try small wooden blocks, paper to shred, and pet-appropriate chew toys and treats.
Regular vet visits are also helpful. Our highly experienced Vets in Giffnock can check your pet for signs of dental problems and carry out the necessary procedures – teeth trimming, filing down spurs, treatment for infections, and extractions.
You’re doing an excellent job caring for your rabbit, but there’s no harm in discovering ways to do better by your pet, your pocket, and the planet. Our Head Vet Richard, has come up with some interesting ideas to get your new year off to a great start.
Read our top tips for rabbit owners
1. Get your rabbit vaccinated
If your rabbit’s booster is overdue or they’ve never been vaccinated we recommend making this a top priority. Rabbit vaccinations protect against deadly diseases – Myxomatosis and both strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD-1 & RVHD-2). Our Vets will give your rabbit a nose-to-tail health check at the same time, getting them ready for the year ahead.
2. Switch to loose fruit & veg at the shops
Ditch the plastic packaging and opt for fresh food items that are sold loose. You can always take your own food containers and those re-usable material fruit & veg bags.
3. Choose local, seasonal produce or grow your own
Buy in-season produce grown in the UK and reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding imported goods. Go one step further and visit your local farm shop in East Renfrewshire – most grow produce on-site or nearby and use local suppliers. Alternatively, why not grow your own and save money too? Your rabbit will thank you for the fresh ‘garden-to-bowl’ goodies.
4. Make DIY rabbit toys out of eco-friendly materials
Save money and be more eco-friendly by making toys for your rabbits – Richard asked Rouken Glen Vets’ nursing team to share their ideas:
- Foraging trays: cardboard, scrunched up newspaper, hay, and rabbit food/treats.
- Digging box: large cardboard box, soil, rabbit-friendly plants and treats.
- Treat roll: toilet/kitchen roll cardboard tube, timothy hay, rabbit treats to hide inside.
- Veggie kabob: metal hanging treat holder (search ‘rabbit kabob’ on Amazon), rabbit-safe vegetables cut into chunks – go steady on the carrots as these are sugary.
5. Get an eco-friendly rabbit hutch by choosing pre-loved
Check freecycle, Facebook market place, Shpock, eBay, and other places offering pre-loved a.k.a. second-hand goods. You’ll extend the life of a rabbit hutch or run that would otherwise be thrown away, and you could even upcycle your new item into a 5-star rabbit retreat!
6. Adopt rather than buy a companion for your bunny
Did you know that some animal rescue shelters rehome rabbits? Adopting a pet rabbit is a wonderful option as you get to give an abandoned pet a second chance in life. As rabbits need to live in pairs, why not contact your local animal shelter first? The Blue Cross also rehome rabbits – learn more.
We hope you enjoyed reading Richard’s top tips for rabbit owners and are ready to put your new year plan into action. Here’s a quick reminder to;
You could help other rabbit owners in East Renfrewshire too by sharing this post on your social media profiles. Just hit the share buttons in this article or copy the link.
House parties can be a lot of fun, especially around Christmas and New Year; but are they fun for your small pets? What the team at Rouken Glen Vets can tell you, from their many years in small animal care, is that most small pets will fare better if they are kept well away from large gatherings at home.
Started the celebrations early? If you notice any unusual behaviours in your small pets, it would be wise to get them checked out by one of our experienced Giffnock Vets.
Small furry pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, rats, and chinchillas, generally scare easily and dislike loud noises or changes to their routine.
So, what should you do if you want to have people over during the holiday season?
First, establish if your pets, which are typically kept in pairs, are nocturnal or diurnal…
Hamsters, rats, and chinchillas are nocturnal (active at night); guinea pigs and gerbils are diurnal (active in the day) but are most active at dusk & dawn. This is important so you know when to implement the below advice in time for your party:
- Allow your small pets to sleep as normal by moving their housing to an area in your home (or preferably someone else’s) that is well away from the noise of your gathering. Try not to disturb their regular sleep pattern as this can throw them out of sorts. Putting a breathable cover over your pets’ cage or hutch may help to drown out some of the noise.
- Don’t bring the party to your pets as seeing lots of people could frighten your pets. Plus, your guests may open your pets’ cage to play with them, resulting in injury (to pets or guests) or escape.
- Keep to your pets’ usual food times even if that means nipping upstairs while your guests are there. Minimising changes to your pets’ routine is important to keep them happy & well.
- Make or buy some small furry pet toys so they have something to occupy themselves with if they’re awake. Foraging trays are a great idea to keep your pets busy; all you need is a tray, some hay, pet-safe herbs, and their favourite treats – hours of fun!
All of us at Rouken Glen Vets in Giffnock wish you a wonderful time over the holiday season. We want your small furry pets to have a good time too, so do try to follow the above advice and contact us if you notice any problems with your pets.