Taking your rabbit to the vet needn’t be stressful. With a little bit of time and preparation, you can make it a positive experience for both you and your pet.
Regular health checks for your rabbit are essential to ensuring your rabbit stays happy and healthy
Whether it’s your rabbit’s first visit or they’re a seasoned pro, keep reading for our essential advice on taking your rabbit to the vet.
How to prepare
Preparation is key to ensuring your visit goes as smoothly as possible.
If your rabbit is feeling sick or unwell, write down all their symptoms to take with you; this will help your vet in diagnosing the root of the issue. Once you’ve booked your appointment, you should think about any pet care questions you’d like to ask your vet or nurse.
Some appointments, such as diagnostic tests and surgery, may require you to collect a urine sample on the morning of the appointment. Make sure you double-check with the receptionist upon booking.
Getting them there
Rabbits generally don’t travel well, and often find car journeys stressful or uncomfortable.
The safest way to transport your rabbit to the vet is in a special rabbit carrier. This should be a solid, well-ventilated carrier that’s big enough to be comfortable and small enough to help them feel secure. Avoid cardboard boxes, as these are easily chewed and can become damp in the event of an accident or rain.
It’s important to familiarise your rabbit to their carrier as early as possible. Keep it in a place where your rabbit likes to sit and place their blanket, toys and a few vegetable treats inside. This will create a positive association with going in their crate, making it much easier to shut them in when it comes to going out. Don’t just bring it out of the cupboard when you’re about to go the vet, or they’ll come to associate it with a potentially frightening or uncomfortable experience.
If your rabbit is unwilling to go into their carrier, place your carrier on its end, so the open door is facing the ceiling, and put a towel in the bottom to absorb any accidents. Use gentle, confident movements to scoop them under the chest - with your hand between their front legs - and hold them against you, keeping their bottom and hind legs in the crook of your elbow; this stops them flipping and kicking out. Rabbits tend to be calmer if they can’t see, so cover their eyes with your other hand and gently lower them into their crate – this will prevent them from feeling forced into a ‘no way out’ situation.
If you’re unsure on how to correctly handle your rabbit without risking spinal fractures, speak to your vet before the appointment. Close and secure the door and slowly return to its normal position. Placing a blanket over the top will help calm your rabbit, as well as using soothing voice commands. You may also want to place some hay in their crate to keep them occupied and a spritz of calming rabbit spray to help soothe their nerves.
Secure the carrier firmly in the car and drive carefully and gently to avoid stressing out your rabbit.
What to bring to the vet
When visiting your vet, don’t forget to bring:
- A blanket or some bedding to help keep them calm
- A carry crate for safe transportation
- A urine sample (if necessary)
- A special treat to reward them afterwards
If you’re visiting the vet for the first time, you may also need to bring your rabbit’s vaccination card and any medications they’re currently taking.
During the appointment
The best way to ensure a successful vet visit is to remain calm – your rabbit will be able to sense fear or anxiety, which will make them feel nervous and unsafe. Remember, your vet is always there to help you, and your pet’s wellbeing is their priority.
Most rabbits become spooked by over-excited dogs, so some rabbit-friendly clinics offer dedicated appointment times where every effort is made to maintain a quiet, calm environment that rabbits can relax in. Always check with your local vet to find out what they offer.
Appointments will vary depending on what it’s for, but it’s always important to listen to any advice your vet has about your rabbit’s health. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have; your vet or nurse will be more than happy to help.
You may need to offer comfort or hold your rabbit if they become nervous or if they need injections. Speaking calmly and gently will help put them at ease.
Sometimes a follow-up appointment is required, so don’t forget to speak to the reception team to organise this at a time to suit you.
Reward your rabbit for good behaviour at the end of the appointment with their favourite treat and lots of attention. This will help them make a positive association with going to the vet and give them a sense of security.