Vaccinations For Rabbits: Advantages & Importance

Vaccinations For Rabbits

Taking care of rabbits is more than providing safe shelter and food. They are species that need protection from diseases that they can acquire easily in their surroundings. According to the National Office of Animal Health NOAH’s website, one proactive measure you should consider is getting your rabbit vaccinated.       

Most rabbit owners need to remember to do this in their bunnies because they think rabbits do not acquire viral diseases easily. However, that is not true. There are two main vaccinations that every rabbit should get. Myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease.  If you want to know more about vaccinations in rabbits, keep on reading. 

Understanding the Advantages of Vaccination

Germs, bacteria, and viruses are all around. Even humans become susceptible to certain infections, which is why one of the things they do to prevent getting sick is vaccination.    

For rabbits, vaccination is also important. More so, they are more vulnerable than other pets. If a virus enters their body, it can lead to serious complications in their health. And as the owner, you wouldn’t want to experience problems with your rabbits.

The body has a built-in defense against common viruses called the immune system, but certain diseases can still cause harm to a rabbit’s body. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the skin, mucus, and immune system act as a natural defense of the body to fight bacteria, also known as pathogens. 

Once the pathogen passes through all those body defenses, it will start attacking the body and find its weakness. Now, you might wonder how vaccinations can eliminate those pathogens in your rabbit. 

WHO stated that pathogens are divided into subparts. Some of the subparts produce antibodies which are also called antigens. Then experts will get the pathogen-containing antibody and make a vaccine out of it. 

Trials and studies show that vaccination is completely effective in fighting viruses. Once it passes a series of experimentation and approval by certified health agencies, it can be administered to your pet.

To understand better, here are the advantages that your rabbit can get from vaccination;

1. Vaccinations Promote Immunization to Your Rabbit

One of the primary roles of vaccination in rabbits is to build a good defense in their body against viral infection. If your rabbit is vaccinated, it will be protected from known viruses such as myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease.   

Moreover, if there is a suspected viral positive nearby your pet, you can have peace of mind because you know that they are immune to acquiring these diseases. Although, in some cases, vaccinated rabbits can still acquire those diseases. But the good news is the complication for your pet is lesser than those unprotected rabbits. Hence, the possibility and chances of your pet surviving deadly viral infections are bigger. 

2. Vaccinations Can Save You Some Money

Admit it; when your pet gets sick, it is expensive. From the veterinarian expenses up to the medication that your rabbits need to get. You will pay some money to ensure your pet gets the proper treatment.

However, you can all avoid doing this by getting them vaccinated while young. Since rabbits are developed to fight and immunize your pet’s body from a common viral infection, the chance of them getting this disease is slight. Hence, you will save up some money. 

3. Vaccinations Ensure Long Life in Rabbits

Getting your pet vaccinated is simple and easy. Moreover, it will ensure long life in your rabbits. Since the primary goal of vaccination is to fight germs, bacteria, and viruses, it will help your rabbit’s body to avoid health complications. The rabbit will also eliminate their chances of being a threat to other animals because they will not be capable of being carriers of air-borne viruses.   

When Can I Get My Rabbit Vaccinated?

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) states that the ideal time for your rabbit to get vaccinated is while they are young, between five to ten weeks old. Younger bunnies are more susceptible to viral infection because of their weak immune system. Although they grew up and did not acquire all the virus while being unvaccinated, you still need to consider them getting vaccinated. You can always discuss your pet’s vaccination plan with your trusted veterinarian

Rabbit Vaccination Appointment

Rabbit vaccination is more than just injecting your pet with immunization fluid. When you schedule an appointment with your rabbit’s doctors, there will be a series of examinations first. This is to ensure that your rabbit is fit to receive the vaccination.    

Expect that your rabbit will be overweight and undergo a physical examination. Different factors need to be considered when vaccinating an animal. Like age, weight, or is there an underlying disease. This is important information so that the right fluid measurement will be administered and suit your rabbit’s body.  

Vaccinations That Rabbits Need


Myxomatosis is known to be a deadly and infectious disease commonly seen in rabbits. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, they are acquired through poxvirus or myxoma virus (MV). MV originated in South America, but most rabbits worldwide are now susceptible.  

Myxomatosis Transmission

When a carrier rabbit has a pathogen of MV, it can be transferred through fleas and mosquitos that feed on their blood. Hence, the insect is also now a carrier. Fleas and mosquitoes can spread it to other animals once they bite unvaccinated rabbits.    

A rabbit host can also directly infect other rabbits through saliva. Transmission of diseases in rabbits is common because when they fight, rabbits are also biting each other. That is why it is easy to transfer the pathogen of MV. 

In addition, RSPCA stated that the contaminated objects could be the potential host for spreading the disease. Such as bedding, hays, cages, drinking bowls, and things of the infected rabbit. If a negative rabbit gets near and licks the virus that sticks to the contaminated things, it will also be the host for myxomatosis.  

Myxomatosis Treatment

Treatment and medicine for myxomatosis are not yet available. That is why vaccinating your rabbit is encouraged to prevent them from having fatal symptoms and early death. Once a rabbit is exposed to the pathogen of MV,  the clinical signs will appear ten-14 days after exposure. 

What veterinarians do is provide assistance care, such as keeping them hydrated by administering IV fluids and ensuring that their vitals are not going down. However, myxomatosis is usually fatal, especially to unvaccinated animals, leading to early death.  

Myxomatosis Symptoms

  • Swollen eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Fever

Haemorrhagic Disease (R(V)HD)

Another virus you need to avoid exposure to in your rabbit is Haemorrhagic Disease (R(V)HD). RSPCA says that European wild rabbits are susceptible to this virus. That is why some unvaccinated pet rabbits become vulnerable. Unlike captivated pets, wild animals can freely walk in their surroundings. Hence, if they are a pathogen-host of Haemorrhagic Disease, it will be easy to transmit the disease to other animals. 

Unlike other viruses, the hemorrhagic virus does not affect younger bunnies. But when older rabbits get exposed, it can lead to severe complications in their health and body.     

Haemorrhagic Disease Transmission

This viral infection is also easy to transmit because its parts stick to objects and contaminate them. Willows Veterinary Centre says that pathogens of  (R(V)HD) can survive on cold surfaces and live for months without a host. 

So, if positive rabbits have the virus, they can contaminate their things such as bedding, cages, and food bowls. Their poop and urine are also infected. If you think your rabbit is positive, immediately bring it to the vet and isolate your other pet, even if they are vaccinated. 

Haemorrhagic Disease Treatment 

Unfortunately, like myxomatosis, this viral infection does not have a cure or medication for your rabbit. That is why it is considered deadly and fatal. It is also recommended to quarantine animals nearby with one positive in (R(V)HD) because it can be transmitted easily. 

What doctors can provide is to keep the vitals of your rabbit as good as possible to help them gain an immune system to fight the virus naturally. But in most cases, many pet adults die after acquiring the hemorrhagic virus. Although you can prevent your rabbit from getting this health complication, ensure that you vaccinate them with the (R(V)HD) vaccine. And it is also recommended to follow up on their booster year to ensure protection against disease for your rabbit. 

Hemorrhagic Disease Symptoms

  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Fever
  • Presence of blood in poop and urine
  • Seizures

Read More: Signs That Your Rabbit Is Sick

Rabbit Health

Other diseases and complications that can be transmitted that your rabbit needs to avoid:

Parasitic Infestation

Parasitic Infestation is common in rabbits, especially if they are unhygienic. Like viruses, parasites can also threaten your pet’s life. That is because they are infesting the body of the rabbit. Encephalitozoon cuniculi commonly attack the kidney and nervous systems of animals. That is why when they are infected with this parasite, their urinating activity is affected as well. 

Ear Mites

Another parasitic problem that can occur in rabbits is ear mites. They are infesting your rabbit’s ear and eating the skin scrape that causes pain and an itchy feeling for your pet. Rutgers University stated that if owners leave it untreated, it can result in a secondary infection that affects the nervous function of rabbits. 

Read More: Definitive Guide to Your Rabbit’s Health

Preventive Measure for Rabbits

Most people say prevention is better than cure. Aside from saving money, you ensure that your rabbit will live a healthy and long life. Here are the things you can do to prevent your rabbit from acquiring deadly diseases and illnesses. 

Ensure Vaccination and Booster in Rabbits

Once you decide to take care of a rabbit, ask your trusted veterinarian about the vaccination plan for your pet. They will first assess the rabbit, and if they are eligible to take the vaccination, the doctor will administer the vaccine as soon as possible. 

Vaccination helps animals defend against deadly infections like Myxomatosis and rabbit hemorrhagic disease. Moreover, immunization is important in helping other pet owners because you eliminate the chances of your pet becoming a disease carrier. 

A vaccination card will be given to you by the doctor so that you can have a record of the vaccine of your rabbit. Moreover, follow all the booster schedules to help your pet maintain its body defense high. 

Isolate the Rabbits from Wild Animals and Suspected Carriers of Disease

Even if your rabbit is vaccinated, you must isolate them from other potential disease carriers. The vaccine does not hundred percent ensure the safety of the animal. However, it can minimize the chances of complications and risks in animals. That is why it is recommended to every pet owner to get their rabbit a complete vaccine plan. 

If you have a new rabbit, prevent them from contacting your other animals for a week and monitor possible disease symptoms. If you are now sure about the overall wellness of the new rabbit, gradually introduce them to the other pet so they can get along. 

Clean and Sanitize the Rabbit’s Shelter

The shelter is one of the places that you need to clean regularly. Since rabbits mostly stay in their shelter, bacteria and germs can grow there. To avoid complications, ensure that you sanitize their beddings and food & drink bowls. 

If you leave your rabbit with lots of bacteria and germs, it could acquire diseases easily. Infestation is not easy to cure because they are not naked in the eyes of humans. But you can always prevent your pet from risks like this by cleaning their shelter. 

Provide a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet also helps your pet develop a fit and healthy body. Hence, they will not acquire diseases and illnesses easily because their immunity is strong. The best rabbit food for your pet is hays and grasses because they are high in fiber. This also helps them process the nutrition inside their body because fiber improves digestive function. 

However, it is also recommended to add a variety of food, such as vegetables and fruits, to the rabbit’s diet. This food is an additional nourishment to your pet because of its value. But remember not to overwhelm your rabbit with new foods. There is also a list of food such as avocado, chocolate, and jicama that are harmful to rabbits.

If you want to know more about Foods that Rabbit Can and Cannot Eat, Click on this article: The Definitive Guide To What Foods Rabbits Can & Cannot Eat

Key Takeaways

  • Vaccinations are one of the proactive measures you can take for your rabbit to keep them safe and healthy from deadly viruses.
  • Different germs, viruses, and bacteria are now easy to transmit. If it enters your pet’s body, it can cause severe complications because they are unprotected. 
  • WHO stated that the body has a natural defense to avoid risk from outside pathogens. For example, the skin, mucus, and immune system are the primary defenders of a common virus threat. 
  • A successful pathogen or virus that enters the body will attack and cause health complications in rabbits. That is why the vaccine is important because it eliminates those viruses. 
  • The vaccine is created by getting the antigen from the subparts of the virus pathogen.
  • Here are the benefits of getting your rabbit vaccinated; promote immunization, save you some money, and ensure a long life for rabbits.  
  • The recommended time to get your rabbit vaccinated is during their younger month, between four to ten weeks old. 
  • Before getting your rabbit vaccinated, consult with your trusted veterinarian first. They will help you give the right vaccination plan that suits your rabbit. Age, weight, and history should also be considered to know if the rabbit is eligible to receive the vaccine shot. 
  • There are two primary vaccines that rabbits should get:
    • Myxomatosis, a fatal disease common in younger rabbits. No treatment is available, so you need to protect your rabbit by vaccinating them.
    • Haemorrhagic Disease is another deadly virus in rabbits commonly seen in adults. It is easy to transmit the disease by releasing pathogens and contaminating the things rabbits come in contact with 
  • Here are some of the preventive measures you can do to your rabbit to keep them healthy and promote long life; ensure vaccination and booster in your pet, isolate them from suspected disease carriers, always clean and sanitize their shelter and things, and provide a balanced diet. 
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