It goes without saying that a rabbit's environment needs to be kept as clean as possible to reduce the risk of any health issues developing. However, sometimes it's too easy to forget that pets rely on us to provide them with a suitable living environment. If a rabbit is kept in less than perfect conditions, it can lead to all sorts of health issues and stress which ultimately could compromise their immune systems.
Rabbits are quite delicate creatures that over time have evolved to do everything in their power not to attract attention to themselves. Therefore, when they get sick they go quiet and more often than not, they suffer in silence which means that many conditions go unnoticed until they are harder to treat which in turn means the prognosis is never that good.
Getting it wrong can end up with your pet suffering and having to deal with some expensive visits to the vet. This is why it's so important to do your research first before offering a bunny a home. There are lots of things that are taken for granted some of which are detailed below.
If you are planning to keep a rabbit as an outdoor pet, you need to ensure their housing is draft-free which is why it's so important to make sure their living area is well insulated. However, a well insulated hutch needs to be cleaned out on a regular basis and it needs to be well ventilated so that air quality remains good. A badly ventilated space will result in a build up of ammonia which can damage your pet's respiratory system causing severe damage to their lungs.
A badly ventilated environment could end up with your pet suffering from all sorts of respiratory diseases, bacterial lung infections which could prove fatal which is why their environment needs to not only be well ventilated but draft-free too. Cleanliness is essential to reduce the risk of disease and illness because a rabbit's nose is constantly close to the ground and therefore this puts them at greater risk of developing a problem if their bedding is soiled and dirty!
It's really important for rabbits to be kept on top quality bedding and well away from drafts. Our long-eared friends do cope well when the temperature drops as long as they have nice, clean dry bedding to snuggle up in. The one thing they do not cope with well is heat and this is especially true when an environment is humid too.
A hot muggy day can make it hard for rabbits to breathe and if they cannot pant as they should, they run the risk of suffering from heatstroke much in the same way as a dog would if left in a hot car. A rabbit's run should never be placed in direct sunlight for this reason. Rabbits kept as indoor during the summer or in a hot environment, might need to have a fan close by in order for them to keep cool. Heatstroke can prove fatal to rabbits, but if they do survive, they may well suffer from respiratory issues for the rest of their lives.
Keeping a rabbit's environment clean is very important but you should never overdo it with disinfectants because a rabbit feels more comfortable somewhere that smells familiar to them. However, cleaning out their environment on a daily basis is a must because too much ammonia is harmful and the same can be said of too many droppings which could result in your pet from suffering all sorts of diseases and this includes coccidiosis. Dirty and damp floors could result in your rabbit developing sore and painful feet.
The material used on the floor of your pet's environment is also very important because the right type will ensure they don't suffer from sore feet. All too often, a foot problem goes unnoticed until the infection has taken hold so deep it gets into the bone. If this happens, the kindest thing to do is put the rabbit to sleep. As such preventing this from happening is crucial. All bedding, including hay needs to be dry, clean and fresh but regularly checking your pet's feet is still very important.
Rabbits need to have lots of space to run around in as well as nice area to sleep. Being able to hop around keeps them fit and healthy ensuring good blood supply to their feet which helps reduce the risk of a foot problem developing. Having enough space to move around reduces the chances of them becoming obese, muscles are kept toned and spinal diseases kept at bay which is a common illness seen in rabbits when they are kept in small spaces but not seen in "house bunnies".
Rabbits love stretching up and standing on their back legs so it's important for them to be able to do this in their environment. If a rabbit is not able to move around freely it can lead to all sorts of issues with their gut and this in turn leads to other very serious health issues which could prove fatal.
Studies carried out suggest that rabbits need to be exposed to sunlight because it produces much needed vitamin D which means they absorb calcium more effectively. In turn, this helps reduce the chance of dental and spinal issues.
Allowing rabbits to hop around in an outdoor run offers them many health benefits. However, it's important to keep your pets safe too. There are certain diseases that wild rabbits can bring into a garden and this includes the much dreaded Myxomtosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease which is why vaccinations are so important. Regularly vaccinating your bunny reduces the risk of them catching anything. There are some fly repellents on the market which are specifically formulated for use on rabbits which will help keep flies and other biting insects at bay. This is important because biting insects can spread myxomatosis and flies lay their eggs on your pet's skin which leads to all sorts of health issues.