Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka talks about diet for rabbits and what should be done if a rabbit bites

By Maneka Gandhi

What do I do if my rabbit has fleas?

Even though rabbit fleas are not that common in indoor pet rabbits, they happen occasionally. If your rabbit is infected by fleas he/she might show symptoms like self-biting or chewing, excessive scratching and licking. To get rid of the fleas, run a flea comb thoroughly through your rabbit’s fur coat and then dip the comb in soapy water, or alcohol, to drown them before combing again. If the condition persists use a rabbit-safe topical solution on the backside of the rabbit’s neck, so that he/she does not lick it off, as consumption of solution can lead to side-effects and stomach problems. If you have more than one rabbit then keep them contained separately so that they don’t lick each other’s solution off. Caution: Don’t use any medication on your pet without getting consultation from your vet first. Avoid flea collars and flea powder as the dosage could be too strong for your rabbit to handle. Your rabbit might end up getting poisoned. Avoid flea dips, as taking a bath is stressful for your rabbit and could send him/her into shock.

Is it alright to feed my rabbit roti, rice and other Indian food items?

No! Rabbits have their own dietary needs and certain food items which they can consume. All cooked food must be avoided. Food with condiments, masala, oil etc. is also bad for your rabbit’s health. You should NOT give your rabbit rice or roti or any wheat-based item like bread or pasta. Even raw fruits should only be given in small quantities. If in doubt, it is better to consult your vet. Rabbits can enjoy a variety of fresh leafy vegetables, such as coriander, spinach, carrot tops or lettuce and also hay like Bermuda hay. But keep in mind that over-feeding your pet rabbit can have adverse effects.

My rabbit’s teeth are misaligned and is constantly drooling. Should I be concerned?

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Misaligned teeth, along with signs of drooling, frequent dropping of food, lack of appetite, wet fur around the mouth etc. can be a sign of something serious, like Malocclusions. Teeth are a vital part of the rabbit’s digestive system, so dental problems can lead to more serious conditions. If you see any of these symptoms in your pet rabbit, it is better to get your rabbit checked out by a pet so that you can catch any problem early and fix the problem before it gets worse.

How frequently & how much should I feed my rabbit?

A rabbit should ideally be fed twice a day, morning and evening, with a balanced diet consisting of unlimited access to hay or grass, a small amount of fruits and fresh leafy vegetables. In addition, a small quantity of good quality rabbit mix or pellets can be added to the diet to make it more nutritional and healthy. These pellets should be given in the ratio of 25g per kg of your rabbit’s weight. You can give your rabbit treats but don’t give it too frequently or it will spoil the rabbit’s dietary habits. Your rabbit should be fed according to its weight. Keep a track of his/ her food intake, and weight, to ensure he/she does not get over or under weight.

Rabbit bit me. Is it dangerous? Do I need to get shots?

If your pet rabbit has bitten you, the first step is to properly clean the wound and apply a disinfectant. If your rabbit has not been vaccinated then tetanus shot will be necessary. Even if your rabbit is vaccinated, it is recommended to get your tetanus shots periodically (every 10 years), but if you have not had a shot in the past 5 years then it is safer to get a tetanus injection.

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Why is my rabbit sleeping a lot?

Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dusk and dawn and usually sleep the rest of the time. If your rabbit is lying stretched out full length, it probably means he/she is very comfortable and content.

However, if you observe any changes in eating and faeces patterns, or even their behaviour, it could be a digestive problem. Rabbits cannot vomit out fur balls in their stomach — this could also be an issue. Observe the rabbit for any behavioural changes and accordingly take him/her to the vet.

How to identify a rabid stray dog and how to deal with it?

The rabies virus, or rhabdovirus, invades the central and peripheral nervous system and ultimately causes death of the animal. It takes 12-180 days to progress. The most obvious change in case of a rabid dog is change in behaviour. The early symptoms of rabies include- change in bark tone, chewing at bite site and loss of appetite. At the later stage, rabies is expressed by refusal to drink water, craving to eat anything, including inedible objects, episodes of aggression, restlessness, trembling, dropping of the lower jaw, foaming at mouth etc.

If you suspect that a stray dog has been bitten by a rabid one, take it to the vet and get it vaccinated. If you think that the infection has developed into the late stages, then inform the local Animal Husbandry Department. If possible, isolate the rabid dog and call for help. Do not hit the dog as it is suffering terribly already. Humane euthanasia is the only solution. Which is why I keep repeating that all the dogs on your street should be vaccinated.

March 6, 2019

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