Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund - Recommended Rabbit-Friendly Vets

Posted on 22 March, 2024

Image by Céline Martin from Pixabay

Written by & for Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund

A vet with specific knowledge of rabbits is exactly what you need when choosing the right medical care. With such different physiology to cats and dogs, a real enthusiast is a good call for your rabbits’ health.

So how do you choose the best vet for you?

Our Rabbit-Friendly Vet Directory

Vets featured in our directory are RWA&F practice members. They’ve been reviewed and approved by our Vet Specialist Adviser, Dr Richard Saunders. Though we can’t visit every practice, you can trust us to feature high standards of expertise.


Ask friends with a couple of rabbits who their vet is and what the care is like. If you’re a forum member, ask the group who they’d recommend in your area.

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Find a Vet Website

You can search for a local vet here and choose one that focuses on rabbits. Ring them up, chat with them, and if they’re not an RWA&F practice member, it’s an excellent opportunity to suggest it.

Questions to ask when considering a new practice

Do you have a separate waiting area for rabbits?

The smells and noises of other animals can be stressful for a rabbit, which is naturally a prey animal. It lowers stress if your vet has a separate room, area or even different appointment times just for rabbits.

Do you have a separate kennelling area for rabbits?

Being hospitalised alongside a natural predator is pretty stressful for a rabbit. It may even hinder recovery. If there aren’t separate rooms, some vets allocate small animal days where dogs aren’t admitted for operations.

Will companions be kept together?

This is a biggie. Bonded pairs should be kept together even if only one needs surgery. Small groups should all go if your vet will accommodate them. Why? Because it’s easier to introduce a rabbit back into the group or pair after a vet visit. And a poorly rabbit will also recover better with its buddy.

Sometimes you do have to keep them apart. For instance, if one has an infectious disease like Myxomatosis, or if you need to monitor one rabbit’s diet or droppings.

Do you routinely spay and castrate rabbits?

Look for a vet with lots of experience and a good track record in this procedure. Don’t be frightened to ask how safe it is and when they last lost a rabbit under anaesthetic.

What’s your anaesthetic protocol?

Firstly, avoid a vet nervous about anaesthetising rabbits. Secondly, some anaesthetic combinations are considered safer than others. Both injectable anaesthetic regimes on their own or used with inhaled anaesthetic are good choices. Make sure your vet is happy to discuss pain relief options, and dispense it on the day and afterwards for as long as your bunny needs it. They should also be able to spot the signs of a rabbit in pain easily.

Do you intubate?

This is inserting a breathing tube while your rabbit is under anaesthetic. It’s important and recommended as standard practice.

What is their policy on conscious dentals and incisor trimming?

Incisors (front teeth) should never ever be clipped, but should be trimmed using a burr or disc, it is important that you know that they will never be clipped as this is painful and causes further damage.

It is also important that cheek teeth (molars) are never trimmed whilst the rabbits are awake (conscious) so make sure that you make sure that this is only ever done under anaesthetic.

Do any of the vets at this practice love seeing rabbits?

There’s often one vet who favours rabbits. This is great because it nurtures interest and encourages others to learn. Remember the vet’s name and make sure that’s whom you see. They’re usually very happy to speak to new clients, and it’s also your chance to ask if they’ve finished any specific rabbit CPD or Continuing Professional Development lately.

Lots of practices have bunny-loving vet nurses. This is brilliant as it’s usually the same nurses who manage anaesthesia and provide the aftercare.

What are your out-of-hours care arrangements?

There are usually three options:

  • A vet hospital. The animals are kept there overnight, and staff are on-site to look after them.
  • A vet practice with an out-of-hours provider. Here animals are admitted directly to the out-of-hours provider or transported there at the end of the working day for overnight care. The standard of care may differ from the vet’s practice. It’s important to ask where your rabbit will be, for example, ‘Will he/she be moved back and forth at both ends of the day?’.
  • A vet practice with no out-of-hours care. Here the animals are left overnight with no staff looking after them.

Do you recommend vaccinations?

This is an easy one. The answer should always be yes! Both Myxomatosis and RVHD 1 and 2 are recommended. Be wary if you’re told vaccinations aren’t needed because there isn’t any Myxomatosis or RVHD in the area or that house rabbits aren’t at risk. This is a common misconception and these are fatal diseases.

You also need to be sure that your chosen vet will:

  • Consider the proper pain relief.
  • Keep your rabbits warm during and after surgery.
  • Monitor them carefully using equipment like capnography during surgery.

Our Rabbit-Friendly Vet Directory

We like nothing more than putting rabbit owners in touch with our approved Rabbit Friendly Vets. The directory is constantly updated, and though we haven’t visited every practice, all vets have been approved by our Specialist Vet Adviser. They’ve been assessed and awarded with Silver or Gold standards, and those that don’t make the grade don’t feature.

Choosing your vet

When we assess a practice, we scrutinise the facilities and the vets who apply. So when booking an appointment, please ask for the vets we rate by name. Another vet at that practice may not focus on rabbits and may not have the skills we’re looking for.

Search here with a default to a ten-mile radius of your location. You can increase this distance, so check if your best vet is just outside that reach.

What makes a Rabbit Friendly Vet?

Firstly, any practice must be an RWA&F member to be eligible to join the directory. Once a member, vets can apply to feature. Our Specialist Adviser Dr Richard Saunders reviews the answers to some comprehensive, in-depth questions about practice protocols and SOP’s, layout and facilities.

This is to make sure the practice and the vets applying meet the standard we’re looking for. We don’t appoint vets on word of mouth or recommendations. It’s based on expertise. They’re then awarded Silver, Silver Plus or Gold status depending on their knowledge, experience and practice facilities: not so much what equipment they have, but how they have strived to make their practice rabbit-friendly.

The application is comprehensive and includes photographs of waiting and kennel areas, but we do not visit each practice in person. A vet practice needs to be a member to apply to be assessed, and although we work with practices to help them reach rabbit-friendly standards, not everyone that applies goes on to be listed on the rabbit-friendly directory.

Silver – Practices have met all standards for waiting rooms, kennels, staff, facilities and equipment, and then clinical procedures like pain relief and anaesthesia.

Silver Plus – This acknowledges that a practice has excellent facilities and a vet who has a further postgraduate qualification working there and would otherwise have achieved Gold standard, but that the OOH is not provided in-house.

Gold – to meet this standard, all Silver level standards need to be met, and in addition to this, they need to have a rabbit-specific waiting area, a rabbit-specific kennel area, a vet who has a further postgraduate qualification working there, and provide their own inpatient (overnight) care and OOH cover.

RWA&F practice membership offers the vet teams lots of fantastic benefits. Besides advice from our Specialist Adviser, Richard, there are quarterly updates on the latest medical developments. Plus, we offer high-quality training webinars and our annual conference for the practice clinical team to educate and share our exceptional expertise.

Why not tell your vet about the benefits of becoming a member?

What is meant by the words ‘rabbit Specialists’?

The term ‘Specialist’ is protected by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. There are very few Specialists in Zoological Medicine and Exotic Animal Medicine. These are the disciplines which include rabbits. Our own veterinary adviser, Dr Richard Saunders is a proud Specialist.

Featuring on our directory doesn’t mean the vets are Specialists or referral vets, just that they meet our stringent criteria.

If you’d like to feature on our directory, either become a member or make sure your membership is up to date. Then you can head straight to the application form and get going. Once you’ve filled it in, send it to us at vet@rabbitwelfare.co.uk

To read the original article, including Vet Search Map, please visit: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/recommended-rabbit-friendly-vets/


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