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Question
Hi there,

I have numerous questions regarding rabbits as me and my partner have recently come into possession of a 5 year old brown flop eared rabbit named Sam. This is our first rabbit and we are still a bit fuzzy on what is considered a health issue so we thought we'd take our concerns to the internet before consulting a vet (we're going away for 4 days tomorrow so we can't do much before then).

Ok so first question is: Sam has very weepy eyes. He came like this and both of his eyes have dried / previously wet fur under them. The same goes for his back feet. The left eye has a bit of pink-reddish skin showing just under it. A quick internet search has suggested that this can be numerous things ranging from fur in his eyes and allergies, to something like conjunctivitis. Is this normal or should vet help be sought immediately?

Second question is regarding his poop. His diet when he was handed over to us was said to have been 'All Seasons' rabbit food (from Home Bargains), Timothy Hay, and the occasional carrot / bit of toast. There was also a quick suggestion that the previous owners occasionally fed him chocolate biscuits but we won't be doing that. Today, when cleaning out his cage, I had to wipe his bottom as a large chunk of poop (I think they were cecotropes, OR Cecal Dysbiosis, I didn't think much of how they looked, only how it smelled, http://imgur.com/a/5N4lD) had been caught in his fur. I was wondering how normal this is? He is quite a fluffy rabbit and could've been having trouble getting to them. My partner reckons that this may be a bad diet and shared concerns that we'd have to wipe him every day until his diet is fixed. What are your thoughts on this and should a vet be considered?

Thanks, I look forward to your response.

Jeremy

Answer
Hi Jeremy

Welcome to the world of bunny ownership! Technically we call it "Lop" eared, not flop hehe.

For his health problems, yes you have every right to be concerned and I do recommend a vet visit as soon as you can.

With the eyes, this can be a symptom of poor dental problems, the molars can grow into sharp spurs and cause damage to the eyes, respiratory system and scratch up the mouth too. It can also indicate blocked tear ducts or an infection/abscess. A healthy rabbit should have no discharge from the eyes whatsoever. Lops in particular are prone to eye, ear and respiratory problems as they are often bred to have a much shorter face than a wild rabbit, similar to health problems short-muzzled dogs have.

With the poop, a healthy rabbit should have an immaculately clean bottom and you should never see sloppy poops. Hopefully it's just a diet issue. Make sure he's got a constant supply of hay and reduce his pellet food down to a handful once a day. No treats! His diet should be 80% hay in any case. This I do recommend a vet having a look at though as it can be a sign of other health problems. The only poop you should see from your rabbit are nice large dry golden brown pellets which crumble easily.

While he's having bottom problems, keep him clean down there. If he's very fluffy you may need to brush and cut back the fur down there. If you can't do it yourself, a good bunny savvy vet should be able to sort this out for you. If he's overweight he won't be able to reach to clean himself either or be able to eat his cecals. But keep him clean around his bottom, or else you risk urine scald or the dreaded flystrike.

So yes, I would recommend you seek out a good exotic rabbit-friendly vet and get your bun a full check over. I would especially be concerned over the eyes at the moment.

Good luck!!
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Expertise

I can answer questions around the welfare of pet rabbits, basic health queries including gut stasis, diet worries, bonding questions and the proper welfare standards around housing rabbits (i.e. no wire floors, no small cages and they should be kept in properly bonded de-sexed pairs in very large enclosures). I cannot answer showing questions nor complex breeding issues as I do not agree with either, seeing the other end of the story in the world of rabbit rescue.

Experience

I have two 7 year old rescue rabbits and volunteer for a well established rabbit rescue here in the UK, both physically doing cleaning out etc and I am also their events and awareness co-oordinator, helping educate the general public on proper rabbit keeping, this means I have to ensure all information I give is correct and matches current welfare standards.

Organizations
I belong to the RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund) and volunteer for a major rabbit rescue.

Education/Credentials
I have no formal education on this subject, however read everything I can to keep up to date with current welfare standards and health problems. Both my rabbits have sensitive guts and constantly keep me on my toes.

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