Don’t forget your rabbit

Most dog and cat owners realise the importance of vaccinating against infectious diseases however, rabbits are often forgotten. Rabbits are very good at hiding signs of illness and so it is even more important to prevent disease in them.

Sadly, there is evidence that myxomatosis is circulating in the rabbit population of Hawick again. Myxomatosis is a severe viral disease which decimated the wild rabbit population when it was introduced 50 years ago.  It is usually fatal and there may be swelling and ulceration of the eyes, nose and genitals, blindness and respiratory problems. It is spread by fleas and biting insects and also by direct contact with infected rabbits or their secretions.

The second viral threat to rabbits is Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. There are two main strains. RVHD1 is a very swift, fatal disease. It causes massive internal bleeding and some rabbits will bleed from their nose or other orifices before death, others die so quickly there are no outward signs of disease. A new strain (RVHD2) is also often fatal but some rabbits have recovered.  It is less easy to recognise as there is no obvious bleeding so rabbits may simply be found dead or ill with no obvious cause.  Both strains are spread either by direct contact with infected rabbits or indirectly via their urine of faeces.  The viruses can survive for months in the environment and can be brought home on footwear, by birds and insect or possibly even in the hay.

Vaccination is the most effective measure you can take to protect your pet rabbit. Fortunately, we have a very good Myxomatosis vaccine in the UK and thanks to the hard work of the Rabbit Welfare Association we also have access to a vaccine which appears to effective protection from both strains of RVHD.  Please come in a chat to one of the vets to discuss protecting your rabbit or for advice in the case of illness or sudden death. Further information can also be found at

Are you planning to travel with your pet in 2019?

At present (November 2018) we do not know how Brexit will affect the Pet Passport Scheme. However, if you are planning to travel with your pet after March 2019 the advice below would ensure that you were still able to travel even if there is a ‘no deal Brexit’.  The situation is still evolving so if you have plans to travel with your pet please ensure you start to make plans at least four months prior to travelling.

In the event of a ‘no deal Brexit’, pets may require a rabies blood titre test at least 30 days after a rabies vaccination.  There may then be a 3 month wait period between the blood test and permit to travel.

There is a significant possibility that animals may fail the rabies blood titre test, particularly if they’ve only ever had one rabies vaccination. Therefore, we advise re-vaccination prior to scheduling a blood test if your pet has only had one vaccination or if it was more than 3 months ago.  Even if your pet has had multiple rabies vaccinations, you may still choose to revaccinate prior to testing to increase the likelihood of passing the blood titre test.  Failing the blood test requires repeat vaccination and then another blood test after 30days.

Please check the link below for updates and further information: