Pet Factsheets

Hospitalisation and nursing care

When hospitalised your rabbit will be cared for by vets, nursing and support staff, all treating your rabbit with care and dedication

From time to time your rabbit may be admitted to your veterinary practice for nursing care needs. This is usually when the care is intensive, specialised or if your rabbit is very poorly and needs 24-hour care.

Why does my rabbit have to stay at the vets?

Rabbits that need to have surgery or are ill will need to be admitted to your vets for hospitalisation and nursing care. This means your rabbit can have expert care which would be impossible or very difficult to provide at home. The length of stay will depend upon the reason for the hospitalisation and how much progress your rabbit makes.

Can I visit my rabbit?

This may be possible in some circumstances but will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some rabbits may be distressed if their owner visits and then goes away again and some may be too poorly to be visited. You will need to discuss this with your vet and if possible, arrange a time that suits everyone. You will also get telephone calls from the veterinary team with updates on how your rabbit is. These will be at least once per day and often more frequently.

Will my rabbit miss me?

Ideally your rabbit will be with their companion, so they will have someone who is familiar and can offer support. If your rabbit doesn’t have a rabbit companion, they are unlikely to feel sadness at not being with their owner. Often the rabbit will be poorly, and it is not known if rabbits feel and suffer ‘missing’ a person. Be assured that the veterinary staff will treat your rabbit as if they were their own.

What about overnight care?

If the veterinary practice is open 24 hours a day, then your rabbit will stay where they are. If not, your vets may have a pet taxi service who can transport them to the out of hours care provider for night-time care and then bring them back the following day. Otherwise, you will need to transport your rabbit to the out of hours care provider so overnight care can continue and then collect and take them back to your regular vets. Whilst this may seem less than ideal, if your rabbit needs continued care, it is important that they receive it.

How should my rabbit be hospitalised?

The facilities that each veterinary practice has will vary from practice to practice. Some are purpose built, some are redesigned houses or buildings, and some are situated inside pet stores. Some practices are ‘branch’ practices of a connected, larger practice, so in this instance you would need to take your rabbit to the main practice if hospitalisation is required. In all cases your rabbit will have a kennel of suitable size, with food, water and comfortable bedding. If your rabbit has a companion, where possible, they should accompany your ill rabbit for their stay.

Who will look after my rabbit?

The care of your rabbit will be instructed by your vet. They are responsible for prescribing medications, undertaking surgery and monitoring progress. They are supported by Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVN’s) who have undertaken and passed their qualification. RVN’s will be caring for your rabbit, giving them medication, syringe feeding, cleaning them out, giving and monitoring fluid therapy, pain scoring and reporting to the vets. Within the practice may also be Student Veterinary Nurses (SVN’s) who are undertaking their RVN qualification. They will be under direct supervision from a vet or RVN at all times. Some practices also have Veterinary Care Assistances (VCA’s), who help with day-to-day care such as cleaning and feeding. All of these people will work as a well-oiled team to ensure your rabbit receives gold standard care.

Do I need to pay each day?

For every day your rabbit is hospitalised there will be a charge, and also for the medications and veterinary care required. You can ask your vet each day for a running total, so you know how much the bill is and therefore do not get a shock when you come to pay the bill. Insurance may cover the cost, but you will need to discuss this with your insurance company.

What happens when my rabbit can go home?

When your rabbit is well enough to be discharged, your vet will arrange for you to come in and discuss their ongoing care at home. They will go over what medications you need to give and when as well as demonstrating this to you. They will also discuss signs you need to look out for which may show your rabbit is getting ill again and arrange for them to come back in for a check-up where necessary. It is imperative that you listen and ask any questions during this discharge appointment so you can care for your rabbit correctly once they are home.

What if I do not want my rabbit to be hospitalised?

You will need to discuss this with your vet. Your vet will suggest the treatment that is best for your rabbit and if this includes being hospitalised then you should listen to your vet. If hospitalisation is not possible for whatever reason, then your vet will try and come up with a treatment plan for home but bear in mind this is likely to be a compromise rather than the best thing for your rabbit.

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