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Health survey of 167 pet rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Finland
  1. J. Mäkitaipale, DVM, GPCert(SAS)1,
  2. F. M. Harcourt-Brown, BVSc, FRCVS, RCVS2 and
  3. O. Laitinen-Vapaavuori, Prof. Dipl ECVS1
  1. 1Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Crab Lane Vets, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: johanna.makitaipale{at}


Only a limited amount of information is available about health status of pet rabbits. The aim of this study was to obtain data about the health status of pet rabbits considered healthy by the owners in Finland. Physical examination and lateral abdominal and lateral skull radiography were performed on 167 pet rabbits of which 118 (70.7 per cent) had abnormal findings in at least one examination. The most common findings were acquired dental disease (n=67, 40.1 per cent), vertebral column deformities and degenerative lesions (n=52, 31.1 per cent), skin disorders (n=28, 16.8 per cent) and eye disorders (n=12, 7.2 per cent). Vertebral column angulating deformities were significantly more common in dwarf lop rabbits (P≤0.001). The prevalence of health disorders was significantly higher in rabbits over three years of age of which 51 (82.3 per cent) had findings in at least one examination (P<0.05). Rabbits as prey animals hide their illness, which cause difficulties to owners to recognise health problems. Because of the high prevalence of clinical and radiological findings in apparently healthy pet rabbits, regular physical examinations are advised, especially for animals over three years old.

  • Rabbits
  • Health
  • Spine
  • Dentistry
  • Radiography
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