Posted in News Veterinary Services on Mar 13, 2017 | no responses.

In spring and early summer, folks often encounter young animals such as fawns (baby deer), rabbits, birds and other species.  The baby might appear sick, injured or all alone and orphaned by their mother.  That’s when human instinct kicks in, and we want to “help” the animal.  Often that is the last thing we need to do.

The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife (NJDFW) urges residents of New Jersey to leave young wildlife undisturbed. They advise that the lives of many young animals are disrupted by well-intentioned people who attempt to “save” these animals, when more often than not, the mother is nearby and the young animal is not in immediate danger.

When you do encounter a young animal, please do not try to take it home, care for it yourself, or worse yet, try to turn it into a house pet.  The reality is that the animal is being denied its natural learning experience to grow and develop into an adult.  What’s more, nearly all wild animals are protected by law, and it is illegal to try to keep them as a pet.

Following is a list of common wildlife and suggestions on what to do if you encounter them:

Young rabbits:

It is best to leave a rabbit’s nest undisturbed. The mother is usually close by but will not go near her nest while humans are around.  Young rabbits are ready to leave the nest at three to four weeks of age when their eyes are open and their bodies are furry.  Rabbits are fragile animals and easy prey.  Many have short life spans, and they can actually die of fright.  Human interaction usually does more harm than good.

Baby rabbits in their nest

Baby rabbits in their nest

Young birds:

The NJDFW reminds us that every bird alive today has spent a few precarious days on the ground while learning to fly. If you find a baby bird on the ground, you can either replace it in the nest or leave it on the ground and let Mother Nature run its course.

Young fawn:

If you find a young fawn lying alone, please leave it alone. The mother has left it behind intentionally in an area she deems safe, and she returns several times each day to nurse the fawn.  The NJDFW advises that if you’ve already moved the fawn, you must take it back where you found it to ensure it will be reunited with its mother.

If you find injured wildlife with its deceased mother:

The NJDFW advises those who encounter such a situation should consult the List of New Jersey Wildlife Rehabilitators for the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Feb 23, 2017 | no responses.

Continuing in our series on Pet Nutrition, you may have heard the term “fatty acids” used many times with regard to human health. The fact is, our pets require fatty acids for improved heath, too.

In simplest terms, fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat. During digestion, the body breaks down fats into fatty acids, which can then be absorbed into the blood. Fatty acid molecules are usually joined together in groups of three, forming a molecule called a triglyceride. Triglycerides are also made in our bodies from the carbohydrates that we eat.

Fatty acids have many important functions in the body, including energy storage. If glucose (a type of sugar) isn’t available for energy, the body uses fatty acids to fuel the cells instead.

Fatty acids with regard to dogs and cats

Dietary fatty acids serve as precursors to prostaglandins and other eicosanoids. The essential fatty acids in canine and feline diets include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

DogDogs and cats both require omega-6 acid linoleic acid. (LA). Omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and α-linolenic acid (ALA). Another called  arachidonic acid (AA) is also required for cats.

Marine oil sources provide EPA and DHA, which are more effective in dogs and cats than ALA (which is not significantly converted to EPA or DHA). The eicosanoids produced from omega-3 fatty acids are less inflammatory than those produced from AA.

Studies on the effects of feeding therapeutic food containing dietary fatty acids have shown improvements in pets with the following health issues:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammatory skin disorders
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Renal disease
  • Cognitive function and neurological health

 

Cat

 

 

 

 

 

Ways to supplement your pet’s diet

Many commercial pet foods these days are supplemented with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. However, there is no legal requirement for listing omega-3 fatty acids on pet food labels or to guarantee the pet is getting the correct supplementation to suit his/her particular dietary needs.

We suggest talking with your veterinarian about your pet’s diet. After completing a Nutritional Assessment and reviewing the pet’s health history, your veterinarian can help you determine a proper diet and recommend additional fatty acid supplements such as our Catalyst Chews and mini-bites that are 100% made in America that pets find appealing.

Recommended Reading:

The changing nutritional needs of your pets

Nutritional Assessments for dogs and cats

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Feb 09, 2017 | no responses.

Cats are the Orphan Species when it comes to care, diagnostics and treatment for many reasons. Even though there are more pet cats in the world than dogs, dogs get more veterinary care. Why is this?

One of the Greatest Myths out there even among seasoned cat owners is that as long as cats are indoors, loved and well fed, cats don’t get sick as often as dogs. Wrong! Entirely false!

Cats, even in the best home, have inherited genetics from years of breeding that predispose them to genetic diseases that are pre-programmed to appear suddenly. It’s just a matter of time. It’s nothing an owner is doing wrong, but cat genetic diseases such as heart, kidney and intestinal/pancreas problems appear silently and suddenly.

Many times, the cat’s illness has already reached a crisis stage while the owner has been waiting for symptoms to appear before bringing them in to the veterinarian for an annual wellness check. Sometimes pet parents don’t realize that by their family veterinarian simply listening to their cat’s heart and skillfully feeling its kidneys and intestines annually can save their pet’s life.

The sooner these problems are diagnosed by a good veterinarian, the easier to proactively treat the disease ensuring a much longer and better quality of life for the cat. Cats are the world’s best silent sufferers.

The Belle Mead Animal Hospital is a cat-friendly practice. Please feel free to call our office if you have further questions about your cat’s health and well-being or wish to schedule an appointment.

Recommended Reading:
Reducing cat carrier stress

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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Posted in Exotics Veterinary Services on Jan 24, 2017 | no responses.

Environmental enrichment is just as necessary for exotic companion mammals as it is for dogs and cats. A loving pet parent who offers routine veterinary care and proper nutrition can also easily enhance their small pet’s quality of life just by following a few guidelines below.

Pet Rat Exotic Companion Mammal

Why is environmental enrichment so important? Lack of sensory stimulation can cause negative behaviors such as over grooming, self-mutilation, restlessness, cage chewing and timidity. It can also lead to anorexia or obesity due to stress, boredom, and general inactivity.

There are a variety of safe toys and healthy food treats that stimulate natural, positive behaviors, increase exercise, and provide mental stimulation to offset boredom.

Social Enrichment

Social enrichment can be the most effective form of enrichment for small pets but must be approached with regard to the particular species in mind.

Pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, chinchillas and sugar gliders are most comfortable housed in groups. Supervision is required, however, to ensure the pets have bonded and the housing is adequate to meet their needs.

Rats Elliot and Avery earliest photo

Rats Elliot and Avery

Guinea pig patients at Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Guinea pig patients at Belle Mead Animal Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be mindful of pets such as Syrian and Chinese hamsters, however, that may be prone to aggression toward their housemates. Separation might be required, and consult your veterinarian for proper direction on how to care for more than one pet. Care is also advised should you try to “mix” different species. Let your veterinarian guide you with advice.

Physical Enrichment

Physical enrichment entails making the pet’s environment conducive to performing natural behaviors such as digging, chewing, gnawing, climbing, and perching – all stress relieving activities that enhance the pet’s well-being.

Pets that prefer deep bedding, for example, include hamsters and gerbils, both for body temperature regulation and tunneling that gerbils enjoy.

Carpeted ramps can give pets access to shelving or other vertical spaces they enjoy, and introducing novel objects from time to time can improve the pet’s spatial memory and lower stress to new situations.

Nutritional Enrichment

Enriching the environment with healthy, species-appropriate food treats can foster stimulation and increase exercise.

Guinea Pig eating cumcumber

Guinea Pig eating cucumber. Credit: Guinea Pig Community/Facebook

 

This can be accomplished simply by scattering food items in bedding for small rodents and other small mammals housed in groups, thereby encouraging foraging and increasing activity.

Discuss feeding requirements with your veterinarian to avoid overfeeding and help define treat allotments.

 

 

Sensory Enrichment

Sensory enrichment can be achieved by offering items with new or novel tastes and smells. Rotate cage furniture, for example, and provide a day/night cycle appropriate for the particular pet.

Occupational Enrichment

Occupational enrichment entails providing materials that allow the pet to have some control over their environment. How is this accomplished? Provide materials so they can build a nest, or position wood blocks so they can gain access to another area by chewing.

It’s never too late to enhance your pet’s life

Discuss ways you are enhancing your pet’s environment with your veterinarian for further advice. Each exotic companion mammal species is unique in their care and feeding requirements, and adjustments should be made based on the particular pet.

Source: Clinician’s Brief, March 2014, Teresa Bradley Bays, DVM, CVA, DABVP (ECM), Belton Animal Clinic & Exotic Care Center, Belton, Missouri

Recommended Reading:

Happy World Rat Day
Guina Pig facts and basic husbandry
Rabbit care – tips for new pet owners
Tips for raising a healthy ferret

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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Posted in General Pets Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Jan 07, 2017 | no responses.

Heart disease is the silent killer of cats. One in six cats can be born with and develop heart disease in their lifetime. There are no outward symptoms, but now there is a blood test called a proBNP test that can detect heart disease earlier.

Every cat owner needs to know that the most common age of heart disease in cats is any age. All cats from the really young to the really old can suddenly be affected. What is a cat owner to do?

Dr. Kim Somjen, DVM with kitten

Dr. Kim Somjen, DVM with kitten

Tommy, our senior cat resident at BMAH

Tommy, our senior cat resident at BMAH

 

 

 

 

 

Yearly veterinarian exams are crucial for your cat.

The most important thing you can do is take your cat to the veterinarian at least once a year so he or she can listen to your cat’s heart.  What we are listening for is a heart murmur and/or an arrhythmia.  A baseline proBNP blood test should also be considered.

Veterinarian exams a cat using a stethoscope. Credit AVMA/Facebook

Veterinarian exams a cat using a stethoscope.
Credit AVMA/Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yearly exams to check a cat’s heart are crucial because the earlier heart disease is detected, the greater the possibility that the cat will have a positive response to treatment.

How can the proBNP test help?

This new exciting blood test called a proBNP test may be lifesaving! The proBNP test has been used in humans for years, and we also can use it for dogs. However, cats especially benefit from this great, inexpensive screening test.

The proBNP test measures stretching of the heart due to disease on a microcellular level.  It is a simple blood test that most veterinarians can now perform. With it we can establish a baseline of the condition of the cat’s heart without the added expense of performing an echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound).

The test is also useful if we have a young cat whose brother, sister or mother had heart disease, because we can test for a genetic predisposition inexpensively.

Kitten patient at Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Kitten patient at BMAH

Dr. Erin Rockhill, DVM with cat patient

Dr. Erin Rockhill, DVM, BMAH with patient

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The proBNP test is also useful as a pre-surgical test. There are 10-15% of cats that develop heart disease without presenting an arrhythmia or heart murmur. We use the proBNP test in our practice because it gives us added assurance that your cat’s heart can handle anesthesia or surgery.

What about indoor cats?

There is a fallacy even among veteran, self-proclaimed cat people that indoor, young adult cats can take care of themselves and don’t need annual wellness preventative exams. This could not be farther from the truth, especially when it comes to felines.

Cats are the masters at hiding disease from their loving owners. Cats silently suffer from many types of genetic diseases that will develop whether they are indoor or outdoor cats.

CAPIC rescue cat adopted through BMAH

CAPIC rescue cat adopted through BMAH

Indoor cats enjoying their home

Indoor cats enjoying their home

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indoor cats do live an average of 6-9 years longer than indoor/outdoor cats if they have a good heart. However, heart disease symptoms won’t present until your pet is very sick.  At that point, your cat may not respond to medications.

What are the symptoms of heart disease in cats?

The most common symptom in cats with heart disease is again, NO early symptoms. This is where cats differ from dogs. A dog who has heart disease will display obvious symptoms as early as 6 months to 3 years in advance before overt heart failure. The initial symptoms in dogs could be signs like coughing, lethargy, or panting.

The most common outcome of undetected heart disease in cats is sudden respiratory distress and sudden death. This end stage of heart disease is often a chest full of fluid that restricts their lungs from expanding. Owners are shocked and devastated because their cats were seemingly normal until just that day or the night before.

A veterinarian can detect an arrhythmia or a heart murmur up to a year or so in advance by listening to your cat’s heart. Your veterinarian has an 85-90% chance of finding hopefully early heart disease in your cat with his/her stethoscope.  The other 10-15% that may have been missed in the past can now be detected with a simple proBNP baseline blood test screen.

What is the treatment plan for heart disease?

Once we diagnose a specific heart disease by an ultrasound, the treatment may be heart medication in liquid or pill form. Sometimes we can even use a form of transdermal medication. This is a cream that you would put on the cat’s ear once a day. Senior pet owners and those with cats who are difficult to medicate really appreciate this.

Senior cat

Some cats do well with transdermal medication

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These medications will enable your cat’s heart to work more efficiently so they can have a better quality of life inexpensively.  Medication can help prevent sudden heart failure, respiratory distress and sudden death.

Please contact our office if you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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Posted in Events General Pets News Sheep and Goats on Dec 15, 2016 | no responses.

How quickly the months pass and bring us around again to our annual Live Reindeer Holiday Event at Belle Mead Animal Hospital. A heartfelt “Thank You” to all who came out to share some holiday cheer and family fun with us!

Attendees to Belle Mead Animal Hospital Reindeer Event 2016

Attendees to Belle Mead Animal Hospital Reindeer Event 2016

Attendees to Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer Holiday Event

 

 

 

 

The event took place on Saturday, December 10, 2016, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Folks were already lined up to watch Reindeer Thunder make his entrance to the viewing area at the event opening, and what a thrill that was for the small children in attendance!

Reindeer Thunder enters with Yukon Cornelius

Reindeer Thunder enters with Yukon CorneliusReindeer Thunder and Yukon Cornelius

 

 

 

 

Yukon Cornelius entertained guests with his reindeer facts and gave folks lots of photo opportunities with Reindeer Thunder.  Santa Claus made the rounds offering gifts while the Abominable Snowman greeted.

Yukon Cornelius entertains guests

Santa Claus at Belle Mead Animal Hospital Reindeer Holiday EventAbominable Snowman at Belle Mead Animal Hospital Reindeer Holiday Event

 

 

 

 

A special appearance this year was made by Animal Alliance of New Jersey volunteers with adoptable puppies!  The puppies were a hit with those in attendance, and we hear a few might have found their forever homes!

Animal Alliance of NJ adoptable puppies

Animal Alliance of NJ adoptable puppyAnimal Alliance of NJ adoptable puppy

 

 

 

 

The event would not be complete without our Goat patient Dallas dressed in his holiday attire. He’s such a good sport with the children and loves to be petted. He also loved all the treats! And speaking of treats, there were plenty of refreshments on hand for children and adults too – Christmas cookies, hot cocoa and cider were plentiful as well as the giveaways of pet and children’s toys and treats from our Belle Mead Animal Hospital table.

Dallas the goat at Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer event

Treats at Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer EvenTreats at Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer Even

 

 

 

 

This year representatives from Merck Animal Health and Hills joined us with handouts and information about dog flu and pet nutrition. Their tables were a handy stopping point on the way to visit Thunder the Reindeer.

 Hills Pet Nutrition at Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer event

Merck Animal Health at Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer event

 

 

 

 

Along with our canine visitors, we even had a surprise visit from Steve the cat! Mom dressed Steve in a warm sweater to beat the cold that day!  It was a great afternoon for all to mingle, take photos and make new friends! Visitors were treated to a raffle draw with a variety of cool prizes awarded after the drawing.

Canine Visitor to Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer Event

Canine Visitor to Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer EventSteve the Cat at Reindeer Event 2016

 

 

 

 

For those who attended, we sincerely hope you enjoyed the afternoon as much as we enjoyed having you! For those of you who couldn’t make it, perhaps we will see you next year!

Dr Joe Martins Belle Mead Animal Hospital Live Reindeer Holiday Event

 

 

 

 

And by the way, Santa’s Reindeer have now been cleared for take-off by Dr. Tom Meyer, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and official veterinarian of the North Pole! Dr. Meyer examined the Reindeer to ensure that Santa’s team of nine were up-to-date on their vaccinations, free of disease and healthy enough to make their annual trek around the globe. Watch the video here!

The Belle Mead Animal Hospital Team
Your Other Family Doctors

Belle Mead Animal Hospital Team at 2015 Reindeer Event

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Posted in Events News Veterinary Services on Dec 06, 2016 | no responses.

With our upcoming visit by Santa’s Reindeer, we thought we would treat you to some Reindeer facts and add to the excitement about meeting this amazing animal in person! The Reindeer will be visiting Belle Mead Animal Hospital on Saturday, December 10, 2016 from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Reindeer 2015 Belle Mead Animal Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know…

  1. Reindeer live in the Northern parts of North America including Canada and Alaska. They also live in Europe, Russia and Greenland in the tundra regions (as well as the North Pole with Santa!)
  2. Reindeer are also known as Caribou. In Europe they are called Reindeer most of the time. However, in America, we only call them Reindeer when they are domesticated. Otherwise, in the wild we call them Caribou. (Their scientific name, by the way, is Rangifer Tarasndus).
  3. Reindeer are herbivores meaning they eat plants.
  4. A Reindeer can live up to 15 years in the wild and can weigh from 240 to 700 pounds.
  5. A Reindeer’s antlers grow to be 3 feet tall. They shed their antlers in the winter, and no two Reindeer antlers look exactly the same!
  6. Reindeer use their hooves to dig for food in the snow. The outer edges of their hooves are sharp and help them walk on ice and rocks.
  7. A Reindeer can run 50 miles per hour!

That’s our lesson about Reindeer for the moment. Come visit us on December 10th and learn more! Yukon Cornelius will be on hand to introduce you to the live Reindeer, give you more information about them, and answer questions. Bring friends and family, and take some photos while you are there!

Reindeer Crown Vet 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

We look forward to seeing you on December 10th!  Don’t forget your camera!

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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Posted in General Pets on Nov 16, 2016 | no responses.

As adults and parents, most of us can say we have experienced the loss of a loved one at some point in our lives, human or pet family member and friend.  As adults, at some point we come to recognize the stages of grief and emotion that we work through to reach final acceptance of that loss.  But how do we relay this information to our children?  How do we prepare them for the grieving process they will experience when their furry friend crosses over Rainbow Bridge?

How do you prepare your child for pet loss?

How do you prepare your child for pet loss?

There is one book in particular that addresses this issue called “When You Have to Say Goodbye: Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet.”  Written for children between the ages of 5-8 years old, author Monica Mansfield, DVM, presents a straight-forward and unique approach to help children understand the end-of-life process with their pet.

The book is written in terms children can understand with illustrations to help them visualize the stage of life and the emotion connected to that life stage, which include:

  1. Bringing home a new pet and forming that all important human-animal bond
  2. The stage when the pet’s health begins to fail or the pet is seriously injured
  3. The end-of-life stage, when the family is faced with the decision to help the pet retire peacefully through euthanasia

The author feels teaching children to understand what the word “euthanasia” means is very important as well as teaching them positive ways to cope with the loss afterwards (planting flowers and drawing pictures, for example).

To learn more about the book, the author, and how to purchase, visit the author’s website page When You Have to Say Goodbye.

You can also learn more about the normal signs of grief after pet loss and where to seek counseling and support on our Belle Mead Animal Hospital pet loss support and grief counseling website page.  We are pet owners ourselves, and we understand and respect the need for empathy and compassion toward those facing end-of-life issues with their pets.

Have questions?  Feel free to call or stop by our office for personal assistance.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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Posted in Events General Pets News on Oct 10, 2016 | no responses.

Looking for some family fun with your dog to celebrate Halloween? Come join Belle Mead Animal Hospital at the second annual Howl-O-Ween event at the Dog Park located at Ann Van Middlesworth Park in Hillsborough on Saturday, October 29, 2016.

The Howl-O-Ween event will feature a dog parade and costume contest! Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and is free to enter your dog. The parade will start at 9:00 a.m. at the pavilion. There will prizes for category winners. Belle Mead Animal Hospital will participate with other vendors, so stop by and say hello! We’d love to get a photo of your dog all dressed in costume. You might even be featured on our Belle Mead Animal Hospital Facebook page.

Howl-O-Ween 2016 Flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dogs will be able to play in the dog park while there, and the Mayor will be on hand to speak and announce category winners and raffle winners.

Here are some photos from the 2015 Howl-O-Ween event!

2015 Howl-O-Ween Dogs in Costume

2015 Howl-O-Ween event Crowd in Dog Park Hillsborough New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re looking forward to a great time, and we hope to see you there!

Recommended Reading:

Halloween safety tips for your pets

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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Posted in Exotics Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Services on Sep 23, 2016 | no responses.

We talk a lot about indoor rabbit care, but what about those rabbits that are kept outdoors?  Good husbandry and proper housing is just as important for outdoor rabbits as those kept inside your home.

One common practice that many well intentioned rabbit owners do is putting their pet rabbit in the same pen that houses their chickens or goats.  Some will even let the rabbits live on the ground loose without an elevated area inside the pen that the rabbit can retreat to.

Rabbit in pen with chickens

Rabbit in pen with chickens

It simply is not an ideal situation to house rabbits together with other outdoor animals such as chickens or goats, and here is why:

The most common intestinal microscopic parasite of rabbits, goats and birds (especially chickens, ducks and geese) is Coccidia. These parasites found in the animals’ stool multiply invisibly on the floor close to the ground, especially in chicken floor spaces.

Chickens carry lots of Coccidia.  Rabbits, especially young rabbits, who get infected with Coccidia can develop growth retardation and stop eating.  They can also experience diarrhea, constipation, liver failure and eventual death.

Goats who are housed next to chickens are even more susceptible to developing Coccidia induced diarrhea. They can stop eating, become dehydrated and eventually die.  Very young goats (those who are less than four months old) are especially susceptible.

Outdoor rabbits need clean living areas that are kept free from manure of any sort daily. They need hutches with good ventilation so they don’t get stressed and be at increased risk for serious Pasteurella respiratory infections.

Chickens defecate constantly.  They are messy and create dusty areas due to the way they eat. So again, chickens should not be sharing the same floor space with pet rabbits. Furthermore, rabbits who eat chicken food are at risk to develop an intestinal blockage, and this is cause for an emergency situation to an unsuspecting pet owner.

Rabbits would do better in an elevated, mostly wire hutch with a section that is totally wood enclosed (top and bottom) where they can get in from the cold and hopefully hide from a fox or raccoon patrolling around at night. Their stool can then fall below through the wire area of the hutch, while the rabbit can still enjoy safe shelter off wire.

Properly constructed Rabbit Hutch - front vieww

Properly constructed Rabbit Hutch – front view

Properly constructed Rabbit Hutch - side view

Properly constructed Rabbit Hutch – side view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to have a rabbit loose in a pen because you have trained them and handled them extensively since birth, than go ahead.  However, please make sure the pen is clean, secure and just for rabbits.  If you leave them in a pen overnight or during the day without supervision, a hawk or a fox will get them sooner or later.  At night, foxes can tear through flimsy enclosures as well as dig under bottom fencing that is not buried deep enough. They will bite the toes off rabbits who are housed on wire enclosure with no solid bottomed shelter.

Also important to know is that bunnies are more susceptible to heat stroke from temperatures greater than 85 degrees F.  You should roll or move their hutch into a cool garage or under a tree for shade when the temperature climbs.  Also, place a frozen plastic milk jug inside their hutch. The jug will keep your rabbits cooler while the jug slowly thaws.

That being said, rabbits can get frostbite if left outside in severe, bitter cold weather without a proper solid shelter.  We recommend moving their hutch to a warm garage or shed for those nights that are just too severe to be safe.

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital

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