The following may seem like a lot of work to go through to
find a veterinarian, but your rabbits' well being depends
upon finding the most experienced veterinary care
available. We hope that within another few years, veterinarian
schools will begin to understand rabbits well enough so
that veterinarians can be properly trained before they run across a
rabbit in their practice. The other problem is that
veterinarians not trained in rabbit medicine should be
responsible enough to refer you to another veterinarian.
Instead many just see the green of your money and say to
themselves, "sure I'm a vet, I can see your pet, after
all it's only a rabbit". When you find a veterinarian who is honest
enough to refer you to someone else, be sure to refer
people to him/her and if you have cats or dogs, give him
that business. It's really great to work with an honest
Check the House Rabbit Society's recommended veterinarian list first to see if there are any recommended rabbit veterinarians listed in your area. You might also want to check the
list of vets who attended our recent vet conference. Next check the yellow pages for veterinarians who advertise as "exotic" (includes, rabbits & rodents). Then randomly select 5
veterinarians who do NOT advertise as avian or exotic.
Phone these veterinarians and ask who they refer their clients to
if they have a serious rabbit case. If all 5 veterinarians give
you the name of the same veterinarian, ok. If not, then
randomly select another 5 veterinarians and continue the process
until you have a clear "winner".
Phone several (start with 3) veterinarians in cities within 50
miles of you and ask the same question: who do they refer
their clients to if they have a serious rabbit case.
(One House Rabbit Society volunteer passes by at least 15 clinics to get to her veterinarian who is 35
At this point you should have either a clear "winner" or several veterinarians to
choose from. The next step is to phone the vet. Let the front office person know that you are concerned with finding the very best veterinarian to care for your rabbit and that you would like to speak directly to the doctor at his/her convenience. Leave both your work and home phone number and specific times
that the veterinarian can get hold of you (and be there) or ask what would be a good time for you to call back (when the veterinarian is between appointments).
See Section 4.7 for
questions specific to spaying and neutering.
Ask how many rabbits are seen at the clinic each week.
Ask how many rabbits are spayed or neutered each week.
Ask if they know which antibiotics are dangerous for rabbits (amoxicillin
and most of the "...cillin" drugs like penicillin. Also see below).
Casually ask about preventing hairballs. Q: "What's the best way to
prevent hairballs?" A: "Provide your rabbit with hay every day, preferably
24 hours a day. Provide daily exercise and brush frequently"
Ask if food has to be removed the night before surgery. The answer
should be "no". Rabbits should never be fasted.
You might also want to ask which conferences they've attended lately
that had talks about rabbit medicine and what journals they read. We
want our veterinarians to be up on the latest in rabbit treatment.
If you don't get the "right" answers to the above questions, continue
Do not make your choice based on how close the veterinarian is
to your home (unless that veterinarian is the clear "winner").
Paying money to a veterinarian who does not know anything (or
very little) about rabbits is just throwing your money
away and can cost the life of your companion.
Don't assume that just because a veterinarian works with breeders
or local 4-H clubs, that they are experienced with house
rabbits or the medical needs of older rabbits.
Unfortunately, such veterinarians often tend to approach rabbits
as stock animals rather than as beloved companions. They
may never have done a spay or neuter and "treatment" of
any difficulty may amount to euthanasia (when dealing
with stock or show animals, the financial bottom line may
be the primary consideration).
Antibiotics that should never be given to rabbits. Even one dose of
the following can be deadly: Amoxicillin, lincomycin, clindamycin.
Primary Author(s): Kathleen Wilsbach and Sandi Ackerman
Sources: HRH, various articles from the HRJ, RHN
Last Modified: 3/3/96
Keywords: vet, veterinarian, locating, finding