Wondering how to find a good rabbit-savvy vet? Here’s our advice.
Start your rabbit veterinarian search before you have an emergency
Don’t wait till you have an emergency to start looking for a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. You want to have a good rabbit vet long before you need them.
Check the HRS Vet List
Start by checking the House Rabbit Society’s recommended veterinarian list first to see if there are any recommended rabbit veterinarians listed in your area.
Search Local Vet Listings
Phone these non-exotic 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 miles away.)
At this point you should have either a clear “winner” or several veterinarians to choose from.
Vet the Potential Veterinarian
Call the vet office. 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).
What screening questions should I ask?
- How many rabbits are seen at the clinic each week?
- How many rabbits are spayed or neutered each week?
- Which antibiotics are dangerous for rabbits?
(A: amoxicillin and most of the “…cillin” drugs like penicillin. Also see below).
- What’s the best way to prevent GI Stasis?
(A: Provide your rabbit with hay every day, preferably
24 hours a day. Provide daily exercise and brush frequently)
- Must food be removed the night before surgery?
(A: “no”. Rabbits should never be fasted.)
- Inquire which conferences the vet has attended lately
that had talks about rabbit medicine and what journals they read.
You want your veterinarian to be up on the latest in rabbit treatment
If you don’t get the “right” answers to the above questions, continue your search.
What shouldn’t I do?
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, many such veterinarians 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.
The information in this article has also been helpful for users with the following questions:
- How to find a good rabbit veterinarian
- Tips on finding the best rabbit vet
- Questions to ask a rabbit veterinarian
- How do I find a qualified vet for my rabbit?
Primary Author(s): Kathleen Wilsbach and Sandi Ackerman
Sources: HRH, various articles from the HRJ, RHN
Last Modified: June 2022