Vaccinating your rabbit

All rabbits in the UK should be vaccinated to protect them from two fatal diseases, which are unfortunately still commonly seen.  Even rabbits kept indoors are at risk, and vaccination is still advisable.  Both diseases are killers and there is NO treatment for either of them.

Luckily, there is a vaccine which provides immunity against both diseases in one dose.  The initial vaccination can be given any time from 5 weeks of age, although it is best to vaccinate young rabbits between 12-16 weeks old. They then require annual boosters to ensure that their immunity to disease stays strong.  If you have an older rabbit, it is not too late to start a vaccination programme and your vet can advise you on this.  Older rabbits often have a weaker immune system so it is especially important to keep their boosters up to date.


Myxomatosis is a fatal disease spread by fleas, biting flies and direct contact with infected rabbits. This means that indoor rabbits are at risk as well as outdoor ones.  Myxomatosis causes discharge from the eyes, as well as swelling of the face and genitals.  Infected rabbits usually go off their food and often develop pneumonia.  There is no treatment for myxomatosis, and it is very common in the UK wild rabbit population.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

VHD is another fatal disease spread by direct contact with infected rabbits or their saliva and nasal secretions.  This means that the virus can be spread by birds, feeding bowls and even human clothing, so indoor rabbits are susceptible to this disease as well.  VHD causes fatal internal bleeding, but the disease progresses so quickly with no external signs that it is often perceived as sudden death.  Vaccination is very effective at preventing disease.