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Animal Clinic of Rapid City

Caring For Your Pet Rabbit

A veterinarian examining a gray rabbit

Rabbits make great pets but they can succumb to many illnesses just like our dogs and cats. By far the most common reason we see them in the veterinary clinic for sick appointments is due to husbandry. I want to take a minute to recap some of the husbandry basics for your average adult pet rabbits.


  • Free choice grass hay

    • It is very important to avoid alfalfa hay as this is high in calories and calcium and can lead to obesity and bladder problems (sometimes even requiring emergency surgery).

    • Not having access to free choice hay can lead to poor dental health and GI stasis.

  • Free choice water

  • About 1/8 cup of pellets per day

    • Some rabbits do better with less or even no pellets

    • Too many pellets may cause obesity and the decrease the rabbit’s interest in eating enough hay which can lead to dental problems.

  • 1 to 1.5 cups of green leafy vegetables daily (avoid iceberg lettuce as it is too watery)

  • Treats can be fed in small amounts but not overdone. Carrots and fruits are considered treats for rabbits and not a daily necessity.


  • Rabbits do not routinely get vaccinated although yearly veterinary checkups are recommended to monitor for any health concerns.


  • Rabbits need plenty of space to safely exercise. If they are kept in an enclosure try to give them safe time outside their enclosure daily. If this is in your home make sure there are no dangerous things for them to chew on (ie. electric cords)

  • Wooden chew toys and cardboard boxes can be great fun for rabbits to chew on. But if you feel your rabbit is ingesting these they should be removed from the enclosure.