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  • Writer's pictureLily Nye

Rabbit Physio.... Yes, they can benefit too!

If I could come up with any small perk of not growing up with a pet dog..... it's turning to my other options, small furries of course. Basil (pictured) was my first pet rabbit - I got him as a 2 year old from a rescue and he is still with me now, albeit an elderly gentleman at 11 years old.

Basil quickly became my best friend whilst also enlightening me to how much rabbits are overlooked in their needs, quirks and desires. Rabbits are the 3rd - 4th most popular pet in the country, depending on the region (Petplan, 2018). However, I feel there is a lack of mainstream knowledge out there with regards to how to provide rabbits with the level of care they need. For example, according to 2021 findings by the PDSA, there are 900,000 rabbits living in the UK and only 50% of them have received regular boosters. This is quite a saddening statistic, as such boosters can be life saving.





On the other end of the spectrum, as Basil has grown older, I have been encouraged to think outside the box as to how a rabbit's day to day life can be improved in terms of their comfort, general wellbeing and happiness. Many rabbits will likely develop osteoarthritis once they reach their older ages, just as dogs and humans do. I noticed Basil beginning to struggle with his daily tasks, such as grooming and washing.



So how could physio help?



Massage

To release restrictions, relieve tension, improve mobility and increase comfort levels.

I have found Basil to get quite restricted through his epaxial (back) muscles, likely due to his stiffer movement and altered posture which has come with old age. He thoroughly enjoys a massage and is a lot more mobile and comfortable afterwards.


Electrotherapies

LASER and PEMFT can be beneficial for reducing pain and inflammation and relieving stiffness in joints and muscles. Basil receives LASER and PEMFT on a weekly basis for his arthritic joints and tight muscles and goes into "bunny zen mode" - see video below!



Exercise therapies

For the past couple of years, Basil has been enrolled onto my physical therapy exercise regime, involving daily cardiovascular work, stretches and occasional strengthening work. Yes, that's right - bunny aerobics. I have found this to keep him fit and active, improve his digestion, keep him mobile, and aid his day to day functioning (grooming, eating ceacotrophs from the backend). Obviously, he loves it... food is involved!




The take-home message...


Rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the UK, but are often purchased without the knowledge of how long they can live for and how much care and attention they need. They are not the "easy option" as many people might suspect. Therefore, I have become increasingly passionate about trying to raise awareness about true bunny needs - their housing requirements, food, general health and their physical comfort!


I do hope that rabbits will over the years acquire the respect they deserve. Meanwhile, I will be doing everything in my power to make the lives of UK rabbits the best they can be, whether injured, elderly, or rehabilitating from disease.




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