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Study highlights scale of rabbit dental disease
“This new research highlights a major welfare crisis in pet rabbits caused by dental disease” – Dan O'Neill.
Data shows that over 15 per cent of pet rabbits are affected.

More than one in seven pet rabbits under primary veterinary care in the UK has a dental disease, making it a ‘major welfare concern’ according to a new study from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).

The researchers also found that being older, male, and having a low bodyweight were significant demographic risk factors for the development of dental problems.

The findings are based on an analysis of patient records from 161,979 rabbits which had been under first opinion veterinary care in the UK during 2019.

The results showed that 15.36 per cent of the rabbits had been formally diagnosed with dental disease. Male rabbits were 1.23 times more likely to have dental disease than female rabbits.

Rabbits that were at least five years old had 7.58 times the risk of developing dental diseases in comparison to rabbits less than a year old. Being heavier than 2kg also led to a higher risk, compared to weighing less than 1.49kg.

However, although previous studies with smaller sample sizes suggested that being lop-eared or brachycephalic were risk factors, the researchers did not find this to be the case.

Charlotte Burn, associate professor in animal welfare and behaviour science at the RVC, said: “Any rabbit can suffer dental disease, and these new findings suggest that owners and vets should particularly watch out for it as rabbits get older, especially if the rabbits are thin and male.
“Interestingly, this very large study didn’t show any association between rabbit head and ear shape and dental disease at all, casting doubt on whether brachycephalic and lop-eared rabbits may be more affected than other rabbits.”

Dan O’Neill, associate professor of companion animal epidemiology at RVC, added: “This new research highlights a major welfare crisis in pet rabbits caused by dental disease. Owners have a legal duty to protect their animals from unnecessary suffering. This can begin with ensuring all rabbits get an appropriate diet of mainly hay and grass.”

The study has been published in the journal Vet Record.

Image © Royal Veterinary College

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."