Do House Rabbits Need to be Vaccinated?

Rabbits are low-maintenance pets with a comforting presence.

Although they don’t require 24/7 supervision, it’s important that you take some preventative measures to protect your precious furball from any kind of viral or terminal disease.

Vaccinating your house rabbit can minimize the risk of potentially fatal diseases such as myxomatosis, RHD-1, and RHD-2.

Yearly checkups and vaccination boosters are essential to ensure that your bunny lives a long and healthy life right by your side.

Do House Rabbits Need to be Vaccinated?

Absolutely, they do! Whether you keep your rabbit outside or indoors, most vets recommend that you should vaccinate your pet rabbits regularly.

Unvaccinated bunnies run the risk of contracting and spreading diseases from other animals and insects, which can potentially turn out to be life-threatening.

So, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get your bunny an early jab of preventive vaccines.

What is the Likelihood of an Indoor Rabbit Catching a Disease?

Rabbits who stay indoors are generally less likely to catch strange viral diseases or infections.

However, the probability isn’t completely zero.

Even if your rabbit doesn’t come in direct contact with external risk factors such as wild animals or insects, there’s a chance that you might do.

Sometimes, these aerial diseases and infestations will stick to your clothes and skin, and you may end up putting your bunny at risk by interacting with them.

It has been found that a rabbit’s hay can also contain some viral infection elements. Insect or mosquito bites are also another cause of spreading diseases amongst rabbits.

Therefore, it’s highly suggested that you should vaccinate your bunny regardless of their homebody tendencies.

When Should You Vaccinate Your Rabbits?

You can start vaccinating your rabbit from when it’s seven weeks old.

Getting a head start is ideal as it allows your rabbit’s immune system to get stronger quicker and ward off diseases from an early age.

However, vaccination isn’t a one-time done deal. You’ll have to get regular booster vaccinations for your rabbit to keep their immunity at the maximum level.

Your vet will guide you about the frequency and the breaks between each vaccination shot.

Usually, the vet will space out vaccination with each visit.

So, if your rabbit needs two vaccination boosts, the vet may administer one of the vaccines and ask you to visit a week later for the other.

What Diseases Can Vaccinations Prevent?

Myxomatosis and Rabbit Hemorrhagic Diseases are considered some of the most fatal diseases for your rabbit.

Apart from the intense pain and suffering, these conditions have a very slim chance of treatment and recovery.

Therefore, prevention is the key here. To protect your little fluffy friend, you should ensure yearly vaccines to keep these diseases at bay.


Myxomatosis is an infectious virus usually transmitted by airborne blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes, mites, or fleas.

This virus is highly contagious and can spread like wildfire through close contact with infected rabbits or contaminated objects and surfaces in the environment.


The symptoms for myxomatosis can take up to 14 days to appear, and by that time, the condition has usually worsened to its fatal stage.

Some common signs of myxomatosis include:

  • Conjunctivitis and red eyes.
  • Swelling of eyes and genital areas.
  • Loss of appetite and lethargy.
  • High fever.

Why Vaccination is Important

Unfortunately, as of yet, there is no treatment available for myxomatosis.

While there are some temporary relief options such as fluids, antibiotics, and other medications to ease the pain and discomfort, the vet cannot guarantee full recovery for rabbits who’ve contracted this infection.

The chances of an unvaccinated rabbit surviving myxomatosis are very low, and usually, vets consider euthanasia as the kindest option for infected rabbits. Therefore, timely vaccinations can prevent this sad outcome.

Although there are times where vaccination fails to stop the transmission of a virus, generally, unvaccinated rabbits are at a higher risk of catching myxomatosis.

Furthermore, vaccinated rabbits have a chance at recovery and successful treatment thanks to the immunity provided by the vaccination.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease 1 (RHD-1)

This virus is extremely common in wild rabbits, but it can also affect sheltered house rabbits.

RHD-1 is a serious condition that attacks rabbits’ lungs and other major organs.

Also believed to be highly contagious and infectious, RHD has a low survival rate for bunnies due to its extremely delayed symptoms.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Diseases 1 is considered to be especially fatal for older rabbits. Bunnies under six weeks old may have a chance of recovering from this virus.


RHD-1 is very difficult to detect, and the signs often precede the last moments of the rabbit.

The sudden and inexplicable death of a bunny is also often attributed to a virus like RHD due to its serious and violent symptoms.

  • High fever.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Loss of appetite and lethargy.
  • Liver diseases.
  • Internal bleeding and possibility of bloody discharge from nose or mouth.
  • Uncontrollable seizures or fits.

Why Vaccination is Important

This stubborn virus can survive in an infected environment for months and transmits through minimal contact.

Infected rabbits and other animals like rodents, birds, or insects can spread the virus through direct or indirect contact via clothes and other objects.

RHD-1 causes rapid blood loss in internal organs and makes it almost impossible for the rabbit to survive this ordeal.

Rabbits who contract this virus are often found dead and covered with bloodstains near their mouth and nose.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease 2 (RHD-2)

A variant of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease was first detected in 2010 in France, and since then, multiple rabbit deaths have been reported due to the RHD-2 virus.

While this strain of the virus has a lower mortality rate, the symptoms presented are also subtler compared to RHD-1, making it a very difficult disease to survive against.

Unlike RHD-1, this form of the virus can affect rabbits of all ages and can cause fatal reactions in young bunnies as well.


  • High fever.
  • Loss of appetite and lethargy.
  • Bleeding in internal organs.
  • Fatalistic spasms and seizures.

Why Vaccination is Important

Similar to other viruses, this variant also leaves no room for treatment and recovery. The severe internal bleeding can cause rapid and sudden death for the rabbits.

Therefore, prevention is the only way to avoid the unfortunate demise of your rabbit.

Getting regular vaccination will ensure that your rabbit stays safe even if it comes in contact with a virus-infected fellow rabbit.

What Happens During a Vaccination Appointment?

The clinic visits for vaccinations entail much more than a simple roundtrip to get your rabbit vaccinated.

Before administering any vaccination, the nurse or the vet will check your rabbit’s overall health.

This medical check involves checking any irregularities in your rabbit’s weight, teeth health, and any subtle signs that hint at your bunny’s poor diet or water drinking habits.

An unhealthy or ill rabbit will be deemed unfit for the vaccination session, and your vet may delay your booking and give you a new date for the appointment.

If your rabbit is completely fine and healthy for vaccination, the vet will proceed to give it a vaccine shot.

This procedure is usually quick and pain-free as long as your rabbit is in a calm and comfortable state.

Types of Vaccines

There are different types of vaccinations available.

Some vets prefer using single vaccination for myxomatosis and RHD-1 and a separate vaccine to protect against RHD-2.

Can You Combine Vaccines for All Three Conditions?

In 2020, a new vaccine was introduced called NobivacMyxo-RHD Plus.

This vaccine was developed as an all-in-one solution for myxomatosis and both RHD variants.

A single annual dose of this vaccine offers full protection from all three viruses for the next 12 months.

However, your vet might advise you against this vaccination if your rabbit has already been vaccinated for myxomatosis.

So, make sure to discuss your rabbit’s medical and vaccination history before allowing the administration of this vaccine.

How Often Do You Need to Vaccinate Your Rabbits?

If you’re planning to acquire a new bunny friend from a rescue shelter, make sure to always check its vaccination record.

Most rescue rabbits come pre-vaccinated, and giving them a double dose can turn out to be quite harmful.

Generally, it is recommended that you give your rabbit vaccination booster every year.

The effects of the vaccination wear off over time, with most vaccines promising a maximum of 12 months of immunity from any viral conditions.

Therefore, it’s important to keep track of your bunny’s last vaccination and plan its next visit accordingly.

Are There Any Side Effects of Vaccinating Your Rabbits?

After vaccinating your rabbits, you might notice some mild side effects. These include:

  • Increased body temperature or fever.
  • Temporary swelling on the area of the vaccination jab.

Generally, the symptoms of side effects should improve in a day or two, and the swelling can take a few weeks to go down.

Other than that, if you notice any prolonged side effects, you should contact your vet immediately.

When to Worry

If your rabbit shows disinterest in eating and stops eating after coming back from a vaccination session, this can be a cause of concern.

Rabbits are anxious creatures, and going to the vet for injections can cause them extreme stress.

Excessive stress can often lead to a condition known as Gut Stasis (GI Stasis), which causes a bacterial imbalance in the rabbit’s intestines.

If you think your rabbit is showing signs of GI Stasis, consult a vet for swift treatment before its condition can worsen.

Other Measures You Can Take to Prevent Virus Infection in Your Rabbits

Apart from yearly vaccination and boosters, there are also some other things you need to be mindful of in order to prevent a virus outbreak in your pet rabbits.

Let’s discuss some of the most important factors.

Providing a Hygienic Environment

A clean and sanitary environment will reduce the chances of your rabbits contracting a disease like RHD.

While mosquitos and other parasitic insects can carry myxomatosis, RHD is only transmittable through contact with infected rabbits and other surfaces.

RHD is known for being a stable virus that can stay in the environment for a long period of time.

Therefore, regular disinfection is important to remove the virus from the surface of the outbreak.

Changing bedding, litter, and infected hay will help minimize the chances of your vaccinated rabbit somehow contracting the disease.

Removing Insects Infestations

Insects are one of the biggest risks for rabbit infections.

It is highly advised that you keep your house treated for fleas and other insect infestations to protect your little fluffballs.

Fleas from dogs or cats can also infect rabbits, so it’s recommended that you consult a vet occasionally to ensure that your other pets are not harming your bunny.

Minimizing Contact with Infected Rabbits

Although most symptoms of viral diseases take a while to appear, there are some usual signs that can give clues about your rabbit’s health.

Usually, it’s a good practice to separate your sick rabbits from their cage mates.

Keeping some distance will give you the opportunity to control the outbreak before it gets worse and affects all of your pet house rabbits.

Final Thoughts

As long as you provide rabbits with a safe space and lots of food and water, they will sniffle, munch, and hop their days away.

Most pet owners are aware that animals like dogs and cats need to be regularly vaccinated to keep them healthy at all times.

Similarly, house rabbits need to be vaccinated, too.

Viral infections for rabbits are quite common, and sadly, there’s not much you can do about it once your rabbit catches an infection.

Any symptoms of the virus are followed by a few weeks of suffering until the rabbit finally gives in to its worsening health and takes its last breath.

Whether through natural causes or euthanasia, parting with your rabbit can be a heartbreaking experience.

Therefore, it’s better to take precautionary measures like yearly vaccine boosters.

Vaccinations are essential as there is no alternative treatment option for these viruses.

Getting regular vaccines will ensure that your house rabbit’s immunity levels are high enough to ward off any viral infection in their environment.

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