The journey to the vet need not be a traumatic experience for your rabbit, and with the right preparation, stress levels can be kept to a minimum for both of you
For many owners, going to the vet involves driving. Your bunny’s regular routine probably means that a car trip is unusual, so you will need to take a few measures to keep your rabbit relaxed and prepare him for the journey ahead.
As prey animals, rabbits feel most secure travelling in a snug, dark box that acts as a substitute burrow. Your pet carrier should be rigid, well ventilated and secure. Cardboard boxes are not appropriate as they are easily chewed and can become damp and unsafe if rabbits urinate or if it rains. Plastic cat carriers are much better, being lightweight and easy to clean. Try to choose a design that has a top opening, too. Those with only a front opening may make a great substitute burrow, but it can be tricky to persuade a reluctant rabbit to emerge from inside.
Familiarise your rabbit with the carrier beforehand by leaving it in his enclosure with the front door open to encourage him to investigate. Rabbits should never be pushed into the carrier, but enticed in with a healthy snack or some greens.
When you set off, place a favourite toy and some used bedding in the carrier for some comforting smells. Rabbits rarely eat or drink when they are on the move, but you should always pop some hay into the box in case they want to nibble. Providing water is more of a challenge – try a bowl with a large lip, and always offer a drink as soon as the car is stationary.
Rabbits don’t tolerate heat well so make sure the carrier is kept out of direct sunlight and is well ventilated, and try to book appointments at cooler, quieter times of the day. Strap your carrier into a vehicle with a seat belt or secure it in a footwell behind a seat. The carrier side should face the direction of travel so your rabbit is not thrown face-on should the vehicle have to brake suddenly. If you are travelling by bus, sit the carrier on your knee or hold on to it.
If possible make short journeys a regular part of your bunny’s life – then travelling to the vet will not seem like such an unusual event.
Read more about car travel with your pet here.