Lionheads are a breed of domestic rabbit that was recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 2014, so they can be taken to rabbit shows. The Lionhead rabbit has a wool mane encircling the head, reminiscent of a male lion as its name implies. Other Lionhead characteristics include a high head mount, compact upright body type, short well-furred 2- to 3 1/2-inch ears, and a weight of 2.5 to 3.75 pounds. A shy breed that likes a quiet environment. Wool may need occasional light brushing. As a small breed, limiting feed amount to 2-4 oz a day is recommended, they can have unlimited grass, hay, or dried veg and natural whole grain such as oats.

Grooming requirements vary by the amount and texture of furnishings, generally a light brushing once a week is plenty. Nair trimming generally must be done once a month or so, and molting occurs twice a year for a week or two and they will need daily grooming during that time. They clean themselves like cats thus don’t require baths, in fact, bathing your rabbit may cause death if the rabbit cannot stabilize it’s body temperature overcome the stress.

There are no specific shots rabbits require. Rabbits are not susceptible to Rabies, the parasites they are susceptible to include primarily ear mites, fur mites, and pinworms. Generally it is advisable to treat every 3-6 months with an Ivermectin based product such as frontline for dogs, with use of a dose based on weight. For example, if your treating a 3 lb rabbit, use a dose for a under 5 lb dog. You do not need to treat every month, but it may be desirable to treat once, wait 2 weeks, then repeat. This can then be repeated every 6 months or as needed.

If you notice your rabbit itching it’s ears or back of it’s neck excessively, even if you can’t see anything, you can add several drops of olive oil, mineral oil, or any other light non-toxic oil (I prefer castor oil) directly into the ear opening. Hold your rabbits head still until the oil runs all the way into the ear. This will actually cause any mites to suffocate and is totally safe for your rabbit. I also administer a few drops of castor oil every day during the molting period twice a year. Avoid giving protease based cat hairball treatments because rabbits have a different type of digestive system and the wrong type of enzymes can actually cause internal hemorrhage.

Most health problems in rabbits come from diet. Giving excess, unusual, poisonous, or spoiled fresh foods or feed can quickly cause serious problems. If your rabbit refuses to eat, sits in a hunched positions, has diarrhea, or grinds it’s teeth this is a medical emergency and you should get your pet to the vet immediately. If your unable to obtain vet care for any reason, withdraw all food AND water, and provide your rabbit with fresh dry hay. You should administer 2-5 ml MCT oil every hour for 8 hours, then offer water. If the rabbit still refuses to eat, try to encourage it to hop around and you can even massage the belly to try to help get things moving. MCT oil will absorb directly into the bloodstream and bypasses the digestive system.

If the rabbit refuses to drink, you may have to force feed water, preferably with a diluted solution of electrolytes. I use a chick electrolyte/probiotic solution designed for chicks (TSC or Fleet Farm) diluted to 1/4 normal dose. Try to get 5-10 ml into your rabbit, unless it will drink freely then give it all it will want. Once your rabbit starts eating again, only give dry hay for 3-4 days before starting to reintroduce pelleted feed, and avoid treats for at least a few weeks.

Other health problems generally relate to injury. If your bunny suddenly has paralysis in its hind legs, unfortunately it should be put down, because this is almost always a broken back and is incurable. If your bunny is getting older and not eating well, be sure and check its teeth are still normal. Sometimes, one tooth or both can become unaligned and must be kept trimmed so your rabbit can eat properly. If this occurs in a young rabbit it is generally a genetic condition and can not be effectively corrected. Eye problems can also result from injury or infection. Generally, your vet will need to address these issues.

Respiratory problems are not frequently a problem for a pet rabbit living in a home or an outdoor enclosure. Frequent, repeated sneezing, lasting over a week, a white discharge (boogers), or matted fur on the inside of the front feet are all signs of a Pasteurella infection. The research is not clear about weather there is any effective treatment for this condition, but it is highly contagious and the rabbits afflicted are generally removed from the breeding herd. Susceptibility is selected against, but it generally doesn’t cause death, just potentially suffering from frequent sneezing. Certain antibiotics can be used to reduce symptoms temporarily, but generally the condition returns. Ask your vet is your concerned.

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