Recognition and Amelioration of Pain in Pet Rabbits

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Rabbits are popular pets and rabbit medicine has greatly improved over the years. Despite this, there are still many areas that need to be explored and that can be improved. As a prey species, rabbits are evolutionary predisposed to mask signs of pain, and weakness, hence owners and veterinary professionals often struggle to recognise these important behavioural signs. Pain is an aversive emotion which can lead to suffering, can adversely affect health and even longevity of these pets. It is therefore likely that reducing pain in the veterinary context, will not only improve the current rabbit welfare, but also has the potential to increase the speed of recovery from illness and routine procedures of this amazing species. As access to affordable veterinary care for rabbits is improving, and the number of rabbit owners attending veterinary surgeries increasing; optimising the veterinary environment for their care is vital.

The Animal Welfare and Behaviour Group of the University of Bristol is carrying out a new research project. The study aims to investigate the veterinary professions’ (vets and vet nurses) thoughts on pain in pet rabbits and gather information on how pain is treated in this species within a veterinary clinic. The results of this research project will allow to better understand the current thinking on recognition and amelioration of pain in rabbits and aims to improve rabbit welfare while at the veterinary clinic.

The questionnaire is aimed at ALL vets and nurses (regardless of level of rabbit experience). We would be grateful if you could spare 15 minutes of your time to complete an online questionnaire. The data will be anonymous unless you choose to give us your contact details for further studies.

If you have any questions please contact livia.benato@bristol.ac.uk

We would like to thank you in advance for your time and participation. Please do also share this widely with any colleagues who treat rabbits.

Here are the links to the online questionnaires:

Vets: https://goo.gl/forms/C5mhqfObfirmwJr33

Nurses: https://goo.gl/forms/zdtkX1td7muBESay1

This study has been approved by the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee