As more and more pet owners are driving their pets on car journeys, it is becoming more important for veterinarians to have the answers on how best to handle them in an emergency.
Mark Bossley, a vet from Walthamstow Veterinary Group, said: “Unfortunately because of the lack of research being conducted into this area, there is no evidence to support any specific recommendations in terms of emergency journeys.
“We do know that it is important for owners not to stress about healthy pets, and healthy rabbits are certainly very robust animals, but we would always recommend following the advice given on car safety.”
He added: “Rabbits can be very heavy in your arms when they panic, so you need to be careful when handling them.
“The main thing is to keep calm and act reassuringly – this will usually help the rabbit to calm down.”
So what can owners do to make sure their furry friends are as safe as possible on car journeys?
Bossley said: “There are a couple of things owners can do. Firstly, ensure your rabbit does not get too hot as some breeds such as Rex rabbits are more sensitive to high temperatures.”
“Also, always use a safe and secure travel box that is big enough for the pet to move around in comfortably. Some boxes have special vents for safety.”
Bossley said: “Some owners report that they have used a combination of sedatives with positive results, but there is no specific research into how to best combat motion sickness or motion discomfort.”
“If your rabbit does become unwell it’s important not to panic as this will only make matters worse. Ensure they are kept in a safe place away from other animals, and contact your vet for advice.”
Mark also warns pet owners to take extra care if transporting young pets who have not had all their vaccinations.
“A rabbit can die very quickly if it is not protected against deadly diseases such as myxomatosis,” he said. “If you are transporting a young rabbit who has not had all their vaccinations it is important to be very careful as they may also have not built up immunity against other diseases yet.”
“The RSPCA recommends pet owners should check with their local vets for the most up-to-date advice on traveling safely with pets.”