Watership Drown! Pampered rabbit has water therapy to cure her arthritisHeidi, a giant continental rabbit, has twice-weekly sessions to help arthritisOwner pays 30 a session in the 4ft-deep hydrotherapy poolLives with two other rabbits in a 3,000 converted garage
The pad is complete with sofas, air conditioning and carpet
00:36 GMT, 6 March 2013
07:54 GMT, 6 March 2013
She doesn’t like getting those floppy ears wet. And there’s no way she’ll be trying the doggie paddle.
But it seems you can lead a rabbit to water and, with the help of a bright orange buoyancy aid, make her swim.
Heidi, a giant continental rabbit, has taken to her new exercise regime like a duck to water.
Her owner, Amanda Williams, hopes the twice-weekly swimming sessions will help cure her four-year-old pet’s arthritis.
Heidi, a giant continental rabbit, has taken to her new exercise regime to help ease her arthritis like a duck to water
Miss Williams, 44, pays 30 a session for Heidi to swim in the 4ft-deep hydrotherapy pool.
Staff strap the rabbit into an adjustable buoyancy vest designed for small dogs and pin back her ears with a hair band.
She is then placed in the heated water where she paddles up and down for about seven minutes at a time before being dried off with a towel.
Heidi, who measures 3ft 2in from nose to tail and weighs a hefty 15lb, lives with two other rabbits in a 3,000 converted garage complete with sofas, air conditioning and carpet.
Heidi, who measures 3ft 2in from nose to tail and weighs a hefty 15lb, lives with two other rabbits in a 3,000 converted garage complete with sofas, air conditioning and carpet
She has been diagnosed with arthritis in her hips and knees and spondylosis in her neck. ‘Over Christmas Heidi just stopped moving so I took her to the vet,’ said Miss Williams, an air traffic controller from Christchurch, Dorset.
‘He said we should try hydrotherapy, even though he had never seen it used with rabbits before. It is more usually used for horses and dogs. None of us thought she would tolerate one minute in the water but in her first session she took to it very quickly. She leapt off the platform into the pool.
‘As soon as she hit the water she just instinctively started paddling. It was obvious at first she had a problem with the water going into her ears so we tied them back with a scrunchie.
‘Her whole gait and posture is much better and she is moving around much more freely. She is now a much happier rabbit.’
Linda Prove, who owns the hydrotherapy pool in Milford on Sea, Hampshire, has never treated a rabbit before. But she is thrilled with the results.
‘Heidi is much more confident now and buzzing around the house and garden,’ she said. ‘It has worked wonders for her confidence.’
In total each session the hydrotherapy team spend with Heidi lasts 45 minutes, of which the rabbit will be in the pool for about seven minutes.
Continental giant rabbits live on average for about six and cost roughly 150 pounds each.
Miss Williams, who has two other continental giant rabbits called Herman and Greta, said the size of the animals means they cost her around 250 a month in food and bedding.