This is a weekly blog to let you know what is going on at The Educated Rabbit and with those bunnies in my life who inspire this website. I will announce any new exciting products, alert you to local rescues (and how to support them) and what is going on in the world of rabbits. Thank you for tuning in!
The Diamond Blog keeps you informed on all the new additions and updates to the Educated Rabbit website.
Yes, I know Thanksgiving is this Thursday, but I thought I would give greetings a little early. Many people will have a quiet celebration this year due to the pandemic. I don't have a lot of family living close by, so to be honest, my husband and I frequently have a "pandemic Thanksgiving" and a "pandemic Christmas" for that matter. It's not so bad. It's pretty laid-back and quiet and there aren't any fights and disagreements.
I like to give my bunnies something extra yummy for the celebrations. Often I will buy fresh carrots with the tops still intact. Then for dinner, they can have the tops and a nice slice of carrot along with their usual salad.
This weekend, a friend of mine told me that her vet found a mass inside the chest of one of her bunnies. Rosie is over 11-years-old and has lived a nice spoiled life along with her bunny-friend, Spartacus.
There are several things my friend can do. There are tests to confirm the presence of cancer as well as the type. Radiation treatment or just administering a steroid to slow the growth. These are all options.
My friend is also considering how much stress her bunny can handle. Rosie has a history of being high-strung. She's just a nervous, little rabbit. She doesn't do well with lots of handling or being taken out of her comfort area (ie, going to the vet). There is a good chance the stress of the treatment may kill her faster than any cancer.
It's a hard decision to make. I have certainly been in similar situations in which I had to decide whether going ahead with a treatment (or even going to the vet) was worth the stress of packing the bunny up and taking the 20 mile drive in Los Angeles's infamous freeway traffic. Sometimes that answer is not clear and you have to guess. Sometimes it was the wrong decision, but you have to realize you did the best you could with the information you knew at the time.
Of course the cost/benefit is always a factor in the decision-making. Will the bunny be cured or just give him more time. Is that more time just a few days, weeks, months or a year? The vet bill should not be the only factor in your decision making, yet I know it is for many owners. I certainly understand why.
Right now, Rosie is feeling fine, just occasionally winded when she binkies too much. I know my friend will continue to consider the options and do what is best for her bunny. All I know is that Rosie will continue to be a happy and spoiled bunny for some time.
Hope your week is shaping up to be a good one.
Frankly, I'm surprised November is half-over. Keeping track of time is a bit harder during this pandemic. Nevertheless, Christmas is not so far away, and I need to think about the upcoming holidays.
Now normally, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations at my house are not that different than what is recommended during a pandemic. It will be an unstructured day of being in my pjs and watching TV. There are a few people on my Christmas list for whom I buy presents and send cards out. Luckily, bunnies are easily entertained. I know I could just throw everyone a toilet paper roll stuffed with hay and treats, and that will provide a great deal entertainment, but I like to do something a little special for them.
I LOVE Christmas shopping for my bunnies! Toys! Treats! Cardboard hideouts! I love it all. Throughout the year, my bunnies get goodies, but there is something special about Christmas. Often, many local rescues have Fall and Christmas fundraisers and they may have lots of interesting things. Since this year is a little different, I will do my shopping online.
One of my favorite companies is Bunny Bytes. They are located in Washington state, and they hand-make most of their toys. They are really creative and their toys look like so much fun.
For treats, I may pull out my dehydrator to dry some fresh mango slices, or order some dried herbs from Food4Buns. Food4Buns offers a special holiday blend (available in the next week) that most of my bunnies have really enjoyed. PawKreations makes great wooden toys, but they also make the tastiest bunny cookies!!! Owner Lillian explained to me the process she used to make them in her kitchen. There is a lot of hard work and love involved!! They come in 3 great flavors: Regular, Berry and Mango.
The bunnies are going to have so much fun! I'm looking forward to the holidays!
Hope you all had a good weekend. Southern California had her first touch of winter, and I loved it!!
Having been born and raised in the Canadian Prairies and watching ice form INSIDE the house during some of the coldest winter storms, I can tell you with some confidence that I've experienced summers that were colder than the typical Los Angeles winter.
I quite enjoy the winters here. I can leave the windows open to air out the house. The heat isn't oppressive. I can sleep with a heavy blanket and feel cozy. I might even break out a favorite pair of fuzzy socks.
However, I'm mindful of the critters in my house, especially if I have a frail old bun. Bunnies that have rear-end paralysis have quite a bit of muscle atrophy in their legs. That means they don't have that added layer of insulation to help keep them warm. I keep them well away from drafts, and if I think temperatures will be in the 40's or 30's (10C or lower), I will be tucking them in a blanket. I do try to keep the temperature in the house between 68-70F (20-21C).
Bath-time is always in the morning. I don't want to risk getting them wet and then not drying them properly in the evening.
If you happen to have a poorly insulated house, you can use a cordless heating pad (you can find this in "Health Care" section of Shopping for Rabbit Supplies) to provide under the fleece bedding. You can also cover the pen with a blanket or sheet to help retain heat. I did that last winter while I was house-sitting and I took Roxanne and Poppy with me. The house was cold at night so I tucked in those girls well and covered the pen. They were very happy and cozy.
And always give them something to eat. Nothing's worse than wanting a snack in the middle of the night and there's no food in front of your face.
May you and your senior bunnies have a cozy winter!
Happy Monday evening!
I was all set this morning to write my blog...but then I got distracted, became obsessed with other matters, took a nap, poked some bunnies, got distracted some more, had dinner, continued with being distracted...realized I hadn't written my blog and saw how late it was.
Last week I was very much preoccupied by my baby girl, Zoe. She continued to improve after her hospitalization at Access and I saw more of her normal behavior. However, I kept on having that nagging suspicion that she was just off somehow. I wasn't quite sure what it was. I suspected there was still some discomfort, but whether that was related to the bloat or something else, I didn't know.
I did speak to her vet on Friday and we scheduled a quick follow-up on Sunday. In the meantime, her vet suggested that I start her on gabapentin, which is a good drug to help with nerve pain and issues regarding spondolysis. I already had Eddie, Poppy and Roxanne on it, so I had enough to start her on it.
Zoe did seem to show more willingness to move and eat, which made me happy. She is not happy about me manhandling her twice a day. Somehow, she thinks the Queen of the Universe is above being forced to take medicine. Fortunately, her recheck went great. I'm so happy I have my feisty little girl back.
In the meantime, I've had a bit of an upset in terms of my website and First Aid guide. I will need to re-shoot a large portion of the pictures I have. It's a bit of a step back, but on the bright side, maybe the new pictures will be even better!! It should be fun, actually.
The hunt for awesome pictures begins!
Grooming long-haired rabbits requires patience and some skill. There are several breeds that need more attention to grooming than their short-haired cousins.
I hope you are all having a good start to your week. I have to confess, I don't really mind Mondays. It's probably because I've had enough part-time jobs in which my Monday was a different day of the week.
Well, some of you may remember last week's drama was Emma's high fever. Thankfully, that resolved itself quickly. I'm not sure what happened to cause such a spike, but I'm grateful she is back to normal.
Unfortunately, the relief was short-lived. Wednesday morning, I discovered that Zoe wasn't eating her pellets. This was highly unusual. Zoe is the type of bunny who will investigate the mouths of her bunny friends to see if there is any yummy fruit to pull out of there and eat herself. In fact, Zoe has never been ill, despite her 9.5 years. The last time I medicated her was after her spay at 5 months.
I fired up the heating pad and give her sub-q fluids (lactated ringer solution) and pain meds (metacam). Her stomach felt a little tight, but not overtly so. In an hour and a half, her temperature was almost normal, but her stomach didn't feel better. It felt tight, while her lower abdomen felt very soft. I feared a blockage, so I brought her down to the emergency vet, in the hopes that the exotics vet would have a chance to see her.
It turned out that she did have a blockage and it was recommended that she stay with them overnight so they could put her on IV fluids. The fluids helped to hydrate her and loosen the blockage in her gut. She has been home for a few days now. She is not back to normal, but she seems to be on the mend.
Sometimes people mix up bloat and GI stasis. Bloat is an obstruction. Things have stopped. It's a little different to bloating in dogs, in which the stomach twists, trapping the gases within it. In rabbits, the obstruction can happen anywhere in the GI tract. Gases get trapped and expand. This is extremely painful. However, the pain is only a part of the problem. The expansion of the stomach (or elsewhere in the abdomen) can cut off the blood supply to the kidneys, heart and other organs, which can result in death. Bloat is a time-sensitive condition. You have about 6-12 hours to handle it before the rabbit dies.
To be honest, bloat freaks me out. The first time I ever had to deal with a sick rabbit, it was a case of bloat and it didn't end well. I still think of Jacob every so often. I felt horrible that I wasn't able to help him. After his death, I wanted to learn as much as possible about rabbit care, so future rabbits had a better chance of survival.
He inspired me to be a better caretaker.
I think I am going to move the publishing date of my weekly blog to Monday. It appears Sunday is the day the bunnies conspire to keep me off of the computer by becoming ill.
Saturday night, it was Emma's turn to make sure I stayed up all night, binge-watching Netflix. Just before bed, I discovered she was running a very high fever of 106.4F (41.3C). I haven't had to deal with too many fevers. However, it always takes longer for a bunny to drop to a normal body temperature than it is for a bunny's to raise his body temperature to a normal range. So Emma got to sit on ice for 4 hours before I moved her back to her pen. I checked her about 90 minutes later, and it was somewhat normal, so I went to bed.
Unfortunately, I did not get to sleep in, so I was moving around like a zombie yesterday. It's amazing I got anything done. However, Emma seems to be feeling much better, so I'm very relieved about that. I still think the weekend seems to be a little cursed, so I will be moving the blog to Mondays.
This week, I've been working on my article about grooming long-haired rabbits. I quickly got distracted by pictures of extremely fuzzy Angoras and then got even more distracted by the art harvesting and handspinning wool into yarn.
I totally geeked out on it!!! I was reading articles and watching YouTube videos on how to spin it, dyeing it and rolling the yarn into a nice ball. IT LOOKED LIKE SO MUCH FUN!!!
I was seriously eyeing books on Amazon about the history of handspinning and the descriptions of 200 different types of wool from around the world. This is the sort of odd Trivia Pursuit knowledge I get excited about, because...well, I'm a nerd.
What did prevent me from ordering a spinning wheel and getting a boatload of Angoras was a couple of things: 1. I'm a lazy groomer. It's a fact. The sooner I acknowledge it, the less likely I will have a dozen badly matted bunnies living with me. 2. I already have 6 rabbits in the house, I don't want to have more high-maintenance bunnies. 3. My house isn't big enough for more stuff. 4. I love my husband and I don't want him to contemplate murdering me. 5. I don't know how to knit. What am I going to do with all this yarn?
Still, it looked like fun. Maybe one of these days, if I end up living on a little hobby farm, I might just take up spinning my own yarn. My neighbors better know how to knit!!
I hope you all are enjoying October. There is a hint of cooler weather, but this upcoming week will be once again in the triple digits. I can't put away my shorts just yet.
I've been busy writing up my grooming articles this week. In the meantime, I realized that it was high time that all my bunnies got groomed too, so I tortured them with comb outs and nail trims. Emma gave me such a mournful look. She's really good at it!
Eddie and I are still adjusting to Poppy's absence. I moved his bed in with Panda and Cupcake last weekend. Those two had been known to ignore the disabled bunnies in the past, so I was hoping that would still remain true. Joey and Zoe have also ignored the disabled bunnies, but Joey is pretty hyper, especially around food. He has been known to jump on other bunnies in an effort to be the first one fed. So that was not an option.
Well, Panda and Cupcake have been very gentle around Eddie. In fact they are so gentle, they don't bother him at all. They just hop in his bed, eat a large portion of his food and then go away. Really, they're such jerks.
While working in the office this week, I had set up Eddie next to me for an afternoon. Joey and Zoe had no interest in saying hi to the weird bunny that refused to hop, but Zoe did take offense to the large stuffed animal Eddie was using for a pillow. Zoe torn open the side and made a giant mess of stuffed animal guts. Seriously, she's over 9.5-years-old, I was hoping she would have outgrown stuffed animal hunting by now.
I just live with a house full of deviants.
This afternoon, I decided that Panda and Cupcake should get to know Eddie better, so I set up a small space, made Eddie a little bed, put in some water and food, and then went on with my cleaning.
It was 6 hours of Panda and Cupcake sitting at the furthest corner of the pen and eyeballing Eddie while he napped. I'm not sure what they were expecting, but it was pretty funny. After I was done with my chores and their dinner was ready, I put everyone back home to their giant pen. Panda and Cupcake disappeared into their castle and Eddie continued his nap on his main bed.
It might be sometime before there is any kissing.
I am going to assume those of you who follow my Instagram and Facebook Page will know that Poppy passed away this week. My work has slowed down as I have dealt with this heavy loss.
I wanted to talk a little about losing a pet. I have lost a fair number of bunnies over the years, both my own and those at the rescue. Even if I wasn't particularly close with a departed rescue bun, I still felt the loss. Tears were always shed; an emptiness touched my heart. I mourned. Sometimes I recovered and could move on relatively quickly with my life. Other times, the loss hit me so hard, I felt immobile. Tears fell often and hard like a flash flood in a desert. My heart felt like it would break and my diet consisted of copious amount of ice cream.
Sometimes a death struck suddenly and seemingly out of the blue. Other times, a bunny had a slow and steady decline. In my experience, one isn't harder than the other. Even when you have the opportunity to make arrangements in advance and you have plenty of time to say goodbye, the actual passing can be crushing.
I don't necessarily mourn for the physical presence. After all, many times the bunny is old, frail, sick or injured. I don't want their pain to continue. Instead I mourn the activities that are no longer possible - no more cuddles, no more nips or sass when I trim nails, no more giving treats and watching their pure joy at eating a slice of banana or dill, no more nose bonks. What could have been is no more.
I assume everyone is familiar with the Rainbow Bridge. I think it resonates so well with so many people because it doesn't matter if you are religious or a committed atheist. It is not dependent on a godly metric, nor is it as depressing as death as the ultimate finale in the universe. It whispers about a hope that someday, you will see that Bridge, and all those you have loved and gone before you, will be waiting for you. Can you imagine seeing all your old friends again - whole and healthy, and excited to see you?
It sounds like a really great day, actually.
I hope all is well with you! I have a busy day ahead of me, so I'll probably goof off at least half of the day (bunny laundry is so NOT my favorite chore).
I had an eventful week. It started out with Poppy urinating out bloody pee. I brought her in to see Dr. Schachterle at Access. Of course, Poppy was a big jerk and passed perfectly normal looking urine at the clinic when she was expressed, making me look more of a paranoid crazy bunny owner than I really am (thanks girlfriend. I thought we were friends). A cursory pass with the ultrasound indicated that the bladder walls were thickened, probably due to inflammation because of the build-up of sediment. I was undecided whether I wanted to bring Poppy down again to get a more thorough ultrasound of her kidneys and bladder. After all, those mummified babies of hers were hiding her kidneys the last time Poppy got x-rays and an ultrasound. I'm unsure with the direction I want to go with her care, due to her age and current health issues.
At the moment, Poppy is at home getting tons of love. I'm just keeping an eye on my Popstar. She's very old and frail (even though she doesn't admit it). I'll probably have that ultrasound done anyway. We'll see.
In other non-rabbit news, thieves broke in to my storage unit in our building and stole our bikes...and Zoe's baby cage (how random). They didn't even do me the favor of cleaning out the rest of the junk. That was left to my husband and I, as we sorted through what was left and repaired the door.
I wanted to start writing a new article. I had barely started on the topic of rear-end paralysis, but seriously, after the week I've had, such a heavy article was beyond me. Instead, I decided to focus on grooming instead. It will still require brain-power, photos...maybe a video or two. Maybe it'll be less taxing on the brain? There is still a chance I will end up in front of the TV with a giant bowl of ice cream.
Head tilt in rabbits is not unusual. How well a rabbit recovers from this condition depends on the cause.
Caring for head tilt rabbits can be as little as providing a low entry litter box to syringe-feeding every few hours.
Hope your week was good. It has been trying for me because of the smoke-filled air, but I managed - thank goodness for air filters!
As usual, it has been a bunny-filled week. On Wednesday, I brought Eddie in to my regular vet for a senior check-up. Eddie is quite goofy, because he can't stand anymore, but he has not accepted his limitations. He constantly wiggles around, trying to find his feet. The result of his stubbornness is that he has pretty good range-of-motion in his legs, despite the no standing bit. Eddie was just not impressed with this visit. There was a bit of poking and prodding but the scope in his mouth was too much. That deserved a very sharp nip on the hand. It's a good thing Dr. Misetich just laughs that off.
Poppy seemed better since her visit with Dr. Gleeson last Sunday. She still seems to have a bit of sludge, but I'm helping her get rid of it. As always, she remains a happy girl, always ready for treats and face rubs.
This weekend, I got a copy of Sprinkles' necropsy report from the state lab. It turns out that he had a partial blockage in the jejunum (in the small intestine) from a mass. The mass was cancerous. This explained why he went into stasis so frequently. Although the mass was big enough to cause pain and some blockage, it was not large enough to be seen on diagnostics.
It was good to know what the cause of his passing was. It's another learning experience, but I'm sad I could not help him. Sprinkles, though, lived his life to the fullest. When he felt good, he napped, played, binkied, fought with Panda, snuggled with his brother Cupcake, begged for treats and was just a happy bun. I'm glad I rescued him all those years ago and I'm so happy I got to love him.
Senior rabbit care can seem daunting at first, but it can soon become routine and extend the quality of life for your senior bunny.
I know I'm very late with my weekly blog. I do have a good reason for it and yes! It’s a bunny-related excuse.
First of all, an update on the Cupcake and Panda bond. It's going well. This morning I moved them into their permanent spot. They looked pleased with their bigger home. If they continue to be good this week, I'll set up a new cardboard castle I bought several years ago on Etsy, that I still have not unpacked (mostly because the packaged box was just the right size to keep Joey away from getting behind the pen and picking fights with other bunnies). Before you feel sorry for my castle-less bunnies, let me assure you that they always have plenty of toys to play with.
My Sunday was spent worrying about Poppy. She is my incredible head tilt and rear-end paralysis girl. I noticed that her urine was bloody. I know this could be either an infection or something more serious like a kidney or bladder stone, so I brought her down to the emergency vet to see Dr. Gleeson.
It turns out, Poppy's bladder is pretty distended and she has a hard time emptying it (probably an age-related thing). The blood was likely due to irritation from the sediment (there is a lot of sediment in rabbit urine, normally), but we started her on antibiotics in case there was an infection present.
Her x-rays showed something unusual, something my very experienced exotics vet had never seen. There were three large blobs lined up on the right side of her body. It was unclear as to what it was exactly. There were theories from lots of mineralization to mummified fetuses. Dr. Gleeson forwarded the x-rays to me and they were impressive. I passed the images to other Educators of the House Rabbit Society, and they all thought the same thing: mummified fetuses!
So wild! This means that at some point in Poppy's life, she had been pregnant, but the embryos had attached themselves in the abdomen instead of the uterus. They were not viable, but they were too big to be reasborbed by the body, so the fetuses were walled off and calcified.
Are these mummified fetus a problem? Well since Poppy was spayed in 2012, I guess not. Although extremely rare, it can happen to people too. Wikepedia lists several cases in which women have discovered a lithopedion somewhere in their abdomen, even after they've had several normal pregnancies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithopedion
Can these masses be removed? At this time, Poppy is too old to go in for exploratory surgery. Since these masses are not bothering her (they are not affecting her bladder issues). When she passes, I'll be sure to submit her for a necropsy and we'll then know for sure what they are. Until then, I am just going to have my mind blown by the very thought!!
I hope you are all having a restful and safe long weekend. Temps here in Southern California are at record-breaking highs (I think my area will be 116F/47C), so if you are in the middle of this heatwave, please stay cool!
It has been a week, exactly, since the death of my Sprinkles. Although I have experienced the passing of many bunnies over the years, this one has been a little difficult for me. I have spent the last week wandering the condo, listless, much like a Victorian-era wailing ghost. I feel a bit better today, but I know my grief for each passing bunny is as unique as the bunny itself. I just need to let it run its' course, so if I suddenly start sobbing in the middle of making dinner, that is the way it is for now.
Sprinkles leaves behind his brother, Cupcake (I assume they were brothers as both were brought into the shelter as babies at the same time. Although they had different markings, they had similar body structures). In the past, I had tried to bond Cupcake and Sprinkles with their neighbor, Panda. Sprinkles and Panda did not get along. Sprinkles didn't want to share his Cupcake. Now with Sprinkles gone, there was a chance for the match to work.
The pair is eerily similar to the bonding pair I was working with last week. The girl was bossy and the boy incredibly jumpy. You would think the boy was being chased by jumper cables, when in actual fact, the girl just wanted to snuggle, groom and be groomed. Cupcake has very much the same reaction to Panda.
I spent the whole night working with them. That entailed me sitting in a large pen in the living room in front of the TV (there was no way I would be doing this without Netflix). There was a couple of small litter boxes, a water bowl, a bag of treats, lots of snacks for me, pillows, a fan and my phone.
There was some grooming (Panda to Cupcake), some fur pulling (Panda getting annoyed that Cupcake wasn't grooming her), some chasing (Cupcake mistaking Panda for an alligator), bunnies looking startled as I would burst out laughing while watching stand-up comedy (but quietly - husband was sleeping in the next room!). I ended up falling asleep around 5 am. The bunnies hadn't settled down much, but I figured if Cupcake hadn't figured out Panda wasn't an alligator after almost 12 hours in the pen together, that was more of a "him" problem and less of a "me" problem. However, I did sleep in the pen as I figured if things got really bad, Cupcake would be smart enough to jump on my face so I could save him from a bunny half his size.
Love. Bonding. So. Much.
Happy Sunday to you!
There is a miserable heatwave in my area right now. Honestly, I can't really be too grumpy about it. I mean it IS August. These things happen all the time in the summer. However, as someone who was raised in temperatures much more agreeable to polar bears, this sort of heat is oppressive to me.
Of course, bunnies aren't crazy about it either. They have a built-in fur coat they can't take off. It's hard for them to get comfortable. Bunnies cool themselves down via their ears, which is not enough in extremely hot temperatures. So how can you help?
First, keep them inside. Throwing up shade when it's 100 degrees isn't going to drop the temperature 30 degrees under the shade. Bring them inside. If you frequently let your bunny outside to exercise, skip this activity until it cools down. People can forget that their bunny is outside while they are doing chores inside. Air conditioning and fans are essential, but it's also important that your home is also insulated to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Installing double-pane windows or at least weather stripping can help a lot.
I don't have central air conditioning in my house, so when there is a really long heat wave, my window units have a hard time keeping up. My bunnies love laying on ceramic tiles, even more so if they have been in the freezer. Most of my bunnies aren't crazy about frozen water bottles, but sometimes they'll lay next to it. Another favorite is lots of ice in the water bowls. They really enjoy the cold water and I find them more likely to lean up against a cool water bowl than a frozen bottle. I don't know why. My bunnies are weird.
One last thing I like to do is check their ears. If the bunnies are hot, their ears will feel really warm. I will take a washcloth soaked in cool water. I wring out the cloth and wipe down both side of the ear with the cloth, often just wrapping the cloth around the ears. The cloth will actually warm up.
For my elderly bunnies who may have a hard time drinking and staying hydrated, I will supplement with giving them sub-q fluids along with wet veggies. This will ensure that they stay adequately hydrated. If your elder bunnies are not mobile, keep them close to the air conditioner and/or fan, but don't have them directly in the draft.
Hope you and your bunnies keep cool!
Happy Sunday! I hope this weekend is treating you and your bunnies well.
It's been a busy week. It started last weekend when I noticed Cupcake sounded like he was percolating coffee in his nose (i.e. he was sounding congested). Fortunately, he was not at the stage where snot was pouring out of his face and he was struggling to breathe. He just had moments where he would sound congested. I knew that if I ignored it and hoped it went away, it wouldn't and I would then have to deal with a really sick bunny. I also remember the last time he was congested. It was frustrating as it took many weeks for him to recover 100%. This time, I wasn't going to mess around. I would tackle it head on!
Unfortunately, getting a timely vet appointment during COVID-19 is not easy. Vet clinics are crazy busy. I ended up making an appointment with a clinic I had never gone before (as a client).
Dr. Labrecque (who is one of several vets who work at the Exotic Animal Veterinary Center in Pasadena, CA). We agreed to do a culture and sensitivity test. A culture and sensitivity test means that a swab of the infected area is done on the patient (in this case, Cupcake's nasal cavity), and then the lab technicians will try and grow the bacteria. Once grown, certain antibiotics will be applied to see which ones are effective against the bacteria. This test is a good way to determine which antibiotics the bunny is already resistant to. However, it does take a few days to grow the bacteria. In the meantime, I was given a broad spectrum antibiotic (meaning it's a decent medicine to use if you are not sure exactly what you are dealing with). I was also given some medicine to nebulize Cupcake. A nebulizer turns liquid medicine (it can also be plain saline) into a fine mist that can be inhaled. This can be another great way to deal with respiratory diseases, especially pneumonia.
I have a small, handheld one that I really like to use. It's meant for those people who suffer from asthma who may need a portable device. However, during Cupcake's first session, it made a really horrible noise. Since I've had the device for several years and have used it many times, there may be a strong possibility that it is ready to die.
So Cupcake is off the hook on the nebulizing until my new unit comes (today!! Thank you Amazon Prime!). In the meantime, Cupcake is trying his best to convince me he's fine. He does his binkies and does his best to look super cute when he thinks I'm looking at him. Sorry, honey, that's exactly why I'm tormenting you with medications. I want you to be healthy and happy for a long time.
It's hard to believe it's already August. The year is already more than half done. Where did the time go?
This weekend, I attended a virtual class hosted by Triangle Rabbits (an HRS Chapter based in North Carolina) on the topic of megacolon. The presentation was given by HRS Educator, Paula Watkins, who spoke about her own personal experience with living with 4 megacolon bunnies over the years. Personally, I have never owned a megacolon bunny, but I am aware of the special care they require. The treatment can be as unique as the individual bunny.
What is megacolon? It's a condition in which there are less nerve cells operating the colon. The result is irregular contractions and abnormal absorption of water and nutrients. The slower flow of the contents to the anus creates larger than normal stools. Bunnies with megacolon will typically produce large, oval, wet poops and have really smelly cecotropes. They will have an distended abdomen and exhibit weight loss.
Although megacolon can show up in any bunny, it is typically a congenital disease affecting English Spot bunnies described as Charlies. Charlies are white bunnies with very few colored spots. They will have rings around their eyes, a broken butterfly pattern on their nose and a broken stripe down their back. Megacolon can also be 'acquired' as a result of a post-op complication or if there has been some sort of interference with the nerves regulating the colon (such as a back injury).
It's important to have a vet with whom you can work with. Your megacolon rabbit may go into stasis frequently, and you will need to know how to deal with it. Alterations to the diet will be necessary. The bunny may also need to be on constant medications to ensure his gut works properly.
A megacolon bunny may take extra work, but with the proper care, these animals can have a long and fuilfilled life. The key is to be alert to any changes in your bunny and work with a rabbit-savvy vet.
I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying the summer. I've spent the week huddled in front of my computer working away. I'm pretty sure that if I see sunlight, I'll explode like a vampire.
My latest writing project is about head tilt - what it is, why it's so hard to diagnose and how to take care of your bunny in those first few weeks until your bun stabilizes and gets better. I have lots of cute pictures, especially of Poppy hanging out with her favorite plush, Oscar (who is also tilted because of the lack of stuffing in his neck).
I've included new items in my "Shopping for Rabbit Supplies" section, including First Aid items, grooming and toys products.
A new item I have also introduced is my upcoming newsletter, "The Lettuce Letters". This newsletter will show up in your inbox every 2-3 months. It will talk about new and upcoming articles, focus on helpful products for your bunnies and answer any bunny questions you may have. If you have a question about rabbits, just send me an email and I will answer it for you in the newsletter.
Of course, I'm still working on the First Aid guide. If you would like to be the first to know when it's available, you can sign up at the bottom of the home page. The newsletter sign up is on the navigation bar on all the pages.
I hope you are all looking forward to it!!
I hope you are all safe and healthy. The heat and the pandemic are keeping me indoors, but I did venture out this afternoon to help a friend with his new foster bunny, Cirrus.
Cirrus is a white, ruby-eyed bunny. He was rescued as a baby from a hoarder, but then spent almost two years living in the city shelter, waiting for someone to adopt him and his siblings.
Unfortunately, Cirrus and his siblings are further disadvantaged by the way they look. White, ruby-eyed rabbits are frequently overlooked at shelters and rescues. Many people are unsettled by the ruby eyes, even suggesting that these rabbits look demonic. As a result, white, ruby-eyed bunnies are the most prevalent in shelters and rescues and the very last to be adopted.
While city shelters may do their best to keep the animals in their care fed and healthy, it's hard for shelter animals to get the proper socialization they need. Shelters may depend on volunteers, but this does not guarantee all the animals get all the help they need to find Forever Homes. That is why it is important for city and county shelters to partner up with a rescue to help. In the Cirrus' case, The Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation stepped in to help.
The Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation (https://www.larabbits.org/) works tirelessly to educate potential adopters, to foster and rehabilitate and find permanent homes for homeless bunnies. They work with the Los Angeles city shelters, volunteering in all six city shelter locations.
Cirrus has only been in his foster home for a couple of weeks. He is very nervous. I told my friend that Cirrus needed some stability in his life to build his confidence. He had gone from spending nearly his whole life in a kennel cage to suddenly having room to run and play with toys. I could see by the way Cirrus looked at me, that he wanted to trust people and love them, but isn't brave enough yet to try. The best thing to do, I advised, was to give him time and patience.
I spent a fair amount of time with Cirrus on my lap and combing out his massive, shedding coat. I let him hide underneath my arm as I gently tugged on his fur. He even let me give him a little kiss. Afterwards, I set him down so he could scamper off. However, he didn't stay away for long. Within a few minutes, he came back to bonk my toe with his nose. Maybe I'm OK after all.
If you don't want to commit to adopting a rabbit, consider fostering. Fostering not only keeps animals from dying, but it gives them an opportunity to find their joy again.
The following is a list of companies and products who provide quality products for pet rabbits.
Are rabbit litter boxes the same as cat litter boxes? Do bunnies use litter boxes the same way as cats? What is the difference?
I hope you and your bunnies are doing well. This weekend, I got all 8 bunnies vaccinated for RHDV2. Everyone took it like a champ. I was most concerned with my most senior bun, Poppy, since she is old enough to have seen the formation of our Solar System. I had inquired about the safety of vaccinating a bunny in her condition to a couple of vets. I even asked the famed Dr. Frances Harcourt-Brown on her Facebook page. Everyone said yes. The alternative is to risk having her die a horrible death, and I definitely did not want that. Poppy took the vaccine very well. She seemed a little quiet after I got her home, but she attacked her treats like I hadn't fed her in 3 days, so she was fine.
This weekend, Southern California is experiencing hot temperatures. Of course, triple digits is to be expected this time of year, but it can still be a challenge to keep bunnies cool, especially when the heat is unrelenting for days on end.
I don't have central air conditioning. I have two window air conditioning units and several fans circulating cool air around the house. I can't emphasize enough the importance of living in a home with good insulation, but often times it isn't easy to upgrade our homes. However, I will say that if you can upgrade your windows to double pane glass, that will make an enormous difference in keeping your home cool.
My favorite method in keeping bunnies cool is to make sure there is a lot of ice cubes in the water bowl and making sure they have a cold piece of ceramic tile to lie down on. I make sure I have enough pieces of tile to rotate them - one set in the freezer; the other in the bunny pens. In a pinch, I also have frozen water bottles, but all of my rabbits look at the bottles with great suspicion and glare at them from the other side of their pen, but at least, it's there.
My last favorite tip is taking a cool washcloth and wiping down the bunnies' ears. I make sure both sides of the ear are sufficient damp (don't have it soaking, just damp). It helps to quickly cool the bunnies down and you can do it often throughout the day.
If you have a senior or disabled bunny, they may not be able to drink enough water, even if they can reach a bowl or bottle. Supplement water or other fluids (such as Lactated Ringer solution or Pedialyte) to help keep them hydrated.
Keep cool and safe! Until next Sunday!
Special needs rabbits require extra patience and commitment from the owner, but it can be highly rewarding work.
Good morning, and Happy belated Independence Day and a belated Canada Day!
I hope you and your bunnies (and other critters) are doing well and have survived the celebrations. Fireworks during this time of year is a mainstay, and usually not a happy time if you have pets.
Here in Los Angeles, buying and setting off fireworks is illegal, but every year the city looks like it's in a sparkly war zone. This year, the war zone has been much more intense and much more prolonged, and not just in Los Angeles. All over the country, people, who have spent weeks in quarantine and going crazy, have been letting off steam by purchasing fireworks and shooting them off for several weeks now. This has been a nightmare for pet owners.
Fortunately for me, my rabbits are not bothered by it, unless one of my nearby neighbors shoots them off. Still, I try to lessen the impact by keeping my windows closed and watching TV. Yesterday, I ended up watching 6 hours of a World War I & II documentary and then a 6 hour George Washington documentary (yes, I'm a nerd). There was plenty of cannon and gun fire going off within the house all day long and the bunnies slept through it all. The distant rumble of fireworks was just part of the noise. However, in past years, I have played classical music and if I happened to have a bunny who was completely freaked out, covered the entire pen with a sheet.
Covering the entire pen is a terrific way to calm bunnies down. It gives them a sense of security and lessens their panic. I also make sure that there is also a hidey box or two in the pen for extra comfort. I'm also not in a rush to uncover them either. I will fold over the sheet, at least part way in the morning.
Do you have a favorite calming method for your bunny?
I hope you and your bunnies are all happy and safe. It's been a busy week at The Educated Rabbit. I published two articles - Rabbit Poop and GI Stasis in Rabbits. Rabbit Poop took a long time to put together, not because the subject matter was so complicated, but rather it takes a long time to compile the right pictures. I spent a great deal of time pouring over my saved pictures on my computer and phone and asking my fellow crazy bunny friends if they had pictures of the type of poop I was looking for. Seriously, that request would be odd for anyone, BUT a rabbit lover. This is why I don't get invited to a lot of parties, LOL!
The other article on GI Stasis in Rabbits is really important. Stasis is so common and usually the first sign something is not right with a bunny. It's a topic I am frequently asked to give advice on. There is a fair amount of inaccurate information on the Internet about stasis, such as that it is caused by hairballs, daily consumption of pineapple and/or papaya prevents stasis and the bunny will die of hypothermia if you don't do anything to reverse the progression. This article explains what GI stasis is, how it's caused and how it progresses.
Right now, I am busy working on my Rabbit First Aid Guide. It, too, is taking some time to put together because of pictures. I, myself, am a visual learner and I find the right photos and illustrations to be very helpful, and I'm trying to get things just right. I have already written about the major topics such as wrapping a bandage and step-by-step guidance on how to pull a bunny out of stasis, but I'm also thinking about other equally important topics which I hadn't considered putting into the guide before, such as butt washing. Today, I took some pictures of that (another reason why glamorous people do not hang out with me!).
I'm really excited about the guide and I can't wait until it's available to you. If you want to be the first to know when it is available, sign up at the bottom of the GI Stasis in Rabbits article. https://www.theeducatedrabbit.com/GI-stasis-in-rabbits.html
GI stasis in rabbits in the most common condition owners will encounter at least once in their bunny's life.
Rabbit poop can tell you a great deal about the health of a rabbit. That is why owners obsess over the size, quantity and quality of their rabbit's poop.
I am feeling extremely accomplished today. Sundays are usually my litter box/pen cleaning day. There's 5 pens of various stages of disaster, ranging from 'not too bad' to 'OMG! I should just move'. My bunnies create an enormous pile of dirty laundry, thanks to some special needs buns, a couple who occasionally hang their butts over the litter box and Emma, who is just an anarchist.
It does take a bit of effort for my house NOT to smell like the hippo enclosure at the zoo. One of the things I like to use are pee pads. I don't use the disposable ones for puppies, because of the waste and the fact several of my rabbits would probably eat them. Since many brands of disposable pee pads have a chemical attractant to help encourage a puppy to pee on the same spot, I don't feel like it's something that rabbits should put in their mouths.
Instead I use washable pads that hospitals and long-term facilities use. One side is cotton while the other has a waterproof back. Since they are meant to be on a bed, they are a fair size. Four of these pads can easily cover the floor of a 4x4 exercise pen. I have used them to protect my floor (my home has wall-to-wall carpet) and I have used them to protect towels and pillows for my disabled bunnies (so I just have to wash the pad and not the cushion). They have protected my floors well from Emma's naughtiness. Folded up, they make a nice cushion too.
The only problem is a few of my bunnies (Zoe) occasionally decide to attack them, so I frequently have to replace them. I buy them at my local Red Barn, which is a feed store. They get clean donations from local care facilities and I can purchase a giant pile of them for a good price. If you don't live near a Red Barn, you can also purchase them on eBay and Amazon, although you will probably find better deals on eBay.
Hopefully, your bunnies are more well-behaved than mine. If they are not, and you are struggling to keep your floors dry, consider these pee pads.
I hope you are all safe and healthy. There is a lot of unrest in cities all over the United States, so I sincerely hope those who are under curfew are all well.
I haven't been posting a great deal on Facebook or Instagram lately. I have been hard at work researching and writing my article on Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease. If you are unaware of this terrible disease, please read the article on this website. If you have rabbits, contact your vet and inquire if you can get your bunnies vaccinated. It takes a lot of time and paperwork for a vet to get the right permissions from the USDA to import the vaccine, so talk to your vet asap.
I have also been spending a great deal of time putting together my First Aid Guide. I'm at the point of getting my pictures and inserting them where they need to be. I'm trying to upload, download, edit and finally insert them in the document where I want them. This takes a stupid amount of time. I swear, I am not THAT clueless about technology, but there is still a lot of cursing and swearing coming out of my office. Sometimes I end up re-shooting the pictures because the images I thought were good, are really not that good. At some point. I start questioning my life choices.
I have already started working on the section for senior and special needs rabbits. It's a good time to start working on this section as my three seniors take an enormous amount of my daily attention right now (but they're cute, so I don't mind). I hope you will find the articles helpful. If there is something you would like me to talk about, please feel free to send me an email through the contact page.
Tomorrow morning, I’m going to help a friend catch a stray rabbit in her neighborhood. I completely expect to lose any weight I have gained today from eating Red Vines. Wish us luck. Catching rabbits is no easy thing. Hopefully I will have some pictures to show you tomorrow.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is a highly contagious and extremely deadly disease that affects rabbits only.
This week, I would like to sidestep the topic of rabbits and remember my puppy, Baci. It was 6 years ago today, that James and I had to say good-bye to him and not a day goes by that I don’t think about that awesome boy.
We adopted Baci in 2007 from the Downey County shelter in Los Angeles. That was an adventure all by itself, which I will talk about some other time. Baci was an owner surrender and listed as 8-years-old. He was a dirty, sick and scared dog who was afraid of steps (which I found out that first day as I was trying to get him to walk up to our second floor condo and that just wasn’t going to happen). It had been awhile since either James or myself had a dog, so it would be safe to say that all three of us were freaked out with this change in our lives.
We settled in our new routine. I still had an office job at the time, so Baci had first a dog walker and then he went into doggie daycare. Doggie daycare was great! With so many dogs in his face, he was forced to get over himself and become more confident. I was always surprised how much he barked at doggie daycare. He apparently would stand in front of his favorite employee and bark at her all day. As soon as we picked him up, he would be quiet as a church mouse.
At the county shelter, Baci was listed as a sheltie mix (which was what first caught my eye), but the employees didn’t know what the other part was and assumed it was German Shepherd. One look at this boy, you would realize the German Shepherd statement was ridiculous. I did a DNA test on him for fun and it came back with Border Collie/Dachshund (and lots of other misc. stuff). It made sense. He looked like a fuzzy wiener dog. Lucky for me, he didn’t have the boundless energy of a Border Collie. In fact, his favorite pastime was sleeping and following me around.
There was no secret who Baci loved best. He was glued to me. One weekend, I went to visit my brother in the Bay Area and Baci stared at the front door the whole time, despite the fact James was still at home. The only time James was his favorite was during dinner. That’s because James would try and buy Baci’s love with food and I refused to give him anything off of my plate.
He ignored the bunnies for the most part. He was more interested in what I was doing. Over the next several years, I brought home many rabbits from the rescue - some for only a night or two, others for a few weeks (or forever). Sometimes, I had to protect Baci from them. Ethan would spray pee on him and then chase him with his mouth open, ready to bite. Later, Emma wanted Baci as her boyfriend and would mount him. She’s quite rough though and would bite him hard. I had to make sure they were separate...to protect him. Don’t be too sorry though. Baci loved the Oxbow pellets and would snack on them at any chance he could get.
Baci had a lot of health problems. During his whole time with us, there always seemed to be issues. The most serious was his polycythemia (overactive bone marrow, which produced WAY too many red blood cells), kidney disease and eventually congestive heart failure. He also had arthritis, allergies, mild hip dysplasia, heart murmur, benign tumor, etc. However, he had a great vet who was devoted to giving him the best care. There were many visits. We became the clients where everyone knew our name and our dog.
When the time came to say good-bye, I spoke with the vet and asked if she would come over. That dog was a hot mess when it came to car rides and I didn’t want his last moments with me be stressed out with a car ride and vet visit. The arrangements were made a week earlier, when it became clear he was ready to cross the Bridge. That last week, I ignored the special diet I had been cooking for him the past two years (and which he wasn’t happy with). He got steak and rice, but the last day, he didn’t even want his very favorite steak anymore. James and I spent the day with him, then in the evening, the vet with a technician came over. The vet cried as she had spent a great deal of time with us. Baci left us quietly with a tummy full of cheese. Later, she sent over a lovely card and book as condolence on behalf of her and the clinic.
James and I decided on not to get another dog, at least not for awhile. By the time of Baci’s passing, we had accumulated quite a few rabbits. I didn’t want to deal with the logistics of trying to separate a dog from the rabbits, should the dog become aggressive. However, I still miss having a dog and I miss Baci. He was my perfect dog - laid-back, fluffy, liked to sleep a lot, sort of obedient (he was obedient enough). I adore my rabbits, but there is something special about dogs. There is a connection between human and dog that isn’t equally replicated in other species. I will forever miss my boy and hope to see him again one day.
I hope everyone has had a good weekend and surviving quarantine. Just a quick update on Sprinkles - I still don't know why he's been acting off, but he did well on his echocardiogram. No heart problems - yay!
Sprinkle's vet, Dr. Gleeson (Access Culver City), is just as puzzled as I am with this boy. However, she is wondering if maybe he has a dental issue not easily seen on physical exam or x-ray. I will bring him down for a CT scan Tuesday afternoon so she can do a detailed image of his skull. I'm sure Sprinkles will be tickled pink with this. I know I'll be much more interested in the results than he will be.
This week, bunny owners in California got the news we've been all dreading. The rabbit hemorrhagic virus is now officially in the state. This is a highly contagious and deadly disease. There are no therapeutics, but there is a vaccine. Unfortunately, this vaccine is not readily available to us in the USA. Vet clinics can apply to the USDA to get it. As you can imagine, this is not a quick process. In the meantime, the best way to protect our bunnies is to reduce their exposure to this nasty virus. My next article will be talking about how you can best do this. Yes, our bunnies will need to social distance too.
Also, I've been working on a First Aid guide to help with bunny emergencies when a vet isn't readily available. As someone who has lived and worked with so many bunnies, I am well acquainted with the 2am or Christmas Day health crisis. Hopefully, you will find it helpful. I am planning on making this available in the summer. No firm release date yet, as I am assuming the technical part of making this available to you will be the hardest part in putting this guide together.
I have also started writing in my senior and special needs section. Poppy, Roxanne and Eddie are giving me so much inspiration! They take up a great deal of my time, but it's pretty routine. I hope my tips can help others take on senior care without feeling overwhelmed. Taking care of these seniors is the best!
Have a safe week!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the bunny moms, moms, adoptive moms and other critter moms out there. I hope you all have a good day. My plans for today are like every other Sunday - write in my blog, run errands, procrastinate endlessly on changing litter boxes, then tell my husband I’m too tired to cook dinner, and then finish off with watching TV in the evening. Yes, I procrastinate on litter boxes. Just because I’m a rabbit expert doesn’t mean I’m thrilled with ALL aspects of bunny ownership.
Last week, I gave an update on Sprinkles. He still continues his cycle of eating and hopping around like normal for a few days, then going into GI stasis (usually right before bed, so I can stay up all night watching old movies, infomericals, obscure documentaries or the news ). I’ve consulted with a couple of different vets, who are equally puzzled over his behavior. It’s time for more diagnostics to continue the search for answers. There is a strong likelihood that nothing particularly informative will show up on these tests. For no matter how good rabbit vets are, there are still lots of things we humans don’t know about these animals.
I do hope the vet finds something, even if it’s very bad. My feeling is if we know what the problem is, then we can either fix it or manage it. For me, finding nothing is the worst. There’s nothing more disheartening than knowing something is really wrong, but not knowing how to fix it.
For now, I will try to manage his pain and try and make him feel comfortable. His brother, Cupcake, is a good companion and frequently snuggles with him. He also tries to grab ALL the treats. I have a feeling Cupcake’s gained a bit of weight these last few weeks.
I am hoping to get Sprinkles back into the clinic in the next day or two so the vet can do her diagnostic tests - I believe she wanted to do an ultrasound and echocardiogram. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Good Sunday To You!
It’s hard to believe it’s already May!! January seems like it happened a lifetime ago. Hope everyone is healthy and safe.
Last week, I wrote about Sprinkles and his Sunday adventure to the emergency vet. He ended up staying overnight so the vet staff could observe him and see if he stabilized. They had the unfortunate task of syringe feeding him and giving him his medication. I can tell they had a hard time, because in the discharge papers which said, “He is a very handsome and stubborn boy, but we have really enjoyed working with him”. Translation: He was a butt-head, but since he’s cute, we put up with his shenanigans.
I thought it was hilarious.
Then I tried to medicate him.
Then I thought about abandoning him at the doorstep of any number of friends, whom I hoped wouldn’t recognize him as MY bunny.
I ended up keeping him and continued to observe him. The blood work didn’t show any infections, but the x-rays showed spondylosis in the lumbar region of his spine. Spondylosis is a general term that describes arthritis and other age related changes of the spine. It’s quite common and can cause pain. It can’t be cured, but it can be managed with medication, changes in the environment (such as a cut out litter box so the bunny doesn’t have to leap into it) and physical therapy.
I picked him up from the vet Monday afternoon. He refused to eat or acknowledge my presence for the rest of the day. I wasn’t too worried as I know he’s incredibly dramatic about carriers and car rides. The next night he gave signs of acting normal, but he fought his medications and any supplemental feedings I was planning on giving him. I stopped the feedings as his appetite improved, but I was not convinced he was 100%. Friday night came along and he refused to eat. This time his temperature was low, but not super low (99F instead of 97F - Yay!). I spent another night watching late night TV as I was nursing him. Fortunately, he came out of this stasis within a couple of hours.
Is there something else going on besides the spondolysis? Do his medications need to be adjusted? Is he just spitting out all his pain medication when I’m not looking? This week, I will speak with his vet and see what she suggests.
I hope you are all happy and safe and COOL! Here, in Southern California, we are in the middle of a heat wave and it'll probably be in the mid 90's (low to mid-30C). It's the first heat wave of 2020 and I already want to just sit in front of the air conditioner and eat a tub of ice cream. I have a feeling it will be a long summer.
Right now, I'm dealing with a sick bunny. Sprinkles is a big Californian-like bun (he has some of the California breed markings, but he's a mix). Since January, he's been sick off and on several times. It's usually at night - he's already eaten his dinner, but as soon as I get ready for bed and give him a good-night treat, he refuses it. That's a sure sign he's not feeling well. At this point, I get the meds ready and fire up my heating pad. It seems Sprinkles is very sensitive to pain and when he hurts, his temperature drops like a rock.
That was my Friday night. I stayed up until 5am watching "Lord of the Rings" and the news while playing 'Alien Shooter' and 'Design Home' on my phone and patiently waiting for Sprinkles to get his act together on the heating pad. Finally around 7am, he decided that food might be a good thing after all and I went to bed to sleep for a couple of hours.
He still looked off the rest of Saturday, but he continued eating. Sunday morning comes along and I noticed he was not feeling well at all. He was panting. I picked him up and checked his temperature, which had dropped again. I put him back on heat, thankful that at least this wasn't before my bedtime.
I have had many years of experience dealing with rabbits in stasis. Most of the time, it's a minor inconvenience that just robs me of some sleep. I can deal with it at home on my own. Other times, it's a life and death battle that takes days to resolve and usually at least one trip to the vet. Even though I’m quite capable of having Sprinkles sit on a heating pad for the rest of the day, this was very unusual. I decided to take him into the vet clinic as an emergency while the exotics vet was still in the building and could take a look at him.
I hate leaving my animals behind with a room full of strangers. I can imagine that it’s stressful for them. However, this time I feel it is necessary if I am going to get to the bottom of why he frequently feels so awful. I am hoping the problem will be found so it can be addressed and Sprinkles can go back to frolicking with his brother, Cupcake.
I’ll let you know next week what the doctor found.
Spaying and neutering your rabbits is one of the most important things you can do for your bunnies.
Happy Sunday to you all! I hope you and your bunnies are all safe, healthy and happy.
First, a bit of sad news. My foster, Rosalie, had to be put to sleep April 7th. Her cancer was just too aggressive, and despite all attempts to ease her pain and give her any comfort, she was feeling miserable. She passed away quickly and I take solace that she's at peace and hanging out with all her bunny friends that have gone before her. I'm sure they are having a blast beyond the Rainbow Bridge.
I still have Rosalie's friend, Eddie. It was determined that he really could use the extra care that a home can provide. Since I seem to be the designated Nursing Home for Bunnies, it seemed like I was an obvious choice. I really don't know how I get myself into these things, LOL!
However, it wasn't a giant burden. I told the rescue that if Eddie got along with the other two disabled girls, Roxanne and Poppy, then he is welcome to stay permanently at the Jody Living Room for Disabled Rabbits.
Roxanne and Poppy have always been very sociable with other rabbits and Eddie has lived in a large group his whole life. I thought matching everyone up wouldn't be too difficult.
Well, Poppy bit Eddie's foot - bad enough to make it bleed. In one respect I am happy that my head-tilt, rear-end paralysis girl is strong enough to make her opinion known. On the other hand, I was not happy. There was a stern lecture that took place after I cleaned Eddie up.
Roxanne took to Eddie very quickly. He stuck his foot in front of Roxanne's nose and she groomed it. I came to the conclusion she just really likes feet. She's always grooming either her own or Poppy's toes. Another furry pair of feet just makes her day.
During the day, I park the trio wherever I'm spending the day - living room or office, so I can keep an eye on them. I nestle Roxanne between Poppy and Eddie, because I just don't trust that red-head, even when she looks at me with those liquid brown eyes.
I expect that when Poppy realizes that Eddie is not just a temporary visitor, she will accept him and readily use him as a pillow, just as she uses Roxanne as a sleep aide.
In the meantime, I separate the trio at night with fuzzy, squeaky caterpillars, which I would NEVER recommend as a barrier for able-bodied rabbits. It's just right for these three though. They still can be together but keep sharp teeth out of the way. I have a feeling they will be fast friends very soon.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover (to all those who celebrate). I hope you are all having a joyful Sunday. I, myself, am not very religious, but I have eaten a lot of bunny-shaped chocolates. It always reminds me of my childhood.
Unfortunately, Easter is not a fun time for most rabbit rescuers. There are still many people who will purchase baby bunnies for their children and then dump the rabbits when they become too destructive or the children have lost interest. It is a tragic situation. It overwhelms the rescues and sadly, not all bunnies can be saved.
However, one lucky bun is my girl, Zoe. She arrived at the rescue I worked at late afternoon on Easter 2011. The owner had received this baby bunny from a friend who thought purchasing a live baby bunny from a street vendor in Los Angeles would be a terrific idea. The owner had just given birth to a premature baby, who was very sick. Taking care of a baby bunny (who seemed sick herself) was not a welcome burden. I took Zoe home that evening and began nursing her.
Zoe was a mere 3oz at the time. She fit very well in a tea cup. To my surprise, she thrived under my care and grew quickly. She had the typical baby energy and curiosity in which she had to explore and get into everything.
Once she was weaned, my husband and I decided to adopt her. Once that decision was made, she entered her troublesome teens. She didn't want to snuggle with us anymore. Her explorations became destructive, and worst of all, she became moody and would sometimes bite me in a fit.
I'll admit, the biting was really annoying. It hurt and often I was bleeding after her attacks. I frequently told her that she was so lucky to have me, since I put up with her. Anyone else would have given her to a shelter or eaten her by now.
Fortunately, she did get over her biting fits by about the age of 2 or 3-years. She was still a fierce girl who frequently attacked cardboard and carpet (if I wasn't careful enough), but she would also spend lots of time napping by my feet.
My baby girl is 9-years-old this month and still going strong. She has outlived 3 bunny-friends and is currently living with her 4th boyfriend. She is my Easter bunny and I love this sassy girl so much. Happy Easter, baby girl. May all the bunnies be so happy as you.
This post comes a little later than usual and I apologize. My Sundays are typically chore days. It's when all the bunny bedding gets changed and the litter boxes are cleaned out. To add to the chores, I have just taken in two new foster bunnies - Eddie and Rosalie.
Eddie is probably older than originally thought. He's probably at least 10-years-old if not older. He holds himself like an old man. He has significant arthritis in his neck and spine, and he is starting to lay more and more on his side, but his face looks like he has accumulated that sort of wisdom that only comes with age.
Rosalie (7.5-years-old) has recently become seriously ill. She has a mass pressing on some nerves, causing limb weakness and generally impacting her health. She has become frail, which makes me sad. I first met her when she was barely out of babyhood and I observed her journey for almost her entire life. Even now, I still think of her as a fierce little creature.
These two were welcomed into my house to ease the work on some other volunteers. It's unknown how much time Rosalie has left. She is on a variety of medications, which also includes painkillers. I try to make her comfortable and for the most part, she seems to nap through most of the day. Sometimes she moves from the corner I've tucked her in and snuggles next to the one bunny she knows in this strange place - Eddie. She has aged so much. Occasionally, when I try and get her to eat the last few ml of liquid food (and I'm on the losing end of that argument), I still get a glimpse of that fierce creature. She's ruined almost all of my feeding syringes by biting off the tips.
A number of people have told me they could never do this sort of hospice nursing. It's too stressful, they say. It is stressful, but I don't view my task as an effort to avoid the inevitable. My task is to give them comfort - soft, clean blankets, regular servings of their favorite foods - dill, mint, parsley and some treats - and manage their pain. Sometimes I set them up in front of the sliding door, so they can get some fresh air. Other times I might have them parked on the couch, so they can binge-watch Doctor Who with me. They get their medicine and their butts washed (I like to think they appreciate the effort. Otherwise no one is having a good time!). To me, it's important each bunny in my care has the most fulfilling life possible and passes onto the next life gently. If each bunny in my care passes away content and with a full belly, I will - of course - be sad that our time together is at an end, but I will also be satisfied at a job well done.
Identifying rabbit pain can be tricky for us owners. Since rabbits are prey animals, they do not like to advertise when they are not feeling well.
This is certainly an unique time in our lives. It's not every day a catastrophic event affects our lives so completely for so long.
I like being at home to begin with, so I don't mind the 'stay at home' order. I have lots of work to do on the Educated Rabbit and my bunnies keep me on my toes. My husband is the more active one, and so, this inability to go to the climbing gym and play on the rocks outside definitely makes him sad. Despite this type of isolation, I have no chance to be bored. There are numerous art and culture sites offering virtual tours, Spectrum is offering free Showtime and Epix channels until April 19th and there's numerous online classes ready to teach crafts and new skills free or new low prices. So much to try, so little time. Yes, I'm nerdy.
I still have to leave the house for groceries. I discovered early on in this pandemic that having a pet so dependent on fresh produce is not ideal (aka, I should have stuck with just the Beta fish). It got me thinking about what to do if I got really sick. Fortunately I have a husband who can step in and continue taking care of our bunnies, but other people may not be so lucky. Here are a few tips to make sure your bunnies stay safe. It can apply to other pets too.
1. Make sure you have a two week supply of hay, pellets, bedding, medications, etc.
2. Make sure you designate someone as a caretaker, should you need hospitalization. If this is someone who is new to rabbits, make sure there is someone else this person can contact if they need help or they can transport to a boarding facility or vet. Contact these facilities to see if they are open or have any space available, just in case.
3. Write out an emergency plan, including your name and contact info, feeding and medication schedules and veterinary info. Also have several emergency contacts who can check on your status and the status of your bunnies.
With a little planning, you can make sure both you and your bunnies will be prepared for the worst. Hopefully, you won't need to break glass. Stay safe, stay sane!
Rabbit health basics can be narrowed down to good diet, housing and interaction from the owner.
If anyone was following Facebook and/or Instagram about Quartz, I lost him on March 13th. I wanted to talk about him last weekend, but felt the coronavirus took precedence.
I learned about Quartz last October when my friend, Kimberly Butler from Lily's Legacy, posted on Facebook for help. Orange County Animal Care Center had a rabbit with back injuries. They wanted a rescue to take him, as they were not equipped to handle such a special needs animal.
I contacted BunnyLuv Rabbit Resource Center in North Hollywood, and they agreed to take him, so I picked him up and drove him to his new home. It turned out that he did not have an injury, but rather severe arthritis in his back. He was not a young bunny either, but rather one that was at least 8-years-old. While he lived at BunnyLuv, he had a chance to work his charm and staff, volunteers and clients adored his friendly personality. I had a chance to take him home over the holidays and he settled right in.
His neuter surgery was Feb 25th. The surgery went well, but his recovery did not. He was off his food and then two days after the surgery, he began grinding his teeth in pain. The next 15 days I was nursing him and staying in constant contact with a team of vets. He had periods when he was doing fabulous, and then the next day, he was quiet again.
On the evening of March 12th came and I knew something was seriously wrong. He seemed to collapse in front of my eyes. I stayed up with him throughout the night, catching a nap or two as I laid on the floor next to him. I knew he was dying.
In the morning, he was still alive and I decided to take him to emergency. I did not take him during the night because I knew there wouldn't be an exotic vet available until the morning. If he was going to die, I didn't want him to die alone at the vet.
The exotic vet was able to stabilize him enough to take an ultrasound to see what was happening. It was determined that there was intestinal fluid leaking into the abdominal space. He was going septic and there was nothing anyone could do. I tearfully said good-bye to him as they put him to sleep in my arms.
He was such an incredible bunny and I treasure the few short months I got to know and adore him. Saying good-bye is definitely one of the hardest things about pet ownership. The joy they bring into our lives makes the heartache painful. Yes, I still have a house full of other bunnies, but I do mourn individual ones as they pass. They each bring something special into the world.
Whether there is a heaven, Rainbow Bridge or reincarnation, I hope I will see Quartz again. I still have so much love to give to him.
Coronavirus has been a huge topic in the news this week, with the WHO declaring it a global pandemic. Scientists and doctors acknowledge that this is a serious time and while everyone should be prepared and exercise precautions, no one should panic (please read as - stop hoarding toilet paper!).
As rabbit owners, we are faced with an additional question of how we protect our pets? At this time, the CDC says that it has not received any reports that animals can spread COVID-19 to people (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#animals). Please don't abandon your pets!
What if you are forced into quarantine or the city shuts down all business activity except for grocery stores and pharmacies (like in Italy)?
I would make sure you have a 30 day supply for pellets, hay and any medications your bunny may be on (or as much as you are able to store, if you don't have space for 30 days). Don't stockpile pellets to last for a year or more as pellets do have an expiration date.
Don't try and stockpile produce. It goes bad so fast and it's not something you can freeze and use later. If the situation becomes that you cannot get fresh produce for your bunny, remember that the majority of a rabbit's diet is hay. They will be OK with a diet of hay and pellets.
Need help keeping your house germ free? An effective way to clean surfaces safely is to use the right kind of cleaner. Rescue disinfectant kills coronaviruses and is safe to use around your rabbits. Vets use it in their clinics and it's safe to use at home. Rescue is not bleach, but rather an accelerated hydrogen peroxide formula. You can order it here https://www.healthypets.com/accel-disinfectant.html
Wash your hands often and please don't go into work if you are not feeling well. This is good advice even if there isn't a global pandemic going on. I knew several people over the years with a compromised immune system due to cancer treatment or organ transplant. A simple cold could send them into the hospital for weeks, and it was something that could become deadly for them. Help them stay healthy.
Stay safe and stay healthy. If you are particularly stressful, pet your bunny. You'll both feel better.
Last Sunday, I wrote about the importance of a good vet and how to essential it is to have a good relationship with them when dealing with a sick pet.
That advice was put into good use as I continued to deal with my foster bunny, Quartz, and his severe GI stasis (a situation in which a bunny doesn't eat or poop). Today is Day 12, and even though Quartz shows some improvement, he still needs some intensive care and love - and most of all - PATIENCE.
It can be frustrating to deal with a situation in which there are no quick and easy solutions. Although a long stasis episode is not common, it isn't unheard of. I have been told a few stories in which someone had a bunny who was off his/her food for 2 weeks, 3 weeks, a month or more. The bunnies survived it, and fortunately, so did the owners.
To get through these times, it is good to have the support of friends and family, who understand what you are going through and willing to lend their support, whether it is giving you a ride to the vet, dropping off dinner or just being there to lend an ear when you are freaking out. The support helps you care for your sick rabbit with love and patience.
For me, my husband helps me with providing Quartz with his tummy rubs. Quartz LOVES tummy rubs and often falls asleep, which means I am then tied to the couch and end up binge-watching whatever is on TV (the horror!). Still, I am then freed up to get other things done. My friends are always checking up on me and Quartz's status, to make sure I don't need anything. My vet keeps in daily touch.
Everything is in place to give Quartz the best chance for a full recovery. Thanks to my support group, I am able to give the best care I am able to provide. I hope all of you are also this fortunate.
Rabbit health is important, because rabbits are known for hiding illnesses. This behavior is instinctual for prey animals, but causes difficulties for owners.