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.
I do have to apologize for flaking on my blog duties last week. It's been a pretty busy month for me, particularly this last week. A couple of my grooming clients had lost their bunnies, and I do like to take the time to listen and offer them some comfort. It effects me too, since then it does seem to take up some head space. Suddenly the thought of doing 5 billion loads of bunny laundry seem less appealing than usual.
The bunny bonding at my house is pretty much done. Well, I should clarify that a bit - the constant supervision part of it is done. Major squabbles should be resolved. What takes place now is the bunnies further getting to know each other and getting comfortable.
It's not unusual to see a bit of chasing and nipping. The rabbits are still establishing their role in the partnership. However, you should be beyond flat-out fighting and terrorizing.
Sometimes though, a fight may break out not long after the bunnies have established themselves in their permanent space. It's important to understand what the issue is, if you hope to resolve it. Are the bunnies fighting for space in a litter box? Is one bunny bullying the other to be first at the dinner plate?
Some fights can be easily resolved with just altering the living space or how you give them food. Other times, the issue may be more subtle and requires to think about the personalities involved. If one of the bunnies is a new addition to your family, this might be too much change for him/her. It might be better to just take things slow.
In my situation, Sooty-Girl seems to be a bit of a brat. She's stealing everyone's boyfriends and chasing Panda. Right now, I'm just watching what is going on - how the chases are triggered and how the bunnies resolve the issue. I may have to interfere at some point, but right now I want to just understand what is going on (and tell Soot to behave herself). We'll see if the girls can work it out on their own.
I hope everyone has survived the SoCal blizzard of 2023. Coming from Canada, blizzards are not a new thing, but it is weird experiencing it in Los Angeles.
If you have been following my progress on Instagram & Facebook, my group of 5 are pretty much done bonding. Tomorrow, I will extend their pen into their final size (4ftx8ft), keep them confined in that space another 5 days and then let them have some exercise space.
Many people unfamiliar with the bonding process are surprised with just how long bonding takes, even when it goes well. This particular group was easy, because there wasn't any fights which I had to break up. All the issues that came up during this time could be resolved by the rabbits themselves. Nevertheless, I still had to be careful about their space and slowly expand it.
A few people have asked me about the size of my bonding pen and if the size was stressful for the bunnies. I would not house 5 bunnies in a 4x4 exercise pen, but for bonding, it is fine.
Controlling the bonding space is really important for the process to work. You need to start off in a smaller space (4x4 for a bigger group like my 5; a pair can be in a 2x2). The reason is that a smaller space will initiate an interaction. No bunny can wander off into the distance and claim that corner as their territory and anyone who crosses that barrier is the enemy. The sooner they get to meet each other, the quicker they can become friends. A smaller space allows the bonder to keep a close eye on everyone and stop behaviors that can lead into fights and anxiety.
A pair can start off with an approximate 2x2 space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a pen either. Cat Logsdon from Zooh Corner in Pasadena, CA likes to initially bond her bunnies in a pet stroller. Since the vast majority of her rabbits are seniors and/or special needs, this is a less stressful way to bond. People who bond a lot (aka, either people who bond professionally or who work in a rescue) have figured out different ways to introduce rabbits to each other that are less stressful than the methods of old (aka - the dreaded car ride).
I don’t believe you can completely eliminate stress during bonding, but you can minimize it and you can make the process enjoyable for the bunnies. Petting during those initial moments to calm everyone down, rewarding good behavior and sessions with a favorite treat, and introducing some fun toys can make it all easier for the bunnies over all.
Much of bonding may seem counterintuitive, but there are actually good reasons why bonders do what they do. They also are very sensitive to the bunnies themselves. Sometimes it requires some creative thinking and knowing when to push forward and when to find alternative methods.
If you have been following me on Instagram, you may have seen that I've been attempting to bond my seniors along with Sooty-Girl.
It's going surprisingly well (really, I go in expecting the absolute worst). I had hoped the match would work as the seniors are not wild and territorial (well, not more than normal) and Sooty is a real gentle bunny (maybe).
I want to point out a couple of things to dispel some misconceptions about bonding. This group of 5 range from 12 years of age down to about 2-4 years. There are 3 girls and 2 boys. Sooty has some mild head tilt, while everyone else have some varying degrees of arthritis and spondolysis.
You can bond groups. You can have same sex bonds. You can bond all ages. You can bond disabled bunnies. Size of bunny doesn't matter.
It has to do with personality. Some matches work better than others. Some bunnies may have preferences (ie may like to hang out with girls or boys). There are no absolutes. Babies are usually the easiest to bond, but not always (Godzilla was literally a brat. Yes, there was a bunny named Godzilla in my house. She was a terror.). Most people dread male-male bonds, but some of the most devoted pairs I've seen are male-male pairs. Personally, I dread female-female bonds, but many people have had tremendous luck with them, and one of the sweetest pairs I ever met were Roxanne and Abbey.
Bonding is difficult for those who are just learning it, and that’s because most of the time you are flying by the seat of your pants. It’s hard to produce a step-by-step guide, because not every pair or group behave exactly the same way all the time. About the only thing you really need to do is spay and neuter and work in neutral territory. Obviously, you want to prevent fights and bloodshed, but there are other things that look aggressive that are not bad. That includes nipping (not to be confused with biting down and drawing blood), chasing and mounting.
Bonding is all about problem-solving - how do I get them to be friends? How do I get this bunny to be less scared? How do I get this other bunny to be less territorial, etc.? The more tricks you have in your toolbox, the easier it is to solve the problem at hand. It’s also good to brainstorm with other people who have experience with bonding. They may have a perspective that you haven’t thought about or they may have experienced that problem in the past and overcame it.
Or you just need someone to give you a hug. Sometimes you need someone else to tell you that you are not a failure, even though you cannot convince a pair of rabbits to be civilized with each other for the greater good.
We’ve all been there.
I hope everyone is having a lovely President's Day. I've spent my morning with Apple Support, so my morning could be better.
I've decided that I'm going to start bonding this week. It's not my favorite thing in the universe to do, but sometimes it needs to be done. Currently I have two senior pairs and two singles., and the plan is to put Sooty-Girl with my two senior pairs and make a group of five.
Why not a group of 6?
Well, Winston is a terrorist, but that aside, he is just complicated in general. His diet is different from the others and so is his exercise needs (needs to run around like a fool as often as possible). However his lack of bladder control doesn't work if I have to move him out of his area (which I would). He is also very reactive. He bites first and thinks about what he has done later. I have a feeling the other bunnies would not appreciate him biting them first and then apologizing. They are less tolerate of that sort of nonsense than I am.
Sooty-Girl seems to have a milder temperament and might be a good fit, despite her younger age. If it works, Sooty can have a bigger space to run around, the old folks can get longer exercise time (rather than splitting it between the two pairs, and everyone gets a bigger space to lounge around.
Is there a secret to achieving a successful bond? You have to be willing to put in the time, control your space and exercise a lot of patience. I will start this week with making some quick introduction sessions (1-2 hours), then this weekend I'll be settling in for hours and hours of non-stop excitement. Fortunately, I have a couple of friends who know how to bond. They will keep me company for a little while and be an extra set of hands if necessary.
Is there a chance that this bonding plan will not work? Possibly. It will depend on how stressed the bunnies will be or if someone gets injured. I will do my very best to not let either happen, but fights happen very quickly and sometimes bunnies are not happy with the situation at all. They don't care that you want to give them a bigger space and that you want your office space back.
Bonding is all about personalities and how they get along with each other. It's hard to predicate how everything will go until you put them together. Afterwards you just have to go with the flow and try to keep everything civilized.
Will Winston mind being by himself? Most likely not. He's a big fan of sitting in the middle of the house where he soaks up all the attention.
Fingers crossed it all works!
I hope you all are having a nice February. I am reminded that it's been a year since I lost Dior. I miss that girl quite a bit. Not long ago, I had passed a perfume display that showed off a number of different Christian Dior perfumes. I took a tentative sniff of "Miss Dior", thinking that if I liked it - even a little bit - I would buy it in memory of my dear little rabbit.
It smelled awful.
Well, maybe awful is a little dramatic. I'm not one for perfumes to begin with, so it doesn't take much for me to dislike a scent. Really, it was just a little too much. Maybe one day, I'll look for an empty bottle.
In other news, a few days ago, I was asked if I would be willing to help out with a sick little bunny. The owners were feeling overwhelmed with the urgent care their bunny suddenly needed (she had suddenly tilted and couldn't find her feet at all). They were looking for someone to help them.
I'm not sure why I thought taking in a severely tilted bunny would be a good idea, but I soon found myself with a rolly bunny in my bedroom. The fact she is in my bedroom is insane. Bunnies do not limit their rolling between the hours of 9am-5pm. So there is a lot of scrambling of paws and throwing of hay in the middle of the night.
Winston is feeling neglected. Zoe and the seniors are happy I'm not around to pay attention to them. Sooty-Girl is anxiously awaiting for me to work in my office so she can frolic in the laundry pile (she knows that she can only go in there under supervision), and I'm sure my husband is questioning his life's choices.
Nevertheless, Coco is worth the trouble. She looks like a very helpless mop in her pen, which makes your heart melt and do whatever you can to help her recover. She is really a sweet girl and absolutely loves her Critical Care. I am happy to help her and her anxious owners.
Coco's recovery will take some time and patience. In these early days, I'm focusing on stabilizing her (weight and mobility), as well as keeping her clean and comfortable.
I'll be posting about her progress. Fingers crossed that she improves!
I hope all of you are having a great start to the new year. I've been ridiculously busy, which is a good thing. Hopefully that means less time on the Internet where I'll be tempted to buy lots and lots of cute Year of the Rabbit themed trinkets. Honestly, I HAVE actual rabbits. That should satisfy my need to have ornamental bunnies.
As people have come back from holidays and getting back to their normal routine, I've been busy combing and clipping pampered bunnies. However, this weekend I took a little break and went whale watching near the Channel Islands (a little north of Los Angeles). The Grey Whales have given birth to their babies and are starting to make their way back north to colder waters (really, I thought it was plenty cold from my vantage point on the boat). I got to see lots of sea lions, birds, dolphins and yes, a whale flipper and tail. It was a lovely way to spend part of the day.
While waiting to board the boat in the morning, I got to meet a lot of people just walking their dogs along the harbor. I said hello to a Scottish Terrier and an Afghan Hound - not the sort of dogs I see every day. I am quite fond of Scottish Terriers - it's the bushy eyebrows, big nose, and short legs. They are a surprising solid dog and not the type you would shove in a purse (unless you want lots of back and shoulder pain).
The Afghan Hound is a really beautiful dog. They are a nightmare if you are a lazy groomer, but every one I've met (which is not a lot) are really sweet. They belong to a class of dogs called sighthounds (like Greyhounds, Salukis, etc.). They are sprinters and were bred to hunt rabbits and hares, so unless you have a particularly sighthound who is a shame to his or her breed, they are not a dog to have around rabbits.
I grew up with a terrier (not really sure what sort, but at the time lots of people mistook him for Benji if you watched the show in the late 70's and early 80's). He was a fabulous dog around people, but did not tolerate cats or smaller animals. This was the sort of dog you would never have around rabbits. He was very true to his heritage of clearing the property of rodents.
Although I do love dogs, I am not interested in getting one when I have a house filled with rabbits. Mostly because Winston will beat up the poor dog and I don't need the drama. I do like to meet them on the street and say hi. Dogs are always excited to meet me and give me a wet smooch (if they are not busy investigating me - I always smell like a dozen bunnies).
If there is one thing I know for sure, I will always be surrounded by animals.
I hope you are all having a lovely 2023. We are experiencing Southern California-style winter. It's raining quite a bit these last two weeks or so, which is great. Hopefully it'll go a long way to end the drought we've been experiencing. Unfortunately, the ground is so packed, it doesn't absorb the water so well, so there's run-offs, mud and rock slides and pot holes the size of a small city. I hit one of those pot holes and wrecked two of my tires (I'm such an over-achiever). I spent Friday getting that fixed. Today is another soaker, and unfortunately, I do have to go out in the rain to visit the California Wildlife Center for my volunteer shift. Apparently injured wildlife don't feed and medicate themselves.
It's days like these that I wonder about those bunnies living outdoors. I know the subject can be controversial. Some people do believe rabbits are more in the "livestock" category than the "pet" category, or they grew up having rabbits in a hutch outside and just assume that's the way you keep rabbits. Others may keep them outside due to allergies or other reasons.
Although Southern California has relatively mild weather, it does experience certain extremes. Most people know it's usually too hot for most of the year for a bunny to be permanently outside. However, the winter isn't always a piece of cake for bunnies either. Although they tolerate lower temperatures better, their limit is really about the mid 50sF (about 13C). Nighttime temperatures can be in the 40's and occasionally the 30's (the two days a year when I wake up to frost, I take a picture and send it to my friends in Canada as proof that it can get cold here too).
Wild rabbits can protect themselves from the elements by burrowing. Domestic rabbits living in a hutch usually don't have that option (nor should they, if you want to protect them from predators), but that means that there may be minimal protection from the cold or rain. One other thing you may want to watch out for is mold on your hay. When hay gets wet or damp, mold can grow. This can be very bad for the bunny.
If your bunnies happen to be outside this winter, please bring them inside when it rains or the nights are really cold. Set them up in a bathroom, spare bedroom or heated garage. It doesn't have to be really fancy, but just protect them from the elements. Of course, if your bunny is getting older and experiencing arthritis, you should consider bringing them inside permanently.
Need help or tips? Feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas & New Year, and didn't spend it hunkering down in an airport. Due to my lack of planning and terrible procrastination, I spent Jan 1st cleaning out bunny pens, litter boxes and doing bunny laundry. Womp, womp.
Sooty-Girl is healing well from her spay surgery from last Monday. Everything looked healthy, and hopefully, this means I will have her for a long time.
I brought Cupcake down to Access to visit Dr. Gleeson today. It was mostly a follow-up to see how his bladder looks after his nasty infection. He had been battling it for most of 2022, and I was sure it was really something awful like cancer.
Ultrasound images showed a very abnormal bladder. It was inflamed and thickened, and the inner wall was highly irregular. There were globs of mucus and the ureters (which connect the kidneys to the bladder) were also inflamed. Despite multiple medications, nothing seemed to reduce the inflammation, pain or the bleeding.
Dr. Waldman from CARE suggested that I try glucosamine, since some vets use it for cats prone to a lot of UTIs. With some consultation with Dr. Misetich and Dr. Gleeson, I tried adequan injections twice a week for a month, along with a different antibiotic. I continued treatment for another 6 weeks. The pain eased and the bleeding gradually stopped. Even though Dr. Misetich no longer saw any bacteria in Cupcake's urine, I wanted to bring Cupcake to Dr.Gleeson for an ultrasound. We were curious to see if his bladder still looked abnormal or different.
It turns out that his bladder has returned completely back to normal. The inflammation was gone and the bladder walls had returned back to their normal shape. There is no longer anything odd in his bladder.
Thank goodness for my awesome vets! I get to have my Cupcake a little longer, and I hope my experience will help future rabbits.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas - whether you celebrate it or not. I can't say I make a big effort. My absolute favorite thing about the holiday is being in a cookie coma in my pajamas and watching Doctor Who Christmas Specials.
I also love buying presents for my bunnies. It's really fun for me, and the bunnies sometimes like what I get (and sometimes they just end up playing with the packing paper). I'm OK either way.
Sooty-Girl is getting a special present - spay surgery today. Honestly, that's probably not fun for anyone involved. I know Dr. Misetich is a great vet, and will take good care of her. I also know she is a healthy bunny, and she will probably be OK. Still, every surgery for everyone, regardless of age and health, is a risk, and I have a little trepidation for my girl.
There are quite a few new bunny owners who are unaware of the benefits of spay/neutering. Some people have strong opinions about it ("I wouldn't want to put my (insert pet) through something like that!"), some are unaware that this is a thing for rabbits, and others don't feel the urgency.
No one knows exactly how old Soot is, but the older a female bunny gets, the higher the chance she is in developing uterine cancer (and not the benign kind either). That is the number one reason I spay and neuter my pets, followed closely by number 2 - dealing with the hormonal drama that ensues when buns are intact (oh the biting and the pee!).
I'm not horribly worried about baby bunnies as she lives inside with a bunch of neutered males, but it is also a big reason why I advocate for spaying and neutering. I know how hard it is to find good homes for bunnies. I do not want to be part of the problem. Also, mothers can have up to 12 kits. I do NOT want to increase the rabbit population in my house to 18!
Oh good! I just got a text from the clinic. She is doing well and is ready for pick up soon! Merry Christmas to both Soot & I!
It seems like time runs away from me during the holiday season. I'm late buying gifts, sending out cards, decorating, etc. Honestly, I don't have much of an excuse as I rarely have a schedule packed full of parties or anything like that, and I don't have a large group of family find gifts for.
My husband is a bit of a pain to shop for. Mostly because his biggest hobby is rock climbing and I think it's moderately insane. I have no idea what's a cool, interesting or safe gadget. I normally take him to REI and let him pick out something he finds useful.
I love shopping for the bunnies though. They are usually the first I shop for and it's so much fun! I have this giant box sitting in the living room for the past month just waiting for Christmas so I can open it and pretend I'm Bunny Santa.
And for me? Well, I'm pretty set for the holidays. I have a box of homemade shortbread cookies, and I'm going to settle down with them along with my Kindle and be a lump. I will spend some cuddle time with Soot, as her additional present will be a spay surgery set for the day after Christmas. That seems really rude of me, so I'll make sure she gets extra treats the night before.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a very restful weekend.
I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. This is probably my favorite time of year. Lots of cookies, get togethers, and presents. I've already finished shopping for my bunnies. The humans in my life require more brain power. All the bunnies are getting toys, and Sooty-Girl is also getting spayed (26th). She may not be as excited about that as I am.
The newest member of our family is settling in very well. So much so that she's decided that it's OK not to be on her best behavior anymore and that she can release her inner Godzilla. Last weekend, she decided to go into a carpet-pulling, towel-chewing, litter box-digging rampage. After jumping on crates and getting stuck behind doors and bookshelves, she lost her running-around-without-supervision privileges.
My big bunny-cleaning day is on the weekends. This is where I change the litter boxes, take down the pens, remove the old sheets and such, vacuum and lay down fresh sheets and pee-pads. Since I'm a horrible procrastinator, I usually have to do a billion loads of bunny laundry before I can even start (my weekends are so much fun!).
Since Sooty-Girl was driving me bonkers, I knew I needed to redesign her pen and run-around area. I decided to check out Home Depot to see if I could find anything inspiring. I was thinking of a large painter's drop cloth because it would be thick and harder to destroy - especially if I cover the edge of the cloth. Instead, I wandered down the aisle with their area rugs. Home Depot has a selection of welcome mats and some indoor/outdoor rugs. I have used something similar before and found it useful.
I look for something with a really tight weave. It might be an entrance mat a business may use for their front door (I have several of those that I like that I've ordered from Uline). This time, I got a 6x8 indoor/outdoor rug, which I figured would cover her pen area and a large chunk of her run-around space.
I laid plastic on the floor, and then I placed the rug on top. I actually turned the rug upside down. Even though the pile is really tight, the underside is smoother, which will be even harder for her to chew a hole in it. I covered the edges with loose tile or toys.
Then I released the Kraken.
So far, she is loving the new set up. She's running like a fool and doing binkies. She still isn't allowed unsupervised run-around time. She likes to try and climb on precarious things and look cute.
That is a problem for another day.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It's a fabulous holiday filled with a ridiculous amount of food and enjoying family and friends. It's a great time of year!
This year, I was looking after two pairs of bunnies belonging to a friend of mine. I've known these bunnies for several years and my friend talks about them all the time, so I was reasonably certain of what to expect.
I was also aware that they would act completely different at my house.
And they did.
When bunnies go to someone's place (or a boarding facility) for a short time, they need to establish themselves in this new space. So partners are mounted; there are more territorial markings (aka urine and poop outside the litter box). There is more activity from bunnies who typically sleep all day, and maybe some cage fighting from neighbors who have lived side-by-side for years. Some may hide in their box more, while others may venture out more often.
This is all OK! The bunnies are just getting used to their new space (with new smells and sounds) and new schedule. A bunny may be inclined to explore or re-establish boundaries with a neighbor or reassert their dominance in the partnership or group. Once they go home, everything will go back to normal.
It just means as a bunny-sitter, you have to go with the flow. Sometimes you need to put up an extra gate or just watch the bunnies and say, "No!"
Things usually settle down within a few days, but it's also good to know what is normal behavior and what is just new territory behavior. I'm in regular contact with my friends to update them on their babies and sending them cute pictures, and they will tell me what's normal ("Oh yeah, she doesn't want her greens until later in the evening", "Her favorite toy is a grass mat", etc).
It can make bunny-sitting a little challenging at times, but you also get a better grasp of bunny behavior.
I have to apologize for missing last week's blog. My husband surprised me by arranging my best friend to come and visit me for the weekend for my birthday. It was so lovely and unexpected, and I enjoyed catching up with her.
This year I'm turning 50, which is a big milestone. I'm not one to get really stressed about my age - I just enjoy the day. However, I do notice it when songs I listened to as a teenager are now on the Classic Rock station. I remember a time before personal computers, cell phones, VCRs, streaming, answering machines and the Internet. Lots of changes have taken place over the decades.
One thing that has also changed is rabbit care. I have a couple of friends who have owned bunnies since the 90's. Back then, owning a house rabbit was a lot of riding by the seat of your pants. The food wasn't great (a lot more pellets), the housing wasn't ideal (lots of living in a hutch) and the medical care was not well understood. Pain management was not much of a thing.
Luckily, the house rabbits of today have more advocates and knowledgeable owners than ever before - and that's a good thing. There is a lot more work that needs to be done, but it's coming along. Now there are lots of videos and images of very loved bunnies living their best lives. That's always so lovely to see.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
I hope you are all having a wonderful November. Personally, it's my favorite month - all things awesome happen in November.
Soot has been with me for two weeks now, and she is adjusting well. She did well during her check-up, got vaccinated and I'm now looking to schedule her spay. She still has a physical therapy appointment later this month, and we'll see if we can help her straighten out. It seems that she has adjusted to her tilt just fine.
At the moment, she's all cuteness. She spends a lot of time in her box, but if she hears you enter the room, she dashes out to say hello! She certainly enjoys her time outside of the pen and will grunt at you when you put her back before she is ready (yes, I've caved in and let her stay out longer). She loves her food, and it seems like her favorite activity is fighting with a towel.
I'm spending some extra time with her so we can get to know each other better. I'm offering her a variety of greens and toys to see which ones are her favorite. She is curious about her new surroundings, but has adjusted to our schedule very well.
At the moment she has not been introduced to my other rabbits. Since she is not spayed, everyone will be exponentially more dramatic than usual.
I don't know much about her or how traumatic her life was before she came to me. Sometimes an animal can give you a glimpse of their past, but often, they are just content to move forward in your care.
I look forward to a wonderful relationship with this sweetie.
I have a few friends who are really, really into this holiday. They just love the costumes and spookiness of it. Personally, I'm just in it for the candy (come to think of it, that's my attitude to most holidays). I'm not a fan of horror movies, so it can be challenging to find something non-terrifying on TV during this time.
Some of the more pessimistic people I know insist that real life is terrifying enough, they don't need to pretend anything with Halloween. Although that can be true, there's no need to point that out. Just enjoy the candy.
This week I read an article in Dame Magazine, "The Long-Term Consequences of the Veterinarian Shortage".
None of this is news to anyone who has had rabbits for some time. In fact, the issues mentioned in this article are more acute for rabbits. There are even less vet care for rabbits, than there is for dogs and cats. Many times, owners can only schedule an appointment weeks and sometimes months away. Many times emergency care is not available or it's on a "will call" basis.
It's become more important than ever to be able to care for your bunny yourself if necessary. Now there are some instances in which there is nothing you can do, you MUST take your bunny in, and it's up to you to advocate for your bunny. However, if you bunny just has an upset tummy and a bit of gas, it can be very helpful to have a first aid kit at home and know how to use it. There is nothing worse than the feeling of helplessness at seeing your bunny uncomfortable and in pain.
Don't know where to start? You can start with my "First Aid Guide for the Domestic Rabbit", which will tell you what you should have in your Bunny First Aid kit, and how to use it. The guide will also show you how to treat GI stasis (which is the most common bunny ailments), and when you absolutely need to pack up your bun and rush him over to the vet.
Don't be caught unprepared!
So despite my determination to downsize my herd of bunnies into a more manageable number, I took in a new one yesterday.
This is what happens when you have worked in rescue and you are still good friends (or even passing acquaintances) with people who have rescues and do the daily nitty-gritty of rescue work. I see a lot of need in my social media feed (and sometimes the occasional text message). There are a lot of rabbits out there, who need medical care or even just some place where they can have a roof over their head and some loving care.
People in rescue work are some of the toughest people I know...and also the most fragile. They have the heart to care about rabbits and have mobilized themselves and others to help in their mission. However, they also know they cannot possibly save them all, and so they steel themselves, because they have to say 'no' more often than they say 'yes'. They have to. They have finite resources, room, time and themselves. Yet every once in awhile - despite better judgement - they come across a bunny that just speaks to them - and they say 'yes'.
Well, that is what happened to me. I hemmed and hawed. Tried to find someone else who might be interested in taking this cute, head tilt girl, spoke to my husband (since he is very involved in the bunny care himself), and ended up agreeing to take her in.
We named her Soot, because of her all black coat. She is NOT 4-years-old as the shelter says, but probably more like 1-years old. She has head tilt, but it's not severe. She will visit Dr. Gleeson later this week. Soot is a little thin, but she has eaten everything I've put down for her.
For now, I've been keeping my distance from her. Partially, because I need to quarantine her for RHDV and partially because she has had an exhausting few days. I'm sure she would just like to chill out in her pen.
Currently, she is in my office, surrounded by bunny toys and food. She is stretched out and getting used to us. I feel like she will be a fearless sort of girl and will start bossing me around in a week or two.
Good for her!
It's a beautiful October! We had a bit of rain this weekend (very welcome!) and it's a nice mild day and the air feels fresh!
This weekend, I got to meet a new grooming client and their brand new baby bunny. Lola the bunny was ridiculously cute, and I was very happy to spend a few minutes snuggling her.
Part of my job (at least how I see it) is education. My goal is to make sure bunny is happy and healthy, and the humans don't regret their life's choices (at least not the ones pertaining to their bunny). I always tell people to do their research before getting any pet (not just bunnies, but especially bunnies).
Although reading books and articles online are helpful, they don't always give you the whole picture. More than once have I been stuck staring at an animal and thought, "What was I thinking? What do I do now?"
What helps is speaking to someone with much more experience. This may be a friend, family member or a vet. They can give you insight and specific guidance that you may not get from a book alone. This is because they have gone through the "What was I thinking?" stage themselves, and they found a path that worked for them. Whether it was just taking home a new pet for the first time, or transitioning foods or dealing with destructive behavior, there is someone who has been there and survived the experience.
I always tell my grooming clients that they can reach out to me anytime if they have a question. I know what it's like to have a pet none of my family or friends have ever had, and feel like maybe I have done something exceptionally rash (I still personally don't know anyone who has had either a Beta Fish or hermit crabs).
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with rabbit care, go ahead and reach out to me via social media or email. Chances are I have either been through it, know about it, or at the very least - know who you should reach out to.
Hugs to you and your bunnies!
Most of you may be familiar with glucossamine as a joint supplement. Cosequin is one of several brand names for it. I've never heard of anyone using this as a urinary/bladder support of a cat (never mind a rabbit), but I was going to research it.
I found a website called Medi-vet that gave the following information:
"Many veterinarians also recommend Cosequin to help support urinary bladder health. The inner lining of the bladder wall is protected by a layer, which contains some of the same compounds as are found in cartilage. This layer prevents urine and the waste products contained within it from seeping into and damaging the lining. Since the low molecular weight chondroitin sulfate found in Cosequin is available to more than just cartilage cells, the bladder may use it to help support this protective layer. Cosequin is recommended for cats with recurring urinary bladder infections (cystitis, Feline Urologic Syndrome, Urinary Tract Infection) to be given indefinitely as a means to prevent it's recurrence." (Source in link below)
I reached out to my rabbit vets. They had never used it, but they looked into it. They said it couldn't hurt, and recommended that I try sprinkling a capsule into some Critical Care and syringe feed the mix to Cupcake once a day. Cupcake hates Critical Care, so I opted for juice instead.
The problem is that I don't know how long before I see results (or he feels better). Typically joint supplements take about 4-8 weeks for notable improvement. I don't know if Cupcake has that much time.
It really is my last idea. No one else knows what else to do, and I absolutely do not want him to suffer. Right now, I'm just taking things day-by-day. My husband and I are watching him carefully, but at the moment, his pain is under control and he has moments where he is back to his sassy self.
I'll let you all know if this works!
Continue reading "What Off-The-Wall Cure Do You Have For Me? Pt.2"
I know! I know! I have been neglecting my social media accounts fiercely! No, I haven't fallen into a coma (unless ice cream coma counts), nor have bunnies chewed off my hands.
It's been an interesting couple of weeks. First the good news - I recently purchased a new (used) car. My husband and I have been sharing a car for about 22 years...and I've hated it. For the most part the sharing has worked and we have been able to accommodate each other without screaming, crying or throwing dishes. However, I've always wanted my own wheels and have saved up my pennies to make it happen.
I bought it at the end of September and have been beyond ecstatic. I've been busy getting it checked out by my mechanic and arranging on the legal DMV stuff, so there has been a lot running around. I've also had to practice with it. It's a manual transmission, and even though all of my cars have required me to use a clutch, this baby feels different than our other car, and so I am shifting gears like a newbie. It's really embarrassing.
On the opposite side of emotional spectrum, I've been really worried about Cupcake. He was not doing well at all during the same week I brought home the car. In fact, I was pretty sure I would have to make arrangements to have him euthanized. It seemed that he was too uncomfortable to eat, but if I increased his pain medication, he was too sleepy to eat. This was not a good situation to be in.
During that same week, I brought Zoe down for physical therapy and acupuncture, as she seemed uncomfortable herself. As usual, Zoe was awesome because she is the Queen of the Universe, but during that session I spoke to the physical therapy vet and mentioned my woes with Cupcake. She is not an expert on rabbits, but said maybe I should try Cosequin, as sometimes vets prescribe that for cats with bladder issues.
This blog is ridiculously late! I've was asked this evening by a friend for help. My friend is leaving town and she wanted to know if I could help her roommate with caring for her sick bunny. Both ladies are very experienced bunny owners, but even so, sometimes you need a hand.
I met the rabbit this evening, and I got the details of what is going on and what sort of medications the bunny is taking. At the end of the visit, my friend thanked me and said, "It takes a village to care for these little guys".
She isn't wrong. Nothing can feel quite as isolating as knowing there is something wrong with your beloved pet and there is no one to help you. It helps to have a bunny community of friends, family, roommates, colleagues and professionals to support you in a time of crisis. They can guide you or fill in when there is need, or just take you out for coffee while you complain about the amount of bunny laundry you have to do each week.
Of course for many rabbit owners, a physical community is not really possible (you live in rural area, you don't know anyone else crazy enough to own a rabbit, etc.). In these cases, sometimes social media can be a helpful support. The key word here is 'can be'. Sometimes some of the advice can be hurtful, not presented in a correct way or just plain wrong. It's often a good way to get confused. Still, it is a resource in which you can meet other bunny owners and share ideas and stories. I have met several really wonderful people online - it's not all evil. You just have to choose wisely.
I gathered my village of crazy bunny friends by first volunteering at a rabbit rescue and then working there. Volunteering can be a great place to be part of a community, and you can learn so much from the people there.
Not every rescue, shelter or sanctuary is a great fit for everyone. It might take a bit of time to explore your options. That's OK though. Forming your own village will be worth the time and effort.
Lately I've met a few new grooming clients who not only have some adorable bunnies, but some cute dogs too.
It's not unusual for rabbit owners to have lots of other pets - dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, etc. Everyone can get along with a little preparation and forethought.
Bonding is all about personalities, and it also applies to other species. Dogs are predators, and a lot of breeds have been designed specifically to hunt rabbits (pretty much all sighthounds). Lots of herding, guard, hunting and terrier breeds have a really high prey drive, which can present a real danger to a pet rabbit. A dog with a high prey drive can kill. I'd also be careful with smaller dogs who are highly vocal or high strung. The last thing a rabbit needs is to have a little dog run groves into the carpet as it continually circles the pen while barking.
Personalities play a huge role in determining the success of a happy relationship. I had a dog before I got my first bunnies. Baci was a delightful mix of Dachshund, Border Collie and about 5 million other things. He was a very submissive dog and had the prey drive and curiosity of a piece of wood. He had no sense of self-preservation (he wanted to make friends with alley cats, but was sure the giant stuffed animal tiger was out to get him). I had a sense that the bunnies were going to be pretty safe with him - and they were. He was most interested in eating their food, but generally did not acknowledge their presence. Most of the bunnies ignored him too, except for a couple who beat the poor dog up (yes Emma - you may be across the Rainbow Bridge, but I'm talking to you!).
It's not just the dog, but the rabbit too has to accept the newcomer. The dog can be the most gentle thing the world as ever seen, and the rabbit may still opt to have a heart attack.
If you are thinking about maybe adopting a dog, consider reaching out to a rescue and let them know that you need to get a dog that is good with small animals. It's usually better to get an adult, as a younger dog might be too rough with a rabbit and injure them.
Be thorough with your research. Work with a trainer. Never leave them alone together unsupervised. Keep both of them safe! Most of all, listen to what your rabbit is telling you and respect his or her wishes.
This past weekend I met up with an old client to advise her on her aging bunny. I met Gypsy about 5 years ago, and she was always a beautiful and sassy girl. Her bunny mom describes her as a girl who has an opinion about everything and is clear about her likes and dislikes (apparently there are quite a few 'no touch' zones, and there are quotas on the amount of pets allowed).
Gypsy has now entered her senior years and is experiencing typical old age issues like arthritis and spondolysis. Her mobility is compromised, and both bunny and bunny mom are getting used to this new normal.
At the beginning of my bunny career, I did not look forward to senior/hospice care. It seemed so sad and depressing. After all, it seemed to indicate that the bunny's days were numbered.
Although that is true - senior/hospice care means that there are more days behind than in front of them, it doesn't need to be a depressing time. In my experience, I've found that my relationship with my senior bunnies entered a new stage. Even if the bunny was a bit of a wild child in his/her younger years, they tend to mellow out in their old age. Bunnies who would bolt if they thought you were about to touch them, resign themselves to be handled, arranged in a comfy bed, spoon-fed and medicated. It's like they know you are there to help and care for them during this time. They understand you are being gentle and kind, and they accept it. It's a different experience from taking care of bottle-babies (who are ridiculously cute and want to explore all of the forbidden places) or sick rabbits (who are convinced you are trying to kill them with Critical Care).
It's a sad time, because this moment doesn't last, but the love that exists between senior bunny and human caretaker is bond that strengthens every single day. It's a beautiful thing.
It's been a busy couple of weeks (hence the reason I might of skipped last week's blog - the bunnies made me do it!).
I've had a bonding consultation this week in which I helped my client understand the in's and out's of bunny bonding and guided her through the basics of body language interpretation.
In theory, matching bunnies should be easy work. After all, they are cute and fuzzy creatures. How hard can it be? In realty, bunnies are monsters wrapped in cuteness. Bonding can bring out the worst in them.
I personally don't bond other people's rabbits (I barely bond my own. I'm always trying to bribe my rabbit friends to bond for me). Why this reluctance? It's because I know at some point I am either going to question my life's choices or look for a job at my local 7-11. It can be hard and stressful work, but - I admit - it IS magical to see two bunnies become the best of friends. It's an amazing sense of joy and relief to see a relationship come together, and this is why I teach bonding.
Now I admit, there are very few hard and fast bonding rules. About the only ones are: 1. Spay and/or neuter your bunnies; 2. Work in neutral space. I would also had time. You have to spend an extraordinary amount of time working with them. Working with them 15 minutes once a week will never get the job done.
After these rules, it's a bit of a free-for-all. Some people start off with a car ride (not my favorite). Some start off with a large space. Some may be very much hands on, while others may interfere only minimally. Everyone will give different advice. That is why beginners may become quickly frustrated and confused.
People who bond frequently or even professionally will have a number of methods and techniques up their sleeves. It's difficult to list an exact step-by-step, because every bonding pair or group is going to behave differently. Every rabbit has his/her unique personality. The bonder may start out with a small or large space and then just observe. Based on the interactions they are seeing, they may adjust their methods accordingly. Is one bunny stressed, aggressive, possessive, watchful, timid or afraid? Is the other bold, a bully or indifferent? Watching how they interact with the other rabbit and in their bonding pen will determine the bonder's next steps. Sometimes the person needs to re-evaluate their plan and try something else. It helps to talk to others who have bonding experience to see what sort of tricks they may know. This is because sometimes, you need to think outside of the box to be successful. The more you do it, the easier it becomes for YOU to interpret the body language and to understand what is working and what is not.
If you are interested in learning how to bond your bunnies, check out my bonding consultation services!
I hope your summer is going well, so far. I'm enjoying the relatively cool morning. Come tomorrow, Southern California will be approximately a billion degrees. Yuck!
Lately, I've met a couple of new bunny owners, and it's so interesting to talk to them and see what made them choose a rabbit as a pet, instead of a dog or cat. I've always thought of myself as a "dog person", but honestly, I have to rethink that as I haven't had a dog in over 8 years (but have had about a thousand rabbits in the meantime, lol!).
Understandably, some new bunny owners have a bit of anxiety over their bunnies. They are terrified about doing something wrong and their bunny will go toes up. While it is good to be concerned and watchful, it becomes counterproductive to absolutely freak out. It does neither you or your bunny good to be constantly hovering and becoming so anxious that you lose sleep over your healthy bunny's well-being.
Unfortunately, bunnies are notorious for not saying a word and suddenly die on you. They can be oddly resilient in some respects and also incredibly fragile. Although humans (meaning owners and vets) cannot always save them (or anticipate future problems), there are some things we as owners can do to make sure our bunnies have the best life possible.
Probably the most important thing is diet. Hay should make up about 80% of the diet. Greens (generally speaking - lettuces and herbs) should be about 15%, and treats (carrots and fruit) including pellets should be about 5%. A proper diet goes a long way in making sure the digestive system works properly and the teeth remain healthy.
A lot of new bunny owners tend to be conservative when it comes to feeding out hay, and they like to wait until the hay bin is almost empty before refilling. My advice is to feed A LOT. If you are not sure if you handed out enough, put in another handful. Bunnies will eat a lot, but they also waste a fair amount. That's OK though. They like digging in that hay and sleeping on it. Make sure you give them plenty.
Since I've always fed my bunnies a proper diet (OK, I've been known to be a little generous with the greens...and maybe treats), they have not had illnesses usually associated with a bad diet. When they've fallen ill, I know there is usually something else going on, whether it's congenital, a serious illness, age-related or an injury that had taken place prior to adoption.
These sort of issues are not something you have control over. They'll happen when they happen. What you do have control over is the diet. Provide a healthy diet, and you'll have a healthy rabbit!
I have been so ridiculously absent from both my blog and social media of late. I was out of town for a couple of days visiting a very good friend, and then I got swamped with life in general (this is my excuse, I'm sticking to it). I also managed to get an ear infection and I'm hating life this moment, but I'm hoping the antibiotics kick in very soon. Pain meds are my very best friend right now.
I spoke with someone over the weekend. He wanted some advice about rehoming his bunnies. I've dealt with these sort of questions many times over my years of working in rescue, and I have some advice for those of you who are maybe thinking about rehoming (I'll do it without shaming you too!)
First of all, if you have adopted from a rescue, please review your adoption contract. Most rescues REQUIRE you to return the rabbits back to them should you feel the need. If your neighbor or friend offers to take your bunnies off your hands, you are still required to bring them back to the rescue and tell your friend or neighbor to please go through the rescue. The rescue approved of you to take one of their bunnies. They want to make sure their bunnies will always be well taken care of. That is the promise they make to every single animal that comes into their care.
Now there are circumstances in which it becomes very difficult to keep your bunnies. For example, if you or your family members lands in the emergency room because you (or they) can't breathe. Perhaps you lost your home and now living in your car. Some situations you can plan for (what if I get married, have kids or get a job in a different city?), but some are unforeseen.
For every potential reason I have heard as to why someone needs to surrender their bunny, I could give an example of someone who had overcome that obstacle. Again, I'm not saying this to shame anyone, but rather to give them hope that someone made it work. It can be done!
The conversation this weekend was one I have heard many times before: My family is so busy with work and school, we just don't have time for them. We love the rabbits dearly, but I think they could have a better life with another family.
I like to ask the families to define what they think a perfect bunny life is. Is it reasonable? Are they picturing endless cuddle time? Or hitting every Farmer's Market to get the best organic produce? (please stop if this is making you want to rehome your rabbits). I also like to give them a sense of the realities of the shelter/rescue life. Everyone is full (even more so now that people are back at work and feel they need to return the animals they adopted during Covid). Adoptions are WAY down - and it's not just in my city, it's all over the country.
What this means is that you will have a very hard time finding someone to take in your bunnies. If you decide to bring to your local city/county shelters, usually they will do their best to find them homes. The bunnies may stay there for weeks, months, maybe even a year. Keep in mind, it is easier to adopt out singles than pairs, and most likely they will break that pair apart if there is a chance one of them can get adopted.
If a rescue can take them (remember, if you got them from a rescue in the first place, they must go back to that same rescue. Even if that rescue is full, they will take them back), the staff and/or volunteers are overworked. They do not have time to spend more than a few minutes looking at the bunnies in their charge. It's simple math. If you have 20, 30, 50 or 100 rabbits in your care, you simply do not have the time to spend hours with each one. Remember, it's not unusual for a bunny to spend his/her whole life at a rescue.
This means that if YOU have 20 or 30 minutes of the day that you can spend with your bunnies, it will be much longer than what they would get at a shelter or rescue. Is this enough for a bunny? A single one, no. A pair or more - it'll probably be OK. Will they just be happy enough to snooze under the couch while you study or make dinner? Definitely. They don’t want you to poke them awake unless you are feeding them.
Worried they will be bored, destructive, or that you don't have time to clean them? Talk to a rescue for tips. Keep in mind, many people in rescue have tons of animals at home. They have figured out a way keep a horde of bunnies squirreled away and still maintain a decent quality of life for everyone (including themselves).
So if you are feeling overwhelmed with bunny-ownership, take a deep breath and reach out to a rescue, vet, the House Rabbit Society (even the HRS facebook group) or myself. Chances are that we can all give you tips on how to best tackle the problems you are facing. It just might be the best place for your bunnies is at home with you.
I hope you are all well! Despite melting away in the summer heat, I'm OK (despite my living room floor fan giving up the ghost. I'm so sad!)
Cupcake had his visit this week with Dr. Gleeson. He did reasonably well (aka better than I expected). I was imagining the worst, because I'm the worried bunny mom. Thankfully, his weight is holding steady and his blood work looked good - no anemia!
Unfortunately, his bladder still looked inflamed and nasty on ultrasound. The doctor did not see the presence of a tumor, but cancer isn't entirely ruled out, since there could be abnormal cells within the bladder wall. However, the vet would need to do a surgical biopsy to confirm this. It is clear that the metacam is not doing anything to reduce the inflammation in the bladder. We were going to try something else.
Dr. Gleeson prescribed Predinsolone which is a steroid used to reduce inflammation. It is similar to prednisone and used for conditions related to an overactive immune system.
I've used prednisone for bunnies and my dog, Baci. For Baci, it helped him get over his itchy paws in the summer. I've used it for bunnies suffering from thymoma (a type of cancer). It was very helpful for both issues. That being said, one of the side effects is a ravenous appetite. I will have to watch that Cupcake doesn't chase Panda away from the food, and that he doesn't feel like he's starving all the time.
He'll be on it for 3 weeks. Hopefully, the bladder will begin to heal, and he'll finally stop bleeding.
It's the first day of August! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer.
I have to admit I'm feeling rather distracted today. Cupcake has another appointment at Access tomorrow, in which Dr. Gleeson will try and find out if Cupcake still is dealing with his bladder infection - and if that is done - where the bleeding is coming from and why is he still bleeding? I admit, it's giving me some anxiety.
Cupcake has been dealing with this issue for some time. He has gone through a number of diagnostic exams and medications, and it's been a bit of a mystery as to exactly what is going on. Certainly there is bacteria and inflammation, but it doesn't seem to be responding like a normal infection.
I seem to bring a lot of puzzling cases to my vets. It can be frustrating for everyone since there is a lot about rabbits we don't know, and a lot of research is not done on rabbit health. Progress can seem very slow, especially if you are the owner of a sick bunny.
All we can do is our best.
I hope you and your bunnies are enjoying the summer.
Like many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, it's hotter than the sun here, but not abnormally so. Summer temperatures frequently reach triple digits (high 30's to low 40's in Celsius). I'm not someone who delights in hot temperatures. I hate the feeling that I'm going to melt, so I have some empathy for my animals who have to drag a fur coat with them all the time.
I don't have central air-conditioning, but rather two window units - one in the dining room and the other in the master bedroom. They do an adequate job of keeping the home cool, but there are the occasional areas that do still heat up.
When we first moved in (I think dinosaurs still roamed the Earth), the summers were unbearable due to the incredibly crappy windows that were originally installed. Jalousie windows are slats of glass that are parallel to each other and installed on a track. They were originally designed to keep rain water out while still providing ventilation. They are absolutely lousy at keeping air-conditioning (or heating) inside the house. You might as well have a giant gaping hole in the wall. We quickly replaced those with double-paned glass. With various fans placed strategically around the house, we are able to keep the temperature inside comfortable.
Still, bunnies are carrying around a fur coat. When there is a relentless heatwave, I really like to do three things (other than keeping them inside). My favorite is to freeze some ceramic patio tiles in the freezer. I have enough for every rabbit, plus extras. The tiles just need to be in the freezer for 30 minutes. Afterwards you can put them in the pen and the bunnies can lay on it. I make sure there are enough to rotate. I know that many people like to freeze some water bottles, but honestly, my bunnies just eye those bottles suspiciously and sit as far away as possible from them.
The second thing is to take a washcloth, soak it in cool water and wring out well. I then wipe both the inside and outside of both ears. I don't stick the cloth IN their ear. Just wipe them down until the skin of the ear stops feeling hot. It works because the ears are how rabbits regulate their body temperature.
The problem with this method is getting the rabbit to co-operate, so sometimes you need to take them into the bathroom and do this.
The last thing I like to do is add ice cubes to their water. It's quick and it encourages my bunnies to drink and stay hydrated. If you have senior or disabled bunnies (or bunnies who think water is for stupid rabbits), you can keep your bunnies hydrated with sub-q fluids (if you have any prescribed by your vet) or you can syringe-feed some unflavored Pedilyte.
Keep cool and enjoy your summer!
I hope you are all staying cool! Summer in SoCal is not my favorite time of year. I'm constantly melting. It's no fun.
It's beginning to dawn on me that I will need to expand my social media presence to include Tik Tok. I've heard from a number of sources that Tik Tok is where all the cool kids hang out. Personally, I'm slightly dreading the idea of being in front of a camera. Fortunately, I am working with an adorable subject matter, so it shouldn't be too hard to muster up the courage to take a few videos. I have already downloaded the app onto my phone and poked around in it.
It's crazy. I don't know what I'm doing. It's Canva all over again ('It's so easy', they said; 'Just play around with it and you'll figure it out', they said; 'You'll master it in no time', they said). Oy!
In any case, learning about Tik Tok and figuring out the best way to take videos in which I am in the frame (and not just my forehead) is my new summer project. I look forward to officially launching it in the next month or two.
Feel free to comment with words of encouragement like, "That's a great shot of your shoes, but next time point the camera at the bunny". You know, things like that.
Have a great rest of the week!
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and keeping cool.
Last week, a friend of mine called me up wanting my advice about getting a bunny. My friend has had bunnies before, so he knows what he is getting into. However, he struggles with serious health issues which makes his situation challenging.
Over the years at working in rescue, I've encountered situations in which a bunny was surrendered because of their owner’s physical issues, and there was no one willing or able to help them with the normal bunny care. I've always found these situations heartbreaking as the owners do not want to surrender their bunny, but they need to make sure their pet stays healthy and safe.
I advised my friend to set up a network of people to make sure they do a wellness check at least twice a day. If necessary, be sure someone can access the home. That means knowing the gate code to enter the building and having a key to the apartment.
If not everyone is rabbit-savvy, make sure your network knows who the designated "bunny person" is. The group should know the simple facts about the pet (age, neutered or spayed, etc.) and who the vet is. Ideally, they should be able to recognize basic bunny health - is the bunny eating? Is the bunny pooping? If something seems off, let your bunny person know.
Provide for your bunny financially. Relying solely on pet insurance may not be enough to handle potential health issues. Set aside funds in a savings account or put a provision in your will that ensures your bunny will be taken care of, should you pass away. Adding hundreds or even thousands of dollars to someone's credit card can make anyone reluctant to agree to help you.
This brings me to my next point. Arrange where the bunny goes in the event you should end up in a hospital and/or die. This may be your designated bunny person, or it may be someone they know or your family member.
This step is critical for everyone, but even more so for those with a terminal illness. So many times an orphaned pet ends up in a shelter or rescue, because the previous owner died. If you do not have anyone who will take your pet, speak to a rescue and see if they would take your bunny. Naming the Rescue in your estate planning (making it unambiguous as to where your bunny is going) and setting aside a dollar amount (or a percentage) also makes a welcome gift for a rescue and eases the financial burden of taking in another bun. Speak to your tax advisor on the best way to set this up.
Animals can give us great comfort when we are sick, but it's important to make sure they are well taken care of, especially in the event we are unable. Some of this information is applicable to everyone.
Who is your bunny back-up?
Happy July 4th!
My husband and I went to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago. For me, the first three days were magical. It was my first time there, and I loved it. I spent a lot of time by the pool and watching the waves come in on the Waikiki beach.
Unfortunately, my husband fell under the weather half way through the trip. As he waited for the results from the at-home Covid test I had brought along, I received a phone call from one of my bunny-sitters. Emma wasn't eating. I instructed them to bring Emma down to the emergency vet.
James tested positive, while I tested negative. The rules were that if I've been exposed, but tested negative and didn't have symptoms, I could leave the hotel. It was decided I should make my way home, as continual exposure would ensure I would get sick and delay my homecoming even longer.
I caught a flight that afternoon. With the time change, I would arrive back in Los Angeles around 11pm. I spoke with Dr. Schachterle at Access, who was taking care of Emma. My princess was quiet, but OK.
I explained I felt that Emma was reaching the end. She seemed like she was ready to cross the Bridge. She was not critical yet, so I thought I had time to schedule an at-home euthanasia when I got back. I wanted to spend a little time with her, spoil her silly those last few days, and then gently send her spirit off. I was not willing to put Emma through a series of diagnostic tests. I wanted her to just be comfortable until I got back, and then I wanted to be with her when she was put to sleep.
Emma was kept comfortable. She was on decent pain medication, oxygen and heat, and was syringe-fed regularly (which she thought was dumb, apparently). She didn't want to wait, though. She took a sharp turn for the worse in the evening and died 5 minutes before my plane landed.
And then the next day, I started to get sick.
It definitely was not the best vacation. I'm thankful I had two rabbit-savvy friends looking after my crew. Rabbits are not easy, especially when your bunnies are on long-term medications and need a little extra care.
When looking for a bunny-sitter, make sure the person understands bunny basics. Let them know your bunny's personality and habits. Be sure they know where you keep the food and other supplies. Make it easy for them. Even if your they are rabbit experts, write down in detail your routine and have things in easy reach for them. Don't expect them to treat your bunny, if he falls sick, but give them the phone number and address of your emergency vet.
Going on vacation can be stressful, and it doesn't have to be a disaster. Just be thorough with your preparations.
Hopefully, everyone and every bunny has a terrific summer.
Keep in mind, this year's Easter dumps have not even started yet.
The need is never-ending. I got out of rescue, because the stress of saying 'no' was effecting my health. I still wanted to help rabbits, but I chose a different path - educating.
If you are interested in having a rabbit in your home, do your research. Talk to a rescue. Talk to someone who has a rabbit (and doesn't keep it in a cage or a hutch outside). If you decide a rabbit is for you, PLEASE ADOPT! Go to your local city or county shelter. Look at the white, red-eyed buns - they are some of the nicest rabbits you will ever meet! Look at the scared bunny in the back. Even look at the grumpy one charging the front of the cage. They all want out.
Go to a rescue. Talk to them. They will guide you to a bunny (or pair or TRIO! Those are always the hardest to adopt out - save a bunny and his friend!).
Do you want to keep the bunny you found on a street? For God's Sake, spay and neuter!! I have given you an insight what rescues go through. This isn't unusual for ANY animal rescue. Spay and neuter your cats, especially if you let them outside. The amount of emails I get begging for help to bottle-feed abandoned kittens is overwhelming.
Don't want a permanent bun? FOSTER! If rescues are going to take in any new rabbits, they need foster homes. Be realistic about how long you are willing to foster - a week, a month, 6 months or longer? Covid has disrupted normal routines for a lot or shelters and rescues. You may be fostering the bunny for quite some time, so talk to the rescue about what you are willing to do for them, and what you can expect from them.
Lastly, donate. Vet care is expensive. Food isn't cheap either. Ask your favorite rescue what they need - laundry soap? Bleach? Bedding? Mops? Paper towels? Things like laundry soap are ongoing. You can set up a subscription on Amazon, and just have that delivered to them.
The need is ongoing, and it's exhausting, and at times, really disheartening. I wish I could do save more, but I know my limits and how many rabbits I can have under my roof and still give them the best life ever. I have reached it. All I can do is spread the word, and hopefully inspire you to reach out and save a life. Not just a life of a bunny, but also give someone who works at a rescue or shelter a bright moment in their day and a reason to hope.
I hope you all are keeping cool this blistering hot June.
This past week has been difficult for me emotionally. If you follow as many rabbit rescues as I do, my Facebook feed has blown up with desperate calls to save rabbits on the euthanasia list at various shelters. Whether you are employed or volunteer with a rescue or shelter, the work is hard. Many people think if you work with animals, you spend much of your time playing and socializing them.
Having spent 8 years working at a rescue, I can confidently tell you that is NOT what happens. If I was lucky, I could spend 2 minutes cuddling a bunny. Most of the time was spent answering phone calls, emails, bagging hay, talking to people about bunnies, setting up or breaking down pens, medicating and/or grooming bunnies, cleaning (so much cleaning!), organizing volunteers, arranging vet appointments and transport, and dealing with the endless calls for helping abandoned (or soon to be abandoned) bunnies.
For the people who have never experienced this environment, I want you to understand. Rescues get calls and emails DAILY to take in rabbits. Usually several times a day. Whether a person sees a bunny running loose in a park, or an owner is moving (or just doesn't want a bunny anymore), these requests happen all the time. Rescues can only take so many. They are restricted by how much space they have, how many volunteers or foster homes they have, how much money they can afford for proper care (vet visits often run several hundred dollars; surgeries can run into the thousands). They need to think in the long-term - "If this bunny isn't adopted, do I have the resources to keep him here for the rest of his life?" This is why rescues are more than happy to work with a current owner find a solution to whatever issue the owner may be facing.
Which brings me up to this current week. There have been a couple (at least) of rabbit hoarders in Southern California that have been busted by animal control. That means hundreds of bunnies have been taken away and overwhelming the system. The city and county shelters reach out to the rescues in their system to help make space. If not enough space is available, they start euthanizing those rabbits that have been there the longest (usually). Rescues, who are always up to their ears in rabbits, desperately try to make room. They appeal for more foster homes, more donations, more adopters - anything to make it easier for them to take in even a couple of rabbits.
I hope you are all having a great start to the summer. My bunnies all got vaccinated for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease this weekend. I'm sure this was not on any bunny's To Do list, but I rather have them annoyed at me than risk having them fall ill.
Zoe got her senior check-up. She's over 11-years-old, and regular vet visits are a good idea for senior buns, especially for those who are on regular medications. Miss Zoe is on metacam, gabapentin and methocarbamol (which is a muscle relaxer). She has the regular aches and pains that is pretty normal for older animals. The medication allows her to retain her mobility and keep her comfortable.
I try to be mindful of what an aging animal is experiencing. They can't verbalize clearly as to what their needs are, so it takes some observation to figure out what their needs are.
I like to take note of the environment. What is it like to sit on the floor all the time? What is it like when I sit on the floor for hours? Is there a difference if the floor is carpeted or padded? Do I need to raise the water or food dish? Is it too cold (or too warm)? If I was an old, immobile bunny, would I appreciate an open window all night?
Paying attention to the silent needs of your aging bunny can go a long way to make sure your pet is comfortable and living his/her best life.
I hope everyone and every bunny is doing well!
This morning, as I stumbled out into the living room, I was greeted by Winston. As typical of a young bunny, he had ants in his pants. He ran up to me and shaking his little head, like he wanted to launch into the biggest binky ever.
So instead of getting my coffee, I set up his play pen, which is a large area adjunct to his normal pen. This gives him lots of room to run like his tail is on fire and binky his little heart out. The area is well waterproofed as his litter box habits are pretty non-existent (this is why I don't have nice things!).
It's important that Winston is as active as possible to avoid the build-up of sludge in his bladder. I give him a large play pen to run around, but even his pen is large enough for him to run laps should the mood strike him. He has a large selection of toys that I keep in a box. When I set up his play pen, I put in the box, so he can pull out whatever sort of toys he wants to play with. I will frequently switch out or rotate his toys, so he doesn't get bored.
If he decides he's in the mood for some bunstruction, my husband and I set up some cardboard and fasten it to the pen so it's difficult to pull out. That provides hours of tugging and chewing and results in cardboard scattered around like confetti (make sure your bunny doesn't sit and eat all this cardboard. One or two pieces is fine, but don't let them eat it like candy).
Willow toys, apple wood, grass mats and huts and cardboard houses are some of the great ways to entertain your bunny and keep them happy. Click on the link to see some of the great stores selling awesome bunny toys.
I hope you are all enjoying May. I spent last week visiting family, which was a lovely break. I haven't seen them in nearly 4 years (yikes! Thank you, Covid), but everyone is doing well.
In considering about what I wanted to write about today, I thought back to what some of the questions I frequently get asked (other than, "OMG! How can you have so many rabbits?!") One of the topics I frequently get asked about is bonding.
Bonding is simply introducing bunnies with each other. Most new bunny owners don't think much about this - they just bring home a new bunny and assume it'll just be fine, and then are terrified when the Apocalypse descends upon their house. Other people like to take their bunny on speed dates. They're looking for the one perfect match, where the bunnies lock eyes and become instant friends.
Unfortunately, that sort of Disney magic is not a typical thing. Don't get me wrong, I have had those type of bonding matches, where I just threw bunnies together and called it a day. Those kinds of matches are truly magical and I love it. However, most matches are like every day human mundane ones, where we meet someone, not sure if we like them, squabble a bit - maybe even get into a big fight, and then think they are OK (think more Pride and Prejudice than Disney princess). Very rarely, have I seen true "I hate you, and I hope you die in a fire!" kind of interaction, in which the bunnies just absolutely hate each other and there is no convincing them otherwise.
Most people are really confused and don't understand the process AT ALL. I find it's really helpful to think of bonding and matching like our normal human relationships. When we first get to know someone, we may meet at a neutral place - such as for coffee or dinner. If that goes well, we may go for another date - such as the movies, etc. Typically, we do NOT let complete strangers move into our homes, especially without permission. Gradually, as we get to know the other person, we may spend more and more time with them. They may even become an essential part of our lives. Little arguments (think of these like when the bunnies nip at each other) don't have to blow up into major fights. However, if they don't get resolved, they may damage the relationship permanently.
I find if you view bonding like any one of your own relationships - whether with a significant other, friend, family or co-worker, bunny bonding will be a less mysterious concept.
I hope everyone is doing well. I'm taking a little time off from rabbits this week and hanging out with some family. It's a welcome visit, as I have not seen them since pre-Covid.
The timing is not great as I seem to have quite a few sick bunnies at home. Cupcake still has his bladder infection. The urinalysis showed 3 different types of bacteria in his bladder. I know, I know - it's a party in there. He is on a couple of different antibiotics, and he is slowing feeling better. There is still quite a bit of blood in his urine, but at least he is doing binkies and running around the living room like a fool.
Emma has lost all mobility, and I have set her up in the living room so I can keep a better eye on her. She is getting used to her new surroundings, but has developed some respiratory issues. I did bring her down to the vet to see if she had an upper or lower respiratory infection. I was worried it might be pneumonia as I did not notice any sneezing or nasal discharge. However, her lungs and heart sounded good, and the vet suspected an upper respiratory issue. I was relieved as pneumonia is more difficult to clear up than an upper respiratory issue. I started her up on antibiotics and hope she will feel better soon.
These types of rabbit health issues can take a lot of energy out of you. The mental strain and worry can affect how you go about your day. It's important that you take a moment for yourself. I know this is much harder to do in practice, but taking some time for yourself can revitalize your soul and be a better caretaker. So visit friends and family. Go to the movies, theater or concert. Take an afternoon and read or binge watch some Netflix. You will be doing both you and your bunnies a favor!
It's May and spring is alive and well here in SoCal. The pink jasmine is going to town here, and it always reminds me of my first months here in Los Angeles. It's a smell I will always associate with this city.
As always, the bunnies here at the Chateau are keeping me busy. Cupcake is still pretty sick with his bladder infection (well, that's what we think it is at the moment), but he is feeling a bit better. He was actually doing binkies like crazy on Thursday and that's always great.
Emma has completely lost mobility now. It's ironic, because I posted on Instagram how I do her pen set-up, and the next day, she's dragging herself around. I adjusted things temporarily in her pen until the weekend, then I created a brand new set-up for her.
I decided to move her into the living room. We can keep a better eye on her, rather than when she's in my office. She's shares the center of attention with Winston, of course (There's no way to ignore that boy!), and I can make sure she is eating and comfortable.
Right now, she is busy checking things out. This is very new to her. She is neighbors with Cupcake and Panda (who are probably less grumpy than Zoe and Joey). She is on a pile of pillows and fleece, so I'm hoping it's comfortable. Food is never far away, but water is always tricky. You can't put a bowl of water on a pile of fleece and expect it not to move. However, fastening it to the pen often doesn't work because you can't adjust it to the right level. Often times it's just set too high. This can also be a problem with water bottles. The bottles can also leak.
I do have a water bottle that is good about not leaking. Unfortunately, I misplaced the hardware to fastening to the pen. I just took some twist ties and tied it on there. Now I just have to get her to actually use the bottle. I hope it works, because I have not had great success rate of disabled rabbits using the bottle.
So far, she is staying clean and acting alert (and hungry!). The next few days or so I will fiddle around with her pen and routine as she adjusts to her new normal. She is a stubborn girl, so I don't expect her to let it get her down very much.
There is a bright side to all of this though. Zoe and Joey got to take over her space in the office. They are thrilled with the extra room. Crazy rabbits!
I hope everything is going well with you and your bunnies!
At the moment, the bunnies at my house are taking turns being sick. Not only does it give me a reason to worry, but it tends to make me a regular at the vet. I think I'll be eating ramen noodles for the next 3 years...possibly the rest of my life.
Cupcake's follow-up with the vet last Wednesday did not go well. It turns out that his bladder looked MUCH worse. We're not sure exactly what is wrong, but it's either a very nasty infection in the bladder wall itself or possibly cancer. He was started on another antibiotic, and right now we'll see if there is any improvement at the next appointment on Tuesday. Whether an infection or cancer, Cupcake is going to cause me a lot of concern in the foreseeable future.
Yesterday, Winston decided to stop eating. Normally, I can handle GI stasis at home. However, I know with his history of bladder sludge issues, I need to take him in to have his bladder asset and taken care of (bladder sludge is quite often flushed out. This requires sedating the bunny and snaking a catheter up the urethra to flush out with saline). Fortunately, x-rays showed that Winston's bladder looked fine. Nothing looked blocked. There was a nice line of poops, just waiting to exit. He just had me worried for a tummy ache.
It looks like Emma has lost her mobility. It kinda tells you something when a rabbit with rear-end paralysis is third in line of things for me to worry about. I'm going to have to look at her pen set-up again and probably rework it. The biggest issue is that SHE hasn't really accepted the reality yet. She still wants to chase after me in the morning to let me know that she hasn't been fed in a thousand years and please feed her now.
Every bunny who goes through rear-end paralysis experiences it a little differently. It means that any set-up that you have previously used will most likely need to be adjusted. Changes will continually be made as the bunny becomes more immobile. In the next few days, I'll see how to make her more comfortable. In the meantime, I've sat with her and explained that I'm here for her and that I'm going to make her as happy as I can.
It's just another week at The Educated Rabbit house!
I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I celebrated by eating a chocolate bunny, which I shamelessly devoured in one sitting.
This past week, I met a new grooming client. I enjoy meeting new bunny people and getting to know their bunnies. I'm happy to help them, because it means bunnies are with people who care about their well-being.
Several of my clients have had bad experiences from one particular grooming service who firmly believes in the concept of overgrooming. They spend several hours on a short-haired rabbit to the point where the bunny has numerous bald patches and cuts in the skin from excessive combing. One client told me her bunny was groomed for 6 hours. Afterwards, he didn't eat for 2 days. Another told me that her bunny screamed, and when the owner took her back, she noticed several cuts from the comb.
To be clear, this is NOT how bunnies should be groomed. Giving a rabbit a heart attack is counterproductive to the purpose of grooming. Most groomers understand that rabbits aren't particularly fond of handling. They do their best to minimize stress. Bunnies may relax a bit during the actually combing, but the skin should never break down and bleed.
The logic behind this excessive grooming is to avoid hairballs from blocking the intestines. I have mentioned before that this is NOT how hairballs form. GI stasis happens first (either from a disease, pain or STRESS), and the collected fur forms a blockage. Rabbits are constantly grooming themselves and their buddies. That means there is always fur in their gut. The best way to get that out is through a high fiber diet (hay) and proper hydration.
It's important to know that it's impossible to remove all of the shedding hair in one sitting. The fur loosens in stages and you can see the progress as it starts around the nose and moves back. Often times the fur sheds before the new coat comes in.
I'll typically spend about 20-30 minutes combing out. Sometimes up to 45 minutes if the bunny is blowing his coat. However, I keep an eye on the skin. Is it still pink or is it turning red? If it's red, it means the skin is getting irritated and it's time to move on to a different section. At no point do I see irritated skin and keep going. I know rabbit skin is delicate and I don't want it to break down.
If you happen to be comfortable enough to groom your own bunny, it's best to just spend 10-15 minutes combing your bunny out once a week during a heavy shed. This is why it takes me so long to groom my bunnies. I'll comb them out for a few minutes every couple of days until that shed is under control. It takes longer, but your bunny will be healthier and happier.
I hope you are all having a lovely spring. My husband and I were supposed to visit family last week, but alas! A couple of different issues came up and we had to reschedule the trip for another time. We comforted ourselves by going to the new Batman movie. I want a Batmobile when I grow up.
One of the reasons we had to reschedule was because of Cupcake. He had gone into stasis the Sunday before our trip. I had brought him down to see Dr. Gleeson after I had noticed sludge in his urine. However, the x-rays showed very little precipitate in the bladder, but he had significant spondolysis in his spine, which probably contributed to the current bout of GI stasis.
He seemed to feel better after I started him on gabapentin and tramadol, but then a couple of days later, I noticed blood in his urine. Back to Dr. Gleeson we went!
This time, he had an ultrasound. Between Sunday and Wednesday, a raging infection developed. His bladder was filled with mucus and blood clots. The bladder walls were thickened and there was fluid surrounding the bladder. No wonder Cupcake was feeling so unhappy.
He was started on antibiotics and he continued on pain medications and sub-q fluids (meaning fluids being administered under the skin). Today, He is definitely feeling much better, but he has decided that litterboxes are just not the thing. The good news about this is that I can see if there is still blood and mucus in his urine; the bad thing is that I have a ton of extra bunny laundry to do.
I use the washable pee pads that hospitals and nursing homes use for their patients. They are fabric on one side and a water-proof barrier on the other. They cover a wide area and are machine washable. Bunnies still like to tear them apart, so I go through quite a few of them, but the pads tolerate lots of multiple washings.
So far, there is still nasty stuff in Cupcake's bladder that needs to get out, but he is feeling much better. Hopefully he'll be back to his normal self very soon.
I hope you are all doing well. My husband and I are thinking about an upcoming trip which will take us away from our bunnies for a few days. I have a few trusted bunny friends that are kind enough to step in and take care of this crazy herd. Nonetheless I worry about them, particularly if one or two decide it necessary to visit the vet before the trip takes place.
This is one part of taking a vacation that I don't enjoy - who is taking care of the pets while we're gone? It's true that no one takes care of them as well as you do. You know their quirks and preferences. You know when to worry and when not to sweat it. You know the tricks to get them to take their medicine and you know when no amount of bribery is going to work and you just have to manhandle them into taking it.
I always give "pet orientation" seminars to all my friends who have looked after my pets. They even get easy directions to the nearest emergency vet if they don't live in the area. The heavy duty handwritten manual that goes along also greets them that first day. It goes into nauseating detail of what has previously be instructed. There are also instructions on how to use the espresso machine, turn on the TV, get into Netflix, log into the WiFi, find the First Aid shelf, find all the medications and supplies they may need, work the air conditioning and/or heat, run the washing machine and dryer. There are diagrams and highlighter marks. Despite my paranoia, I forget things and find myself texting and emailing more information.
Now, I know my friends tolerate my madness, because they know I will return the favor. I'm pretty sure they hope their example of calmness will rub off on me (no chance). I keep on getting awful visions of some sort of calamity befalling my home.
Boarding doesn't necessarily calm the anxiety either. One trip, I had nightmares of the bunnies finding their way out of their boarding enclosure and running like mad throughout the facility and making their escape outside, finding a pack of friendly wolves and terrorizing the countryside with their new family (completely unfounded - they spent the time tucked cozy in their pen).
However, it's always nice to get away for a few days to either visit friends and family or new places. It's great to break out of the routine and recharge. It usually takes me a few days not to stress about the bunnies left a home. What helps is having great friends who understand bunnies and are willing to help, and to prepare them for the task. I know they laugh at the GIANT manual I leave for them, but I know they also appreciate it. It helps to make everyone's job a little easier and the trip more enjoyable.
It's the first full day of Spring, and I hope everyone is enjoying the change. It's always nice to see the first blooms of the year. Of course, having grown up in Canada, it still weirds me out to see spring in March and not late May.
Big news!!! On March 17th, I launched my "First Aid Guide for the Domestic Rabbit". I'm very excited about this and really happy to see how well the book turned out. It took some time to write and edit, and even a longer time to find the right publisher and format it just right, but I think it was well worth the wait.
So why did I write this instead of just put out a series of articles on my website? I felt it was important to have a guide out there that was as detailed as possible. I've been living with rabbits for quite some time, but I do still remember those early years and being quite terrified about the prospect of dealing with a sick rabbit. First of all, I wasn't even sure I would recognize a sick rabbit, never mind treat it. That sort of stress is not fun at all.
I want you to be confident and prepared in your rabbit care. Even if you feel you can't take bunny temperatures, I want you to be able to recognize an issue and get the help your bunny needs. You are your bunny's first line of defense.
I hope you will find this book helpful and have many enjoyable years with your bunny.
As anyone with pet rabbits can attest, even minor health issues can escalate quickly. That is why this rabbit first aid guide is so essential.
I hope everyone and their bunnies are doing well.
It's been a busy week for me. The book, "First Aid Guide for the Domestic Rabbit" is almost ready to launch. I've seen and approved the final copies (both for the eBook and PDF versions as well as the print copy). It's looks so fabulous! I hope you're as excited about this as I am. The manuscript has been uploaded, and I'm just waiting for all the storefronts to sign off. Once that is done, the book will be available for purchase.
I will be sending out a newsletter as soon as that happens. If you would like to be notified ASAP, please click on the link and scroll down to the bottom to sign up. Hopefully (fingers crossed it all goes well), the launch will officially take place in just a few short days.
In more somber news, I've been following the events that are going on in the Ukraine. Fortunately, I do not have family or friends there, but I am sad to see all the suffering that is taking place. Of course, the biggest victims are the ones who have nothing to do with this crisis, but find themselves in the crosshairs.
For several years, I've followed a rabbit rescue in Poland called "Rabbit Rescue in Torun". They deal with the same situations that rabbit rescues here in the United States do - abandoned, neglected and sick rabbits. Since the war has broken out, they have stepped up to help as much as they can. They are a rabbit rescue, but now they are also taking in dogs, cats and other small animals - anyone furry creature that needs help getting out of a war zone. They are doing their best to coordinate volunteers to retrieve the animals in the different towns and cities to cross the boarder into Poland to safety. Many of the animals are stressed, tired, sick and hungry. Although most of us cannot physically lend a hand, we can help with donations to make sure they can afford food and medicines.
If you are able to make a donation, you can do so via PayPal using their email address: email@example.com
Otherwise, head over to their Facebook page and give them a shout-out.https://www.facebook.com/rabbits.torun
I will continue to share some of their posts on The Educated Rabbit Facebook page.
I hope everyone is enjoying March. I'm happy to have escaped my hellish February and am looking forward for everything being awesome.
This last week, Panda had a brief visit with Dr. Gleeson at Access. I was concerned because I had been noticing that Panda was showing less enthusiasm when it came to eating. It wasn't critical as she was still eating, but there was more contemplation on her part (do I really want to fight Cupcake over pellets? Do I want dinner now or just wait and hope Cupcake left me something? Do I care if he eats everything?) This philosophical debate had been going on for some time, and I figured it was time to have her checked out to see if anything was wrong. Panda just turned 8, so she's at the age where aches and pains are not unusual.
It turns out the little girl has some significant spondolysis in the lumbar region of her spine, which is not unusual. She's now on gabapentin twice a day and more willing to fight Cupcake for the best herbs during dinnertime. I'm happy my girl is feeling better.
This weekend, Dr. Gleeson reached out to me and asked if I was willing to bring any of my bunnies down to be a blood donor. She has a critically ill patient, who needed a blood transfusion before surgery. Since Dr. Gleeson has been so kind to my bunnies of late, I woke up Joey from his nap and took him down to Access (Joey was feeling less charitable about this than I was).
There are times where a bunny may need a blood transfusion, such as if there is significant bleeding due to trauma or if the bunny is anemic. There is some crossmatching that needs to take place, but generally, there are no designated blood types like there is for humans (this area is not well studied for small animals).
Unfortunately, the recipient passed away before Joey was able to do his good deed for the day, but he still got extra treats when he got home for being such a good boy.
It's been a busy week. Several days ago, Winston was dealing with some serious bladder sludge. I figured out that this was probably the case, because I have been noticing that his urine had quite a bit of precipitate of late.
Since this was something I couldn't solve at home, I brought him down to Access to see Dr. Gleeson. The vet team took good care of him - doing x-rays, bloodwork (kidneys looking good!) and finally conducting a bladder flush.
A bladder flush involves sedating a rabbit and placing a catheter in the bladder. The bladder is then flushed with saline to thin out the sludge and the forced out through manual expression or sucked out with a syringe.
Winston went through 2 bladder flushes, 5 days apart. In between those procedures, I gave him pain medications and fluids to help him continue to force out the sludge on his own. He's feeling much better, but I think this will probably be an ongoing problem for him. I'm guessing he'll probably need sub-q fluids a couple of times a week, or maybe he'll need to visit Dr. Gleeson every few months to be examined and maybe flushed again. I think once a system is figured out, he'll be just fine.
I hope you are all enjoying this President's Day. It's another one of those holidays where some people get the day off and others don't. If you are at the office, I hope you are having an easy day.
I have to say, that I've had a very trying February. Between Dior's passing, Emma's issues and my illness, I'm exhausted. I took some time off last week (hence why there was no blog) to rest, and at least I am feeling much better.
I'm happy to report that Emma is doing better too. Although her mobility issues will never heal completely, I have increased her pain medication and redesigned her pen to make it more comfortable for her. She's been able to move around and keep her balance better. She will still eventually become immobile, but for now, she is doing well. She just needs to stop ignoring her cecals, as she keeps stepping in them, and occasionally rolls in them (I then have to scrub her side or dewlap, which she just loves - NOT!).
I'm still mourning Dior, and I imagine I'll be doing that for some time. A lot of things remind me of her: passing the giant pile of kale in the produce section of the grocery store, seeing the uneaten raspberries in the fridge that were her treat for taking her medicine so well, etc. I'm still incredibly sad that I don't have to set up her pen with fresh bedding, although I have to say, I do appreciate not having to wash so much bunny laundry. Going through a pair of towels twice a day does add up.
I need to find my favorite picture of her to hang on my wall. It's not easy as that girl was so photogenic. She couldn't take a bad photo. I think it's something about those red-heads. Poppy was like that too.
For those of you who know what it's like to experience the loss of a pet, you know that going through the grieving process takes time. Honor it however way you deal with it, and take whatever time you need. I know I will miss this girl forever, and one day, the pain will lessen and I will remember all the fun things about her and not get all weepy in the produce aisle at the grocery store (that's just so awkward).
All the best, and I wish you and your bunnies a great day.