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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
It's with sadness I have to announce the passing of Dior. She died Saturday evening after a brief, but intense illness this past week.
She developed GI stasis Tuesday morning. She was still perky, so I thought she might be back to herself by noon. By mid-afternoon, I realized that this might take longer than I thought, and called Dr. Gleeson at ACCESS in Culver City. A quick assessment didn't indicate much more than a bit of gas. We went back home with some extra medications. Everyone thought she would come out of it in the evening. However, midnight came around and Dior felt much worse, so early Wednesday morning, I packed her up and took her back to Access. Dr. Gleeson was concerned and so Dior began her hospital stay.
She had moments in which she seemed to improve, and then became steadily worse. Neither Dr. Gleeson nor Dr. Schachterle could quite pinpoint what the exact problem was - her abdomen looked inflamed and there were gas pockets throughout. It suggested at least a partial blockage somewhere, however diagnostics were not definitive. Dior was put on IV fluids, medications and closely monitored.
As Saturday came along, the only option that remained was exploratory surgery. It was risky, expensive and there was a really good chance it would be unhelpful. I gave the authorization to go ahead, and so Dior underwent surgery at 7pm on a Saturday night.
Once in surgery, Dr. Schachterle saw that there was an infection on the tip of the cecum (possibly an abscess), which had ruptured. The rupture caused massive inflammation in the abdomen, which caused tons of adhesions to form on the outside of the intestines. It was those adhesions which acted as a vise and restricted normal function. It caused a gas build-up that you may normally see with a regular blockage. The whole situation was impossible to fix and so I made the decision not to wake her up.
I am truly heartbroken. I shared my house with her only for 10.5 months, and it felt like a lifetime. Yes, she required some intensive care with twice a day bladder expressions and bandage changes, but she was such a good girl. She knew you were fussing for her own good, even though she wasn't particularly fond of it. She was happy to see you - coming up for pets and looking for treats. I've never seen a bunny so into her hay!!! Her favorite toy was the sheet I hung at the top of her pen. She loved tugging on it and hiding underneath. After her passing, I took the sheet and wrapped her body in it. That way, she will always be in her tent palace.
I'm grateful I was able to meet and take care of such a special girl. She was beautiful with a joyful personality. My heart will be broken forever with her loss, and I hope she knows just how much I will always love and miss her.
Happy Monday to you! This past week, (Jan 24th), we celebrated the one year anniversary of Winston's "Gotchya Day".
Looking back at the photos and videos, I can see how much he has grown in the last year. He turned from looking quite babyish to looking the grown handsome boy he is.
He is about 1.5-years-old, which means his personality and habits are pretty set. I was hoping his mane would come in around his ears, but I think he's going to just have to live with his mohawk-mutton chop-mullet look. I can tell you he is an attention hog - adores being pet and even likes a good snuggle. The problem is he does not tolerate being picked up or set down. It makes me think that he was not handled well with his original owners, and this mishandling caused his back injury.
Much of the back injury has healed, and he is able to move with hardly any difficulty. However, there is probably some nerve damage. His inability to use the litter box (or more to the point - use EVERYTHING as his litter box) points to this. I don't think he's getting much of a signal to alert him that he needs to go until it's too late. The signals may not empty his bladder completely either, as the urine can be sandy too at times.
It makes keeping his pen and play area clean a major challenge. I do experiment with different ways to keep both of us happy and I think generally we succeed at this. His pen is in the center of our home. James and I are constantly walking or working next to him, so he gets lots of adoration. He is confident enough to be sassy by soaking up all the extra attention from James, but give me extra kisses when I change out his water bowl.
At the moment, I don't have plans to bond him with any of the other bunnies living with us. He is much more active than the majority of the bunnies here, and his complete disregard of the litter box is a serious consideration of how I would manage the housing, but the decision to bond may change too over time.
For now, Winston is very happy to be part of our family, and we're happy to share our home and our lives with this little man. He has a huge personality, and I'll love him forever.
I hope you are all having a lovely January. The Santa Ana winds have been pretty brutal the last few days, so my nose is stuffed and my head feels like a balloon.
This week, I've been going over some of the final drafts of the First Aid for the Domestic Rabbit book. The formatting is almost done and the book will soon be on sale. It will be available as both an e-Book and softcover. I am really excited about it! I hope you will find it helpful.
Dior continues to do great! She is getting into so much trouble - flipping over her water bowl, mangling her toys, ripping up the new bed I made for her last week...(not feeling sad about the bed at all).
This past week, I started Panda on some antibiotics. She's been sneezing and displaying a snotty nose. She was also snoring very, very loud. Now, she frequently snores when taking a nap, but it was extra melodious. So I started to nebulize her in addition to the oral medication.
A nebulizer machine turns liquid medicine into a mist, which a patient then breathes in. It's great for treating both upper and lower respiratory conditions. There are a couple of different ways to nebulize your bunny (and honestly, they're usually not that excited by either method).
If you have a bigger machine, you can place a bunny in a carrier, rig the tubing to blow the mist in the carrier and then cover the carrier with a towel so the bunny breathes in the mist. The disadvantage is that the machines can be loud, and the bunny needs to be confined for some time (approximately 15-20 minutes) to get the benefit from it.
I like to use a handheld nebulizer as it is much quieter than some of the bigger machines and I can hold the nebulizer right against the bunny's face, so bunny has to breathe in the mist. The treatment time tends to be shorter.
Even if you don't use antibiotics, using a saline solution can be helpful and it can be done multiple times a day.
Panda sounds much better already. Hopefully another week or two, and I won't have to turn up the TV to drown out the sound of snoring.
I hope you are all having a good start to the new year.
I've been talking a lot about Dior, and she is doing great! She is so happy now, and she's back to playing and being more interactive. There is a subtle difference from how she behaved before the surgery to how she behaves today. Before, she was still eating and looking alert, but she preferred to keep to herself and just sit in her box. To someone who didn't know her, their guess might be that she was just shy. However, I did know what she was like a few weeks prior. Even though she wasn't flat out eating or looking hutched up and writhing in pain, I got the sense there was considerable discomfort.
Today, she plays with her toys. She'll nap outside of her box and she is more interested in engaging with either us humans or her bunny neighbors. This indicates to me that she is feeling more herself, and she is adjusting well.
Dior is an example of learning how to read pain signals in rabbits. Sometimes, it's very obvious that something is wrong, or that a bunny is feeling miserable. Lots of times, though, the signals are very understated. This doesn't necessarily mean that the pain itself is slight. As prey animals, they have it well ingrained in their DNA not to show predators that something is wrong.
As owners, we need to get to know our bunnies well. This doesn't necessarily mean we need to spend every waking moment with them and just stare. That's very creepy. Don't do that.
You can get to know your bunny with casual observation and interactions. Does your bunny come to eat as soon as you put down food? Does he have favorite foods? What is his favorite treat? What sort of toys does he like to play with? Does he interact with you? Does he bonk you in the ankle when you clean his pen? Does he zoom around the room in the morning? If you have a group of bunnies, does one bunny have a best friend? What is your bunny's favorite hang out spot?
Answers to these sort of questions will give you a good idea of what your bunny likes to do, and how to tell if something is off. These sort of observations don't really require you to be obsessive, but be aware of what your pet does on a daily basis. That is one of the reasons why I don't recommend that you house your bunny outside or garage (unless you spend the majority of your time outside or in your garage). Get to know your bunny and you too will develop a good intuition as to how well your rabbit is feeling and doing.
For more tips on how to identify rabbit pain, click on the link below.
I hope you are all enjoying your January.
This week, I've been focused on Dior and making sure she is healing properly. She perked up about mid-day Tuesday and then proceeded to act as nothing was wrong. She is still on some antibiotics and pain meds to make sure she is comfortable and the wound remains clean. I only fed her Critical Care for a couple of days until her appetite was back to normal.
She is definitely feeling better though. She seems more relaxed. The foot was bothering her quite a bit, which I had suspected. The next step in the healing process is to make sure the incision remains clean.
The vets and I were concerned that with her injured back (and the way her posture in the back end was), that she may just have the same problem of a pressure sore but higher up on the leg. When the decision came to amputation, Dr. Misetich decided not take the leg off at the hip. He left part of the leg bone and wrapped the muscle around the stump to give the bone some protection. We hope that when the fur grows back, it will protect the skin.
Dior continues to live in a very padded pen (layered with blankets, mats and foam, all covered with a bed sheet). It's the best way I know how to protect the skin from another sore.
Her vets and I will continue to monitor Dior's progress, but so far, everyone is very hopeful that she will be OK.
Happy New Year!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for you in the New Year!
I started 2022 with a bang. Last week, I coordinated with Dr. Misetich at VCA Arden Animal hospital to get Dior in for her surgery. Dr. Misetich is my regular vet for my bunnies. Despite the fact he is not an exotics vet, he does have over 3 decades of experience working with rabbits.
Fortunately, he was able to fit Dior's surgery in on Monday, Jan 3rd. I wanted to get her foot off as quickly as possible. It was one of those situations in which I could tell that things were getting worse at an alarming rate. It was just obvious that I had run out of options. The infection was just growing out of control and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
As soon as the decision was made to amputate, I did not want to wait. The foot needed to come off in the next few days. I was fortunate enough Dr. Misetich had an opening when he did.
On the day of her surgery, I gave Dior her breakfast and medication, packed up lots of her favorite foods and snacks, and dropped her off at the clinic. The surgery itself was uneventful (just the way we like it), and she recovered quickly.
At home, she was sleepy (which was to be expected), and I set her up inside her favorite Tent Palace. She snuggled up with a small, microwaveable heating pad and even took a couple of raspberries from me.
This morning, I noticed that she had eaten the lettuce I had left for her the night before. She looked more alert and seemed more comfortable. I medicated her, expressed her bladder with little trouble, and fed her Critical Care (which she seemed to like, because she is a good girl).
A couple of hours later, I saw that she had moved from her bed and had actually found one of her Christmas toys and had started to play with it. This made me very happy. Clearly she is feeling good and her playful side is coming out again.
It's very early in the healing process, but there's a lot of good signs. I hope she will soon feel like her normal, playful self.
Thank you to everyone who has sent love, healing vibes, prayers and good thoughts our way, and a big thank you for everyone who has donated to her care. I'm very thankful for the good thoughts and help.
I hope you and your bunnies all had a festive weekend, and if you do not celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a restful couple of days.
This weekend was NOT restful for me. It was one of those things that a couple of weeks ago sounded like a good idea, then became much less appealing as the time grew closer. In short, lots of running around and trying to get things done. The lack of time became more apparent when I determined that a new laptop was in order NOW. Fortunately, I was able to get one quickly, despite the supply chain issues, but setting it up and getting used to it takes time. The last time I bought a laptop was probably 6 years ago, so there has been some big changes.
This last week of 2021 is going to be a busy one for me and the bunnies. Zoe has her first physical therapy appointment at CARE this Tuesday. She's been feeling pretty good these last couple of weeks (thanks to the adjustment to her medications), but she probably could use some stretches and exercises.
Today, Dior had another follow-up appointment at ACCESS with Dr. Gleeson. Unfortunately, she did not have great news. The bone in her foot is just not healing and now the infection is steadily eating away at it. It's not a huge surprise, since I can feel the changes in her foot when I wrap it. When I spoke to Dr. Gleeson a few days ago, she suggested that maybe putting in some antibiotic beads into the foot would help. However the bone is no longer strong enough. That leaves only amputation.
Rabbits typically adjust well to just three limbs, and if Dior was any other rabbit, I wouldn't stress about it. However, with her back injury, I'm not sure how well she will do. I do know that she will feel much better, since the foot looks terribly painful (she's already on 3 different pain medications).
Dior is a remarkable bunny. Up to this point, she has not let her back injury dampen her mood. She had figured out how to get around and was quite content with her situation (up until now). I can see a change in her mood - the foot bothers her. Even if she struggles to move or stand, she will at least feel better without the constant pain. I do joke with her vets that with the amputation, Dior should get a peg leg and a bunny-sized parrot. That way, she'll be ready to sail the high seas as a pirate.
I am still coordinating the details with her vets to see when the surgery can be done. It will probably be either this week or next.
I am keeping my fingers crossed for this special girl.
I'm sitting here, listening to my laptop make an awful rattling noise. I'm terrified it will die on me as I write this blog. OMG! I might have to resort trying to type this out on my phone.
So Dior's foot is not doing well. I knew she had an infection in the bone of her foot, and she's been on antibiotics for quite some time to try and tackle that problem. I had thought it was going well as the sore on her foot was healing and the skin was finally growing back.
Well the skin grew back - much to my delight - but the infection in her bone worsened, despite the medication. Her foot became swollen and painful. Dr. Gleeson cut open the foot and cleaned out the pus as best she could, but even after two weeks there is still swelling.
I've wanted to avoid amputation as much as possible. I've dealt with rabbits who needed to have a limb amputated, and they have done very well and I could see the difference in their attitude that the limb was just causing pain and they were happy to be rid of it.
Unfortunately, the way Dior has her foot tucked under her, her doctors and I knew that the issue of her hock wouldn't go away if the foot was removed. The pressure sore would just be further up her leg, making treatment harder. We wanted to try and heal her foot.
However, with the infection in her bone getting so much worse, amputation looks more like an immediate course of action, as we want to avoid sepsis. She will definitely feel better without that foot, but her vets and I will have to figure out what to do about the leg.
A cart will not work as you're not really supposed to have them in the cart 24/7, because it's really hard on the back. Also, I have carpet. The other alternative is a type of prosthesis, which I will need to discuss with her vets.
There is a lot to think about and consider, but I know she will feel much better without that foot. I will not feel good about that credit card charge, but what can I do? She's a very sweet girl and she deserves a good life.
Happy Holidays to you and your bunnies!
I hope you all are having a lovely, stress-free holiday season!
Recently, I was talking an old client and we were laughing about how a previous bunny of hers was very particular about her litter box. She had a box of hay, but she needed a separate litter box to do her business, and it had to be her particular little purple plastic container. If she did not have her purple box, she did not go to the bathroom.
A lot of our bunnies have their own eccentricities. Some bunnies will only eat a certain type of hay, and it better be the right color of green (or yellow). One of my friends insisted that her bunnies only ate the “crappy” hay (all yellow and burnt - I think it was barely a step up from straw). In working at a shelter that had boarding services, plenty of clients would bring in items they insisted their bunnies could not live without. They ranged from blankets to teddy bears to a brick.
Probably the strangest story was from a dear friend of mine who insisted that her bunny needed Charmin Ultrasoft toilet paper in her litter box. The litter box was in the bathroom and one day, the bunny reached up and tore off a chunk of toilet paper and left it in the corner of the litter box she used exclusively as a bathroom. On a hunch, my friend took a sizeable piece of the toilet paper, wrapped it several times around her hand and placed it in the corner. The bunny was ecstatic! In fact, if my friend was home, the bunny would jump out of the box and nudge my friend’s ankle to tell her that she was done and needed to replace the paper. My friend would carefully pick up the paper by the edges, flush it and put down a fresh piece.
The bunny was very particular. She watched the placement of the paper, and if my friend didn’t do something right, the bunny would stomp as if to say “Do it again!”. At one point, my friend ran out of Charmin Ultrasoft, and had to use something else. The bunny was so unhappy. Once it was purchased again, the bunny watched it being placed, sniffed it, realized it was her favorite toilet paper and binkied in delight.
The story was so weird, but kudos to my friend for going along with her bunny’s wishes. To her, the Charmin Ultrasoft request seemed completely reasonable. After her bunny passed, she adopted another bunny, who did not have a toilet paper demands. I remember her calling me up, totally confused that he did not have a particular preference where he pooped and pee’d in his litter box and that he actually slept in the litter box. I told her that she finally had a normal rabbit.
But honestly, we all know there is no such thing.
Welcome all to the last month of 2021! I'm not sure if that is a relief to you or not, but I hope this holiday season will be good to both you and your bunnies.
I always enjoy this time of year. It's cooler, and I can sleep with the window open and under a pile of blankets. There's hoards of cake and chocolate, and I usually receive several Starbucks gift cards to make sure I'm well caffeinated for the next month or so.
A lot of my friends and family are difficult to shop for, but I always love shopping for the bunnies. In fact, I actually finished shopping for them in September and I'm sure they'll be happy and entertained for at least 10 minutes.
Tomorrow, I am taking Dior and Zoe to the vet. Dior will have a recheck done on her foot. I changed her bandage today, and was please to see it looking good. Mind you, I'm placing so much wrap around her leg, I'm sure her foot feels like it's floating on a cloud. Once this heals, I'm sure she'll need some sort of bandage or sock for the rest of her life.
Zoe will be going in for her mobility issues. She seems OK for now, but I know the more proactive I am, the longer she'll be upright. She is still feeling good enough to remodel her cardboard house. She's created a nice back door complete with a bay window, where she can have a lovely view of the wall.
Winston got a new water bowl. I was tired of cleaning up the flood every time he tipped over his heavy ceramic bowl. I got one that screws into the pen. Unfortunately, that came with a metal bowl insert. Within a half hour, he picked up the insert and threw that around, soaking his pen again. He is lucky he is so adorable.
I have been slow with getting another article and newsletter out. I've been concentrating on getting the First Aid guide properly formatted and out. I'm also working on putting together an online course to concentrate on the best practices to keep your bunny healthy and happy. There will be more on this course in the next several weeks as I put together information and videos. I'm very excited about both and hope you all will find it helpful.
If you are interested in finding out more about the upcoming book and course, please sign up for alerts. Just click on the link and scroll down.
I hope all my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I had a wonderful quiet, boring and unremarkable day (just how I like it, lol!)
Last week, I talked a bit about how my baby-girl is starting to show her age. She spent two days lounging in the litter box and then felt good enough to move her lounging to the soft bed that she had been neglecting all week. Today, she is back to feeling not the best, but that's OK. She is going to have good days and not so good days.
Today was the first day I introduced her to pellet mush. It's the first time I've made it in about 8 months (since Eddie). I mixed the first batch with love as I remembered all the bunnies I've made this for in the past. I put in about a cup of Oxbow Adult pellets, a pouch of baby food (apple, blueberry and oats) and two bananas (really, I should have just put in one, but the other banana needed to be used ASAP).
Often, bunnies will not touch the mush at first. It looks weird and they're not used to it. Fortunately, Zoe has never met a type of food she didn't love immediately. She ate it like a champ!
I've made vet appointments for her, which will take place in the upcoming month. Hopefully, we'll see what exactly is going on and adjust or add medications as needed. Over the next several weeks, I will also have to adjust her living environment as needed.
This period of time is usually the most stressful as you are trying to adjust to the new normal. Observe the changes taking place and consult your vet. If this is your first time with dealing with an elder bun, it might help to think about how you deal with arthritis pain (or if you have a friend or family member). Does your bunny need something soft to lay in? Does your bunny need a lower litter box? If you are feeling achy, does a heating pad help?
There are several Facebook groups that focus on senior and/or disabled rabbits. You may even seek out a local rabbit rescue or talk with a friend, who has rabbits. I have several articles on senior and disabled bunnies that you may find helpful. As always, feel free to reach out to me via social media or email.
Hopefully, the best years are still yet to come.
I hope you and your bunnies are having a lovely November and getting ready for the holidays.
This weekend, I noticed Zoe was having trouble getting up and moving around. Zoe is well over 10.5-years-old, and she has really slowed down in the last few months. My firecracker baby girl is no longer interested in running around and trying to pick fights.
It's an unpleasant realization for me. I've been her bunny mom since her arrival at my home at 3 weeks-old. Intellectually, I knew this day would come, and I realize that there is more years behind her than in front of her, and yet, my heart is surprised and unhappy (because emotions are goofy that way).
Of course this is not my first time dealing with a bunny entering their senior years. There is definitely an adjustment, both in routine and mindset. Yesterday, I spoke to a dear friend of mine who too has had a lot of experience with dealing with senior and hard-luck bunnies.
We both agreed that there was something special about senior buns. There is a certain skill in taking care of these remarkable rabbits. It involves empathy, creativity and determination to rise to the challenge of giving these creatures the best quality of life in their remaining time. We want them to leave this life content and well-loved.
It's different from babies and adults. They have the ability entertain themselves and do their own thing. Senior (and disabled) bunnies need your love. The needs for each individual bunny are different. It challenges you to think outside the box, and it inspires you to do better each subsequent time you are called to the task.
Frequently, one of the top issues is movement. This can affect how well a bunny will use the litter box or reach down to get the cecals. The more a rabbit remains stationary, the more likely it is for the bunny to lose muscle mass (dropping weight quickly). A low litter box, soft bedding and supplement food and daily butt inspection becomes a necessity. Each bunny will have a slightly different routine and set-up, because each bunny is unique.
Regular vet visits (or just updating your vet via phone or email) is important, as medications may be added or adjusted as health needs change. If possible, visiting a physical therapist can help a rabbit feel more comfortable and possibly extend the time a bunny remains mobile.
These are things I need to start thinking about as Zoe displays more signs of getting old, but that's OK. Baby girl, I am ready for you.
I hope you and your bunnies are all well.
This past week I brought in Dior and Winston to see Dr. Gleeson at ACCESS Animal Hospital for a check up. The good news is Dior's foot is looking much better. This is because her entire foot - from the toes to half way up her leg - is wrapped in a giant bandage. It basically looks like I vet-wrapped a pillow around her foot. I'm cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately I've seen her foot make progress, only to regress, but I'm hoping the millionth time is the charm. As always, my fashion star is bright and perky. She loves her tent palace, treats and hay. She really seems like a happy and content little bunny.
Winston went in because his one year annual is coming up. He needed his vaccine booster. I wanted to know the status of his back injury and talk to the vet about the sludge showing up in his urine. The good news is that his back looks awesome! Yay! The not so awesome news is that his bladder has a fair amount of sludge in it.
In regards to Winston, there isn't a clear cause for the sludge. It might be genetics or related to his back injury (i.e. he doesn't empty his bladder completely). I have already reduced pellets and calcium rich veggies in his diet. I just need to give him more exercise time.
Since he is young and has ants-in-his-pants, he will be very happy to run, binky and create chaos. Since he has absolutely no litter box skills, I will have to think of a way to protect my carpet (and sanity) without causing significantly more work (cleaning up after him). He has aged out of diapers. He no longer fits in his X-S diapers, but he's much too small for the next size up.
Currently, I line my dining room with washable pee pads, but honestly, the amount of laundry is rather overwhelming. I am rethinking my plan, and considering just laying down a thick tarp down the hallway and wiping away any messes with some vinegar. I have not yet put this idea in action, but I don't see a downside (unless he chews a giant hole in the plastic which I wouldn't put past him).
I will keep you all updated on how this works.
I hope you are all doing well, and getting excited about the holidays coming up.
I recently read an article on the veterinary care crisis facing the nation right now. Finding a rabbit vet wasn't easy pre-COVID, but since the pandemic, getting timely care has been a challenge (to put it mildly). However, as the cases of COVID drops (fingers crossed it stays that way), it seems unlikely that the veterinary crisis will fade away anytime soon.
It's always been the case that rabbit owners should always be vigilant about their rabbit's health and be able to do some basic care, should their bunny stop eating. However, with the inability to find an available vet, that ability to be able to help your sick bunny at home has become a priority.
Now obviously, if your bunny is in crisis, there are things that only a vet can handle, and you should not hesitate to bring your bunny in. The key is to know what is something you can handle on your own and what requires professional attention.
On a recent post on Instagram, I mentioned that the most important thing to do during a GI stasis episode is to provide fluids and pain relief. Always. Don't skip either one.
There are other things that are important too, but are not always necessary. They include providing heat (or ice if body temperature is too high), Critical Care (or other supplemental food), motility drugs (such as reglan and cisapride), appetite stimulant (such as cyproheptadine), simethicone (which helps with gas).
It's also important to know your bunny. One of my friends had bunnies that went into GI stasis so often (due to stress), that she had a system to get them out of it. Was it the same system I use for my bunnies? It was similar, but not exactly the same, and that's because she knew her bunnies very well, and understood their quirks.
When I adopted my first rabbits and learned about GI stasis, I found the whole concept terrifying. I wasn't even sure what to do if my bunnies suddenly stopped eating. When I started working in rabbit rescue, I was quickly exposed to many different rabbits with various health issues. I learned how to spot a sick bun and what to do initially to help the bunny get better.
In my upcoming First Aid Guide for the Domestic Rabbit, I list a step-by-step process in how to deal with GI stasis at home. I also have a chapter on what constitutes an emergency and what can wait. It's important to realize that GI stasis is just a symptom. It's a signal that something is wrong. It might be something as simple as gas or it might be something more critical.
If you wish to be alerted the moment the book becomes available, please click on the link below and fill out the form below the article.
Happy Tuesday. I know, I know, I'm so late!
In short, my Monday really got away from me. I'm having fun meeting new people and grooming their rabbits (and of course, chatting it up with return clients). I also started volunteering again at the California Wildlife Center after a brief break. The orphan unit is closed for the season, but I'm working in the ICU unit and get to see some incredible animals (and feed them too - yuck!). I'm just hanging out there until baby season starts up again. (yay!)
In the meantime, I've been busy working with the formatting company to getting the First Aid Guide just right. It's definitely a process. Along side, we are also working on the cover design (which you may think should be straightforward - it's not).
I would like to give a date when it would be completed and ready to purchase. However, I've been wildly wrong about these things in the past, so I'll just say that it's being worked on and will be finished soon.
In other news, I'm still in the beginning stages of putting together an online course on rabbit care. I've asked several of my rabbit friends what they wished they had known before getting rabbits, when they first got rabbits, what they want to know NOW. Needless to say, I got a very long list.
Thankfully, the bunnies seem to be doing well. Dior sees Dr. Gleeson at ACCESS about every two weeks to have her foot checked. Dr. Gleeson seems pleased with the progress. I'll have to take her word for it, since I think the foot still looks nasty. Hopefully, Dior continues to improve though. Her foot cannot be comfortable. She is in great spirits though. I find it amazing how rabbits can be both delicate and tough at the same time. Dior definitely does not let her disabilities get in her way of doing the things she loves.
Anyway, I'm off to do more bunny things. I'm working hard to get more bunny information out to you! If you want to be alerted as soon as the First Aid guide is available, click on the link and scroll to the bottom to fill out the form. You'll be emailed the second it's available.
Hope you and your bunnies are doing well this very wet Monday.
Much of this week I'm busy with helping a friend out by looking after his zoo while he and his wife are out of town. Even though there is a rabbit in the mix of animals, I probably spend the most time fussing with the dog.
People have frequently asked whether dogs and rabbits can get along, and the answer is a complicated maybe. Many dog breeds have been developed to hunt either vermin or small prey. Some dog breeds (specifically the sighthounds), have been purposely bred to hunt rabbits and hares. Rabbits - even our pampered buns - have a strong sense of their vulnerabilities. They know they are prey, so the presence of a predator like a dog or cat are not welcome. In fact, some rabbits can get so stressed, that they die.
Are there dog breeds rabbit owners should just stay away from? I would stay away from dogs with high prey drives, so that would include sighthounds and terriers. However, the toy breeds can also be a problem. You don't want a dog that will stand in front of your bunny's pen and bark at it all day long.
However, there are exceptions to every rule, and it's always up to the individual dog and bunny. Some bunnies do not tolerate the presence of a dog and one shouldn't be forced on them. Some dogs will see a rabbit and want to kill it. These dogs should never be trusted to be around a rabbit, and I would highly advise against putting a rabbit in such a dangerous situation. Not only is it highly stressful for the rabbit, but it forces you to be perfect all the time. If that pen or gate isn't latched every time, a tragedy can quickly occur, which usually ends with the death of the rabbit.
Is it better to get a puppy and socialize and train it right from the beginning? Puppies are fun and energetic. However, you don't want the puppy to be so excited about your bunny that he tackles the rabbit in play. Broken backs and legs occur because bunny bones cannot tolerate rough puppy play. It's better to get an older dog (a senior is even better). It's also easier to tell what sort of prey drive an older dog truly has. The more inclined the dog is to sleep on the couch, the happier everyone will be.
In short, a dog/rabbit friendship is up to the individual dog and rabbit. However, keep in mind the dog's breed, age and prey drive to determine whether this is a good match.
I know, I know, 'Go away crazy lady! It's Monday'. I hope wherever you are in the world, you and your bunnies are having a good day.
I am super busy right now. The first aid guide is almost ready for publication. I'm just need to approve the formatting and design. I'm excited about this project, and I hope you will find this book to be invaluable.
I'm working on another project right now, which I hope will be ready early next year (fingers crossed!). I'll be releasing a digital course based on the first aid guide. I want to go over some of the details in the book, which might be harder to understand with just pictures (such as taking your bunny's temperature).
Since I am at the beginning stages of putting together this course, I want YOUR input. What would you want to see in this course? Do you need help with syringe feeding? Do you want to know more about GI stasis? Do you want a more detailed explanation regarding diet, housing and handling? The topic will mostly be around health, but if there is demand, I'll talk more about diet and housing.
Tell me what you most want to see! You can DM me in Facebook, Instagram, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to hearing from you!
I hope you all are having a nice October!
This week on Instagram, I reposted a piece about a bonding session I was doing a couple of years ago. I was trying to bond Panda with Cupcake and Sprinkles, and Joey with Zoe and Emma.
Was it successful? Not entirely. Could I have forced these bonds? Probably, but neither the bunnies or myself would have appreciated the effort. I am familiar with the personalities of my bunnies. Emma has a history of nipping her companions. She doesn't dare try that on Zoe, but Joey is pretty high-strung. Emma's constant nipping would’ve stressed him out. The purpose of creating a group is so everyone can snuggle together and have extra space and be happier. Excessively stressing one bunny out would have been counterproductive.
With Panda, I guessed Sprinkles was a one-bunny kind of bunny. He was content with one bunny friend (his brother) and that was that. Cupcake was more open-minded, but here again, I didn't want to spend my time watching the trio like a hawk and breaking up fights. As soon as I realized Sprinkles was just not open to Panda living in his space(despite being neighbors for years), I stopped. After Sprinkles died the following year, I was able to match Cupcake and Panda together fairly quickly.
Bonding is difficult because it involves using your intuition. The actual work of bonding requires you to control your space and invest time in the activity, but the actual judgement of who to match up, how to proceed and how long to persist with the work when the going gets tough involves what you feel about the bunnies in question.
Some bunnies just don't like each other. Some bunnies are just too stressed by the process of bonding. Some bunnies just need time to get used to the idea. Be aware that sometimes the combination just doesn't work. Does that mean you are a failure and need to exchange your pets for a rock collection? Of course not. Sometimes the personalities clash and you need to come to terms with the fact that you may have two (or more) separate pens in the house. Trust me, that is easier to deal with than weekly trips to the vet because one of your bunnies needs stitches.
Can bonding be made more difficult for other than personality differences? Sure. If one bunny is not feeling well, I can imagine this bunny is in no mood to make friends. If one bunny is new, he has to deal with a new environment, people, schedule, etc. There is added stress, if the bunny has come from a stressful situation. When you are taking in a new bunny, allow the newcomer some time to settle in, and have him live side-by-side with your current bunny.
Do you have more questions about bonding, or would you like to set up a bonding consultation? Check out my website or email me for more information!
I hope you all are having a great Monday.
This past week, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced their first two cases of rabbit deaths due to Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV2). The disease has already spread to the following states: Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, Georgia and Florida.
However, there was also a bit of good news this week. Medgene Labs, a US-based company, announced that they've received Emergency Use Authorization from the USDA for their new RHDV2 vaccine.
This vaccine is a recombinant vaccine, which means the vaccine uses specific RHDV2 proteins to build up a rabbit's immunity (science is a wonderful thing!). Many people have been hesitant about vaccinating their pet rabbits with the two current vaccines authorized for use in the US. The European Filavac and Eravac have been used for many years in Europe and elsewhere around the world, and it's very effective in protecting rabbits. However, these vaccines are derived from the liver of infected rabbits. This recombinant vaccine is not manufactured this way (although to prove effectiveness, rabbits were used as test subjects).
The vaccine requires 2 doses for full protection, and rabbits are fully protected 14 days after the second dose. As of today (10/4/21), the vaccine is available in these states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
If you are interested in getting your bunny vaccinated, please contact your veterinarian. If your vet wants more information, have your vet contact Medgene directly email@example.com