Tuesday, 21 August 2012

MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE SILENT KILLER.

Gastro-intestinal stasis has been called "the silent killer" by various knowledgeable veterinarians during the past twenty years. Since rabbits hide their illnesses well, inattentive caretakers could miss the signs until it's too late.

Being forewarned by rabbit-owning friends, I took immediate action when my bunny's droppings became small and he stopped eating. Since there was a vet about ten blocks away from me, and the weather was beautiful, I walked to the clinic with Gideon in his carrier. As I strolled, I tried keeping it in my shadow as much as possible so the poor guy wouldn't overheat.

I felt glad when the doctor said it was only a gut slow down and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic called Baytril. It was in liquid form and the vet wrote on the prescription that it should be in individual syringes so I wouldn't have to measure out doses.

I'm ashamed to admit this but I somehow became confused about administering the drug. The needles were left on the syringes by the pharmacist so I assumed I had to give the medicine subcutaneously. Since my sight is very poor, and I didn't want to risk hurting my fur-clad lad, I took Gideon back to the vets and had an assistant inject it.

The next day, my friend Bernie (who was a vet's assistant herself) came over to help me with the injection.

"Are you sure you were supposed to give this subcutaneously?" she asked as she examined the needles. When I repeated to her what I'd apparently been told, she put a drop of the medicine on her index finger and tasted it.

"Its sweet," she announced. "I don't think you were supposed to inject him with this."

That made things a lot easier for me since I knew how to give Gideon medicine in his mouth. Rabbits have a gap between the front teeth and the molars, allowing the tip of the syringe to fit nicely between them. I'd also read that I shouldn't squirt all the medicine in his mouth at once or he could choke on it.

Bernie used pliers to remove the needles and then she gave Gideon his daily dose orally.

In my When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies book, I wrote about this and many other times when I had my bunnies at the vet's. The paperback is also filled with vignettes of what I learned from my long-eared friends. You can read more on my book page.

Additionally, please visit The House Rabbit Society site for everything you need to know about bunny care.