Throughout the month of September we were dealing with on and off stomach issues with Tigger. She would be on and off her diet and need gas meds, pain meds, and force feedings of Oxbow Critical Care at times and syringed water. On the 24th, we wrote that she seemed to have turned the corner. Since then she has continued to improve and the picture shows that improvement.
With bunnies, we have learned that subtle behavior changes can signal their health issues more clearly if you watch them closely. When Shadow spends a lot of time cleaning his ears or has one ear up, one ear down, we know it is time to have the vet take a look at his ears for an inner or outer ear problem.
With Tigger, a clear signal that her tummy is fine can be seen in this photo. She is kicked back with her back legs stretched out and is lying full-out on her stomach out in the open. When she starts pulling her legs underneath her and looking like a bunny hen all the time, she is starting to have some issues and doesn’t want to lay on her stomach. Especially if she does that in places where it isn’t easy to reach her, we know she needs some help.
Our key to keeping our bunnies going throughout their ten and half years is keeping a close eye on their behavior, knowing quite well what is and is not normal for them. We have learned to recognize the small changes in their daily activity that can be signals of changes in their health. Since both bunnies are elderly now, we keep a closer watch on them now than we did when they were younger and act more quickly if it seems something isn’t right.
Being able to have more pictures like this makes life so sweet.
We have known Acorn and his mom all of his ten years. He has been a very healthy bunny, but is now sick and needing a number of medications and some extra feedings of Oxbow Critical Care. His mom called today for some advice on how to do the syringe feedings to get more of the food into Acorn.
After talking with Acorn’s mom and emailing her a link, I realized this would be something good to let more people know about. The first thing you may want to try if you need to force feed your rabbit is to see if you can take the force out of the equation. It is always better if the bunny feeds themself. I came across these recipes, http://rabbit.org/care/recipes.html, on the House Rabbit Society website.
They feature pellets ground in a coffee grinder which works if you don’t have access to Oxbow’s Critical Care. If you have the Critical Care for a sick rabbit, use that in place of the ground pellets. The Critical Care is specially formulated to have lots of good stuff to assist rabbits nutritionally who are ill.
I suggested trying the Banana Pellet Balls first to see if Acorn would voluntarily consume his Critical Care which would make things less stressful for everyone. Either the Pellet Balls or the pumpkin mix in a bowl can be offered first to a bunny to see if they will eat without having to be force-fed by syringe. Shadow will sometimes eat a Critical Care mixture on his own but our Princess Tigger never volunteers for anything, ever.
One thing that was really hard for us early on was finding all the supplies we needed for Tigger and Shadow. Although we are in metro Atlanta, many of the good products for rabbits weren’t carried by any distributors in Georgia. We had to have nearly everything for them shipped in.
Ordering delivered direct had issues, like huge shipping costs. I was always scouting for the online store that was located the closest so that it would have the lowest UPS / FedEx / US postal shipping costs. It was frustrating at times to have the shipping be equal to or more than the items I needed. It was also tricky at times to balance the amount of shipping time needed versus when things were running out.
Doctors Foster and Smith have come along way in the ten years of Tigger and Shadow. At the start, they were mostly dog and cat. Now they have lots of small animal products and all the things ours love best like Oxbow products, Peter’s grass products, treats, toys and lots of other stuff.
Shipping has been $5.99 per order which is a dream and I see they have it listed on the site as free shipping for orders $49 dollars or more. They have a catered pet program. You call to sign up for regular delivery of products direct to your door. You create your menu which can be different items, quantities, and schedules. Every 10th shipment is on them!
I think it is time for me to order some pellets, hay, papaya tablets, treats and some grass mats! I think it is also time to get myself an organized shopping list and sign up for the catered pet program.
Heh, heh ... I'm gonna eat Shadow's food and drink his water!
This morning Tigger is still getting extra syringe feedings and water along with meds for gas and pain. At first she wasn’t really very interested in much I offered her to eat for a self fed breakfast. I was trying to give her a tummy rub when she decided to show me she had a lot more energy than yesterday and shot out of her cage and took off running around the room.
We have the stairs blocked at the moment so that she can’t go running up or down while she is still weaker than usual and more likely to trip. She and Shadow both started begging to go downstairs to the kitchen. When I said no, Tigger jumped on Shadow’s head and a humping away she went. I decided to let Shadow escape her and let him go down to the kitchen.
When Tigger settled down again, she decided to move in to Shadow’s cage. It is typical Tigger to take over his cage without an invitation and make herself free with his hay, pellets, water and litter box facilities. In this case, I am quite happy to see her do it if it means she is eating and drinking voluntarily.
She ate some pellets and hay, drank some water, and now is alternating between napping in his cage and gnawing his chew ring. Life is so sweet stealing the other bunny’s stuff.
This is going to be a short post today. We are taking care of a sick Tigger. This past year she has had a number of times she just seems to shut down and stops drinking and eating without warning, often after really active days. Numerous vet visits haven’t identified a definitive cause. She has received treatment for a number of possible causes. We now have a supply of Oxbow Critical Care and pain meds on hand for times when the trip to the vet isn’t possible, like evenings, weekends and holidays. Since Tigger is 10 years old, this may be part of the aging process for her.
We are providing supportive care, giving syringe feedings and water. She is eating her favorite parsley and occasionally some hay. We have her on pain medicine and are keeping her warm, clean, dry and well-loved.
Taking care of a senior bunny is tricky because so many factors can change as their bodies age, requiring changes in their care and environment. The House Rabbit Society has an excellent article on many things to be aware of: Living With An Elder Bun.
This has been a rough week. Tigger sometimes has tummy issues where she is a little off and gassy. However, last Sunday, she went more than a little bit off and towards serious stasis.
A vet visit brought us home with lots of meds, a four page set of instructions and a lot of dread. We have been through this before with her last August and almost lost her.
It has been a stressful and tiring week, fighting for a bunny and with a bunny to get meds and food and water into her, then watching for bunny poops. We have kept her moving and thankfully at this point have her eating again, running around and have some poops coming back.
Later today, I will have more on nursing a bunny through stasis.