Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bunny Care – Obstruction of Justice

Well, obstruction of the intestinal system just didn’t sound as catchy.

Ethel is staying with the vet. He is even taking her home at night to continue to hydrate her and give her meds. I didn’t like the way she looked late Monday night … just a feeling that her behavior was “off”. The next morning, the alarm bells went off when I first saw her – she was lying in the litter/hay box, did not run out when I opened their pen, and was not responding to calls, offers of treats or food.

This is a really dangerous thing that can happen to bunnies. Here is my layman’s take on some bunny care health issues:
- Bunny digestive systems are much like horses. 80-85% of bunny diet should be fresh hay.
- Bunnies can’t regurgitate (vomit, puke, barf, bart, boot, ralph, earl, hurl, spew, throw up, toss, upchuck, call Ralph on the great white telephone, bow down to the white porcelain altar … why do we have so many terms for this??? I am sure I left out plenty.)
- Obstructions can be caused by, for example, hairballs. But unlike cats, bunnies can not [insert your choice term here]! (C’mon – you can’t have forgotten that fast – look at the point above.)
- Bunnies are prey animals (eyes on the side of the head). After eons of evolution, they have caught on that the predators target the weak.

So, even when they feel sick, they will use every last ounce of energy to look “marvelous”. They may be jumping around, trying to keep up with their bunny buddies … then crash and burn.

Pay attention to your bunny's behavior, for example, if s/he: lies down and stays that way (maybe in the litter/hay box), stops eating, doesn’t play with the other buns, doesn’t run around in usual behavior patterns (like coming when you call or offer treats, ignores the food dish when you put out fresh food at mealtime) -- then get your bun to the vet ASAP.

Another sign of obstruction is when they stop pooping. This may be harder to tell if you have multiple bunnies. Easier if you have one with a clean environment.

If these symptoms appear, you may not have long to save your bunny. Consider this – literally – a life or death situation. It is.

Some more bunny care tips:
1. To help you recognize if something may be wrong with your bun, give them a daily body “rub”. Get use to what it feels like so you can tell if something is off.
2. Make sure they always have unrestricted access to a lot of fresh hay.
3. Always have plenty of fresh, cool water available.
4. Brush your bunnies with a proper brush (not too stiff such that it hurts their skin).

In spite of great care, stuff can happen. We hope Ethel is home soon. Please think happy, healthy bunny thoughts for her.

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