I want to ensure each and every person that reads this post, extracts the URGENCY of acting IMMEDIATELY and CORRECTLY if signs of malese are present in your bunny.... So please take a moment to
===== Know what to look for ======
======Uderstand what 'well', 'content' and 'happy' is for your bunny=======
======Learn why missing the signs can be lethal to your bunny =======
I do not write this to alarm or panic you, I want this message to reach far and wide so please share if you can and you will be helping to communicate the urgency of getting professional help at the earliest onset of your bunny becoming unwell.
1. THE SIGNS YOUR BUNNY IS POSSIBLY UNWELL
I am not a Vet, and do not offer any medical advise. I am however devoted to my furbabes and want to know if they are not feeling well. The list below indicates some of my personal experience that bunny may be unwell or uncomfortable, it is NOT a diagnostic tool for any specific illness.
Every bunny will show discomfort in their own way and certainly don't need to be showing even more than one of the listed signs to be suffering. They are prey animals and as so they hide their pain magnificently, it is good to have a base to work from, know what is happy and rested for your bunny, feel their tummy when they are well, this way you will know if there is a change at a later time, this may be your clue something is not right.
***** THESE ARE NOT ALL THE SIGNS so know YOUR bunny and ANYTHING out of the ordinary, is YOUR BUNNY"S SIGN)*****
*Bunny ears feel cold to the touch (when they should not ie other bunnies in the same area are not cold and room temperature is mild)
* Uncharacteristically Withdrawn / suddenly unsociable
* Bunny is posturing in a way that indicates discomfort
* Hunched over while sitting
*Grinding teeth (very loud)
*Shaking Head from side to side (more than just grooming action)
*Tripping over self when moving around, paws bending over on them selves (top of paw dragging on ground)
* Dragging hind quarters to the floor but snapping back to hunched position and may grind teeth again
*Dropping (not a flop) heavily to the floor with a huff, but snapping into other positions all of which do not look comfortable, or bunny can't sustain them for very long.
*Irritable especially toward bonded friends
*Refusing food (possibly flaring nostrils)
*Refusing Water (possibly flaring nostrils)
*Grunting and shifting heavily on the spot
*During hands on health checks or regular massages, when feeling over whole body and a) Gently feeling near bunny's rib cage you can feel their stomach and it is extended and very much like a turgid water balloon. b) any part of abdomen feel hard, bloated or 'different'
DO NOT PRESS hard against bunny or you could bruise or rupture internal organs as they are already under stress and putting heart and lungs under immense strain.
**In some of the examples above BUNNY IS IN GREAT DANGER OF SUDDEN DEATH SO ACTING FAST MAY BE YOUR ONLY CHANCE TO SAVE THEM**
2. ACT FAST- RING THE VET
*Grab your 'contact file' and familiarise yourself with your course of action. The very first thing is to call for assistance. Ideally this is a Rabbit Savvy Vet or Emergency Centre.
*Tell them precisely what signs you see - and in what specific ways bunny is acting differently from their normal character. It is better to have this conversation with a trained professional, than yourself. As if like me you are not trained in veterinary science you are not going to know what suddenly put bunny out of sorts (or even gradually over a period of time). It can be the difference of life or death making this call early. The best scenario is that bunny is not needed to attend a clinic (the professional will assess this over phone) and can be monitored at home and all is well, crisis over - phew! .... In this way, you will never feel like you should have, could have done more, if in fact it is an emergency.... all this for the cost of a phone call... so simple really.
3. FOLLOW THE VETS INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER
*Once you speak with the Vet they will advise you the best course of action.
* If an appointment is required, they will instruct you how best to manage bunny until your appointment.
So, Right now.... really, I do mean right now. Please print hard copies of this post and both of the BLOAT AND GI STASIS links below write on your own Emergency after hours contacts. So that you can store them all with your vet records in a safe but easily accessible and remembered place, should you not be able to access the internet during an emergency!!
Now, below I have two wonderful links on understanding common health issues that all bunny families should be familiar with....
Important Links to save to your favourites ( and print the relevent sections to keep in hardcopy ):
"GastroIntestinal Stasis: The Silent Killer" http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/ileus.html
"Bunny Lu Adoptions: Bloat" http://www.bunnylu.org/bloat.php
Now for last nights fright......
... Not every episode of bunny refusing to eat and or drink indicates GI Stasis .... it could be something else!!
Previously Sweetie underwent her Spay operation (a couple of weeks ago) and although initially she bounced back well (eating and toileting quickly post surgery) ... a week out, she suffered an infection at the wound site. Luckily the infection was on the surface only and is being managed by anti-biotics. Again all was going smashingly with her new beau, Prince Parker, until....
Yesterday all was well with my guys, happy and enthusiastic with their food, using their litter trays and enjoying life.... but then at approximately 8pm Sweetie showed subtle signs of not feeling 100%. The signs were subtle, the most obvious were refusing her greens, hunching over and grunting at Prince... I immediately began my health checks and noticed that her ears were cool to the touch (Prince was warm) and her nostrils were flaring.
Where we live the Vets are all closed (being a Sunday evening) and I know that a Bunny Savvy Vet is not usually on standby, I began home treatment for upset digestive issues. (massage/soft music/syringe water/offering hay etc) as Sweetie has had these signs before and the above technique has always worked quickly returning to her normal happy self. I gave it a go. She would only tolerate the massage. She would not eat/drink and I did not force her. She'd only just used the litter tray and eaten less than an hour before.
But by 11pm I realised this was very different to what I thought was Stasis. It was not gradual... it was immediate!
Sweetie became cold (including the back of her neck) - her eyes were glazed and she was not responding when I spoke to her. Like she was in a trance. She was panting and making a soft grunting sound non-stop. She stretched on her side and was very vocal.
At this point I contacted a very knowledgeable and Bunny Savvy friend, Kate for reassurance and help (if there was anything more I could do that I was not already doing). I was in shock by what I was seeing happen to my Sweetie. My greatest fear was that Sweetie would not make it till the morning. She was in shock, I don't think she would have even survived the stress of a car ride. My primary focus was to warm her and administer pain relief (as she has recently been spayed I had supply and correct dosages). I also had medication to assist in discomfort of gas (bloat) and a my (back) massager that has a heat pad in it. The massager has a gentle vibration which in conjunction with the medication and heat all help to disperse a build up of gas. ( but even a electric razor (blade removed), toothbrush, clippers etc would all work placed under bunny).
So I made up a station on my bench. Massager on base, then towels and her soft bed ontop. I continued to massage and coo softly (we have music she likes playing in background) for the next 3 hours. Prince Parker is beside himself with worry for his Princess, so I let him visit a few times, she grunts when he approaches, so I make a bed up for Parker close but not in contact with Sweetie, he seems content with this. It is now after 3am and I am see some subtle signs of improvement. She has warmed, she has groomed her front paws (and me bless her) and she has taken 1ml water by syringe.
At this time the massager has stopped working (not designed to go for so long). It needs a rest. So do I, but that will have to wait. Next thing Willow (cat) leaps up onto the bench and sniffs Sweetie, Sweetie is not bothered by her kitty sister and welcomes her closer. This is another positive sign for me. What they do next, totally amazes me and if I did not have photographic proof, I don't think you would even believe me....
(sorry for the poor image quality - but we were in the dark and I did not want to disturb them)
Willow snuggled up along side Sweetie. Purring really, really loudly! I had a tear and a chuckle at this moment. Willow was being her 'massage bed' ... she was 'vibrating' and heating her little bunny sister up. Sweetie suddenly 'melted' down into the bed... I held my breath thinking, this is it. Willow has come to farewell her bunny sister. She was not going to survive... all the really bad things that could be racing through my head... But instead, Sweetie let out the biggest tummy gurgle! At this point she sat up and grabbed a piece of hay, and began eating!!! Just like that! It was after 4am, I wanted to shout with joy, but opted for the silent happy dance instead.
So from this experience, I can tell you, BLOAT is super scary stuff!! Sweetie is the strongest little pixie, sprite I have ever met and I don't think I could love my little Willow-pillow any more if I tried! Oh and Prince Parker... is sooo sooo cute.
Crisis over, my head hit the pillow at 5.45am, 6.15am I was up getting ready for the school run!
|Sweetie lowers her head - asking her Prince for a kiss|
|Already by the next morning Sweetie can bend forward to groom herself. Due to pain, she was not able to do this the night before.|
First thing once the Vets opened, I called with our nights events and the lovely vet advised that she did not need to see Sweetie, because of her complete turn around, healthy amount of poop in the litter tray, appetite back and drinking well. She did say that it could have been a build up of gad due to her course of antibiotics or that something may have obstructed the narrow exit of her stomach, but shifted on it's own. She congratulated me as had I not been prepared or acted quickly including contacting Kate (my bunny savvy friend), then Sweetie would most likely not have made it through the night.
|Sweetie wondering what all the fuss is about!!|
|One last kiss for her Prince Parker.|
|Sweetie's beau, Prince Parker and me.|