Archive for the ‘Useful Stuff’ Category

GI Stasis in Rabbits – A Bunny Slave’s Guide

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

 
GI stasis is a health emergency that all rabbit owners should know about. So what exactly IS GI stasis, and how do we prevent it in our rabbits? And how is GI stasis treated if your rabbit develops IT? Well, fellow bunny lovers, here’s GOOD INFORMATION for you to know!
 
What is GI stasis?
GI stasis is a condition that in which gut motility (peristalsis) decreases or stops all together.
 
What causes GI stasis?
A number of things can cause GI stasis. Stress, pain, dehydration, intestinal blockage, or improper diet can cause the condition.
 
How can you prevent GI stasis?
Make sure your rabbit is receiving a proper diet that is high in fiber. This means a small amount of timothy hay-based pellets for adult rabbits (dependent on weight), fresh, bunny-safe vegetables (red or green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, cilantro, parsley, etc.) and LOTS of hay. Hay should make up the majority of a rabbit’s diet, so make sure that your rabbit is getting his or her fill! There are plenty of types of hay that bunnies can eat, so if your rabbit doesn’t like one variety, try another!  Some options to try are timothy, orchard grass, oat, or botanical hays. Alfalfa hay isn’t a healthy option for adult rabbits, so make sure you’re reading the label on your hay bag! Also, keep the number of treats that you feed to a minimum, and only use healthy options, like small pieces of fresh or dried fruit, or treats specifically formulated for rabbits. That means NO yogurt treats, or excessive amounts of sugary foods – keep those bananas and craisins to a minimum. WE know it’s easy to spoil your bun, but make sure it’s only in moderation!
Bunnies need exercise! Not only is this great for your rabbit’s health, but it’ll help keep his gut motility going strong. Rabbits should be housed in a 4′x4′ pen, MINIMUM, and should receive at least 4 hours of exercise outside of their enclosure daily.

Groom your rabbit frequently, especially during molting or if you have a longhaired breed. Cutting down on excess hair (which rabbits groom off and will ingest) will reduce the chance of buildup within the intestinal tract. Hair in the intestinal tract is normal in rabbits, and is usually only a problem if the rabbit becomes dehydrated or already has stasis, as the hair, food, and feces in the gut becomes a hardened mass that is difficult to pass. But grooming is always a good idea – better safe than sorry!
Keep fresh water available at all times so that your rabbit doesn’t become dehydrated. If you feel your rabbit isn’t drinking enough water, maybe change the container (from a bottle to a dish, or vice versa).

What are the symptoms of GI stasis?

  • Lethargy or a lack of normal activity
  • Teeth chattering or grinding – an indicator of pain
  • Malformed feces – smaller pellets
  • No feces for a period of 8-12 hours
  • Anorexia – not eating for a period of 8-12 hours, even when offered treats or favorite foods
  • Hunched or rounded posture

How is GI stasis treated?
If you are EVER worried that your rabbit may have stasis, even in the slightest, take him or her to a qualified exotics or bunny-savvy veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Stasis can rapidly turn fatal, and it is truly an emergency. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, and will often do abdominal radiographs (xrays) in order to determine if there is an obstruction and/or gas present in the intestinal tract. Your rabbit will be placed on IV fluids to increase hydration, motility drugs, and pain medications. Your veterinarian may also draw blood for a CBC/Chemistry panel to determine if any systemic abnormalities are causing the problem. Your bun may have to be hospitalized, and even be syringe fed to receive critical nutrition (often Critical Care/pumpkin mix) and initiate gut movement. Abdominal massage may also be helpful in relieving discomfort and promoting motility.
 
So that’s the rundown of GI stasis, friends! Keep a close eye on your bun, and make sure you’re being the best bunny slave you can be by providing the proper nutrition, exercise, grooming, and attention!

Hot Bunnies! How to keep you Rabbit Cool in the Summer

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Now that summer has officially begun, I thought I’d write a post about how to keep your precious bunnies cool in this hot weather.
 
For your bunny to be safest and live longest, domestic rabbits should be kept indoors, period. They are highly susceptible to heat extremes and stress, which can rapidly cause death. Keeping your rabbit in your home is also the best way for them to relax and bond with your family. You’ll also be able to tell quickly if there are any other health issues you might miss if your bun lives outdoors.  So what are some ways to keep your home cool and comfortable for your fur-baby?

  • Make sure your home is an acceptable temperature for your rabbit. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for someone with a fur coat on! Use your air conditioner or fans to keep your home cool.
  • Your rabbit’s pen needs to be out of direct sunlight, so be sure to determine how much sunlight is streaming through the windows in the rabbit’s main area.
  • Place a fan directly near your rabbit’s area or in his or her room. Make sure the cord is in a bunny-proofed position! You can even place damp towels on the side of your rabbit’s pen and let the fan blow through them; this will create cooler air.
  • Frozen water bottles are a cheap and easy addition to your rabbit’s room. Wrap them in towels and place them in prime lounging territory – some buns love lying next to them to keep cool.
  • Bowls or tubs of ice can provide some relief from the heat, as well as another way for your rabbit to stay hydrated.
  • Ceramic tiles or small slabs of marble are great for making a cool spot for you bun to lie on.
  • Always keep your rabbit well-groomed to remove excess hair. If you have a long-haired rabbit, getting them a shorter “summer cut” may be a good option to help keep them cooler.
  • Rabbits should always have plenty of fresh, bun-safe veggies. Rinse them well with cool water before giving them to your bunny; this will help keep them hydrated.
  • If your rabbit will tolerate it, you can mist his or her ears with a spray bottle. A lot of heat dissipates through the ears, and misting them will help cool the blood.

Signs of Heat Stroke or Stress in Rabbits

  • Increased respiration rate (fast breathing)
  • Breathing with an open mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Warm or hot ears; redness of the ears
  • Drooling or moisture around the muzzle area
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to drink water for extended periods of time
  • Convulsions
  • Confused behavior

What should you do if you think your rabbit has heat stroke?

  • Take your rabbit to a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Rabbits are highly sensitive to heat stroke, and they require immediate attention.
  • Mist your rabbit’s ears with cool water, and wrap their body in a cool, damp towel. DO NOT SUBMERSE YOUR RABBIT IN COLD WATER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
  • On the way to the veterinarian, make sure your car air conditioner is on and the car is as cool as possible.

Remember, though, that summer time can also be a fun time for your bunny, because trips outdoors are possible! If you would like to give your rabbit time to play outdoors, make sure they are in a secure space (i.e. exercise pen) that is safe from predators, toxic plants, and stressful noises. Make sure the top of the pen is covered to protect him/her from predators, and keep the pen in the shade. Supervise your bun at all times when he or she is outdoors, and always provide fresh water. It’s ok to let your rabbit munch on grass and dandelions when in your yard, but they need to be pesticide and poison-free.
 
Have a happy, and safe, bunny-filled summer!

- Emily, Veterinary Student and Bunny Blogger

iGive: One Million Buttons For Change

Monday, October 31st, 2011
This guy is already in costume!

This guy is already in costume!

Whew!  It’s been a while since this blog has seen any updates!  Running a volunteer organization, it’s like herding cats.  Or cranky bunnies.  You know how it is.  The holiday season is coming up (hello, happy halloween!  any good rabbit jack o’lanterns or costumes?)  Which brings me to this iGive promotion for the next few weeks: if you haven’t used iGive before, and you download this iGive button and use it for a few months (3), and SaveABunny will get $5!  Or even $10 if you pick us as your cause!  I downloaded it for Safari on my Mac, and it’s actually a very unobtrusive button, with only the little seed-pod (or upside-down umbrella?) iGive logo, which is actually kind of cute.

See you at Doc’s Clock!

SaveABunny Website Major Redesign

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Introducing the new saveabunny.org!

the new saveabunny.org!

At long last!  The SaveABunny Redesign Project began over a year ago and involved a lot of long nights and effort from many parties.  I think it’s a fantastic improvement and I hope you’ll find it a fitting update.  Thanks to Anthony for his assistance in design, and to Joann, Jean and Nola for proofreading assistance.  And thanks as always to Marcy and Rob for always working so hard to save these bunnies, like my beautiful Frogger.

Please feel free to comment on this post about any suggestions or bugs that you find!

-Lisa (webmaster)

501c3. It’s more than just a number. Er, more than just a number with a letter in it.

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Last week SaveABunny was approved for 501c3 nonprofit status.  What this means for you is that any donation you make is now tax-deductible! Just in case you don’t know (I didn’t!), here’s how it works:

You donate something. Let’s say, for example, $30 to help sponsor Dulciana, an adorable special-needs bunny with a head-tilt:

Of course we would all be perfectly content just knowing that our $30 is going to a good cause. We don’t need anything back! It’s called giving for a reason! But thanks to those four little numbers (and one letter!), the kindness of our hearts has a little extra incentive.

Come tax season, you can subtract that $30 from your taxable income. Let’s say you made $29,687 last year – thanks to your donation, the government will now only tax you on $29,657. Of course $30 won’t exactly save you bridge fare, but a large enough donation can drop you right into a lower tax bracket. And if you can donate a few times a year, it really adds up.

So not only do you save money, but Dulciana gets the funds she needs to live a better life!

And it’s not just cash that’s tax-deductible. Gifts are, too! Any item from our Wishlist is a great place to start.

We’re all super excited about our new status here at SaveABunny, and we hope you are too! Come by and celebrate with us at the SaveABunny Bake Sale next month:

SAVE A BUNNY BAKE SALE
Saturday, April 11, 2009
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

In Front of Bank Of America on 18th & Castro Street, San Francisco

- Bring your appetites!
- Bring your baked goods!
- Bring your generous donations!

Your wonderful support will help rescued rabbits find caring guardians and loving homes. Please note, baked goods and donations can be dropped off prior to the event.

It should really be, “Get neutered like rabbits.”

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

You’ve heard the phrase “breed like rabbits”. It’s not exactly a good thing. In fact at SaveABunny, we know just how counter-productive a rabbit’s skill at reproduction can be – we save the cute, yet unwanted consequences from shelters every day. This is the main reason we neuter all our rescues, and recommend neutering for all pet rabbits. But there are other reasons, too – ones that other kinds of pet owners don’t have to worry about.

When I got my first rabbit, Ellis, from SaveABunny a few months ago, he was already nuetered – and he’s extremely well-behaved. Of course, I didn’t have anything to compare him to until I got my second bunny, Linda. She was just starting that obnoxious teenage phase when I got her, hormones raging. As social animals, rabbits go through developmental stages similar to the way dogs do, and if you’ve ever had an adolescent puppy (which I did, briefly,) you’ll understand how hard it is to train a young rabbit.

Let’s just say I’ve gone through a lot of stain remover since I got her. I’ll admit I’ve also been kind of lazy about following the training guide and doing it properly. But I got her right before Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season just makes me want to hide away in a dark closet and drink. No excuse though. I’m just a mediocre bunny-keeper. But the point is that rabbits are harder to litterbox train before they get neutered no matter how mediocre or determined you are.

Plus, female rabbits have a distressing tendency to get cancer if they’re not neutered. It’s the downside of that amazing ability to produce offspring.

Linda finally had her spay appointment yesterday, which means 1. I’m really excited to see if she’s easier to train now, and 2. I can tell you how it went so you’re prepared when you take your bunny in. Girl bunny, of course. Can’t tell ya how it went with Ellis, cause I didn’t know him then.

Firstly, the vet asked me to stop feeding her at 10 the night before. I then totally forgot to take the hay out of her pen and when I came out in the morning, she was munching away. After some cursing, I called the vet to see if it would be ok, and she said they could just do her last and it would be fine.

UPDATE: As it turns out, rabbits should NOT be fasted before surgery. If your vet, (or veterinary assistant, in my case,) tells you to fast your rabbit, it would be a really good idea to let them know, and maybe start looking for a new vet. Thanks to our readers for commenting on this and letting us know! But back to the story.

So I dropped her off, declined the vet’s offer to tell me exactly what they were going to do to her in the procedure (sorry, in retrospect it would have been nice for this blog, but I hadn’t eaten yet, and I’m not super functional mentally before 11), and went to work. They called me after lunch to tell me it had gone well and that she was fine. Yay!

When I picked her up after work, they gave me some pain meds for her and said to make sure she is eating and pooping.

Eating: check.

Pooping: check.

Pain meds: What the – they sort of look like syringes but they’re oral? I was pretty certain these were a terrible idea and she would never go for it, but apparently metacam is delicious and giving it to her was really easy.

The only real problem was that when I brought her home, Ellis decided she was no longer cool enough to be his friend now that she was missing an internal organ, and started chasing her around and biting her. Soooo yeah. Had to keep them separated for a few days. They’re mostly friends again now though. Note to self: take advice of blog comments! I should have stuffed him in the carrier with her and made him spend the day at the vet, too, then at least they would both smell equally funny to each other.

So, Linda is doing well, she has a funny shaved spot on her belly and a big ugly scar, but time is especially good at healing those kinds of wounds. I’ll let you know if her manners improve.

One last thing though. At SaveABunny, we spay and neuter all of our rescues, and that bill adds up fast. Really fast. But by doing it, we help make sure shelters everywhere end up less crowded. We have a whole slew of new rabbits that we’re scheduling appointments for, so if you can help out, please donate! Even small amounts make a big difference. Thanks!