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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jenner

Bunny health tips & tricks

First Aid Kit
Here are a few items that are great to have on hand in an emergency first aid kit! (per ARBA, 2023):
Antibiotics: PPG (Penicillin-Procaine G), Terramycin ophthalmic ointment (oxytetracycline with polymixin B), Terramycin soluble powder (oxytetracycline)
Anthelmintics (Anti-parasites): Ivermectin, Fenbendazole, Corid, Piperazine, VetRX
Anticoagulants (bleeding nails): Kwik Stop (Styptic), corn starch
Bandages: Gauze pads, vetwrap, ace bandage
Critical Care: Sub-Q (subcutaneous) fluids (LRS, Plasmalyte, 0.9% NaCl), Oxbow Critical Care (Apple & Banana Flavour), Rabbit Nutri Drops, Acid Pack 4-Way, Fast Track, Probios (powder for animals)
Hypodermic needles & Syringes: 22 gauge for injections, 20 gauge for SQ fluids
Healing: Silver Sulfadiazene, Preparation H
Teeth & Nails: Toenail clippers, wire cutters

Pictured: A few different products that are in the list above. May differ in look by region/location/availability ​
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Health - It is always good idea to take your bunny to the vet for routine check-ups and keep a close eye on your bunny's health.
Diarrhea - Diarrhea can be very critical in a rabbit's health. It is possible for rabbits to get diarrhea when transitioning to their new home, make sure that you keep them with their transitioning food, and allow them to be quiet and get used to their surroundings before handling often, as this may be stressful. If they have had diarrhea longer than 24 hours, consult a vet as soon as possible.
Cecotropes - Cecotropes are nutrient packed, dietary poops that are essential for the rabbit's health. They are clusters of wet-looking poop and can be anything from a cm to a couple inches long! Rabbits typically produce these overnight, and eat them for more more nutrients, protein and vitamins that their regular poop do not have. Most of the time, rabbits eat them straight as they come out, however, you may find some in the morning. No need to be alarmed if you find these, as they are not dangerous. A diet that may be too high in carbohydrates, protein, or sugar can upset the balance of bacteria in the caecum causing the production of too many cecotropes. The rabbit ignores these extra dropping as they contain unneeded nutrients and they become stuck in the fur or squished on the floor instead.
Do NOT bathe your rabbit! Instead, wipe them down with pet wipes or if they have a dirty bottom or are very messy, get a damp, warm wash cloth and gently remove the soiled bits as it will come off. Make sure that you properly dry them before putting them back in their cage.
Worms - Pinworms, tapeworms, flukes and coccidia are common intestinal parasites that domestic rabbits can be infected with. Per ARBA, when pinworms are present, piperazine can be mixed in the water at livestock dosages, and the whole herd should be treated. This should be done once a week for 3 weeks.

Coccidia - Coccidia is a parasite that can only be confirmed via microscopic examination with a veterinarian and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Some visual symptoms of Coxi may be soft/mushy fecal pellets, lethargy, weakness, lack of appetite and/or weight loss, but may not always show or appear. ARBA recommends to routinely practice using coccidiostats in your rabbit(s) as symptoms are very vague. The most commonly used medication is Corid, commonly used for poultry, and can be used at a dose of 0.5cc/500mL(17oz) of water. It is recommended for the rabbits to be treated for at least 5 days (ARBA, 2023).
Mites/Fleas - Mites and fleas are other parasites that domesticated rabbits may come across. Mites burrow through the skin and hair causing large flakes of dandruff to come off the rabbit. It is most common to occur on the nape or on the back of their neck. Per ARBA, use Ivermectin 1% at a dose of 0.02cc/1lb of body weight given orally or subcutaneously (though I recommend just at the nape of their neck). Treat two weeks after first dose to ensure mites are gone.
For fleas/ticks, it is recommended to use kitten revolution and/or rub diatomaceous earth (food grade) all in the fur.
Nails - If your rabbit does not have the opportunity to wear their nails down naturally, you must take them to get their nails trimmed or do them yourself. (This can be a simple task for some, but may be a two-person job for others - just make sure not to over stress or hurt your bun). You could try cheese cloth or another type of material that pokes the rabbit’s nails through for easier access to snip the tips.
Teeth - A rabbit's two front teeth (incisors) continue to grow throughout their life. Overgrown teeth must be consulted and may have to be operated on by a veterinarian surgeon, or they may not be able to eat and may cause other health issues. Try to avoid this by providing toys, chews or treats. Even providing a "gnawing block" made out of wood. However, be careful on what types of woods you give your rabbit as many types are toxic or harmful for them.
GI Stasis - GI Stasis is when a rabbit gets extremely unwell (without parasitic causes). They often look bloated, pass little to no stool, stop eating and look very poorly. They may display many other symptoms. It is extremely important to know the early symptoms of GI stasis as it is a very dangerous situation in rabbits and may lead to death. A rabbits digestive system can stop moving for a number of reasons, including dehydration, incorrect feedings or nutrients provided, stress, or pain from another underlying illness or disorder. Your bunny can be perfectly healthy one night, then in the morning may need to be rushed to an emergency clinic. I always suggest to have Oxbow Critical Care for Herbivores on hand (apple-banana flavour is typically preferred).
Sometimes when babies are going through their weaning stages, they may get "weaning enteritis" and can be a very difficult situation to recover from, but we always do our best on helping them recover and get through it.
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Sore hocks - Sore hocks occur when there is improper housing for the rabbit in a wired enclosure. These are inflamed and ulcerative areas of the hock (back of the foot, leg or ankle that they rest on). They typically occur in the bigger breeds (heavier than 6lbs) more so than the smaller breeds, but should always be protected and kept an eye on if kept in wire cages no matter the breed. Providing resting pads or places to rest will help prevent sitting directly on wire for long periods of time that can help prevent cause them.

References
ARBA (2023). FAQ. Retrieved from https://arba.net/faqs/

Betty's Bunnies. (n.d). Self.

Additional References

ARBA (2019). ARBA Recommendations for the Care of Rabbits and Cavies. Retrieved from https://arba.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/rabbit-care-recommendations.pdf

ARBA (2019). Rabbit Handling, Observation, and Basic Disease Lesson Plan. Retrieved from https://arba.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Lesson_Plan_-Rabbit_Handling.pdf

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