Baby Bunny Blues
A Sick Baby Bunny is No Joke
Inexperienced Bunny Mom Mistakes Choking
A baby bunny rested on Doc Truli’s examination table.
“Doc, I think he’s choking. Is he going to die?” said the Bunny’s new mom.
Doc Truli looked at the tiny bunny. He was a soft silvery-grey and white. He fit in the palm of your hand with his face hanging over the side. He kicked a little, which is good for a scared bunny. If a bunny is too sick, they do not even complain about strangers holding them. Unfortunately, Doc could feel every vertebra and every rib underneath the fluffy soft fur. This baby bunny was in real trouble.
Lack of Knowledge Made This Bunny Sick
Adopted a few weeks before from a neighbor who had extra baby bunnies, the new mom never had a pet before. A pet store employee had advised her to feed timothy hay (which is correct), but had never told mom not to feed fruit,and to buy nutritionally complete bunny pellets to round out his diet. Mom ad-libbed and gave bunny lots of fresh vegetables, which should only be introduced to a bunny’s diet after they are at least 4-6 months old, and then only a bit at a time. No one advised her to seek veterinary advice, which would have saved this bunny a lot of pain and illness.
Lack of Bunny Experience Also Made This Bunny Sick
“But he was eating well, and running around a lot. How could he be sick?” said mom. Many people underestimate how much a bunny should be eating, and do not realize the bunny may be starving to death. Furthermore, no one taught the new bunny mom to take the bunny to the veterinarian for a check-up.
“Find a veterinarian familiar with rabbits, who enthusiastically enjoys rabbit medicine and care,” says Doc Truli. “It might be difficult to find a veterinarian who can care for bunnies, as many vets these days sub-specialize in cat and dog medicine.”
Doc Truli Diagnoses the Problem
The little bunny was pulling his head back and gasping for air. His eyes looked dull and “out of it.” He looked like he was having a neurologic problem caused by a metabolism deficiency, probably a nutritional problem.
Hypoglycemia, Just Like a Yorkie or Chihuahua Puppy
Eureka! Low blood sugar!
The nurse gave him 50% dextrose solution on his lips and he swallowed a little of it and perked up. He even hopped around the table a bit. If you have no veterinary care, you can try karo syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, malted barley syrup, or other sugary liquid to perk up you bunny. Be sure the bunny swallows; do not force the liquid or bunny could drown in the liquid!
The bunny received subcutaneous fluids for hydration. If he had been bigger, we could’ve placed an intravenous line and placed him in hospital intensive care.
Sometimes Diagnosing the Problem Is Not Enough
Just replacing the sugar is only the start of treatment. His little bunny body was so deficient in nutrients, dehydrated, cachectic, and malnourished, he could not recover on his own.
A Bunny’s LifeLine in His Stomach!
His cecum (the biological sister of our appendix, only in bunnies it is most of the intestines and does the work of digestion) was empty. It is supposed to be big and full of hay and healthy bacteria. The healthy microorganisms actually make vitamins and nutrients that a bunny needs to live and be healthy, like Vitamin B. There’s just no good replacement for a healthy bunny digestive system.
Too Little, Too Late
The bunny’s mom fed him vegetable baby foods and Pedialyte hourly throughout the night. Still, he had a poor prognosis, which is the worst predictive medical value of them all. He layed a little, ate a little hay, but a few hours later, he did not get up anymore, that was the end of the road for the little bunny.
While this story may seem uninspirational, because it is sad, Doc Truli hopes every bunny sees a good veterinarian to have coccidia parasite intestinal infections treated, and to get good advice about feeding and raising a healthy bunny so this little guy did not live in vain!