Sometimes the internet is the best place to turn to, even in a veterinary situation!
We were really worried about Frank.
A rabbit can only go a very short while without eating, no matter why they are off their food, before their extremely delicately balanced intestinal systems hand in their notice.
Frank had been poorly long enough. If he did not find the will to live very soon, he would be beyond saving.
He was already an older pet, and was much loved. He had had several illnesses in his time; his owners were experienced at nursing him, and aware of the risk he was facing.
Many rabbits of lesser calibre than Frank would have simply given up, rejecting our efforts to syringe feed them, sinking into themselves and fading away.
But despite being critically ill Frank continued to accept food, and clung on. We tried every trick we knew from stomach massage to pineapple juice. We administered every medication that seemed appropriate, but we still could not establish why his intestines were failing to move.
Then something his owner said lit a lightbulb in my brain: “It’s as if he is constipated”.
If a cat or dog owner says this to me it makes complete sense, but the anatomy of a rabbit’s intestine is so different that I had never even heard of rabbits getting constipated. They are great little pellet producers when well.
Then I did something that ten years previously would have been impossible – I ‘Googled’ his problem and found a small number of people who had found that giving an enema to a rabbit, in the right circumstances, could save its life.
I absolutely do not advocate any rabbit owner doing anything of the sort, but after several days of illness, Frank needed a miracle, and an enema for him would be perfectly safe in my hands. I just had no idea if it would help him.
His owner was willing to try, so we went ahead. He immediately produced a small number of pellets – his first in days. Whether it was the re-hydration or the stimulation, we won’t ever know, but he turned the corner and has now recovered completely to our immense pleasure.
Rabbit Awareness Week is coming up in mid June. This year we are focusing on the importance of rabbits’ emotional and social wellbeing. We would love our rabbit owners to share photos and videos of their pets enjoying activities and each other’s company for my video blog in June.
To submit pictures and video, and win a chance for your pet rabbit to feature, go to www.themewesvets.co.uk/news-events-2/rabbitawarenessweek to find out how.
Next week I will be at the Dog Show at the Cuckoo Fayre from noon on Bank Holiday Monday May 2nd at The Recreation Ground. Do come along and join in the fun. Perhaps your dog will win one of our fab prizes or a rosette? Visit www.themewesvets.co.uk/events/the-cuckoo-fayre-fun-dog-show to find out more.