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Caring for your dogs this Easter, and caring for bunnies in the past

The Easter bunny will be visiting many homes in Mid Sussex this weekend, I imagine, bringing along many a chocolatey treat that can sadly be harmful to our canine pets.

As the Easter bunny visits, please be careful, dogs have great chocolate-seeking noses, but get really sick if they eat too much, so keep them safe this Easter.

In my first spring after qualifying I met another extraordinary bunny: a Flemish giant rabbit, called Flopsy. She was as large as a medium sized dog, but very calm and used to being cuddled.

She thought she might be in the family way, despite living alone, and had made milk for a litter that was never going to arrive. This made her feel really uncomfortable, and soon afterwards she went right off her food.

Her owner responded quickly, knowing that bunnies become fatally ill if they skip their meals.

I recognised that poor Flopsy had a false pregnancy which had led to mastitis. I had had no training in rabbit medicine at this stage, I only knew some basics.

Luckily, thanks to my training in caring for milking cows and lactation problems, I was able to apply my knowledge and I knew just what to do.

To the immense surprise of the nurses, I started ‘stripping out’ the affected mammary gland. This involved a rabbit sized milking to get the infected milk out, which I combined with antibiotics I knew worked well in cattle.

But I had not allowed for the environment. Whereas a cow can be milked standing up, so the nasty discharge from her udders is sent onto the floor, and is easily hosed away, Flopsy was laid out on her back on the consulting table in my smart consulting room. The first jet of foul smelling material shot out and sprayed the newly painted ceiling!

I quickly worked out a better method, and had to get a ladder later to disinfect the ceiling. The staff teased me about it for years.

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