First aid kit for rabbits

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The following is a list of some home remedies you may try before rushing your rabbit to the vet and are useful to have on hand. Please remember this is not intended to replace professional expert veterinary care. It should not be used to make a "do-it-yourself" diagnosis. Only a qualified, rabbit-knowledgeable veterinarian can determine exactly what your bunny's illness is and recommend treatments.

Wound care

Note: Since wounds can lead to abscesses, it is best to consult your veterinarian before treating a wound.[1]
Product Common Uses
styptic powder, cornstarch, or baking flour Stops the bleeding of nails cut too close to the quick. Not for use on skin.[1] Can be found in drug and pet stores.
A&D Original Ointment, Bag Balm, plain diaper rash ointment, silvadene cream, calendula lotion or ointment, or Balmex or Desitin ointment Used to topically treat minor sores and irritation. Try to use types of ointment with no zinc, aloe, or other additions because they may cause harm to rabbits in some cases.[2] A more extensive list can be found of the bottom of the page here. Can be found in drug stores.
Vetericyn Wound & Skin Care, Betadine, polyhydroxydine solution, chlorhexidine solution, or hydrogen peroxide Used to disinfect and clean minor wounds and scratches. Dilute hydrogen peroxide for use.[1] Hydrogen peroxide should not be used in deep cuts or punctures due to the risk of gas embolism.[3][4] Can be found in drug stores.
triple antibiotic (e.g. Neosporin) Used to treat wounds. Do not use Neosporin Plus.[1][2] Can be found in drug stores.
saline solution, Vetericyn Eye Wash Used to flush foreign matter out of eyes.
a variety of bandages (e.g. gauze, butterfly, pads) Use to dress wounds. Can be found in drug stores.

GI treatment

Main article: Gastrointestinal stasis
Product Common Uses
Critter Be Better, Acid-Pak 4-way, Equine Probios, BeneBac, or other probiotics Used to restore the balance of GI flora. Can be found in pet and feed stores.
infant simethicone Relieves minor gas symptoms or diarrhea. Can be found in drug and grocery stores.
small jars of plain baby food with no additives or preservatives Used to give tablet medications or as a calorie supplement for rabbits that are not eating. Use apple sauce, fruit mix baby foods, or canned pumpkin. Do not use pumpkin pie filling with spices, only 100% pumpkin. In the event that none of the previously listed can be found, use a lactose-free vegan blend.[5] Can be found in grocery stores.
Oxbow Critical Care, Oxbow Critical Care Fine Grind A premium recovery food which can be syringe-fed to rabbits that are unwilling to eat their normal diet due to illness, surgery or poor nutritional status. This specially formulated product contains all the essential nutrients of a complete diet as well as high-fiber timothy hay to ensure proper gut physiology and digestion.[6] Can be found in some pet stores or from online retailers.
eye dropper or oral syringe Used to administer liquids, medication, or food that have been liquefied in the event that a rabbit stops eating. 3cc is enough for medication, and 5cc or larger is recommended for hand feeding.[1] Can be found in drug stores.
Snuggle Safe Pet Bed Microwave Heating Pad or similar heating pad Used to comfort rabbit and provide warmth to encourage digestive action. Wrap with a clean towel for use.
Cisapride or metoclopramide Intestinal motility agents available by prescription from your local rabbit veterinarian.
Coffee grinder optional. Used to make pellet powder. Wash thoroughly if used to make coffee.
Lactated Ringer's Solution & fluid administration set optional. Training by a veterinarian is required for use.[1]

Multi-use

Product Common Uses
a variety of bandages (e.g. gauze, butterfly, pads) Use to dress wounds. Can be found in drug stores.
eye dropper or oral syringe Used to administer liquids, medication, or food that have been liquefied in the event that a rabbit stops eating. 3cc is enough for medication, and 5cc or larger is recommended for hand feeding.[1] Can be found in drug stores.
Pedialyte Used to rehydrate and keep hydrated.
vinegar Used to clean cages, dishes, and trays. Vinegar will remove hard water and calcium build ups. Also acts as a mild disinfectant. Can treat wet dewlap by reducing the pH preventing the overgrowth of the bacteria Pseudomonas.[7] Can be found in grocery stores.
heating pad or hot water bottle For shock or hypothermia. Remember to wrap the bottle in the towel so it does not burn the rabbit. Can be found in drug stores.
cotton swabs, cotton balls Used to clean scent glands and wounds. Dip in diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide to clean glands.[7] Can be found in drug stores.
pill crusher or pill splitter optional. Used to make pills easier to feed to a rabbit.
soft towels Used to dry or secure your rabbit.
scissors Used to carefully trim the fur around a wound. Buy round- or blunt-tipped scissors to minimize risk of injury to your rabbit. Rabbit skin is very delicate.
tweezers Used to pick out maggots in the event of flystrike.
ice

Diagnostics

Product Common Uses
digital infant rectal thermometer Used to take temperature. Should go up to at least 106°F or 41°C. Apply lubricant and gently insert into rectum. Normal rabbit temperature is 101-103°F.
petroleum jelly, KY jelly or other lubricant Used as a lubricant to use with thermometer.
rubbing alcohol Used to disinfect thermometer.
stethoscope optional. Used to listen to gut sounds.
otoscope optional. Used to check inside ears.

Miscellaneous

Product Common Uses
baby cornstarch powder Used for spot cleaning and "dry baths" to clean a messy bottom due to runny stool or urine leakage. Do not use baby powder that contains talc.[2]
flea comb Used to safely get rid of a mild case of fleas. After each combing, dip the comb in warm soapy water to rinse and kill the fleas.
bromelain, papaya tablets Used during high-shed seasons as a preventative treatment to move hair through the digestive system. Do not use on a daily basis or once GI stasis has developed. Mix 1/4 tsp of bromelain in drinking water.[7] If using papaya tablet as supplements, do not feed any other sugary treats. Count the supplement as a treat.

There is some debate about the usefulness of these enzymatic products, however. As Dr. Anna Meredith writes,[8]

The usefulness of enzymatic products (e.g. papain) to digest hairballs is debatable – these products do not actually digest hair but may help to break down the matrix holding the material together. Pineapple juice is often advocated as it contains the enzyme bromelain, (and papaya contains the enzyme papain) but these are high in simple sugars and low in fibre, which may promote an imbalance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut. In reality anecdotal reports of pineapple juice helping with hairballs is probably due to it providing rehydration and being an energy source.

Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery also notes,[9]

Caution owners against the use of protein-digesting enzymes, as these can be very irritating to oral mucosa and potentially gastric mucosa. The risk of gastric ulceration is increased in anorexic rabbits, and use of these enzymes may exacerbate this.

Suppliers

Example First Aid kit from Bunnies 1st
Example Emergency Kit from Desert Buns R Us

The following are some places you can purchase a ready-made emergency kit for rabbits.

Here are some stickers that you can use to decorate a homemade first aid kit.

First aid storage boxes.

Further reading

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Smith, K. (2003). Rabbit Health in the 21st Century. (2nd ed.).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society, What to Have in Your Bunny First Aid Kit
  3. Zooh Corner. (2014). Rabbit Medical Emergencies. Retrieved 7 March, 2016, from http://www.mybunny.org/info/rabbit-medical-emergencies/
  4. Oliveria et al. (2012). Pulmonary Gas Embolism in Rabbit Caused by Hydrogen Peroxide — Case Report. Ars Veterinaria, 28(4), 255-259.
  5. Happy Hoppers Rabbit Forum, Rabbit First Aid Kit
  6. Oxbow Animal Health, Critical Care
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Barbi Brown's Bunnies, Rabbit Owner's Medicine Chest
  8. Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund. (2010). The Rabbit digestive system: A delicate balance. Retrieved 7 March, 2016, from http://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/ROWinter10p7.pdf
  9. Quesenberry, K & Carpenter, J. (2012). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. (3rd ed.).