First aid for rabbits
The following are a few helpful articles on first aid wound care for rabbits:
- Disabled Rabbits. Skin Injuries
- Gail N. (2016). Wound Care in Rabbits [PDF]
- Vanessa L. Grunkemeyer, DVM, DABVP (Avian). (2019). Wound Management for the Tricky and the Tiny
Please see First aid kit for rabbits#Wound care for a list of supplies.
If you notice your rabbit is choking, this is an immediate emergency. Please do your best to dislodge the blocking food/object and take your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian afterwards for antibiotics to prevent infection from aspiration.
Rabbits that are choking will likely display some of the following symptoms:
- Respiratory distress - lifting their heads up in the air to try and breathe around the blockage.
- Making gurgling and whistling noises.
- Excessive mucus production and drooling out of their mouths.
- Throwing their heads around and pawing at their face to try and dislodge the food.
The following are some more pages with details on how to help a choking rabbit.
The following are a few experiences with choking rabbits.
- u/bjorkkk. (2021). PSA!!!!! PLEASE LEARN HOW TO DO THE HEIMLICH ON YOUR RABBIT!!! (RIP)
- u/Tayloren52. (2021). Please be careful and mindful when feeding banana to your buns (RIP)
- big_cocoa_puff. (2020). Cocoa Puff's story
- u/murkylotus. (2019). So, Pepper choked tonight.
- u/caycay_. (2019). My rabbit choked on pellets this morning! Advice needed!!
- u/SuckinLemonz. (2016). Help! My Bunny Choked
- u/Oncidiinae. (2015). Update on Rowley the choking bun. He's developed pneumonia with lots of fluid in one lung. He's staying in an oxygen tank on antibiotics for a little whole. (RIP)
- u/blackxdahlia. (2014). Something I learned when my bunny started choking...
- u/caffeineassisted. (2013). Rabbits Choking
E-collars (AKA elizabethan collars or ecollars) are occasionally used for rabbits to prevent them from chewing on stitches, incisions, or the rest of their body in general. Most of the time, a hard e-collar is not very practical due to the inability to eat their cecals and movement difficulty. Other alternatives made with socks and other objects are often more comfortable for rabbits.
Some more resources on using e-collars and alternatives for rabbits:
- Special Bunny, Surgeries
- Jänis Jrabbit Abel. (2020). Sophie's bunsie
- u/CandidDeer. (2019). Marilyn sporting her mint green Medical Pet Shirt a few days after her spay. Her surgery was last Wednesday. Mary is happy to have had her onesie and sutures removed today. Here's to further good recovery!
- u/CandidDeer. (2019). Before her mint green onesie, Mary had been wearing this here, made out of one of my leggings. So cute looking, but it wasn't practical.
- Columbus HRS. (2018). Skipper after his neuter
- Ana Luisa Suarez. (2018). Make This Adorable DIY Sock Onesie For Your Kitten
- Francis & Charlie. (2013). Medical Pet Shirt: alternative to an e-collar (recommendation/review)
Some e-collars and alternatives available for purchase:
When a rabbit needs nutritional support, assisted feeding with a liquid food in a syringe is often effective. Oral nutritional support provides calories, nutrients, electrolytes, and fluids as well as help to rehydrate stomach contents and stimulate normal GI motility. The recommended intake for recovery food is 50ml/kg body weight divided into 3-5 meals per day.
Oxbow's Critical Care is what is commonly fed to rabbits requiring nutritional support. This product can be obtained from your vet or some pet stores and online retailers. Otherwise, you can use your rabbit's normal pellet feed and grind it to powder and mix 1:1.5 with water to form a paste for feeding. Any remaining formula may be refrigerated for 48 hours.
Common rabbit recovery food brands include the following:
- Oxbow - Critical Care - You can find more tips and tricks here and detailed feeding instructions here.
Apple-Banana is the most popular flavor and more palatable, however, some rabbits may also eat the original anise flavor. Oxbow also has a fine grind version in papaya flavor that rabbits may also like.
- Supreme - Science Selective RecoveryPlus - You can find feeding guidelines here.
- EmerAid - Sustain Herbivore - You can find detailed preparation instructions here.
- Sherwood - Timothy Recovery Food for Rabbits - You can find the label instructions here.
For further instructions and tips for syringe feeding methodology, see Medicating your rabbit#Syringe feeding.
An electrolyte solution is also good to have on hand in case of dehydration, and you are unable to give subcutaneous fluids.
While unflavored Pedialyte can be bought from most grocery stores, the following products may be more useful as they have been formulated for rabbits:
- Petfinder, Mary E. Cotter in consultation with Gil Stanzione, DVM, Help! My rabbit is sick and I can’t reach my vet!
- Kinenchen, Is my bunny sick?
- Laura K. Lathan, DVM, First Aid For Rabbits
- Margaret A. Wissman, D.V.M., D.A.B.V.P., First Aid for Rabbits
- Georgia Williams, Bunny First Aid
- SmallAnimalChannel.com, Quick First-Aid Rabbit Care
- Jay E. Hreiz, VMD, First Aid in the Domestic Rabbit
- Designer Bunnies, Rabbit First Aid
- Bunnies and Sunshine, River's tummy troubles. - How to trick a sick rabbit into drinking water.
- Keeble, E. & Meredith, A. (2006). Rabbit medicine & surgery: Self-assessment color review.