Saturday, November 06, 2010

An Incident

Disclaimer: this is single incident and does not apply to all rabbits who do not eat, many of these rabbits could benefit from veterinary care and intervention.


On Thursday Harriet decided she would not eat. All treats were summarily refused with the turning of the black nose. She seemed depressed. However her posture was not hunched, nor was she grinding her teeth or drooling. Her ears ere cool. I rubbed her tummy, I massaged her ears and back. Around 11 I gave her some pumpkin through a syringe. I could hear a gurgle in her intestines, her abdomen did not seem particularly bloated or hard. I went off to a two hour seminar on Autoimmune Conditions and Nitric Oxide. On my return she seemed a bit more lethargic, though in all fairness it wasbunny nap time. Feeling a bit over loaded in other categories, I decided to see if the vet could see her. At 4 we were at the vet. Although our regular Dr. was not there, there was an exotics specialist. Harriet charmed the staff and was well behaved for all the pokings and prodings. Her temperature was normal and she weighed 7 lbs and 1 oz. The vet couldn't find anything wrong as far as obstructions in the intestines, or with her teeth, nor did Harriet seem to be in any sort of pain. The vet was happy with Harriet's diet and could find no fault that may have caused the problem: Ritz Crackers, Chocolate Cake, excessive rug chewing... The diagnosis was gas. This based on my having heard gas gurgles two times at home. I was given the opportunity to leave her for treatment and observation or do the procedures myself at home. Some pet owners would not have had the latter option, but I am all too well known at the vet's and can perform almost any task a vet tech can. We got an IV bag with SubQ fluids, antibiotics ( apparently there can be build up of bacteria with stasis which must be controlled), a motility inducer, and some Critical care.


$153 dollars later I put Harriet back in her space at home and started unpacking the pharmacy. Harriet went straight to her box and started eating hay, she left a couple poops. Then she got out and did some grooming, plenty of twisting (work that tummy) and face work, (such a face she has, have I mentioned that?) and she ate some cecals (nature's probiotic for rabbits). Then she got back in her box and ate more hay and did 20 poops. She gobbled up the rose I proffered. She chewed vigorously on some matting. I called the vet and inquired if I could just wait and observe, hold off on all the meds. No, I was told, do all the meds until the bunny if eating and pooping normally. Over the course of the next few hours it became quite clear that if I administered all the meds I would in fact be keeping the bunny from eating and pooping normally. She ate almost all of a normal greens vegie dinner with her warren mates. I held off on the meds. During the night I could hear her eating hay and at one point drinking. The next day she was perfectly fine full of piss and vinegar, begging for food and boxing with Amelia.


Naturally, I am grateful she has recovered and certainly the next time she skips a meal and has no other symptoms I'll let her recover in her own way for the first say, 24 hours. about every 3-4 months Tyler or Sydney will skip a meal in just this same way. The first time this happened with Tyler I brought him in to see the vet and really all she could say was maybe he has a little gas. When Sydney first did this I couldn't catch her to take her to the vet. Generally speaking if I can't catch the rabbit, the rabbit doesn't need to go to the vet. Now on to gas, often I have heard gas inside Amelia as she stretches out. It's presence was not accompanied by any refusal to eat or discomfort. It would seem that gas alone is not indicative of a problem. Thinking about wild rabbits I would imagine that every so often they don't have 4 square meals and 12 snacks a day. It is hard to know how many wild rabbits get stasis, that sort thing doesn't make it into the news or even Facebook. A brief investigation points to stasis being a domestic rabbit condition. Many factors could be contributors to this: lack of proper space to exercise in, the wrong sorts of food. Wild rabbits live in social groups, could this somehow contribute to maintaining digestive health? It is true that premature babies grow more quickly and become viable faster if they are touched.


Back to Harriet the only things I could think of that could have sparked the digestive strike are: dandelions too many meals in a row and lack of contact. In the wild I imagine that rabbits eat a variety of foods everyday, I could certainly be wrong, but could there be a mechanism instilled in rabbit physiology that prevents the animal from mono dieting. In humans a mono diet can lead to food allergies and other imbalances as an imbalance of constituents accumulates in the tissues and irritates the digestive tract. Then there is lack of contact. Harriet still isn't getting groomed by any of the other rabbits. In the couple days leading up the incident I'd been very busy on the other side of the fence and actually did feel like I wasn't giving her enough attention. There was a point when I picked up Amelia and saw Harriet watching and I though "Uh, oh she was hurt by that". But how silly is that? My scientific brothers often remind me not anthropomorphize. However it is true that in Chinese Medicine the condition called "Wood Attacking Earth" can result in a lack of appetite. The Wood element can be adversely effected by emotional upset........

I did get most of my money back for the meds.

16 comments:

Jade said...

Mickey's predecessor, Karnage (who much resembled Harriet in coloring) would give me heart failure every so often by refusing to eat for anywhere from 8-12 hours. He exhibited no signs of pain or even discomfort, and I never thought to take him to the vet, I would simply offer him a larger than normal variety of food and treats, massage his tummy for a while and keep an anxious eye on him. Eventually, I would check on him to find him eating and drinking and generally behaving like his old self, so I could breathe again. It usually happened at a time when he was shedding particularly fierce, so I always wrote it off to taking in a little more fur in the tummy than usual and needing to process it through.

With Mickey, on the other hand, I have been a little more inclined to go to the vet because he very rarely refuses to eat. He might be a little picky at times about what he eats, but he always eats something.

orangemathtutor.com said...

Re:"...could there be a mechanism instilled in rabbit physiology that prevents the animal from mono dieting."

Nathalie Lussier has a post that talks about this...well not on rabbits in particular, but why it's important to rotate greens in the diet. You can find it here if you are intested: http://rawfoodswitch.com/fruits-vegetables-nuts-and-seeds/important-rotate-greens/

Karen M said...

These bunnies do know how to scare us, don't they? Ginny is more prone to stasis than Weasley, probably because she does the grooming for both of them. Why does it always seem to happen in the evening after the vet is closed, or on a weekend?!

tamara said...

I always keep infant simethicone drops around in my emergency kit...a dropperful or two (if another dose is needed 45-60 mins later...) often helps break the gas up. I've been told by experienced people that it certainly can't hurt them--it's like a human taking tums. And I personally believe it helps, even tho there's debate about it. So glad to hear Harriet is ok! I think another cause of gas HAS to be "geez, i haven't cost my mom a bunch of money lately..."

The human said...

The most important thing is that she's ok!
Phew. But what a worry.

Tamsin said...

I'm really glad she's okay :)

It's interesting what suggest about social contact. Stroking a pet reduces stress in humans and companionship certainly helps relax a bunny too. As stress can contribute to rabbits digestion issues then perhaps that was a contributing factor. It could be a few different things came together at the same time that wouldn't be enough to cause issue on their own but together were enough to tip the balance.

I think with rabbits that spend a lot of time being observed by their humans things are often caught earlier and they get headed off before they get more serious. It seems like sometimes a bit of inducement to move about and some tempting foods can stop a digestive issue from turning into a big problem.

Christina said...

GOOD CALL! While I trust my vet when it comes to tummy problems I no longer use their routines for the most part. I have gotten Haven thru a three day bout of stasis and Mojo and surprisingly we didnt need to take the useless antibiotics they always prescribe for stasis. I am so glad Harriet is feeling better! I have my own routine now and it works!

Clovie Boy said...

First of all, let me just say, I think Harriet is gorgeous!

From my experience with Clovis, I really think there have been times when he refused to eat because he wanted attention. This has happened when I have been stressed out and too busy to spend some time with him. Maybe Harriet just needed some mommy time.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Whew!

Judy said...

Hi!
I've been on the other side of that metal table for 22 years now. I see an occasional rabbit especially when I was doing emergency work. Believe me when I say, you are probably 100 times more prepared (and knowledgeable) than most "exotic" vets. With all due respect to "exotic" vets; they mostly try very hard and worry a ton that they are doing a good job but really, bottom line, it's all about nutritional management. And pet rabbit surgery is not fun, not fun at all; their tissues are so delicate, so prone to trauma.

Anyone who owns a pet rabbit should read your blog; it's terrific! And the photos are mostly great (except one fuzzy one). They could learn a lot about the importance of attention to detail and just general good rabbit husbandry. I found your blog by accident and I keep picking up new tips.
The meds you got from your local vet they are great emergency tools. As long as they don't expire they probably will stand you in good stead.
Remember, when you call up and say "can I use..."; you may be talking to a receptionist who is talking to an already stressed vet who will more often then not automatically say "don't do such and such"....well, one must always be prepared to use one's own common sense which apparently you have a ton of.....
Cheers!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Very interesting post, Anya used to always have a lot of digestive problems so i can empathise! Glad that Harriet is better.

The Fab Furs said...

Happy hops that Harriet is OK. If this was a bid for attention it would be in keeping with the mittens incident. Did the other buns miss Harriet?

bunnits said...

So glad things worked out well. Most of the time when mine refuse food, it is only for a short time. I did lose one bun to GI stasis once, but I think it was more a case of too much intervention by an inexperienced vet and an inexperienced owner.

Michelle May said...

Thank goodness she is ok. Oh it makes me worry so much. I too keep infant simethicone on hand at all times. .3 cc's is the dose and does the trick for Sugie all the time with her condition. Razzy and Sugie both got sick from too many dandy's.
Harriet is a beautiful girl and was probably just wanting to get attention from her mama. Again, so glad she is ok.
Hope all is well with you D. Thinking of you.
xx,shell

Glenna said...

Phew--I'm so glad she's ok. Always a scary (and heaven only knows, expensive) thing.

Lisa said...

Poor Harriet. Glad she's feeling better!