LIFE SAVING EMERGENCY INFO
Information That Can Save Your Rabbit's Life!
We often get calls after vet hours or on the weekends from worried people saying that their bunny is not eating, refusing his or her favorite treat, and they are sitting hunched up in a corner not moving.
The first thing you should do is to TAKE THE BUNNY'S TEMPERATURE. This is something every bunny owner should know how to do BEFORE IT IS AN EMERGENCY! If you do not, please take your rabbit to the vet and ask them to show you, or come by the shelter for a lesson or attend our Bunny 201 medical class.
You should have on hand a flexible digital thermometer and lubrication. You should also invest in an inexpensive stethoscope, and have a bottle of liquid simethicone (found with the baby gas medicine) in the cabinet, as well as a plan for warming or cooling the bunny if necessary.
If you are in the midst of an emergency, please visit the GHRS website for step by step instructions and and "must-know" information.
More instructions for taking a rabbit’s temperature can be found here: http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/sickbun.html
To help you interpret what your rabbit’s temperature means
• Temperature between 101.° to 103° F is normal.
• Anything above 103° F is a fever!
• Anything below 101° is considered hypothermia which is more dangerous than a fever!
If a rabbit’s temperature gets close to 106° F, there is danger of seizures and brain damage.
Ways to cool a rabbit with a high fever
• Fill a hot water bottle (or any bottle with a good seal) with cold water and keep it against the rabbit.
• Wet a towel with cold water, wring it out as completely as possible, shake it in the air to get it cool, and wrap it around the rabbit.
Ways to Warm a Hypothermic Rabbit
• Put hot water in a hot water bottle (or any bottle with a good seal), wrap a small towel around it, and put it against the rabbit. (WARNING: as it cools, it will begin to take heat away from the rabbit, so check it every 30 minutes)
• Heat up a microwavable “bunny warmer” in the microwave and put it against the rabbit.
• Heat a bath towel in a microwave, 30 seconds at a time to see how warm it gets, and when it is very warm, wrap it around the rabbit (this doesn’t last long, but it gives heat all over the body).
• Use a heating pad with caution to ensure the bunny cannot chew the cord and can also move off of it if they warm up and are too hot. Make sure there is a soft, absorbent cover over the pad and ensure the cord is covered and out of sight of the bun.
You must learn to recognize the first signs of GI STASIS and be able to take appropriate action to maintain your rabbit till you can get to a rabbit savvy vet immediately. If you rabbit is not eating, drinking or pooping, refusing favorite treats and not hopping about, you need to act immediately. Your rabbit can die from this in a matter of hours if you do not know what to do.
Please read the article GI Stasis, The Silent Killer for more information on GI Stasis
You must also learn the first signs of HEAD TILT and get to a rabbit savvy vet immediately. If your rabbit’s head starts to tilt to one side during normal activity and stays that way, get to the vet immediately for the appropriate medications!
Getting fast medical attention can mean the difference between a short recovery with no lasting effects, or a lengthy recovery, with the head tilting up to 90 degrees, the rabbit losing their balance, and rolling off their feet. If treatment is delayed, the head can tilt to a 90 degree angle and take months of care for the rabbit to recuperate. The head can become permanently tilted. Once severely tilted, you will have to give continuous care because the rabbit will not be able to eat, drink or sleep on its own. If your rabbit is struggling with head tilt, please call us for some tried and true suggestions to help your rabbit while he or she is recovering.
FOR QUICK REFERENCE
* Normal Temperature: 101.° to 103° F
* Anything above 103° F is a fever
* Anything below 101.° is hypothermia and more dangerous than a fever!
(Thank you to Georgia House Rabbit Society for this article.)