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What Is Rabbit Critical Care?

Last Updated: 03.04.20


Rabbits are clever little animals, and once you buy the right rabbit litter box, you can go ahead and start training them how to use it. Thanks to this natural behavior, rabbits make perfect indoor pets! This is important to know, as there are many people who avoid adopting certain animals just because they cannot be litter box trained.

Besides being clever, bunnies are super cute and they love to socialize. So, if you are the type of person who spends a lot of time bonding with their pet, these furry little animals are a great choice for you. Moreover, they are very playful and active which means that you will never get bored with them.

But, bunnies are sensitive little creatures that can get sick very quickly if you don’t take proper care of them. Like all animals, rabbits have their own specific needs and you as their parent need to make sure that they are met. Sometimes, they can get critically ill and they might require veterinary intervention in order to stay alive – let’s find out more about this.


Should care continue?

There are many people who ask themselves this question when they have a very ill rabbit. You love your pet to the moon and back and you would do anything to keep him/her with you for as many years as possible. Unfortunately, some prey species including rabbits might face certain challenges when it comes to the provision of critical care.

First of all, rabbits can get very stressed and their heart rate will increase as well as their blood pressure, which makes many parents ask themselves if it is worth it to put their bunny through these stressful situations; more exactly, they need to know if the results will be the ones expected.

That is why it is essential to establish realistic outcomes and not just the goals – planning the right treatment for your little one needs to be very thorough. Every rabbit parent will want to try anything to help their beloved friend but the time will come when you will have to decide together with the medical team, of course, if he/she needs to be discharged from care.

Members of the care team need to monitor your bunny on a regular basis to make sure that the treatment plan is indeed effective. If they notice that some adjustments need to be made, they have to be on time and very prompt. While some patients react very well to certain clinical processes, others will not respond as desired.

Assessing pain

Rabbits are prey animals that are very good at hiding any signs of pain which makes it very difficult for everyone to know if they are suffering or not. You will have to take a guess and to monitor his/her reactions to certain things. If you notice any signs of distress it means that his/her health condition is quite advanced.

Usually, the members of a professional clinical team will assess your bunny’s pain very rigorously, and if they have any doubts, they will provide analgesia to him/her. Certain signs of increased heart rate or respiratory rate and body temperature do not offer specific information which means that it will be hard to tell if the pain has increased or not.

Furthermore, these clinical parameters can be altered by pain, but they can also be altered by other conditions. A good way to find out if the bunny is in pain would be to press his/her stomach – if he/she makes a slight involuntary movement or a grimace, it means that they are suffering.

However, there are no validated methods for pain scoring in these adorable little creatures. What many professionals do is combine a wide variety of methods which can help them reduce the bunny’s suffering. Another technique that has proved to improve pain recognition is called Grimace Scale – only that the changes are usually minor.


Quality of care

Knowing only the basic clinical procedures it is not enough to offer the best care for rabbits that are critically ill. Along with that knowledge, a good professional will also need to know rabbit anatomy and physiology. Bunnies are very sensitive to pain, and they can even die because of that, and that is why one of the first treatments will be painkillers.

Some of the most common opioids that specialists use to reduce your bunny’s pain are morphine, fentanyl, and buprenorphine. However, mammals go through similar emergency and critical care procedures. With rabbits, it’s a little different as they get stressed easily which means that they require specialized handling techniques.

Moreover, these adorable little creatures most of the times suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, trauma, or urinary tract infections. Due to the fact that they do not show signs of illness, when they do show them they might be in a critical state. That is why veterinarians are faced with many challenges when it comes to these small furry animals.

If your bunny is in this kind of situation and you’ve decided to take him/her to a veterinary practice, you need to expect for the medical team to ask you multiple questions regarding the duration of illness, appetite, or drinking. Also, the specialists will need to know if you have made any changes in your pet’s diet or you have noticed any weird behaviors.

Common emergencies

One of the most common emergencies is anorexia – if you notice that your beloved furry friend has lost his/her appetite, you should take him/her to the vet right away. If the problem persists for more than 2 to 3 days without him/her receiving proper medical care it can lead to gastrointestinal stasis and dehydration.

You need to be very cautious as there is another form of anorexia called pseudoanorexia – this is a result of a bunny being unable to chew because he/she suffers from various oral pains. Also, rabbits can have various dental problems such as incisor malocclusion or painful molars. These issues can make eating very uncomfortable and it can lead to severe debilitation.

In order to find out if your beloved companion has problems with his/her teeth, you will have to pay attention to certain signs such as reduced appetite, weight loss, or hypersalivation. Moreover, if you noticed that he/she prefers foods that don’t require a lot of chewing like pellets or lettuce, then you should definitely take him/her for a check-up.

Another health issue that is very common among rabbits is severe bloat which is due to a diet low in fiber. Bunnies love to chew on almost anything including carpets, towels, or any other household items. That is why it is your responsibility to make sure that you keep these types of items out of their reach as they can lead to severe health complications.

We have learned that bunnies who suffer from anorexia can experience gastrointestinal stasis, but you should also know that gut stasis can also cause anorexia. The main reason why rabbits suffer from gut stasis is because of a diet low in fiber and stress. With this in mind, taking proper care of our dear friend is something that must be done very rigorously.




Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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