This time last week, we were sitting anxiously in the vet’s waiting room with Gingee. I’d never seen a choking rabbit before, and I hope that we never have to go through it again.
It all started on Tuesday night, about 7pm. My husband was feeding the rabbits upstairs and I was feeding the baby downstairs. Suddenly I hear him say, “It’s okay, Gingee, you’ll be okay, let me help you.” Words you never want to hear.
I detached the baby and rushed upstairs to see what was happening. A sight you never want to see. Gingee was standing frantically in a corner, his body a curve, sounding like a cat trying to get up a hairball.
Gingee had choked on a Science Selective pellet. We feed our rabbits in the “prescribed” way. (I wrote about it once before.) Ned and Barbara were both fine. One of those absolute flukes – the kind of thing that experienced vets look at you and say, “Wow, that’s rare.” (Yeah, we have this a lot with our three.)
Our local, five-minutes-away vet had just closed for the night. The emergency vet is in the next town over. That felt too far, given he couldn’t breathe. Gingee hates travelling, and if the worst were to happen, we didn’t want him to pass away alone in his carrier in the car, terrified.
What we did
Gingee and my husband have always had an amazing bond. Gingee trusts him so much, and my husband is really confident around him.
He knew something had to be done, so we found this webpage. He tried the “bunny heimlich” (centrifugal swing), which got a lot of the pellet out – through his nose! The remainder came out, slowly, through thoracic compressions.
He could breathe and was clearly feeling much better by then. He didn’t want to eat, though. It seemed to make sense, really – his throat would have been sore and he was clearly a bit traumatised. We gave him some nice soft greens, which he did take, just very slowly, and made up some liquid food to give him.
As he’d eaten something and was breathing properly, we decided that we could wait until our local vet opened the next morning.
The following morning, he still wasn’t particularly keen on eating. I called the vet at 8am on the dot, and explained the situation. “He choked on some food last night and is a bit off his food now. Can we come in asap?”
I love our vets. They had us in within the hour.
She listened to his lungs and found that he had not aspirated any food, but gave us some antibiotics just in case. He also started on a dose of loxicom to help with any pain, and ranitidine to keep his gut moving.
We took him home and proceeded to spend the day trying to coax him to eat.
By the following day, he still wasn’t eating much at all, so I took him in again that morning. His glucose levels weren’t too raised and he still had gut sounds, so we went back home to monitor and keep on feeding him a buffet.
The baby and I went to Sainsbury’s and bought pretty much one of everything green! Within an hour or so, he started on the spinach. So relieved!
It’s been just over a week now. As you can see, this little man is still with us!
He doesn’t want to eat pellets, still, but his appetite for vegetables and hay is as ravenous as it ever was! We’ve pretty much been able to wean away from the liquid food now as he’s eating such a lot of veg and hay. What a stressful week it’s been, though.
Have you ever had a choking rabbit? How did you help them?