Humour: #barbarablogs, Rabbits

Living well as a sick rabbit #barbarablogs

Hello, friends. I’m sorry I didn’t blog last week, but I was just so busy. I have a packed schedule of eating hay, doing dramatic flops and judging everyone. Maybe some of my fellow rabbits can understand. But I’m back now, for more #barbarablogs. If you want to read what I’ve written before, it’s all here!

As you know, I’m a fairly elderly lady. Along with that, I’m also, unfortunately, quite a sick rabbit from time to time.

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on sickness, I’m not at death’s door or anything, but I have some experience in this area that I’d like to share with you, so you can learn how to spot signs if you’re not feeling well, convince your humans to fix you, and make sure they spoil you afterwards!

Just how sick am I?

I don’t know about every rabbit sickness in the book as I’m only one lady, but here is my experience with underlying health conditions:

  • I have arthritis in my left elbow. It doesn’t really bother me all that much these days, to be honest. But when it’s flaring up, my elbow hurts, I can’t straighten it out fully and I definitely don’t want to put any weight on it.
  • I was neglected when I was younger, and no one took care of my teeth. When I first moved in with my parents now, they were still a bit painful and I had spurs. It made my tongue hurt and meant I didn’t really want to eat hard or chewy foods. I used to put very hard food in my water bowl to soften it before I ate it.
  • Along with my tooth problems, I also have bad eyes. Like my adopted brother Ned, I have funny tear ducts – I don’t know if I was born with them, like he was, or if my teeth issues have exacerbated them over time, but either way, the problem is there. It means that my eyes leak a lot, and sometimes I end up with matted fur and a bit of pus on my face. It comes on quite quickly too, and gets quite sore, so I scratch it and then it hurts more and then I’m in pain and don’t want to eat or do anything. Ouch.
  • Like all rabbits, I’m prone to gastro-intestinal issues. I’m not generally too unlucky in this situation, but there have been a few days where I’ve not wanted to eat because I’m feeling a bit rotten. When there are big changes in my life, I also tend to have a slightly upset stomach.
  • I’ve had a kidney infection. It made me drink all the time and then pee everywhere. I also hear it made me smell. It got my feet all gross too. I couldn’t clean myself up properly because I was tired all the time too.

So, do you have any of those symptoms? Pain, needing to drink more than normal, not being able to eat, finding it hard to clean yourself up? I’m sorry to say, you might be a sick rabbit if you do.

How can I show my humans when I’m feeling sick?

Hopefully they’ll notice some of your symptoms without your needing to say or do anything. Responsible rabbit parents should be keeping an eye on various things about us, if they don’t want a sick rabbit to get worse:

  • Do we have any limps or bleeding or are we holding ourselves differently? If we’re hesitant to put a paw down or have a head tilt, that’s usually going to be a sign of a problem.
  • Are we eating and drinking normally and going to the loo properly? If we stop eating, it’s an emergency.
  • Do we have horribly gurgly stomachs, or are they absolutely silent? We want to be somewhere in between.
  • Are we all hunched over or grinding our teeth or moaning? That could be a sign that we’re in pain.
  • Do we have any unfortunate discharge coming from our eyes or nose or ears? We don’t want that.
  • Are we just acting differently? I know I was very aggressive when I was neglected and in pain before. I didn’t want anyone to touch me because everything hurt.

What treatment might I need?

Your treatment will depend so much on what’s wrong. I’m afraid that, at first, most of the time you’ll need to go the vet. You might be picked up and put in a car and then there might be dogs or cats in the waiting room. I’m sorry. It’s awful. I know.

But vets can really help. Often they’re very nice. And once they’ve told your humans what to do, you might not need to go there all the time in future!

For example, I don’t need to go there all the time to get my eyes done. My daddy can clean them at home. That’s far nicer than having to go in the car all the time, especially as I need them doing most days. It’s quite nice, really. He gets a warm flannel and rubs my face a bit. It’s like being groomed by your mother, if you remember that far back, or your mate if you have one.

Barbara the sick rabbit having her eyes cleaned
Look how brave I am!

And if I’m off my food, it’s sometimes not an emergency immediately either. This morning I was a bit gurgly so I had some yummy Infacol, that made me feel better, and then I was happy to eat and go to the litter box again.

In terms of treatment I’ve had from the vet, there’s a fairly large range. Most of it under anaesthetic. I don’t like that because it takes me a very long time to come back round and I feel sleepy and like I’m really a sick rabbit for about 48 hours afterwards.

  • Spaying. Not nice. But it did make me feel better!
  • I had my tear ducts flushed when they got too yucky. It meant cleaning my eyes was easier for a while.
  • Teeth filing. This meant I could eat comfortably which is very nice!
  • X-rays. I needed these to see what was wrong with my elbow.
  • Loxicom/metacam/anti-inflammatories. They have different names in different places, but when my arthritis hurts, they help. They taste good.
  • Antibiotics. I don’t really like them so much. But they helped when I had my kidney infection.

But, you know what, being sick isn’t all that bad…

Advantages of being a sick rabbit

I get extra fuss. That can include extra treats (I do love some apple!), more time on the human bed than my brothers get, more lovely grooming… What’s not to love? All I have to do is look sad! And then I feel better!

Until next time, my furry friends!

(Please note: Barbara is a very clever rabbit, but despite all her experiences of illness over the years, she is not a vet. We’ve never been able to find a vet school to take her, although she knows she’d be excellent if they’d only let her in! If you have any concerns about your sick rabbit, please visit your own vet. If you’re in the UK, the RWAF has a brilliant list of rabbit-friendly vets.)

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