Rabbit first aid kit – what’s in there?

rabbit first aid kit

Over the years of being bunny parents, we’ve had quite a few occasions where we’ve needed our rabbit first aid kit. Ned and Barbara both have special needs, and Gingee recently had his own brush with illness.

It makes life so much easier to have a little rabbit first aid kit in the house already if they get sick.

For external injuries and illnesses

Soft flannels – we use these to wash Barbara and Ned’s faces regularly. They both have malformed tear ducts which get very leaky, and if we don’t keep on top of it, the fur on their faces gets all matted. Flannels are also really useful if anyone gets injured during nail cutting and there’s any bleeding.

Cornflour – putting this on anywhere that’s bleeding will help to stem it. We’ve had a few pulled out claws during trimming, and we just put the flour on there and wrap it in a towel.

For feeding and digestion problems

Critical care liquid food – we buy it from Amazon.

Bowls and measuring cups that you can use to mix the critical care. It comes in a powdered form, and you’ll need to have the right amount of water to mix it up.

Clean syringes – no needles, obviously! Sometimes they won’t take the critical care directly from a bowl and you’ll need to syringe it in.

Baby spoons – some of ours are more eager to take from a spoon than a syringe. We’ve designated some baby spoons to be bunny spoons instead!

Infacol – this is a baby gas medication, but it works really well when a bunny is feeling a bit bloated. We tend to use it as a first line of defence, and with both Ned and Barbara it’s pulled them out of stasis before we got to the vet stage.

For vet visits

Your vet’s phone number – easily accessible.

Your emergency vet’s phone number – also easily accessible. Chances are, bun will get sick or injured out of hours!

A carrier – if possible, one that can be clipped into your car using the seatbelt in case you have to travel a longer distance without a second person to hold it. We tend to line the carrier with hay and put a toy in there.

For preventative care

Bunny nail clippers – keep their claws quite short! Longer claws are more likely to cause injuries in other buns, and will also mean that bun walks on their heels, running the risk of sore hocks.

Baby nail scissors – we use these to keep the fur on Ned and Barbara’s faces nicely trimmed. They’re also really useful for the odd occasion when sticky things get caught in fur, or if there are any matts that need trimming.

And that’s mostly it! Our rabbit first aid kit has saved us all a few times before now. I hope you’ll never need it, though!

Choking rabbit remedies – Gingee’s story

Gingee the choking rabbit

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.

Gingee

What happened

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.

Gingee’s recovery

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?

Rabbit food – our favourites

rabbit food

I see so many people talking online about how to manage rabbit food and the best diet for their bunnies. We’re not experts, but we’ve had three house rabbits for a while now, and (touch wood!) they have pretty healthy bellies.

Here’s what we do:

Our daily staple rabbit food

The pellets (what people think of as “rabbit food”) we feed are Science Selective. It’s generally thought of as being the best food available for bunnies in the UK. It’s not high in sugar or seeds, and there’s no chance that they can selectively feed (i.e., leaving the bits they don’t like!). In the past, we’ve also used Burgess Excel with mint, and the boys had Excel junior when they were babies.

For three rabbits, we give a handful of pellets three times a day. So they each get the equivalent of a handful per day. No bowls. We either hand feed them (as in, giving them the pellets individually) or put them on the floor/in boxes/among paper and they “forage”.

We buy Science Selective in huge bags and decant it all into a big red plastic bin that we keep just outside their room. They know it’s in there and are absolutely fascinated by the bin, but they’re not able to get into it!

Bunnies eating rabbit food

All rabbits are meant to have unlimited hay. It’s meant to make up the majority of their diet. It’s good for digestion and for keeping their teeth nicely worn down. We put out mountains of hay every couple of days, and they love it. They eat it, play with it, use it as a bed… hay is so important for them.

They also get fresh water every day. With three rabbits living inside, they drink a lot – we have six bottles between three bunnies.

I know that bowls are generally thought of as better and more natural for them. When they lived individually, that’s what we used. Now they live together and spend their days chasing each other round, and we found that they knocked the bowls over and got each other wet rather a lot. For now, bottles work well for us. I’d like to transition them back to a more natural way of drinking, but I don’t want the risk of damp rabbits!

Fruit and veg

Rabbits are meant to have a lot of greens. Our three particularly love rocket (arugula) and spinach. We don’t go overboard with the amount, as Ned in particular would eat them until he burst! We used to give him rocket as a treat after he’d had his medication when he was ill.

The greens on top of carrots are also coveted. This means I’m the crazy bunny mum who buys organic carrots for her rabbits, as since our local greengrocer closed, there’s no other way to get carrot tops round here.

Herbs are also popular with our three: mint and coriander are always a big hit.

Fruit is a bit more of a treat, and we don’t give it every day. Some of the favourites are:

  • Apples (Barbara’s favourite thing in the world)
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Bananas are, oddly, not a favourite. Ned once found a banana in my handbag and ate half of it, skin and all, but if offered one, they’ll sniff at it and wander off.

Bunny treats

Of course, we all need a little something extra. So many of the treats sold as rabbit food are really bad for bunnies though. We tend to stick with two in particular: Fibafirst sticks, which are hay-based, and Fenugreek Crunchies, which they love.

When Barbara and Gingee get a Fibafirst or a fenugreek cookie, they do an excited little hop and run away with it so that no one can steal it. Ned’s more trusting, and will even let you feed it to him from your hand. But all three of them absolutely adore those two.

Of course, they’ve all had some treats that they weren’t supposed to – but I think that might be something for Barbara to talk about later!

Happy eating!

Looking back at the newborn days

newborn days

I can’t quite believe that my baby is no longer a newborn! She’s ten weeks old now, and although I’m not quite sure exactly when “newborn” ends, I think we’re probably just into “baby” territory now.

I have absolutely loved the newborn stage. I really didn’t expect to, but she’s just been so much fun. It probably helps that she’s generally a good sleeper, and that I have a lot of support from my husband and my parents.

Of course we have had some difficult times. But we’ve had far more lovely ones! I know I could never list all of my memories of these early days, but I’d like to get some down in writing. The time is going far too quickly, and I don’t want to forget everything!

Some of my favourite newborn memories

Newborn baby

Staring at her for the first time as she was lying in her hospital cot and I was still being worked on in the delivery room. I was too shaky to hold her, but just staring at her was rather lovely.

How she cried that whole first night in the hospital, until we swaddled her.

Her checks the next morning, where she cried so loudly that my mum, three rooms away, could hear her! I had to put her to the breast to calm her down.

Being left alone with her and having to put her jacket on in the hospital. I had no idea what to do.

Introducing her to the rabbits when we got home. They weren’t remotely interested at first, and we had to pick them up and wave them at her to get them to even look at her!

Ned the rabbit with the new baby

Those first nights home from the hospital. We took it in turns to take care of her, so that we could each get some sleep. I was terrified of being alone with her. The nights felt very long.

That very painful day when my milk first came in but she couldn’t latch yet.

How she howled when we had our final appointment with the midwife, at ten days old. And then silence the moment we put her back in the car!

We got cards and post for her every day for about a month.

 

How she used to “turtle” her limbs up in her sleepsuits, so that you’d go to touch the sleeve and find that both her arms were actually cuddled in against her chest.

Visits to the children’s centre to get her weighed.

How she didn’t even cry at her heel prick test. I don’t even think she woke up!

The time we went to register her at the doctors, and the receptionists insisted on cuddling her the whole time I filled in the forms.

Newborn in the snow

The first time she saw snow.

How her face was all funny and blotchy for a couple of weeks.

My husband’s paternity leave, which she largely slept through! We spent a lot of time holed up in the living room, baby in the carrycot or our arms, me reading and him playing Fallout.

Taking her into work at 13 days old. She slept through most of that too!

Having her hold a little sign asking a friend to be her godmother.

How she screamed through every bath and nappy change. Anything where we undressed her!

Taking her out on my own for the first time. I couldn’t get the pram to work, so I had to carry her nearly a mile through town. I was terrified the whole time!

Taking her round the garden centre with my mum. She slept the entire time, including through our meal and a nappy change!

The three of us sitting together in the living room during the day with the curtains closed, my husband and I passing her between us, and watching all four series of Line of Duty.

How she looked as a funny little hungry caterpillar in her swaddle.

Baby lulls us into a false sense of security before sleep deprivation!

There are a million more, I’m sure of it. I’ve only known her for ten weeks but we’ve had thousands of beautiful moments together already.

And there’s so, so much more to come! I’m so excited. I’m so grateful that I get to be her mum and raise her.

Getting baby’s first vaccinations

baby's first vaccinations

Baby is eight weeks old this week. She had her first vaccinations this morning.

I know that vaccinations are a really hot button issue. However, to me, it’s an absolute no-brainer. She will absolutely have every vaccination that we can get her, unless we are advised otherwise by qualified doctors with an extensive knowledge of her medical history.

Why we believe in vaccinations

Put bluntly, I want my daughter to have the best chance at living a long and healthy life. Vaccinating her against life-threatening illnesses is an excellent way to do that.

I struggle enough seeing her strain with hiccups. I can’t imagine 100 days of whooping cough. Have you ever seen or heard a baby suffering with it? I want to limit the suffering she goes through in her life.

The meningitis vaccine wasn’t available when I was a child. A girl I knew at school nearly died from meningitis. She was off school for almost a year. Working with older people, I’ve seen the effects of polio, for example, on people who caught it before the vaccine was available. I don’t want that for my daughter.

I work with and know some people who are immuno-compromised. They cannot have vaccinations. I don’t want to be responsible for my daughter passing a deadly illness onto them.

Our herd immunity is dropping. More and more people opt out of vaccinations nowadays. Maybe it’s because of the falsified MMR study, maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s just because they’re worried about the potential side effects of vaccines, but whatever the reason, we’re getting to a point where society is risking an epidemic of these illnesses again.

I’d far rather a day or two of fever and grouchiness than meningitis, diphtheria or measles.

All of that to say, we intend to follow the NHS vaccination schedule unless told that there’s a reason we shouldn’t.

Our experience

We had a letter a couple of weeks ago, once baby was registered at the doctors. It invited her to come along for vaccinations against:

  • meningitis B
  • rotavirus
  • pneumococcal infections
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • whooping cough (pertussis)
  • polio
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), a bacterial infection that can cause severe pneumonia or meningitis in young children
  • hepatitis B

Phew, that is a lot!

Fortunately, the last six are a combined jab, and rotavirus is oral. So three jabs and one oral syringe. Not too bad!

We turned up there this morning, Calpol in my bag ready to give her afterwards (the MenB jab can cause a fever). The nurse gave her the oral rotavirus one first, which she loved. Then two jabs in one leg and one in the other.

Baby screamed like she was being tortured. Partly because she was hungry, partly because she was cold and had had her legs exposed, and partly because of the injections.

The nurse took me through to the feeding room at the surgery. I fed baby for nearly 45 minutes before we headed home. I gave her Calpol about five minutes after the injections, and it seemed to help. It was her first time trying it and she did love the sweet taste! She can have it every four hours. The nurse said to keep on dosing her throughout the day.

We got home and she slept for a bit, woke up and was giggly (is there such a thing as a Calpol high?) and then suddenly switched to crying and feeling miserable. I think her legs probably ache and feel a bit heavy. So we danced and sang around the living room for a couple of hours. Then I put her in the car seat and we went for a drive to help her sleep.

We’re home now, and she’s lying in her cot, sleeping but whimpering occasionally. Poor baby, I think it’s the first time she’s known discomfort.

But I’d far rather she feel a bit miserable today than that she catch any of the illnesses she’s been vaccinated against. I’m so grateful we live in an era of vaccinations. I’m so grateful to the NHS for providing them to us free at the point of delivery.

Baby sleeps off the discomfort of her first vaccinations