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Rabbit care after surgery

 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
246
forest garden urban
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We finally got the rabbit my niece has been begging for. We (meaning my sister here) converted two cheap entertainment centers into indoor hutches that connect through their windows to a shared outdoor space. Once they get a little bigger these escape artists will be allowed to enjoy the area again. If they're really lucky we'll seal off the escape routes we've identified and let them out a little earlier. It's not been good weather to work outside in the garden this month and the run is actually inside a garden bed.

They have grown large enough to finally have an operation to get fixed. That happened yesterday and we've returned them to their hutches, with temporary barriers to keep each animal on a single level. No climbing until their stitches heal. The largest one seems to be recovering quickly. She's eating with find appetite, is as sociable as ever, and starting making regular liquid and solid waste on the trip home. She didn't even fight having a syringe shoved down her throat to administer pain meds.

The smaller one is making me a little concerned. To date she has dropped two pellets and peed one time since yesterday afternoon. She also seems to have a normal appetite and level of socializing, but I'm worried that can change quickly. I've given her pain meds and q little bit of herbs and apple as a treat afterwards, but I'm hoping there's things I can do to help get her digestive system back up to speed. I know sometimes with dogs you are advised to feed them canned pumpkin when they are bound up. We actually have fresh pureed pumpkin in the fridge right now. Is that likely to be at all helpful to a rabbit?

edit: spelling/grammar
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
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Hi Casie.

I wish your bunnies a speedy recovery. We had our Flemish Giant fixed within a week of getting her. As I understand it, the concern is that rabbits need to eat every three hours to maintain proper digestive function. If they're eating and pooping, they're fine in that respect.

Whatever you're feeding them, be aware of calcium levels, although I bet your vet already told you about that. We tend to feed our girl lots of romaine lettuce as a green treat she can eat comparatively lots of (I usually give her three outside leaves, and if I give her four, it usually just sits there until she's ready for it).

As to treats that are also good for her, we started with mango slices we dried ourselves, but switched to papaya when we found out that an enzyme in papaya stops bunnies from getting what is known as "fur block," analogous to a cat's hairball, and created in the same way (grooming), but rabbits can't vomit, so must pass it like everything else.

I don't know what guidelines you were given, but the general feeding advice we have been given for our girl suggests no more than two tablespoons of any sweet fruit treat per six pounds of bodyweight, and to keep hay and pellets constantly available. They are apparently only prone to overeating in the case of sweet treats.

Other than that, I don't think there's a lot you can do but make sure they can access everything they need. Oh, and you probably know that rabbits are coprophagic, meaning that they eat their own poop. They have two different kinds, but if you've been cleaning up all the poop you see, you might want to hold off on that. In addition to giving their digestion another shot at breaking down what didn't go on the first round, they also reintroduce gut flora, a bunny probiotic.

I hope your bunnies recover swiftly, and may their binkies let you see their thanks.

-CK
 
Casie Becker
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
246
forest garden urban
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Okay, other sites specific to rabbits supported the pumpkin, so I spread about a tablespoon into a collard green and hand fed that to her about an hour ago. I was just in there to replace the hot water bottle we've got under her blanket (just for the recovery period) and there's already visible results in the litterbox. This probably I was just being overly sensitive, but it didn't hurt either of us for me to feed her a soft treat.
 
Chris Kott
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And I'm sure she loves you for it. Good hoomin.

-CK
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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There's a treat that I sometimes make for the whole family where I combine mango, papaya, cranberries and other soft fruits (as available) in a large stock pot and cook them down to something a little thicker and chunkier than apple sauce. I didn't know until today that rabbits could eat mango or papaya. With this new information, Chris, I think I'll dry all the peelings next time and save them for the rabbits.

We've been feeding them a set amount of green vegetables every day with sprigs of garden herbs as treats. They absolutely adore the Mexican mint marigold. A couple of times I feel like I almost lost a finger as the smaller one went after it. They also get a little bit of trimmings or peels from when we cook. The love the rind of the watermelon and it's healthier than the red parts, though you still need to measure it out as a fruit treat. One of them even adores citrus peels.

We try to be very conscious of their dietary needs. We've lost one rabbit because their main care giver didn't really believe such a high percentage of their diet should be hay. They kept filling her up with pellets and treats and we weren't so sensitive to the possibility of GI. It's actually why I'm so hair trigger with these. We went from does something seem off about the bunny to it dying so quickly that we couldn't make the vet appointment the next morning.

The rabbit who escaped and then we had a population explosion of wild rabbits with his domesticated white and black spots nearly immediately and for the next couple years after, he was a much happier story. Clearly he survived long enough to have some real good times.
 
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