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Rabbits; a first aid kit

By request, advice for keeping a first aid kit for domestic rabbits.
I'm making it public in case other bunny people find this useful.

Let me start this off by saying that when your rabbits is sick, there is NO substitute for a qualified vet! I have cared for animals for most of my life and have dedicated myself to rabbits for the past 7 years, I'm a knowledgeable amateur but no more than that.
You are, at all times, responsible for your pets' health. Their lives are in your hands, your pets depend on you to be responsible! If you cannot afford a vet or just can't be bothered to provide the necessary care, do not keep a pet!

That said, the only major rabbit health issue you can deal with at home, in mild cases, are bowel issues. Bowel issues are also some of most common problems with rabbits, as rabbits have very sensitive bowels. In order to prevent bowel issues you should never feed rabbits things that might give them gas (beans, cabbage, sugar) and prevent them from eating things that might cause a blockage (carpet, cardboard, hair).
The medicine listed will help resolve slight issues with bowels or help make your rabbits more comfortable before taking them to the vet.


- The rabbit doesn't eat. If a rabbit isn't eating, it needs help within 24 hours.
- The rabbit doesn't poop.
- The rabbit poops but droppings are small, possibly attached to each other, uneven, lumps of small soft poops.
- The rabbit is restless, getting up and lying down, unable to get comfortable.
- The rabbit is quiet and withdrawn.
- The rabbit is breathing fast and/or grinding it's teeth, indicating pain.
- The rabbit has a hard stomach (left side, just behind the ribs) and/or hard bowels.
- The rabbit has noisy bowels with loud gurgling noises.
- The rabbit is uncomfortable when you feel the stomach or bowels.

Rabbits retain a lot of their wild instincts, one of them is to hide illness and injury. The more noticeable the discomfort, the worse the problem is. Screaming or squealing means a rabbit is in extreme pain and it should be taken to a vet ASAP! Same goes for puking; it's a myth that rabbits can't throw up. I've seen it first hand, twice, and both times the rabbits died shortly after.

What's in my first aid kit


- Ice pod, nibble-proof pad for cooling hot bunnies.
- Nail clippers, only use animal specific nail clippers. Human nail clippers will flatten the nail before cutting it and might cause the nail to split inwards to the quick.
- Stiff hair brush.
- Rubber grooming glove.
- Puppy-sized trimming scissors; to be used with extreme care. Rabbits have very thin, elastic skin and even a small nick could result in a large open wound! Also, not to be used to cut anything but rabbit fur, which is extremely fine, because blunt scissors will catch and pull on the fur, making for a very unhappy bunny.
- Bach rescue spray, herbal treatment for stressed rabbits.
- Echinacea drops, helps raise immunity against diseases such as colds, shortens the duration of diseases, can be used to disinfect.


- Iodine, for disinfecting.
- Clean, plastic syringes (sans needles) still in their plastic wrapper, for administering medicine.
- Oxbow Critical Care for Herbivores, expensive but essential for sick or recovering rabbits. Can be force fed with a special syringe and contains lots of fiber to kickstart inactive bowels.
- Jar of baby food; pureed carrots, without added sugar. Mixing medicine in with pureed carrot is a low-stress method of medicating rabbits that are eating.
- Lactulose, medicine that helps soften masses that may cause intestinal blockage. Vets can prescribe other medication for the same purpose, but Lactulose is the only one that can be given over an extended period of time without causing damage to the bowels.
- Carprofen, medicine that isn't registered to be used for rabbits but a commonly used painkiller and anti-inflammatory. Can also use Metacam.
- Cisaral, medicine that stimulates the bowels. Sometimes called, Cisapride. Can also use Primperan.
- Prozyme, powder made of the enzymes of pineapples, helps break down blockages by dissolving the food therein. Can also be given preventively.
- Snugglesafe heat pad, nibble-proof "hot water bottle" for warming sick bunnies and bunnies recovering from surgery.
- Clean blankets.

Stuff I have which you probably won't need:

- Anti-static metal comb. Only for long-haired breeds.
- Special scissors for thinning out long, thick fur. Only for long-haired breeds.
- Special baby rabbit milk formula. It's a mix of two other types of baby animal formula and the ONLY thing you can safely give to kits. Fed by syringe with a special nib.

PRO TIP: Keep all the papers that come with the medicine and follow their instructions when administering said medicine! Always make sure syringes are clean and that the rabbit doesn't bite the nib off!


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September 2010


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