Follow our 4 essentials guide to provide the best possible care for rabbits in your practise
Posted: 06 March 2018
Rabbits are more and more frequently being hospitalised in veterinary practice as our knowledge and skills in small mammal care improve. Vets and veterinary nurses are ideally positioned to look after them and give them the best chance of recovery from illness and injury.
They do however have very specialised needs and it’s vital we’re all able to provide for them consistently and well. Below we go through 4 of the most important areas to get right when caring for rabbits in your practice.
We’ve all got dog and cat wards, but what are the needs of the rabbit? Below is a short tick list of some of the more important requirements.
Nutritional support must be provided to hospitalised patients, especially those with high metabolic rates where anorexia rapidly results in cachexia. Rabbits have a high metabolic rate and should never be starved. Read our article on the rabbit nutrition to find out more.
When stressed or in pain, they’re susceptible to a variety of gastrointestinal problems, including stasis. These problems can often be more critical than the presenting problem, so it’s most important that all the clinical team are on the look out for signs of a complication. Have you seen and heard our Webinar on Gut Stasis in rabbits? There’s still time to view it. Click here to get access to our free webinar.
Weigh the patient – by far the best way to determine if a patient is receiving sufficient and appropriate nutrition is to weigh them daily. Accurate electronic scales are readily available so there shouldn’t be a problem for most practices. Depending on the results, supplemental feeding can then be adjusted as appropriate.
Calculate the requirements - the calorific requirements of each rabbit should be calculated. Make sure that the food offered is being eaten, and if the daily requirements aren’t being consumed then you should consider assisted syringe feeding as an alternative.
Fibrevore diet - pellets, hay, and fresh salad greens may be used to tempt the anorexic rabbit to eat. Avoid carbohydrate rich seeds.
If the patient isn’t eating, assisted feeding using a syringe should be considered and implemented. There are a variety of products available these days that will help to support and feed an anorexic rabbit.
Emeraid – produced by Lafeber, is specially formulated and produced for use in critically ill patients. It comes as a powder that is mixed with water and then syringe fed. Available for herbivores, it’s an ideal critical diet for rabbits. Its key benefit is that it provides the critical care nutrition in a simplified form, allowing essential nutrients to be absorbed with minimal effort. It’s usually recommended that you feed it as the sole source of nutrition for no longer than 5-7 days.
Excel Dualcare – produced by us at Burgess Pet Care. A specially formulated diet which when mixed with water, can be easily syringe fed to both rabbits at times of stress and recovery. It contains long chain fibre, pre-biotics, methionine, tryptophan and Vitamin C – all essential when looking for nutritional and GIT support. As Dualcare contains long chain fibre, it can be fed for long-term support of fibrevores - rabbits and guinea pigs in particular.
Supplemental heat is critical for patients that have lost or don’t have the ability to thermo-regulate their own body temperature. By providing an external heat source you’ll reduce the physiological stress on the animal during its stay in hospital.