by Dr. Sari Kanfer, Medical Director
Corner Rabbit Rescue
is the topic sheet for the Emergency Medical Care Seminar presented
on the above date. Italicized text has been added. Topics were discussed
in more depth on the above date. If you have any questions, please
e-mail Alex Logsdon.)
Know your normal vets schedule. Some vets only work a few
days per week or have extended hours on certain days---know this,
it will come in handy. Have a back-up vet for when your vet is out
of town, busy, not in the office; know your local emergency vets,
especially those who see rabbits. Keep names, addresses and phone
numbers posted where you or anyone caring for your pets can easily
find them. Know where all the vets are located, even if you have
to do a trial drive-by. Getting lost or having to write
down directions when you are panicked will lose precious time! If
you cannot get to a rabbit vet during an emergency, get to a vet
period! Basic emergency care is similar for all animals (i.e.,
stabilize, assess, oxygen, wound care, etc.).
taking bunnys temperature (Normal is 101-103 degrees
diet, keeping a rabbit inside the home as a house rabbit, good healthcare/vet
check-ups, bunny proofing the rabbit environment will help prevent
most emergencies, but the unexpected can still happen. Always have
a towel and carrier handy, in case you need calm bunny down (wrap
in towel and put in secluded carrier) and get bunny to the vet!
Dont forget: If rabbit has a companion, it is important
to always bring him or her along to keep bunny company, unless there
is a possibility (as with a broken back or limb) for further injury,
in which case it is a good idea to bring bunny along on a separate
carrier. See also hand-out: The
Rabbit Emergency Kit for more info as to what items you should
have on hand.
Stroke (Can occur at temps above 78 degrees F). Weakness,
lack of coordination, seizures, unconsciousness, lying down/not
and incontinence. DO NOT use ice or alcohol!
Mist or rub down rabbits ears with cool---not cold---water,
put rabbit in carrier and get to vet.
problems (Stretching head/neck in the air, gasping for breath)
Sudden onset pneumonia is not uncommon.
Put rabbit in carrier and get to vet immediately.
wounds, scrapes, punctures (Shock, infection)
Small shallow wounds may be cleaned with a clean cotton or
gauze pad and some Betadine (may also use Peroxide, but never
in deep cuts or punctures!). May use Neosporin (with NO pain killer/lidocaine,
which can induce heart failure in rabbits). If cuts are large,
ragged, deep, requiring stitches or if you are not sure
go to vet immediately.
Shock (Cord chewing). Rabbit is weak, incontinent, unconscious
Wrap rabbit lightly in towel and get to vet immediately.
leg, neck injuries (Dragging a limb, inability to put weight
on limb, dragging hind end)
Gently put rabbit in carrier and get to vet immediately. If
there appears to be a broken limb, back, etc., it may be advisable
to bring companion rabbit in separate carrier. This is why it
is a good idea to have on hand one carrier for each rabbit.
Stasis (Not eating, no feces, etc.)
Get to vet immediately. For more information on how to prevent
and/or deal with this situation, see articles Rabbit
Diet and Nutrition, Nursing Your Rabbit
Through Gastrointestinal Stasis and of course, the number
one article on the subject, GastroIntestinal
Stasis, The Silent Killer, by Dana Krempels.
Eye injuries always need vet attention.
(Fear, animal attack, stress temp below 99-100)
Lightly cover rabbit with towel and get to vet ASAP.
(Runny or liquidy stool)
Do not give veggies to rabbits with diarrhea; take away pellets
for a few hours and offer a variety of fresh hays. If diarrhea
persists for more than 6-8 hours, contact your vet immediately.
If there is blood in the stool or if bunny stops eating, is listless
or in pain, get to vet ASAP. If rabbit is under three months old,
do not wait, call your vet.
Generally a sign of underlying problems. Get to vet immediately.
If there are maggots (fly larvae, also known as "fly strike
) DO NOT attempt to pull them off or deal with this on your own.
Get to a vet ASAP.
to urinate/inability to urinate
(Urinates frequent small amounts, grinds teeth when trying, postures
to urinate often, but does not; extreme urination posture (back
legs spread, bottom/tail high in the air))
Could be a sign of infection, bladder stones or blockage, get
to vet ASAP.
(Bottoms of back feet have no hair, open wounds, etc.)
Clean wounds with warm water and Betadine and/or contact your
vet ASAP. Hock sores can become infected and quickly turn into
abcesses which can penetrate the bone.
Clean pen or cage, make sure footing is solid and comfortable,
such as industrial, low-pile carpet, rugs or untreated sea grass
mats. Rabbits should never live on wire flooring.
(sudden neurological changes)
rabbit in small, padded box or carrier or, if rabbit
will allow (if there is a person to drive you), wrap lightly
but securely in a towel and hold bunny while you are driven
to vet ASAP.
Symptoms can be delayed.
If poisoning is suspected, GET TO A VET and bring poison with
Feel bunny all over and locate source of blood. If it is broken
nail or small bite wound, scrape, etc., you can care for it yourself
as mentioned above. Major wounds, undetectable blood sources,
blood in the urine or feces all require immediate veterinary attention.
Call your vet, describe situation and make appointment immediately
or as necessary.
see Health Concerns for Your Rabbit.