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Disabled Rabbits

Caring for a Disabled Rabbit

 

 

I never gave up on Mr. Hops and it was suggested to me 3 times by different vets.  I ended up with a wonderful and very happy rabbit.  It took a year of shots, pills, diapers, trips to the vet, syringe feedings, etc. and then more medications for another year. Of course, Hops didn't feel well when I was rehabilitating him, but he enjoyed his food, the other rabbits and affection. Most importantly Hops had over 7 years without medications or apparent health issues.  He passed away suddenly at 9 years old with his companion bunny, Mr. Bumble by his side. 

 

Rabbits are perfectly fine pets with blindness, deafness, paralysis, amputation, etc.  Euthanasia should be a last resort when someone can give good care and attention.  Even when rabbits have a piece missing from an ear, they are sometimes considered less than perfect and passed over for adoption or purchase.

 

A three legged rabbit gets around fine and even paralyzed bunnies have good lives with their human and other rabbit friends.  The internet is full of wonderful stories and I have listed several links to them from people who have cared to share their experiences. See bottom of this page for stories and inspiration.

 

Find information on "bunny carts" for rabbits who have lost the use of their back legs here

 

Share Your Experience:  If you have a story or advice about living and caring for a disabled rabbit, please write and I will put it on Hopperhome and link it to this page

What you need to know:

It's a commitment of time and energy to care for a rabbit.  If you can't, then perhaps you know someone who can help or who would be willing to take on a disabled rabbit.

Bring the bunny in the house if it is a hutch rabbit!

Bedding: Get a couple of faux lamb's wool baby size blankets or fabric or Quiet Time Kennel pads (pictured on right) or even cheap soft towels.  By the way, I use the Quiet Time brand pads since they seem to wash up well and last longer than others.

Litter Box: Be sure the litter box is accessible and see Scoop on Litter for one idea or cut down one side of a cat box.

Forget the Cage, if you can.  Get a good size cat or dog pillow bed (instead of a cage) that's washable.

Food & Water: Make sure food, hay and water are close enough to reach.

Buy rabbit shampoo (specifically for rabbits!)  in case you need to clean up the rabbit's rear.  Make sure there are no flies in the rabbit's living area

Sore Hocks: Get bag balm ointment (in the green tin at a drug store) to use for sore hocks, raw skin, etc. Also, vets recommend Desitin (normally used for diaper rash).  If urine scald becomes a problem your veterinarian has more potent medicines that can be applied. Be alert for signs of sores on the bottom of the rabbit's feet.

Get "Critical Care" prescribed from www.oxbowhay.com through your vet so you have it on hand in case the rabbit looses its appetite or isn't getting enough nutrition.  Also, baby food like Gerber's carrots, etc. can help.

Take Your Rabbit's Temperature and keep a bag of peas in the freezer in case the rabbit has a high temperature and needs to be cooled down.  Lay the rabbit over the bag (wrapped in a hand towel) on its stomach for a few minutes.

Syringe Feed: Keep syringes handy for feeding if necessary.

Feed Differently: If the rabbit can't keep on weight, then this is the one time alfalfa hay is okay to feed your rabbit. 

Monitor Everything: Monitor intake of food and water and switch to alfalfa pellets and hay to keep weight on.  Be sure the bunny doesn't get dehydrated.

Grooming: Help the rabbit with grooming such as brushing with a soft brush.  Trim fur around the rabbit's bottom to help keep clean if needed. Buy blunt nosed scissors at a pet store to trim fur.  Remember rabbit skin is fragile and tear easily so be careful. Some vets recommend diapers.  I don't use them now except in a few cases because it keeps the urine and fecal matter close to the skin and sometimes creates more issues.

Activity:  Put the rabbit where there is activity, but not where there is constant loud noise. Keep the rabbit out of drafts and too much heat!  They may not be able to move to a better spot themselves.

Get a Companion Rabbit: Consider getting an older rabbit companion who is calm and would be good for companionship, affection and keeping the disabled bunny mentally stimulated.

Caring for a disabled rabbit can be rewarding.  All the people who told their stories on these links think so and I can add my testimony to theirs.  I have seen my rabbits through different illnesses and I expect when they become geriatric bunnies I will see them through more.  All the care is worth it!

 

Online Disabled Rabbit Group

Amy from Cats & Rabbits & More in San Diego wrote me about an online group for people with disabled rabbits. Amy started the group when her own rabbit, Bijou, became disabled.  There are over 250 people on the list.  Anyone who has a disabled rabbit or a geriatric rabbit should join to share knowledge and help others. 

Go to this link to join the group: Disabled Rabbit Group at Yahoo

 

Stories About Disabled Rabbits

 

Living with a Disabled Rabbit

Very helpful information and guide to living with a disabled rabbit.  Lucky the rabbit has partial use of one hind leg and full use of his paws.

 

Fuzzy's Dislocated Hips

Blow by blow description of dealing with Fuzzy's surgery and care of this rabbit afterward.  Lots of pictures.

 

Rascal's Stroke and His Travels 

This rabbit didn't get left behind.  A stroke left the bunny an invalid, but he had two years good years with this wonderful couple. Very detailed with lots of pictures.

 

How to Diaper Disabled Bunnies by Violet

Excellent instruction on this difficult, but sometimes needed task when you have an incontinent rabbit.

 

Quality of Life by Marinell Harriman

This is an excellent article on the House Rabbit Society website about the "confusion that exists in people's minds when dealing with crippled, deformed or less than "perfect" animals.    Very good advice from an expert!

 

Caring for the Partially Paralyzed Rabbit by Mary Edwardsen

Mary's rabbit, Charles, twisted his back and it resulted in an unhappy ending, but a month long journey of intensive care for this rabbit.  Instructions and advice on care, keeping bunny clean and happy.

 

Barney's Story by Christine Bennett

Christine starts out by saying that "if I told you the highlight of my day is taking care of my paralyzed rabbit, you might think I'm off my rocker."  She shares how she took care of Barney to facilitate his quality of life.

 

Videos

 

Woolley and his Wheels

 

 

Bumble B. Bunny

Bumble was 8 years old and crippled in both front paws due to fractures with resulting splay leg. He was developing arthritis in his back legs plus his front shoulders and yet still wanted to hop. He fearlessly flung himself about on the soft kennel pads. He did receive pain medication as it worsened. Mr. Hops (the Lavender Point Californian rabbit in the video) was his best buddy and they spent hours grooming each other. Mr. Hops really made a difference in Bumble's quality of life!

 

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CARTS FOR Disabled Rabbits

From Hopperhome Bunny Blog 11/19/08 - British Bunny Gets a New Chariot – Four year old, Ethel, a beautiful white lop was paralyzed by a disease earlier this year.  Zoe would not have her pet bunny put down against the advice of vets.  Ethel lost control of her bladder and bowels, but she wears a special bunny diaper at night. Zoe researched and found a company in the USA (Dogs to Go) that makes custom carts for disabled pets.  Zoe says, “It gave Ethel a new lease on life.  At first she struggled to keep her balance and kept tipping over, but she soon got to grips with it especially on flat surfaces.  Now she loves it. As soon as we put her in it, she starts hopping around and really enjoys it.  The “extra small” size (10 lb. and less) is $65.00 which does not include shipping, or extra wheels, etc. Visit their website link above for current pricing and more information.  See Ethel in action at this Link.

Manufacturers of Carts:

More Information:

Walkin' Wheels - about handicapped dogs *Thanks to several people who emailed me to tell me the identity of the adorable bunny in the cart.  It is Ebony Bean and her mom is Elaine.  They are featured on www.handicappedpets.com/wheelorder.htm

 
 

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