First Aid

Rabbits - Rabbit first aid

First Aid kits are a must for any pet owner, whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit or a more exotic pet. You never know with animals when they are going to get themselves into a pickle and need instant urgent treatment, at least until you can get them to a vet. Your vet can advise you on what to have in your kit, but generally you should have swabs and bandages to stem any bleeding, you should also keep a note of emergency contact numbers and opening times for your regular vet, and the emergency vet.

Always try to remain calm. You are really no good at all to your rabbit if you cannot think and act in a calm rational way. If you think your rabbit has been injured, you should try and perform a brief examination yourself. It would be a good idea to ask your vet to show you to how to do this when you first take ownership of your rabbit, rather than wait until they get injured. – forewarned and forearmed is always a good policy. If you can see immediately that your rabbit is seriously injured, forget the physical examination and take your rabbit to your vet or emergency vet immediately.

Below are some of the situations and injures you may encounter:

Shock – this can be a life- threatening situation. After any traumatic injury, loss of blood even from an infection or from a medication (anaphylactic shock) your rabbit can go into shock. If your rabbit is in shock the symptoms to look out for are pale gums, they feel cold on their feet and/or ears, their eyes appear glassy or are closed, they may have a weak pulse, or increased rate of breathing and increased heart rate. If you feel that your rabbit may be in shock, wrap it in a towel, provide additional heat (if possible) and place the rabbit in a carrier for immediate transport to your vet.

Bite wounds – if possible immediately flush with warm water, but if you think you  rabbit maybe in shock, do not flush, but get your rabbit to the vet immediately, as attempting to clean a wound could cause more stress for your rabbit.

Insect stings – can cause localized swelling.

Back injuries – this can happen if the rabbit is not picked up correctly.

Eating poisonous plants – see section listing the poison plants.

Heat exhaustion – rabbits can only lose excessive heat through their lips, they don’t pant very effectively, but they do increase the blood vessel size in their ears in an attempt to lose heat. If you suspect heat exhaustion contact your vet immediately.

Cold – rabbits deal with low temperatures much better than they do with high temperatures, so long as they are acclimatised to the cold. Moving an indoor rabbit straight  outside into cold temperatures can cause hypothermia in extreme cases.

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