Sunday, March 11, 2007

I've outsmarted a rabbit!

My wife and I foster rabbits for the House Rabbit Network (HRN). A few days ago, my wife and I took in three new foster rabbits, which were transferred from the MSPCA.

One of the new foster bunnies, Jasper, is underweight and lethargic. He's close to a pound beneath the healthy weight for a rabbit his size, which on a bunny currently weighing 3 pounds, 6 ounces is a significant problem.

We've been trying to get him to eat. Yesterday, my wife noticed that he had molar spurs. These are points on a rabbit's ever growing teeth that cut the tongue and gums. This makes it next to impossible to eat.

We've scheduled a dental appointment for Tuesday (The earliest they could see him) but we needed to get him eating in the mean time.

The problem is, he hasn't even been paying much attention to liquid or mash foods. The teeth are so bad, that merely swallowing appears to be painful.

We tried syringe feeding him, but he would simply let most the food drool out.

We got some pain medication from the head of HRN, and when giving him the first dose, I got an idea.

The food syringe is rather large, but the medicine syringe is only a milliliter. I got him to take the medicine by pushing the tip of the syringe past his molars and towards his throat. This is an old trick that gets the rabbit chewing on the syringe, but renders them unable to do anything but swallow the medicine.

As an experiment, I grabbed some of the baby food carrots I'd picked up for him (The critical care is too chunky at the moment to go into the syringe) and was able to give him four milliliters of purred carrot. About an hour later, I gave him another four.

Remembering Fuzzface's medical problems, I knew that two to three feedings of ten milliliters of Critical Care will be needed for him to start gaining ground. If I mix the Critical care with water instead of water and Pear Sauce, I should be able to get it into the smaller syringe.

The sum of all this?

I now have a way to get him to eat until the vet can trim his teeth Tuesday.

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