Sunday, June 14, 2009
Q: My one year old house rabbit keeps flicking his front paws, one at a time. It is a kind of flick/shake. Any idea why? He is also quieter than normal instead of running around.
A: Rabbits usually flick their paws right before they plan to groom their faces or ears. Is he flicking his paws for a few seconds and then grooming himself? Is so, that is absolutely fine. If he is just flicking his paws repeatedly, then it would be worth it to have a closer look at his paws (is there something stuck to them? does he have a splinter or something of the sort? are they hurting? are they numb? do his nails need to be trimmed/getting caught in the carpet?). If you can't determine anything off about his paws, it might be a good idea to have a vet take a closer look at them.
I'd actually be more worried about him being "quieter than normal." Rabbits, being prey animals, really work to hide their symptoms. Once a rabbit is exhibiting unusual behaviors, you really want to pay close attention. Is he eating the same amount? Bathroom behaviors changed/droppings look the same? Acting depressed? Listless? If you said yes to any of these four questions, then don't wait to make an appointment with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. These are surefire signs something is not right with your bunny, and when it's reached a stage with any of these symptoms, things can go very fast.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Atlas Farms has been donating their delicious organic vegetables to the Boston MSPCA for a few weeks, and it's turning out great for everyone involved. See pictures below for proof! (All of these bunnies are available for adoption through the Boston MSPCA; click on their names for additional information.)
Piper & Widget (Guinea pigs need greens too!)
Another idea: If you're baking/cooking with strawberries and have a ton of strawberry tops, save them in an airtight container and take them to your shelter. Strawberry tops make for a delicious treat!
Thanks for thinking of helping out a shelter or rescue in your area!
Monday, June 1, 2009
With the shelter's limited resources, and an uncertain outcome, (facial abscesses are difficult to eradicate surgically, especially if the infection has reached the bone) the very hard decision was made to euthanize the rabbit. He was in unimaginable agony and the veterinary staff didn't think his chances were good enough to subject him to further pain.
In my disillusionment with the decision to euthanize, I began researching facial abscesses online and found a wealth of information on a seemingly promising alternative treatment. The process, which was first discovered and written about by Marcy E. Rosenfield in the 1990s, describes how long-term use of injectable Bicillin can effectively treat abscesses in rabbits, virtually eliminating and eradicating the infection. I was surprised to learn that these simple subcutaneous injections were not only much less invasive, and very low-cost, but that they were even more effective than the standard practice of surgery alone. While the injections show greatest success when combined with surgery, they've shown marked success without as well, which course can be employed especially in cases where surgery is not medically or financially viable. For shelters with limited resources, i.e. no money for surgery, Bicillin injections offer a ray of hope. And it's a very big ray too.
While the success of the treatment is indubitably affected by whether or not the infection has reached the bone, the Bicillin (Penicillin G is currently preferred over Bicillin) treatments still show notable success in either case. The treatments have demonstrated the ability to successfully halt the rate of recurrence, prompting eradication of facial abscesses to no longer be viewed on par with cancers.
Make sure to read Marcy Rosenfield's study for details and background information and note the importance of investigating the underlying cause of the infection. Dental work may be helpful in certain cases.
Below I have included selected testimonials about Bicillin/PenG use from House Rabbit Society and House Rabbit Network Educators. You can also check out the testimonials previously gathered by Marcy Rosenfield.
In 2003, my minirex Lewis had a walnut sized jaw abscess that we treated with PenG injections, after multiple surgeries and other antibiotics had been unsuccessful. It was a pretty extensive infection, spreading to his face and nose, with demineralization of the jaw bone. I gave him daily sub-q injections for two weeks, followed by injections every other day for two months. The abscess cleared up completely and never returned, and he lived for another five years. So yes, it really can work.
-- Diane M., HRN Educator
My experience is with just one rabbit. She had a jaw abscess on two occasions, and both times they went away with Bicillin alone. One took a few weeks; the other several months. In both cases, the abscesses were not causing any problems, so we had the luxury of time.
-- Amy Spintman, Educator, San Diego HRS
In my experience, [Bicillin] can work very well, especially if the infection is not in the bone. The biggest plus is that Bicillin/Duplocillin is dirt cheap.
--Dana Krempels, HRS Educator
I don't ever give up on a rabbit with an abscess since Bipen [alternate name for Bicillin] emerged. If you have ever read "Rabbits, Gentle Hearts, Valient Spirits," you may have encountered "Buddy's Story," about a rabbit we had at Colorado HRS. He was initially in my care. He had a softball sized jaw abscess, along with other problems. Buddy lived several years after his treatment. In his case, I doubled the dose recommended (with medical approval) and treated about 6 months or so. Bipen is amazing. And, cheap!
--Bea LeNoir, Co-Chapter Manager, Colorado HRS
Ultimately, you should keep in mind that house rabbit ownership has exploded in recent years, and accordingly, breakthroughs in rabbit medicine are still forthcoming. Oftentimes the advances are still evolving and under revision, which means that not every veterinarian will possess all of the most up-to-date information possible, and we as responsible pet owners may even be required to step in and offer some findings of personal research. Don't be intimidated to relay your findings to your vet; it could end up saving your rabbit's life.