Rabbit Health

So Petal (you may remember her brush with death last year) is not particularly well. Two weeks ago I wrestled her into the pet carrier to be told that she may possibly have mites because she looks like she has a bad case of dandruff. They weren’t sure but decided to treat anyway because in honesty I don’t think they knew what else it could be.

She was prescribed some medicine and fortunately this is not a repeat of the time when we had to try and squirt medicine into a rabbit’s mouth (which is probably on a par with brain surgery in terms of difficulty) but liquid to be squirted onto the skin.

This experience cost me £69. Since then things have got worse and her skin is red and raw from over-grooming and possibly even from her pulling her hair out. It’s not great, so I took her back.

Now my rabbit is now on steroids (at an additional cost of £39). There is no chance of her competing in the rabbit olympics now – the disappointment is palpable. I’m interested to see if when she’s better it results in higher hopping and improved hole digging ability.

She’s on steroids to try and fix her skin problem but the underlying cause, we think, is stress.

I’ve always secretly loved Petal a tiny bit more than our other rabbit – maybe because I identify with her. There are some striking parallels.

It seems we both suffer from anxiety. What the hell has a rabbit got to be anxious about, I hear you cry? Much the same could be said for me. The vet said some rabbits are just wired differently and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason for their stress. They need to be treated gently. Yep, sounds familiar. She also spends a lot of time sitting still.

There are differences of course. She’s less of a communicator than me, it’s fair to say – I can’t imagine her agreeing that it’s “Time to Talk” about anything especially her mental health. Her idea of communication is banging her foot repeatedly in the pet carrier which translates as “I’m scared and cross, take me home”.

I also don’t pull my hair out but I do eat too much chocolate which is equally unhealthy and equally doesn’t help. I’ve tried explaining this to her but I got no reaction.

On Tuesday I take her back to the vets and we see what’s different. She may have another injection, this time for mites and it’s the same medicine they use to treat cattle. I feel slightly that she’s being experimented on but I guess we have to fix the bugs before we can help her tackle her anxiety. Just like I need my tennis elbow to sodding improve so I can do the things that make me feel better, namely anything using my right arm.

Then there was actual talk of anti depressants. The vet said he hasn’t prescribed them for a rabbit before, but plenty of cats. I nearly took pills a few years ago but couldn’t quite do it. I’m not sure I can give them to my rabbit – not least since by next week she may have a personality disorder and not know whether she is a cow or a rabbit. I don’t want to throw cat into the mix too.

How do you treat anxiety holistically in a rabbit? I’ve bought vitamins for her water bowl but she already has plenty of greens and fresh air. I can’t feed her fish and there is no way she is getting enough sleep as rabbits don’t appear to ever actually close their eyes. I’m also not sure training for the marathon would be effective.

I guess it’s just time, care and regular check ups. Funny that.

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