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When you have to force feed a rabbit

As you noted, it isn't wise to force feed a bunny if you haven't ruled out a complete intestinal blockage. However, once you have the okay from the vet to get some food and fluids into them you may have to force feed them if they won't take food on their own. I consider myself a master force feeder as in V.v.'s short lifetime I think he ate as much from a syringe as he did on his own. Here's some tricks I've learned:

  • if a rabbit won't drink water they might drink fruit juice. My guys love apple, orange, pineapple, cranberry and even carrot! I'm careful to get pure 100% juice no sugar added. They've even taken cold mint tea. It's a very sick rabbit that won't take a bowl of something sweet! If you can get away with it, dilute the juice with water as too much sugar can cause problems of its own in rabbits. Sometimes just a tablespoonof juice in a bowl of water is enough to spark their interest.

  • if a rabbit won't drink on their own they'll often take a syringe of fluids easier if the water has a bit of fruit juice in it or if the tip of the syringe is dipped in a drop of honey.

  • I have a bunny emergency supply for those scary midnight episodes that nearly every bunny owner has gone through. I keep Ovol tablets, jars of natural baby food in their favourite flavours, fruit juice, assorted syringes and I have some Oxbox Critical Care well sealed in the freezer.

  • Laura Tessmer's recipes for sick bunnies are great! If you can't find them on the internet (House Rabbit Society site) write me (voco@telus.net) and I'll send them to you.

  • If the mush you're feeding the rabbit is too thick for the syringe (as it will be if you're using Oxbow Critical Care) cut the tip off the syringe. You'll end up with a stubby syringe with a big hole in the bottom of it but you'll be able to push the mash into the rabbit's mouth with it.

  • Several smaller feedings during the day seem to work better for getting rabbits back on their feet than fewer larger feedings.

  • Even if your rabbit is eating and pooping just borderline supportive fluids can be a great benefit. The fluids can push them along faster and so a trip to the vet is worth it for this alone.

Vincent VanGogh (V.V.Gogh)If my rabbits don't do their normal "thumpity-thump run and stumble over each other" to get to get to the food in the morning I know something's wrong. Their morning routine is so set that if it's off I just pick up the phone and call the vet. I've found that its cheaper in the long run (and better for all involved) to nip problems in the early stages. Usually my rabbits wait until midnight Sunday to get sick. I've found the rabbit care at the West 4th Avenue Emergency clinic spotty. I took Mopsy in with a bladder blockage and the vet was great. The night we took V.V. in the vets really didn't know what they were doing. They hadn't even heard of simethicone - I had to explain what it was! I begged to see someone pronto but they figured a siamese cat was sicker than V.V. He died - the cat went home okay.

Above is a photo of Vincent VanGogh (V.V.Gogh) the dear little, one- eared bunny. V.V. was rescued from a pet store that was keeping the poor, damaged, little rabbit (one ear missing and a broken leg) for snake food. He was a wonderful, loving pet and is sorely missed by Cindy and Vern.