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DISASTER PLAN FOR RABBITS

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PROFESSOR RABBIT

Unlike humans, dogs, and cats, rabbits can get mortally ill very quickly. With rabbits, it is best to err on the side of caution. IF YOUR RABBIT IS NOT EATING OR PRODUCING FECAL PELLETS, GET MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY. Use the information below to assess your rabbit and to begin treatment on the way to your vet's office. Remember, in an emergency, TIME IS CRITICAL.

Normal Rabbit Vital Signs (temperature, heart rate, respirations) are as follows:

Rectal Temperature: 103.3-104F; 38-40C
Heart Rate (pulse): 130-325 beats per minute
Respiratory Rate: 32-60 breaths per minute

If the rectal temperature is less than 100F, keep your rabbit warm by placing him/her on a towel wrapped hot water bottle or a towel wrapped heating pad turned on low.

If the rectal temperature is greater than 105F, moisten the rabbit's ears and bottom of the feet with rubbing alcohol and/or place him/her on a towel wrapped ice bag or a towel wrapped bottle with cold/frozen water in it.

NOTE:  ear themometers are not reliable.

Take your file of your rabbit's medical records with you if you are not going to your regular vet. This helps a new vet establish baseline information about your particular rabbit so that a diagnosis can be made more quickly.

GET TO YOUR VET OR EMERGENCY CLINIC IMMEDIATELY!

"Detecting an Illness Before It's an Emergency," by Dana Krempels Ph D. This article includes instruction about how to take your rabbit's temperature.

CPR FOR YOUR RABBIT

How to do ANIMAL CPR: click here!

Here is a brief primer on the A, B, Cs of CPR for your rabbit adapted from Animal Rights Online, Michelle A. Rivera, Feb. 20, 2005.

Keep in mind that the following basic instruction is not intended to take the place of a visit to your veterinary clinic or pet emergency hospital, which should always be your first plan in an emergency. However, if treatment can be started on the scene or en route to an emergency veterinarian, a life may very well be saved. 
DO THIS ONLY IN EXTREME EMERGENCY:  LIFE OR DEATH.

Any animal, no matter how docile and sweet, can become fiercely protective of himself when in pain so your safety should be your first concern. Do not attempt CPR unless the animal is unconscious, both for safety and for the health of the animal.  CPR should never be performed on a conscience, combative animal.

Airway:  First:  Call your rabbit's name to see if there is any response.  If no response, carefully lean down close and look, feel and listen.


Look at the chest, rib cage, and flanks to see if there is a rise and fall, feel on your cheek or the back of your hand for breath coming from the nose, listen for breath sounds.  Check to see if any foreign bodies are lodged back in the throat.

Breathing:  If your rabbit is not breathing, pull the tongue out just a little, close the mouth and tilt their head back slightly to open the airway.  Administer 4-5 breaths mouth to the nose.  That is, close their mouth and gently breathe into their nose through your mouth. If squeamish about this, cover the nose with a light tissue, gauze or other flimsy material.  You want to breath out just enough to make the chest rise.  Larger rabbits will
need more breath; little rabbits will need much less.  Don't give too much or you will injure the lungs.  Do at a rate of once per second.

Circulation:  Check to see if their heart is beating.  Check for a heartbeat (pulse).  A pulse on a rabbit can usually be felt in the central artery of the ear.  A femoral pulse (inside of the rear leg, towards the top of the leg in the groin area) can sometimes be found but it is not as easily located as on a cat or dog.  If there is a pulse but no breathing, continue to perform mouth to nose resuscitation at the rate of 1 breath every second.   If there is no pulse, begin CPR.

For small animals like rabbits, the technique is different than it is for larger animals.  Place the rabbit flat on the ground.  Gently compress the heart between first finger and thumb at the rate of 70-90 times per minute.  Begin compressions at only �-1 inch deep (depending on the size of the rabbit) and give one breath for every three compressions.  Do this gently as the rabbit's skeleton is fragile.  Check for pulse.

See "First Aid For Rabbits," by Laura Lathan, DVM, at Rabbit References. In the Health & Medicine section, select the topic "Emergencies."

AFTER HOURS EMERGENCY SERVICES THAT TREAT RABBITS

Alexandria Hospital and Veterinary Emergency Service
2660 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

EMERGENCY: 703-823-3601

Call ahead to make sure the rabbit vet is on duty and to advise them of your arrival.

EMERGENCY VETERINARY CLINIC OF FAIR OAKS
at Pender Veterinary Center
4001 Legato Road
Fairfax, VA 22033
by Fair Oaks Mall

703-652-4911

Call ahead to make sure a rabbit vet is on duty and to advise them of your arrival.

GET DIRECTIONS.

METROPOLITAN EMERGENCY ANIMAL CLINIC
12106 Nebel Street
Rockville, MD 20852

6 PM to 8 AM Weeknights
12 Noon Saturday thru 8 AM Monday
8 AM to 8 AM (24 hours) Holidays

301-770-5225

Please phone ahead to check to see if rabbit vet is on duty and to advise them of your arrival.

24/7/365 HOSPITAL THAT TREATS RABBITS

ANIMAL EMERGENCY HOSPITAL
2 Cardinal Park Drive
#101B
Leesburg, VA 20175

703-777-5755

Call ahead to check to see if a rabbit vet is on duty and to advise them of the problem so that they can be prepared when you arrive.

ASPCA ANIMAL POISON CONTROL CENTER
1-888-426-4435
24/7, 365 days

Animal Poison Control Alerts/News

ASPCA ANIMAL PRODUCT SAFETY SERVICE
Product information provided by the manufacture
1-800-345-4735

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES


BLEEDING: venous blood seeps; arterial blood spurts. Apply pressure to the artery to keep rabbit from bleeding to death.

BREATHING: absent, labored, shallow

BROKEN BONES

DEHYDRATION: decreased skin turgor or elasticity, dry mucous membranes in the nose and mouth, fast and weak pulse, marked depression

DIARRHEA: liquid stool (not caecotrophs) without hard fecal production

FLY STRIKE: fly eggs or maggots in wound or skin

GASTROINTESTINAL (GI) STASIS: not eating for 24 hours; no fecal pellet production or pellets getting progressively smaller in 24 hours; no audible bowel sounds

HEART RATE (PULSE): absent, very slow, very fast, irregular

IMMOBILITY: partial or total paralysis

LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNESS: decreased, listless, limp, unconscious, unresponsive.
NEVER GIVE A RABBIT IN THESE STATES ANY LIQUIDS, MEDICATIONS OR FOOD BY MOUTH
.

NEUROLOGICAL SIGNS: head tilt, loss of balance, eyes jumping up and down or left and right (nystagmus), convulsions, seizures

OPEN WOUNDS

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POISONING: generalized muscle weakness, "floppy rabbit syndrome," paralysis of neck muscles, loss of coordination, drooling, decreased temperature, tarry stools, convulsions, seizures

LINKS TO LISTS OF PLANTS POISONOUS TO RABBITS:

http://www.adoptarabbit.org/articles/toxic.html

http://homepage.mac.com/mattocks/morfz/rabhaz.html (under "Toxic Plants")

http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/GI_diseases/Food/Toxic_plants_en.pdf (Contians pictures of the plants).

A blog in progress:  Things That Are Poisonous to Rabbits at http://aspcacommunity.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=658300%3ABlogPost%3A448317

SHOCK: decreased level of consciousness, too slow or too fast pulse and/or respirations, gums grayer or redder than usual

More information about rabbit medical emergencies:  Rabbit Health / Emergencies at http://www.lagomorphs.com/mainpage.html

Contact Us

RabbitWise has no direct experience with these specific organizations or persons. Mention on this web site is intended for information purposes only and does not represent the opinion of, counsel from, or recommendations by RabbitWise.











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