Friday, September 10, 2010

Rabbit Health Mysteries, Part 1

Let me preface this by telling you all that I’m a slight hypochondriac. I’m one of those obnoxious patients that goes on WedMD and diagnoses myself with a heart attack when I’m really just experiencing heartburn. It’s inevitable that I would transfer my hypochondriac self-diagnoses on to my rabbit.

Prior to getting my pet, I had done enough reading to know that rabbits are the master of disguise when it comes to disease, and that I needed to keep a close eye on his behavior and body if I wanted to keep him healthy. So, when Walter first came home with me in April, I set him up for an initial veterinary exam, just to make sure we were starting off on the right foot. I prepared for the vet visit by suspiciously watching every grooming session, every scratch of the ear, and every bathroom visit. I created a laundry list of questions to ask Walter’s new doctor, and of course, came up with all sorts of potential problems he may have.

Now, this was problematic for a few reasons. For one, I had only been with Walter for about a week! I didn’t know anything about his personality or his quirks. For another thing, I had never owned a rabbit before, and all the research in the world won’t fully prepare you for everything. And lastly, I’d read so many articles and books about rabbit behavior that I actually couldn't keep all that information organized inside my brain. So I picked out tidbits of knowledge here and there – and whatever I picked out always assumed the worst.

Walter sure shakes his head a lot. Maybe he’s developing the head tilt!

Or maybe I should’ve remembered that rabbits shake their head when they don’t like something you’re doing. (Walter shakes his head at me when it’s time for him to go into his cage at night, but he thinks it should still be playtime.)

Why is Walter scratching all the time? He must have mites!

I probably should have noticed that he never scratched the same spot twice; if he had mites, it was more than likely that he’d have a defined problem area or two. This was just generalized scratching because, you know, he had an itch.

As it turns out, Walter’s initial vet exam went just fine. He did have the beginnings of an ear infection, which meant I had to tackle him twice a day and sneak drops into his ears. But after a few days of the drops and a few more frantic emails to the vet (“Why is Walter’s fur thinning?” Answer: because the ear drops occasionally made it out of his ears and onto his fur, and the liquid was greasy, making his fur clump together.), I learned to trust myself as a rabbit caretaker and know the difference between a silly rabbit quirk and a real health issue.

What was your biggest bunny health scare?

1 comment:

  1. my rabbit is definitely a hypochondriac. when he was 2 1/2 weeks he was left at my mailbox so i had to nurse him. from then on whenever he feels lonely he sits in a corner not moving he even tilts his head to the side sighing and sneezing, so i pick him up wrap him in a blanket bottle feed him and lots of kisses later PRESTO! one bunny cured he simply never forgot how i raised him and stills sees me as his mother Hobbs is now 4yrs old...even my dog is getting annoyed with this because he thinks Hobbs really is sick and brings him toys to make him feel