Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lessons in Giving a Rabbit His Medicine

Paul and I attempted to give Walter his medicine last night, very unsuccessfully.  After watching the video provided by a commenter in my last post, I felt confident in my ability to use a blanket to wrap Walter in a “bunny burrito” long enough to squirt the medicine in his mouth.  But this proved easier said than done.  We just couldn’t get him to stay in the bunny burrito.  Just as I thought we’d wrapped him up securely enough, he’d wriggle out and dart to one of his hard-to-reach hiding spots.  I was able to give him maybe one-tenth of the required dose through the course of the night.  After spending about an hour chasing Walter around the apartment, probably scaring the bejeesus out of him, I gave up.  By bedtime, Walter was terrified of us; he wouldn’t even come over for a peace offering of basil.

I went to bed frustrated, but woke up with a new plan.  The video showed the rabbit handler sitting on a stool – a place that is out of the rabbit’s element.  I needed to recreate the same situation for Walter.  Trying to pin Walter down on the carpet was fruitless; he would always have an escape route.  So, what could I use that would block off all his exits?  My answer: the dining room table.

I had seen Walter hop up onto the table from the dining chairs enough to know that it was a scary jump down from the table for him.  Too scary for him to attempt it, in fact.  I asked Paul to lay a towel on the tabletop and lift Walter on the table. (To Paul’s credit, he is a much firmer rabbit handler; picking the bunny up still scares me, and I’m sure Walter can pick up on this.)  Once on the table, I wrapped Walter into his bunny burrito and gave him a few forehead scratches while Paul got the medicine ready.  To my surprise, Walter calmly let me insert the syringe into his mouth, behind his teeth, and squirt a little bit of the liquid towards the inside of his cheek.  This was a huge improvement from the night before, when Walter would shake his head and violently run away at the first touch of the syringe on his mouth.

After the first squirt, I let Walter take a short break to lick his lips.  I placed the syringe back in his mouth and repeated the process.  Two more small squirts later and Walter had taken his entire dose of medicine! Paul and I praised the bunny for his good behavior and then gave him a small bit of carrot as a reward.

I’m still nervous that we’ll encounter another medicine-taking struggle for tomorrow’s dose, but I’m confident in the tabletop bunny burrito, and proud of both myself and Walter (and Paul!) for figuring out how to get through the first round.

A big thank you to those who have left comments or tweeted at me with tips and tricks to make giving my rabbit his medicine a lot easier.  I appreciate all your help!

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