Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Advice from the Veterinarian

Walter’s been in an interesting mood this week.  He’s found a new hangout spot: my leather ottoman.  He started using it as just one more piece in his self-created obstacle course around the living room, but yesterday, I noticed he’s taken to just laying on it.  I think he thinks it’s his own couch.  Speaking of couches, Walter has also taken to lying next to me on the couch.  He doesn’t try to run around or jump between the cushions; he just wants to snuggle.  It’s sweet, even if it’s abnormal for him.

I’ve been having a lot of difficulty getting Walter to take his medication.  On Monday night, my attempts left Walter completely shaking with terror; I could hear him making this weird teeth-grinding/chattering noise that I’ve never heard him make before.  It stopped as soon as I stopped trying to force the medicine on him, so I take it as a sign of fright.

I emailed my veterinarian for some suggestions.  He replied with some interesting suggestions, which I’ll have to try tonight.  First, he let me know that the pharmacist was considering other flavors for the medication.  Right now, Walter’s medicine is banana-flavored, and I don’t think he’s enjoying it.  The veterinarian indicated that the pharmacist was working on a pineapple flavor, and also, interestingly, a hay-flavored medication.

His suggestions both include pineapple juice (using the 100% juice kind), since rabbits typically love pineapple juice and it’s good for them – especially for their digestive tract.  First, he suggested putting the proper amount of medication in the syringe and then filling up the remainder of the syringe with pineapple juice.  This would make for a sweeter, tastier experience for the rabbit.  His second suggestion was to set out a small dish of pineapple juice for the rabbit, and see if he lapped it up completely.  If so, then repeat this, but mix in the proper dose of medication.

He also told me what I already knew: wrapping the rabbit snuggly in a towel and covering his eyes will minimize his medication-related stress.  Since I only have two hands, it’s difficult to hold the rabbit in his towel, cover his eyes, and give him the medication all at the same time.  But I’ll figure something out.

The doctor ended his email with a good piece of advice:
“Sometimes TLC is Tender Loving Care and other times it is Tough Loving Care. Often times, if our pets know meds or treatments are coming, they prepare for it, which makes it difficult on both parties. Sometimes it is best to just give it when least suspecting.”
Remembering that tough love is okay sometimes is hard for me when it comes to the bunny.  He’s got those sweet “don’t hurt me!” eyes and that silly little wiggly nose.  But, the veterinarian is right.  If I don’t toughen up on Walter, the rabbit always wins the struggle, which means he won’t get his medication and he’ll stay sick.  Tough love it is!  And I’ve been consistently giving Walter his medication right before bedtime: procrastination of a difficult chore on my part.  Maybe I should switch it up and start giving Walter the meds right when I get home from work.  That way, it’s over with early on, and he has the rest of the evening to play and forgive.

In other news, Walter has discovered a new love for cilantro and Italian parsley, and nothing cracks me up more than seeing a giant clump of greens hanging from Walter’s greedy little mouth.


  1. I HATE that bannana flavored junk (if you think giving it to a bunny is hard, try giving it to a CAT- that's right, my last round of cat antibiotic was FRUIT flavored- I tasted it)!!! I reccommend trying the Bunny Burrito technique until you get it right. If need be, ask a vet to demonstrate on a willing cat (yes, the burrito works even better on cats). For best results, I use TWO towels on the larger bunnies. Think of it as a burrito within a burrito. Also, once the bunny is secure, I hold her like a football under my (nondominant) arm. With practice, you will find that you can hold Bunny, cover eyes, and feed medicine unassisted! It is not an easy thing to learn, but worth it. See if there is a willing breeder in your area to show you. Best of luck!

  2. Sometimes I wish there was a "Rabbit Whisperer!" But great idea to ask a breeder or the vet to give me some hands-on training in medicating my rabbit. Thanks!

  3. I really love that Jen tasted her cat's antibiotics. I think that's better than my mom putting the electric fence collar around her wrist and crossing the line to see how it felt AND me licking mashed pumpkin off a spoon to show Dixie that it's safe, combined.

    I've seen a friend 'burrito' her Corgi to brush its teeth. She catches him unawares by getting the toothbrush out way in advance while he's not looking, surprises him with a giant towel, feeds him treats while she gets situated on the floor with him on his back and his head between her knees, and by then he's subdued enough that she can brush.

  4. Frank is a sofa bun, too. He's often snuggling beside us in the evenings, and when we don't start in soon enough he can be found there, perfectly smushed-out and content, enjoying our music and waiting!