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Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE Bunny Died Traumatically in My Arms

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    • Bunbuns
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        I have never posted on here but am having a really hard time with the passing of my bunny Padfoot (male holland lop, 3 years old) that happened yesterday. Padfoot had health problems throughout his whole life including scoliosis, frequent poopy butt, recurring stasis, and mobility issues. Regardless, we tried to do everything we could do to help him live comfortably and joyfully, and made sure he always had the best food and accessible play areas. He was a little angel and we had such a strong bond from all of the care he needed. Our little buddy was the most loving, gentle, and curious boy and has been our best friend for the past 3 years. He loved sitting on high perches, cuddles, cilantro, and most of all his wifey Moony. I feel so guilty that his wifey is now all alone, and I know I won’t be ready to think of getting another bunny for a long long time. Padders was always a happy face and had so much love to give. He was what I thought of when I woke up, and before going to bed, and he helped me true some truly tough times. He was a loving ray of sunshine and was our baby boy. I don’t think I’ve even started to grasp what happened over the last few weeks.

        Three weeks ago, I took him and his bonded mate (Moony, female holland lop age 2) to the vet in the morning for a healthy check-up, and everything was fine for the most part. Padfoot had very slight sore hocks developing, but everything else seemed fine. I came home from work that night and both of my bunnies did not eagerly eat their salad so I knew something was wrong. I thought maybe they were just both stressed out from the visit, and decided to wait a few hours and see what happened. Moony started nibbling a few pellets and treats, so I knew she would be okay, but Padfoot would take a bit and then become extremely uninterested. I began syringe feeding him critical care (CC) thinking that he maybe had some tummy trouble that would pass. We’d been through stasis a number of times, so I thought it would all be okay. This continued for a few days with him eating a little here and there, and us feeding CC 4x a day. I noticed that he was still pooping/peeing so it probably wasn’t stasis, but we still took him back to the vet. The vet couldn’t find anything else wrong with him except that the left side of his lip was slightly raised and said it could be “neurological.” He prescribed Baytril and Metacam and said to continue CC until his appetite picked up. A week later, he still hadn’t eaten and was spending most of his day sitting on his wooden play castle with his face pressed through one of the windows. We went back to the vet and they did bloodwork that came back clear and they said he probably had a stroke and we just needed to wait it out to see how much he’d recover. During this 3 week period of syring feeding him, we watched a video of how to perform the swinging bunny Heimlich maneuver where you place the bunny on your arm and swing it in a downward motion just in case he choked while we were syringe feeding him.

        A few days later, (3 days ago) I discovered that adding a little unsweetened applesauce to his CC made in gobble it up from the sryinge. I thought this was a good sign that things were going to get better, he just needed more time. I truly thought he was going to make it. Then 2 days ago, he was really fighting us while feeding him. When I’d string 0.3mL into his mouth, he would chew it very slowly and kept forcefully jumping away from me. I think I could feel something had changed, but I didn’t want to accept it.

        Yesterday (Friday), my husband syringe fed him breakfast which he ate willingly but very slowly, and I went to work. After 2o minutes, I started bawling at work and knew something just wasn’t right, so I came home. We started calling other vets to try to get a second opinion on his condition, but all couldn’t get us in until Monday. I picked up my little buddy and brought him to the couch with me. I usually tried not to hold him so much because he never particularly liked being held on the couch. He got very comfortable being held against my arm and I could feel him relaxing heavier than he ever had before. I looked at his face and could see that his mouth was open and his nostrils were flaring a lot while he was taking very short shallow breaths. I held him to myself and pet him for 2 hours while we kept trying to find an appointment somewhere. I could tell he wasn’t doing so well, so I just kept petting and talking to him, and me and my husband looked at pictures and memories from our 3 years together with him while trying to comfort him. At noon, it was time for his lunch. I thought about skipping it, but I thought that if I skipped it, he could die from dehydration and I’d always blame myself, and that maybe he could have lived if I had at least tried to feed him.

        I put him in a sitting position on my lap and was trying to see if he would gobble up the syringe the same as he did at breakfast. I syringed the tiniest amount into his mouth (probably less than 0.05mL)  and waited to see if he’d start gobbling or at least chewing it, but he just let it sit there. I then carried him over to the table where we had been doing his feeding, but when I set him on the blanket, he couldn’t stand and flopped down on his side. I cried for my husband that something was happening, and I quickly picked him up again. I rushed back to the couch to sit down, and then Padfoot made the most terrible coughing sound a few times. I thought he was choking on the critical care, so I frantically performed with bunny Heimlich 2-3 times, swinging him down and trying to see if anything came out of his mouth. I was checking his mouth and realized he wasn’t breathing anymore. I sat on the couch and held him against my chest and he wasn’t breathing or moving. He went all limp in my arms and it was obvious that he was gone. This entire sequence of events happened in under 20 or 30 seconds, and I regret every decision. I can’t help but think that I might have caused him to aspirate his critical care, and that if I just hadn’t tried to feed him he may have lived longer and passed peacefully in my arms. I also think that maybe the coughing sound was him dying naturally and not from choking, but that me swinging him in his last moments was probably terrifying and is the last memory that he will always have of his life. I know that I was doing what felt like the right thing to do in the moment, but I can’t help but feel like shit and like I could have made his last moments better. I also think that I should have taken him to a different vet earlier and that there had to be something else we could have done. I really had no idea he would die so quickly, and I wish I could make it happen differently but I know I never can.

         

         


      • Bam
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          I am very sorry you lost Padfoot, and in such a traumatic way.

          I think you did do what you could. You should feed Critical Care, without food in the system, a rabbit goes downhill very, very fast.

          I think Padfoot was very ill.

          Rabbits can get vascular strokes. It’s probably often overlooked. Treatment is supportive care, like you did. One stroke is often the first in a series of strokes, in any species incl humans. The thing with his left lip made me think middle ear infection, but a full blood panel would’ve shown infectious markers. Another possibility is e cuniculi. Antibiotics are largely ineffective against middle ear infections. Metacam is good though, because it relieves pain and inflammation.

          I understand this must have been horrible for you, and it will stick with you for quite some time. But you were there for him, he didn’t have to go alone. That is important.


        • DanaNM
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            I’m so so sorry. 🙁 I agree with Bam that Padfoot was very ill.

            I had an almost identical thing happen to me with my bun Moose (completely different lead up and circumstances, but also a young bun with a host of problems). I don’t think you caused his death with the Critical Care, or any action you took. I think he was already starting to “crash”, which is why he just held the food in his mouth. My bun also made this awful rattling noise and seemed like he was struggling that started even before I fed him. It was horrible.

            I also think it’s likely that he wasn’t fully conscious by the time you did the Heimlich, if that is any comfort.

            You took all the actions an amazing owner would take, and it’s very normal to feel guilt and second guess in these situations, but please try not to. I know it doesn’t make it any less traumatic, but you did what you thought best in the moment (and I honestly would have done the same in your situation), and it sounds like he was able to say his good byes to you while you sat with him on the couch.

            I hope that you and Mooney can comfort each other. I know these memories will stick with you, but it may help you to start jotting down some positive memories of Padfoot as they come to you. I know it has helped me, to make sure my memories of beloved buns aren’t from their final traumatic moments.

            . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


          • Bunbuns
            Participant
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              Thank you Bam and DanaNM for your responses. It’s really comforting to hear that you would have done the same in the situation. When I explain what happened to non-bunny people, they just don’t understand and assume I knew what I was doing and did what was best. Padfoot was my first bun and everything was happening for the first time, and I just kept thinking that there must have been something else I could have done, because if I had done everything right he would have lived. I know this is not true and it was just his time to go, but it’s still very hard.

              I took some advice from other posts and set up some of my favorite pictures of him in his area so I can look over and remember him at his best instead of at the end. I just keep looking over at one of the candid pictures and my brain can’t wrap itself around the fact that he’s not here anymore. He looks so real in the photo and is sitting exactly how he did when I’d walk by his carpet and he was waiting for salad or pets. He was such a little sweetheart. I’ll add the pic of him (left, white/brown) and his wifey Moony (right, gray) here. We’re also going through our favorite memories of him and are going to make a memory/picture album and have it printed.

              I’m not sure when I’ll be able to stop thinking that there was something else wrong with him that could have been treated. I did so much research and reading yesterday trying to figure out if it could have been E. cuniculi, but I feel like the symptoms of a (slightly) raised lip, no appetite, and lethargy triggered by a car ride/vet visit are so vague and barely match any of the E. cuniculi symptoms. I also realized that all of his illness took place over 2 weeks, not 3 weeks like I had thought. He was doing so well before the first vet visit, and really had been living his best life for at least 8 months without any stasis or issues. I really want to believe that we did everything that could have been done, so I’m trying to put peace in my mind that it was a stroke or some other brain/spine/heart disease or birth defect that we had no way of knowing or stopping.


            • DanaNM
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                He was sooooo cute! And what a cute pair he made with Mooney. <3

                The short answer is you might not ever stop wondering what exactly happened, and probably won’t ever know, unfortunately. When a bun starts to “crash”, they often show signs and symptoms that are like familiar things that we know how to treat, but then all of the sudden things take a turn. With Moose, the bun I mentioned, the vets were as shocked as I was (he showed signs of needing a dental procedure on a Thursday, and died over the weekend), and did a necropsy that was inconclusive. My sense is that he had a congenital issue (he was only 1 year old), or some type of bone cancer. But in time you will come to accept it. Rabbits, sadly, did not evolve for long lives, and have not been bred for robust health. The reproduce so young that often breeders will unintentionally breed rabbits that have medical issues (that haven’t appeared yet) based on appearance more than anything. And even when they have good genes, things can still go wrong.

                Although it he had a short life, it is clear that he was extremely loved and well cared for, and had the type of life that many rabbits unfortunately never get.

                I think making a memory book for him is a great idea <3 and feel free to keep sharing pics here!

                 

                . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


              • prince dorian the bun
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                  Padfoot  was just the cutest. I am so sorry you lost him and I know how dramatic it is to have them pass in your arms while you are trying to help but not sure if what you are doing is right. Know that if not perfect you were trying your best and it really does count. Hope in time you can spend more time with his happy memories and how you both touched each others life.


                • Bam
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                    Padfoot was beautiful! I hope you and Mooney are doing reasonably ok.

                     


                  • Bunbuns
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                      Thank you guys for your support! It has been a hard few weeks since he passed, Moony has been doing surprisingly well but I’m still having a hard time. It’s been getting better in the sense that I haven’t been replaying exact moments of his passing in my head as often, but I just miss him so soooo much. He was such a sweet little loving guy. I’ve been working hard with Moony to give her more attention, treats, toys, and floor time to try and build a stronger bond with her to help her through this. She’s eating great and seems to be more active than she was before which is strange, and she has been doing binkies and zoomies most mornings and nights which she only did occasionally before, so I think she’s been enjoying the attention!

                      We did have Padfoot cremated and got his ashes back a week ago. I thought I would feel some closure since I wouldn’t have to wonder where he was, but it feels more empty than anything. Like there’s nothing of him left here anymore. Some days I feel relieved that he’s not in pain and I can look at his pictures and videos and laugh at how silly he was, but most days I still find myself weeping for him. I guess it will just take time.

                      Here are a few more pics of Padders being so stinking cute: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Rgg758_aUNKlgSN7MPp1VtU-JVnNcZsS?usp=sharing

                      I’ve been looking into bun adoption organizations, and part of me feels like adopting another bunny could help with the healing process, but I don’t want to move too fast and only be comparing a new bunny to Padders. I also feel some guilt, if he’d think I was rushing to replace him. The truth is he came into my life at such a formative time and he was so special to my heart and the bond we had can never be replaced. It is a relief though that since Moony seems to be doing well I don’t think waiting longer to adopt another bun will be an issue.


                    • DanaNM
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                        I’m glad that Mooney is doing ok. <3

                        Those are adorable pictures!

                        One thing that really helped me after losing Bertha was to foster another bunny. I wasn’t ready to adopt right away, but it really helped with the emptiness feeling, and I think Bun Jovi benefitted from having a bunny as a neighbor. It was nice knowing I was helping some other bunnies, and I didn’t feel the guilt of “replacing” her.

                        . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

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                    Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE Bunny Died Traumatically in My Arms