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Forum BEHAVIOR I am worried about my elderly rabbit.

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    • Deleted User
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      Hello,

      I have read the rules, but it is my first time posting, so please let me know if anything is off.

      I am having a lot of anxiety about my elderly rabbit. He is a 9-year-old dwarf lionhead. His recent vet exam revealed that he is completely blind from cataracts and also experiences arthritis. Our new routine involves pain medication and physical therapy once a day. I was worried about how his quality of life may be changing, but the vet insisted that he’s probably alright because he’s gotten super old in the first place and nothing he’s experiencing is cause for concern.

      He has been home for a couple weeks now and he never really seems outwardly distressed by anything. This has been a consistent theme for him his whole life and it makes it extremely difficult to tell if anything is bothering him, but I have noticed a couple of subtle behaviors that I have no idea if I should be worried about. Particularly, he spends almost all day now sitting still with his head in the corner and every several seconds he will grind his teeth or shake. He does this constantly. He has never stopped showing interest in eating and drinking, and when I go to prod him he has no reaction. This is the most confusing and concerning part to me, because it seems like he doesn’t react to pain, so I have no clue if anything hurts. He’s started kind of going limp when I reach for him and he just lets me move his paws around and poke at his belly. When we do physical therapy, occasionally he shakes when I stretch out his front paw and I’m afraid I’m going at the wrong angle, but he doesn’t give me any other indication. The only time he objects is if I put him on his side or back to stretch his back legs, and even then he kicks strongly for only a few seconds before kind of giving up. Recently I was holding him and noticed he was wheezing a little, and I realized my finger was pushing his windpipe. He was just staying perfectly still, and if it hadn’t been quiet I wouldn’t have noticed.

      He likes being petted and the massages I do after physical therapy, and he chatters softly in a nice way during that time. I put a towel in his cage because he seemed to get very cold the other night, and he played around with it for a long time, which is something he likes to do with blankets. To be honest, I am not sure how to engage him in other ways since he lost his eyesight, because he doesn’t want to move if he’s outside of his familiar cage and he’s never shown any interest in any toy besides chewing. But like, I’m going crazy just watching him sit in the corner for hours. It seems like what he really wants to do, but I feel like it can’t be satisfying, but I really don’t know.

      My question is, does any of this sound like he is in excruciating pain 24/7??? My vet won’t really give me a clear answer when I call and was not concerned at the exam. They seemed to imply that a lot of things are just normal for his very old age, so I am not sure what to think, but everything I read about teeth chattering, shaking, sitting hunched up, etc. would indicate that he is ACTIVELY in horrifying distress. Also his face is always wet because he has eye issues but the eyedrops aren’t helping and I seriously can’t keep his face dry. But he just stays still and quiet, and when he’s not still and quiet, he actually seems really lively and excited about certain things. The only time I really get a clear indication from him that something is wrong is when he is put back into his cage, I move things around, or the lights change too fast and he will stomp a few times, which I’m assuming is because he is scared without eyesight.

      I am very, very tormented watching him change and having no idea if his life has become unbearable, or how long it has been that way. I would really, greatly appreciate anyone who has an insight on this. Thank you for reading if anyone did lol


    • DanaNM
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      Welcome to BB! Your post is great, thanks for checking out the rules! 🙂

      I’ve had a few senior buns, including a 12 year old currently (Bun Jovi). I think it’s good that you are going to have him on some pain medication. How long as he been on the pain meds? Do they seem to help him at all? If you don’t notice any improvement he might need a stronger dose or a different med. Some vets seem to under-dose metacam.

      Blind buns tend to get around pretty well without seeing. I’m pretty sure Bun Jovi can’t see very well, but you wouldn’t really notice. Buns usually use their sense of smell and touch (whiskers) mostly to move around.

      When you notice him grinding in the way that was concerning to you, does he seem to be awake? Sometimes when buns are asleep they will do some weird twitchy things and grind their teeth a bit in their sleep. Does it happen at the same time of day? I know that I am always convinced that Bun Jovi is sick or in pain around mid-day when he most sleepy. Then by evening he is perky and running around.

      I think the physical therapy could be really good for him, I would just be extra careful and go slowly. If he fights you on something then maybe skip that exercise for the day. The fact that he likes his snuggles and massages is a great sign. I’ve found with my elder buns there is a transition to just enjoying more snuggles and pets. If there are favorite chew toys or things he likes to play with, that’s great. If you feel he’s bored, food-based enrichment activities can be fun for buns that may not be that into toys otherwise.

      Some other things you could do comfort-wise, there is a product called “snuggle safe” that is a disk you can warm up and give to a bun wrapped in a blanket if they seem cold. I also give my buns the oxbow joint support treat, and they seem to help a bit. In any case, the buns all really like them and they don’t upset anyone’s tummy. I also tried Myristol (a joint supplement) for a bit with a previous senior bun, and I do think it helped her a bit.

      One thing I was wondering, have his teeth been checked (including a head x-ray)? I noticed you mentioned his eyes water, and dwarf breeds are prone to dental problems, including overgrown tooth roots that can affect the eyes.

      Sorry if I gave more questions than answers! You seem like a very observant bunny owner! To answer your main question, if he’s eating normally and seems happy when you pet him, and still gets excited about somethings, I don’t think he’s in excruciating pain at all!

       

      . . . 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.  


      • Deleted User
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        Thank you for your reply!

        He has been on Meloxidyl for 2 weeks. The vet prescribed him 0.25 ml daily which someone suggested seemed low, but also he is very small and skinny – I wouldn’t be surprised if he weighed about a pound, which the vet said is fine for his age and size but he has supplemental food to make sure he doesn’t lose any more weight now. I honestly can’t tell for sure if the medicine helps cuz I decided to give it to him right after sunset so he is more lively at that time anyway. I KIND OF think he might be more active than he was before though. I might just be paying more attention.

        He might be falling asleep when he grinds his teeth, because I have noticed his head falls a little and then he jerks it back up and chatters. I am not sure if he is sleeping or even resisting sleep the whole time though, because he often does it with his head in the corner and I remember being creeped out that his eyes were just open staring at the wall. Now that I am thinking about the times he is more active and my previous statement, it would make sense that maybe he just sleeps most of the time I’m awake.

        I’ve been going easy on him with physical therapy. I try not to push him if I think he’s had a long day. He rarely tries to move his paw when I’m stretching it, but every once in a while he’ll shiver. It is the shivering that confuses me the most, because he’ll do it in his cage while grinding (maybe he’s cold?) but not really when I’m holding him except those times when I’m messing with something. What I’m wondering is if he could just be like… old and unstable, cuz I know a lot of old people who are just shaky and maybe he doesn’t do it out of pain? It’s hard to tell. He lays his limbs in weird ways that would make me think he’s having trouble moving them, but he seems plenty capable of moving them if he smells food or gets upset.

        I just learned about snuggle safe last night, so I’m going to get him one soon! My room has been getting colder and I think that might be why he seems more uncomfortable. I put the towel in the corner of his cage to give him something to stay warm, and he does kind of lay under/next to it but mostly tugs it around, and I honestly can’t tell if he likes it in there or hates it lol but I think it helps.

        His mouth was looked at but no x-rays were taken, I told the vet about his chronic watery eyes and how eye drops in the past have made it go away for a bit before it comes back again. He gave me eye drops and told me to let him know whether they helped at our next visit so he can determine if it’s a different problem. I think he was talking about a virus but I could be misremembering, and he followed it up by saying he didn’t think it was the case for him anyway because he’s not showing any other symptoms. I can’t tell if the eye drops are helping or not yet, but I am still cleaning gunk out from his cheeks every night and the fur there just stays wet. It’s been a problem I’ve been trying to deal with his whole life because vets haven’t really suggested any tests or expressed concern for the most part, but I think it can’t be comfortable to have wet cheeks and it’s probably cold, too. I’ve only been successfully administering the eye drops for a few days I think (really hard to aim and keep his eye open lol), so there’s still time to see if anything changes.

        I’m feeling a lot more confident about him after hearing from another person who has actually had a rabbit. A lot of people have told me they really believe he is fine but it is very anxiety-inducing when every article I read on the internet tells me not to trust anybody with my rabbit and that they hide their pain and that he is literally dying at this moment but I couldn’t really find good explanations for his unique situation. I adopted Conker when I was in middle school and somehow everything I read at that time seems like it was wrong. I trusted all the adults around me who raised rabbits poorly their whole lives. Everything I read now is completely different and I have no idea how I missed the memo, but I don’t think I have given him as fulfilling or even as safe of a life as I should have up until recently. I am trying to make it up to him every day and make the time he has left as worthwhile as possible.


    • DanaNM
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      The head falling down def sounds like falling asleep! My buns will make some crazy mouth movements when they do this. And sometimes they kind of list over, which can be alarming to see, but I think it’s normal!

      What’s his weight? I think my buns usually are given .5mL twice a day and they weigh around 5 lbs.  Meloxidyl / Metacam is metabolized pretty quickly (I think within 8 hours?), so if you notice he does better in the 12 hours after his dose and then seems to do worse, you might ask about giving it twice a day (even if it’s the same dose split in two).

      The one thing I’m not sure about is the shivering, but perhaps some others who have had seniors will have experienced this.

      If he is excited about food, not reluctant to move to food, and pooping normally, then I really think he is doing OK. Does he groom himself regularly? Lack of grooming is often a sign of pain as well. Tracking his weight is another thing you can do to check on his condition.

      Rabbits are very resilient little creatures (more than we give them credit for), and even if you made mistakes in the past, it’s great you are trying to do better now. 9 is a wonderful age for a rabbit to reach, so you must have been doing some things right! I feel terrible about how I’ve cared for some of my past rabbits, but I try to make up for it now.

      Regarding his weepy eyes, if it’s been going on a long time and hasn’t been accompanied by selective eating, then it is less likely to be a tooth thing. Does he eat his hay well?

      . . . 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.  


      • Deleted User
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        Okay, sleeping makes sense! Or for some reason he seems to spend a lot of time trying not to fall asleep before nodding off lol. The vet didn’t tell me a specific weight so I’ll be getting a scale for him soon to make sure I can monitor it, but if I had to think of something comparable to hold, I would say he feels equivalent to 2 or 3 beanie babies at most.

        Since he takes the medicine at night, it is kind of hard to tell how he feels after the first few hours because I fall asleep. I have thought that he does SEEM more active, but also the amount of noise he generates is probably more noticeable when I’m trying to sleep. This is the only time of day I can consistently administer his medicine, though, so maybe I’ll try to stay up a little longer for a while and see how he’s doing. I think he can still see changes in light as well, and I’ve wondered before if he feels more comfortable moving in the dark. He still grooms a lot too. I think because of his gunky eyes, I see him wiping his face most often, but he doesn’t seem to be having any trouble reaching other places.

        I’m not sure what eating hay poorly looks like to be honest unless you mean the amount he eats, but either way he eats hay often and it disappears into his mouth like a ticket machine.

        As we’ve been doing more physical therapy and spending time trying to move, I try to give him the option to cuddle/explore more or go into his cage if he’s ready to rest. He’s always done this thing where he stomps like crazy for a minute every time he enters his cage, though. If someone is putting him in, he’ll kick and squirm as he approaches it, too. Naturally I thought, he doesn’t want to go back in his cage yet, but any time I give him the choice after taking him out, he almost immediately jumps back in. And then he stomps like he’s mad, and it wasn’t even me that time. He seems to have fun while he’s out and about, so I genuinely can’t tell if he is upset because he was taken out in the first place or because he is back in…. But he does it to himself!


    • LBJ10
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      RE: Weeping eyes – I have noticed more of a discharge. It isn’t runny, more like extra “sleep” in the eyes. The vet said this may be due to the cataracts. Perhaps this is what you are experiencing with your bunny as well? However, as Dana pointed out, it could be tooth related. Especially if it is runny and you notice selective eating or changes in eating habits.


      • Deleted User
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        Conker’s vet also said it could have to do with cataracts, but like I mentioned, his eyes have done this his whole life. I think I read that they develop cataracts when they’re young and it gets worse over the years though, is that the case? Maybe he’s just had this for a long time? He’s never seemed less energetic or hungry. The only thing I’ve noticed him doing is wiping his face a lot… other than that he’s always seemed much less bothered than I about it. I’m fine with cleaning the gunk out but there’s no way I can keep his cheeks totally dry (I mean I would, it’s just physically impossible I think), and I’m more worried about it lately because he gets cold sometimes. Sometimes his eyes water while I’m cleaning his cheeks, so it kind of never ends.


    • LBJ10
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      Cataracts associated with age gradually develop over time… even years.


      • Deleted User
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        Are there eyedrops that can help? I’ve been using some that the vet gave me and I can’t tell if anything has changed yet. Wondering if the goopy stuff that makes his fur stick together might be reduced at least.


    • LBJ10
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      My vet recommended the Genteal eye drops. There are also anti-inflammatory eye drops available by prescription, I believe.


      • Deleted User
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        Ok thank you! I assume the ones the vet prescribed for him are right then. Could’ve easily just trusted them in the first place but they have kind of failed me before lol


    • Deleted User
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      Conker started sneezing several times in a row so he went to the vet yesterday. His runny eyes and sneezing are upper respiratory problems, and I think he’s had them for a long time. He is receiving antibiotics now. The vet said he shakes at certain times and during physical therapy just because he is old and unstable so his joints lack “negative movement.” I am not sure how to help him when he just sits up and grinds his teeth all day, but the vet told me to do what I can with his medicine and making his space comfortable and I will probably just have to expect that he is going to live with some discomfort. He seems happy though. He is upset both being put in and taken out of the cage, so I just help him in when he tires out and give him food when he is done stomping since I don’t believe he can get in and out on his own anymore. I’m not really sure how much exercise he needs because I’ve been given the impression that I should let him rest but the vet is kind of telling me to make him move as much as possible, so I’m just trying to be gentle and let him run around on his own more than I mess with him since he is still quite active on his own.

      I have written a lot and asked many questions, but I wanted to post an update in case anybody else was having similar questions about their older rabbit since it was hard to find things online. I am mentally and physically disabled so it is difficult for me to understand things right away sometimes and I get a lot of anxiety wondering what I am supposed to do. Thank you for answering my questions.


    • DanaNM
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      How big is his cage? In general it’s not ideal to have to take the rabbit in and out of a cage, because most rabbits don’t like to be picked up. Can you set things up so he can go in and out on his own, maybe to an attached x-pen that he has access to all the time? Gentle movement is good, usually you just want to prevent them doing big jumps down that can stress the joints more. If he had access to a bit more space 24/7, then he could hop around a bit more when he felt like it. Rabbits are most active early morning and evening, so sometimes that doesn’t line up with our schedule of being able to supervise them for exercise. Adding some tunnels or hides can encourage him to explore.

      The general recommendation is that rabbits should get around 4 hours of exercise per day in a large area, and then the home base area where they spend most of their time should be at least 9-12 sq ft, depending on the bun.

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      Ok…. I will be looking into a new cage for him right now because I think the one he has lived in is very small. I tried to set up some kind of slopes around the entrance with towels, but I don’t think he is confident climbing up and over the side of the cage entrance himself. It’s a bit of a jump, too, so I don’t feel that comfortable with him trying anyway. I will look for something lower to the ground so hopefully he’ll be able to go in and out freely. I used to spend a lot of time setting up elaborate tunnels and playspaces for him when he could see and he has displayed literally zero interest in exploring holes, mazes, and slopes for as long as I’ve known him. I’m starting to wonder if I’ve only known him as depressed, though, because I didn’t make enough of an effort to find things he is interested in. I’m going to try to find a low barrier that my cats and I can step over but Conker won’t be able to, and hopefully that will work to give him a safe space he can run around in even when I can’t watch as intently.

      Are there any considerations I should take to adjust him to a bigger new cage? He has lived in this one his whole life, and it is where he lost his sight. I’m wondering if there’s anything specific I should do to point things out to him at first like his water bottle or if I should just let him explore on his own.


    • DanaNM
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      A lot of people will forgo a cage entirely and use an x-pen instead.  Most cages are too small, and are very expensive. Most x-pens (sold as puppy play pens often) will have a door built in so you can easily go in and out, or you can just clip the ends together and unclip when you need to go in.

      You can see some ideas for different pen set-ups here:

      Pens

      There is also a tutorial on how to build an affordable and easy “condo” out of storage cube grids here:

      https://bunssb.org/bunnies/perfect-cheap-bunny-cage

      You could also make a cube condo without the levels, and just use them to make a basic cage. I have cube condos for my buns because one of mine is very prone to escaping and I have a cat that’s a troublemaker. Pens are the easiest to set up and clean, so I would prob go for that with your bun.

      The main thing to help a bun feel safe is to provide a hide in the new pen, along with his litter box from his old cage. He might take some time to adjust but will likely explore it on his own. If you move his stuff from his old cage he will be able to smell it and I’m sure he will adjust fine. 🙂

      It’s awesome you are looking to make improvements, it’s never too late to improve a bun’s quality of life!

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      About the “litter box…” Since I am just now learning how to actually meet his needs, I guess it is probably not surprising that he is not litter-trained either. I’m not going to pretend that I really tried hard enough as a 14-year-old, but at the same time honestly I was literally an 8th grader whose parent agreed to adopt a rabbit and then left me to determine the best way to go about every aspect of his care by myself through google searches. I wasn’t sure how to make it work with school or whatever and then I was an adult and it never happened.

      He’s always had a litter box, but I gave up putting bedding under the hay in it after a while because he just kept eating from it so eventually it became his bowl for hay. He eats and sleeps there, and while he does pee on the hay in a confusingly deliberate way sometimes, at this point I guess he goes to the bathroom everywhere besides the litter box for the most part, and I just sweep it out. I’m just assuming there is no litter training him now that he is 9 years old and blind??? Should I stay with this routine?

      I have a pen for him that I’ve used to take him outside, but it has also just occurred to me that him running around in that kind of playspace unsupervised will be an issue with the lack of litter training and the presence of my carpet underneath. If he cannot be litter trained, is there a kind of mat I can put down to protect the carpet under some felt liners or something?


    • DanaNM
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      Ah, I see! I’m guessing he also isn’t neutered? That would help explain why he goes to the bathroom everywhere. Many bunnies more or less litter train themselves when given a box (they usually eat hay, poop, and pee all at the same time), but even un-neutered buns will tend to pee mostly in one spot, but will also likely mark in other places.  They tend to poop and pee when they eat hay, so positioning his hay so he can only get to it from inside the box can help.

      At his age it would be hard to fully litter train him, and he is not a great candidate for neutering since he also has some health issues and is older. Plus neutering doesn’t help as much with litter habits when buns get too old.

      I use inexpensive vinyl flooring under my buns’ pens to protect the flooring, they sell some at hardware stores in big rolls by the sq foot. You could put a layer of that down first, and then either puppy pee pads or blankets on top.  I’ve also seen these waterproof puppy blankets that I think would be great for bunnies (search “whelping blanket” and you’ll find some options), but I haven’t tried them myself. If he is super messy and you don’t want to be doing laundry all the time, disposable puppy pee pads might be the easiest option.

      In general with fabric you want to make sure the bun isn’t eating it. A little nibbling is OK, as long as they aren’t eating a lot. Some bunnies are OK with fabric, other’s aren’t. Fleece is thought to be the safest type of fabric to have with buns. Giving other chew toys tends to help keep them from eating things they shouldn’t.

      You could also give a few litter trays in the pen, he might end up using them more than you think (and it would at least cut down on the mess to clean up). Sometimes when bunnies are in smaller cages they also don’t really use their litter box as much, but when they have more space they start to use it more.

      Also don’t feel guilty about not knowing before! I had a similar experience as a teenager and even with my first bun as an adult, I know I made so many mistakes. It’s wonderful that you found your way to the forum and are working to do right by him now!

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      He IS neutered, but also I was lead to believe that there was something “abnormal” about his genitalia when we adopted him. It was a requirement to have him neutered in order to leave the shelter, and when we went to pick him up after surgery they told us that they opened him up and “couldn’t find any ovaries” so they were “assuming he’s male” but didn’t really find anything to fix and their conclusion was that he was probably neutered at a very young age. When I mentioned this at the vet recently, however, they said the reason the shelter didn’t find ovaries is because he is clearly male and the vet has no idea what the shelter thought they were looking at. So perhaps it’s possible that he could have lingering bathroom issues from being neutered too early? But I’m really not sure what happened there lol

      Until recently I was filling his cage with bedding and he just kind of went to the bathroom and threw hay all around like a hamster until I changed out the whole thing, then one day I woke up in the middle of the night and like a four inch tall MUSHROOM was growing out of the bedding (I swear I don’t even think that was a negligence issue, everything was clean and it only ever happened that time when we lived in a trailer) so I switched him to fleece cage liners. I went from bedding to liners, and read that you “wash” them once a week, and was still thinking that hamster care probably directly translated into this, so I wasn’t sweeping it out well until recently. I am noticing now that I think he does go to the bathroom on the same side of his cage as the litter box in general, but I was letting it get everywhere before.

      He’s gone through a scary time these past two years while I struggled greatly with my illnesses after my mom passed away, and it was what opened my eyes to the fact that I was putting my pain before his. There were a couple of instances this year that were really just completely dangerous for him, and it seems like some kind of divine intervention that he’s lived this long and is really so healthy and still gets excited to play and eat. I was devastated to find out he couldn’t see anymore just as I was figuring out how to turn things around, but I’m going to take his long life and continued energy to mean that it’s not too late, like you said. He’s been waiting to give me a chance to get it right.

      Anyway, he’s never tried to chew his fleece liners, and he does really enjoy chewing on cotton towels but he hasn’t bitten any pieces off when I’ve watched him. It looks like the whelping blankets you mentioned are similar to his cage liners but on a larger scale, which is what I was looking for, but thinking about laundry for such a big thing I might just put down a bunch of the smaller liners I have now so I can take the dirty ones out and clean/replace certain areas as needed. I’ll definitely put in a few different litter boxes and see how he likes them. I’m heading out right now to pick out those furnishings for his new space, so hopefully I can get him set up pretty quickly.

      Thank you for being so understanding. I know that everyone on these forums loves animals too, and it is really hard to hear about an animal not being treated right even when they’re not your own. I was afraid to upset people by admitting how he’s been living until now because I knew how deeply it upset me, but it was definitely time to stop worrying about feeling guilty or embarrassed and to just step forward and get him what he needs now. When I look at my pets, I can tell that I’m the only one who hasn’t forgiven me. They still run up to me like I am the best thing in this world, and I’m grateful that they are still willing to help me grow.


    • DanaNM
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      Oh wow! That’s very interesting about the neutering! There are also male buns whose testicles never descend, but I imagine the vet would have looked for those if they went in to do a spay. Female and male bunny genitalia look really similar, especially on small bunnies!

      So with litter training, it’s usually best to start with a hard floor bottom and only bedding in the litter box. Otherwise they get confused and think of the whole area as their litter box. Later on you can add in blankets if you’d like, but lots of bunnies will pee on blankets (something about the soft texture).

      Just as an experiment…. you might just try to see if his habits get a little better with a few changes once you upgrade his housing to a pen. There is a guide to litter training here:

      https://binkybunny.com/infocategory/litterbox-training/

      When you move him to his larger cage/pen, try getting a litter box with a low side (for his arthritis), that is bigger than you think he needs. You can keep his old one too in case he does better with more than one. Save some of his soiled bedding from his old box, and put it in the new box (along with lots of fresh hay and litter). Carefresh bedding seems to be especially good for litter training, something about the soft texture! Remove all soft blankets and mats from the pen, and make it so he can only get to his hay while he’s in the litter box. I have a suspicion that his habits will get better! Maybe not 100%, but hopefully a bit less clean up for you. We had a 9 year old unneutered bun come into the rescue who had lived his whole life in a hutch outside. Once he was neutered he still scattered a lot of poops around, but his foster mom was able to get him to pee almost 100% in his litter box! So it’s not too late. 🙂

      If you notice he is using a different corner of the pen, move the litter box to that corner. Some bunnies pick a corner more than actually picking to use the box, especially at first.

      And yes, we really try to help people and bunnies here on this forum. Everyone makes mistakes, and it can be especially hard when dealing with person health issues and other personal issues. It is always wonderful to hear from people who are trying to do better and come here wanting to learn.

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      Are puppy pads alright on the floor at first or do I want it to be just the hard mat? Also, do I want bedding AND litter in the boxes under the hay, or are they the same thing? I know there’s stuff specifically labeled small pet litter that’s different from the carefresh bedding, not sure if it’s supposed to be both or either-or.

      My room has been getting cold (to me) at night and I’ve noticed some things that make me think he COULD be getting cold with his age sometimes but I’m not 100% sure, so I put a towel in his cage for him to sit on and under and stuff. Not sure if it actually does anything for him honestly, but I’m wondering if laying in one of the boxes will keep him warm enough at night or if there is something else I should give him just in case he is getting cold? I figured the little warming bags might make sense but I don’t know what to put them under besides a blanket.

      His area isn’t set up yet but I did barricade off the space so he could get some exercise in the meantime. After I gave him his medicine in the morning I let him explore, and it was really hard to tell when he was scared and when he was having fun. I tried to create a ledge for him to get back into his cage with and I put him on and around it several times but eventually he started hopping around his cage and looking in like he was trying to find the entrance, so I helped him in myself.

      He’d been out for at least 1.5 hours and he didn’t stomp, but later in the afternoon I noticed he had been hunched up doing his grinding behavior for a long time and his food and water hadn’t been touched. He eats a lot of food, so him leaving his pellets for a long time seems really weird. He left them for the rest of the day and his hay looked the same too. His water has gone down a little but I haven’t really heard him drink, and I’ve only seen him take a couple bites of food after I bother him and then give up.

      He was very opposed to taking his antibiotic this morning, even though apparently it is a very appetizing cherry flavor. He finished a bowl of Critical Care last night but his hay looks the same. Actually, wait, he ate a whole willow wreath. Doesn’t want his pellets now though, and when I took him out he found the cage entrance this time and jumped back in on his own. He did stomp. He’s not being particularly weird about any parts of his body, he just seems very agitated when I mess with him now and doesn’t want to move.

      Is it possible that was too much activity for him on his first day? I know it was a lot of anxiety for him too. And he went to the vet recently. He might have gotten tired and been trying to find his way back for longer than I realized, but it was hard to tell. I’m getting the impression that bothering him while I try to figure out if something is wrong is just upsetting him more, so I’m wondering if it’s better to just chill and let him rest for a while before getting worried lol


    • DanaNM
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      Hmmm, it might have been too much commotion, especially if he is in pain. I wonder if he needs a higher dose of metacam?  The low appetite is concerning. I would keep offering him favorite foods and see if you can entice him to eat, and especially more critical care if he will eat that willingly. Can you give your vet a call to discuss the changes?

      Before you started all the physical therapy stuff, did you pick him up a lot? I’m wondering if he is just anticipating getting picked up and handled all the time, and isn’t pleased about it?

      To answer your question about the litter, there are lots of different litters you can use. I’m not familiar with the small pet select one. I’ve used carefresh in the past, but currently use pine pellets because they are much cheaper and I think the odor absorption is better.  Some people put just you hay in the box (a very thick fluffly layer), but you go through a lot of hay that way and there isn’t really any odor absorption, so you have to clean it daily. The basic idea is a layer of litter (whatever kind you would like), and then a pile of hay on top. Usually it works well to put the pile of hay at one side of the box, to tempt the bun to jump in to eat the hay.

      . . . 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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      I will try to give the vet a call. To be honest I know I’ve been asking a lot of the questions that they should be answering here because they won’t really answer anything over the phone, so I have to figure out whether it is something concerning enough to bring him in for myself. Every time I ask “should I be concerned about this” or “is there anything I can try” they just offer me an appointment, ask no questions and tell me it’s “up to me,” and then charge me $65 to put him through a whole trip where they tell me he is just old. I mentioned that he sits up and grinds his teeth most of the day last time I was there and the vet asked if I’ve only been giving his medicine intermittently. I told him Conker takes it every night and he kind of said “hmmm” and then like I said just told me to “expect some discomfort” with his age.

      I have always picked him up and carried him a lot, so he is very used to being handled but maybe he doesn’t like it now because whenever I take him out he’s in a big place he can’t see and I’m shoving meds in his mouth and messing with all his paws. He probably didn’t like it before either, but now I have noticed that he freezes when I approach him and almost the whole time I’m talking to him because he is probably anticipating being picked up. I’ve been giving him specific audio cues when I’m approaching him to pick him up, and if he starts squirming or protesting at all when I touch him I just leave him alone. I was hoping the cues would help him be able to anticipate when he is going to be moved and when I’m just petting or giving him a treat, but it seems like he’s just on edge the whole time.

      I’m also thinking that there have just been a lot of really big changes in his lifestyle recently, all happening while he’s getting used to not being able to see. He’s not used to me messing around with his cage several times a day and putting things in his mouth and taking him to so many new places. I know he was already anxious about leaving his cage before he lost his sight, so I’m sure it can be overwhelming when the environment you’ve been in your whole life is changing and expanding and at the same time you’re suddenly being messed with all the time. I wonder if he is scared because he doesn’t know what to anticipate from his day anymore.


    • Deleted User
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      After some observation, I am noticing he keeps moving his mouth like he is chewing something, but I don’t think he is. It seems like he tries to eat, but he eats one piece of hay or a couple pellets and then stops. I think I should call the vet now, but which symptoms should I bring up? I’m not sure what is relevant and if I give them too many and they don’t indicate something specific they’re going to give me an “up to me” answer.

      The change that stands out to me is starting his antibiotic. He doesn’t really like it and he stopped eating right after his first dose. Maybe his mouth hurts too. Those are just things that come to mind.


    • Deleted User
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      Alright, I explained how he’s been acting to the vet, and he said I can go up to double his meloxicam dose but he probably wouln’t recommend increasing it that much right away. He said it was alright to do it in two doses as well, so I gave Conker a dose just now. He swallowed it, but then he started doing the exaggerated chewing thing for several seconds, like he was trying to get the taste out of his mouth. I set him on his towel and he has been chewing on the towel and then chomping his teeth again (I checked… pretty sure he’s not eating the towel) and then going back to sitting still. Usually he jumps off of the towel immediately and sits in front of his food, but he hasn’t moved from where I set him down.


    • DanaNM
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      Sorry I’m just catching up on these things!

      It sounds like his teeth could be bothering him? Has your vet looked at his back molars? You can’t really see the back teeth without an x-ray, which is usually fairly quick and simple to do.  I think given the changes in his appetite lately and signs of pain, I would definitely want to get a look at his teeth.

      If you vet keeps brushing off your concerns, are there any other vets you could get a second opinion from?

      . . . 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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      I think it is his teeth. I couldn’t figure out if I was going crazy because it seems like now that I’m finally paying attention things suddenly are going wrong all at once?? I feel so bad because in a way it seems like he was doing way better when I just left him alone and ever since I started messing with his body and habitat he’s always stressed out and in some kind of pain! I guess that’s just the unfortunate nature of change at his age though. I’m having a hard time with it because he’s always bonded well with me regardless and now he looks afraid every time he hears me approach because it probably hurts when I have to move his body around and put things in his mouth every day.

      He is having trouble with his water bottle too, and I am thinking it’s not that he doesn’t like his antibiotic but maybe he has a hard time with liquids. It’s like he tries a bit but lets it dribble out of his mouth. He will eat his pellets but it will take him all day, and his Critical Care takes him all night. He picks up hay but just throws it back down. I haven’t been messing with him besides to give his medicine because it is easy to tell that he is very uncomfortable. I clipped two of his nails the other night and he acted like each one was so excruciating that I just put him down… that was really weird.

      I’m hoping his vet is open today after the holiday weekend. I would love to get a second opinion, but unfortunately it was almost impossible to get this FIRST opinion, and it was only offered to me after the 9th vet I called asking for an exotic animal doctor finally happened to know of an obscure place with one on staff that she gave me the phone number for by word of mouth. For some reason every exotic animal doctor I’ve seen has been a terse older man who is friendly until you seem to be asking too many questions or suggesting what to do and then they start answering me like a paranoid cat lady with new age ideas about animals having complex emotions. At the same time they are still worried more about the animal’s feelings than people’s though so I really can’t pin down their priorities but anyway I’m calling right now lol


    • DanaNM
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      All animals, and rabbits especially, will hide their symptoms until they can’t anymore, so it’s very possible there were no signs of anything wrong before, or they were very subtle!

      Can you offer water in a bowl as well? Many rabbits drink more from a bowl and it should be easier if his mouth is hurting him.

      If he stops eating his CC on his own you should syringe feed him, especially since he’s not eating his hay. You can try mixing some canned pumpkin or mashed banana in it as well to encourage him to eat it. He may fight you over it, but its important to get it into him.

      When you get him into the vet, request a head x-ray to check his tooth roots.

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      I put water in a bowl for him last night after I noticed he was having trouble with the bottle, and luckily he went for it right away. He finished most of his CC by this morning but he just went off to the vet anyway. His normal office is closed all week so he has to see an emergency doctor. Unfortunately during all of this my spine also decided it doesn’t have to work this week so he is with my brother who wrote down all the details. I put emphasis on the head x-ray too so hopefully everything goes okay without me today.


    • DanaNM
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      Fingers crossed it all goes well! Sorry your back isn’t cooperating. 🙁

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      Ok also I have to mention that a doctor just prescribed ME meloxicam the other day. I take mine right before Conker takes his now. Maybe it’s not that weird but I’ve heard of a lot of meds excluding this one until Conker started taking it and I was spooked. Amazing. That’s all I had to say. Thanks for all your help! lol


    • Deleted User
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      Emergency vet was not really any help, sadly… They said they didn’t really have the capability to do anything with teeth there. They gave me the phone number for another vet in the area that will open tomorrow and provided me with syringes to help him eat and drink in the meantime. He said he felt a few “points” in Conker’s mouth but that they couldn’t “float” teeth there and offered literally no explanation for those terms so hopefully it is not too bad for Conker to wait a little longer.


    • DanaNM
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      Ah ok!  “Floating” is the term usually used in horses when they need their teeth filed, and the points would be molar spurs. Bunnies and horses actually have remarkably similar medical needs! So that could be the source of his food issues, pain, and even the excessive grooming of his face.

      I would just keep up the supportive care (pain meds, syringe feeding) until he can be seen by the next vet. Hopefully a dental filing will get him feeling better in no time 🙂

       

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      We were able to get an appointment for him set up in one week. It was so hard to find a surgeon who knew how to float teeth and could do it within the month! I am not too worried because he still seems to be in great spirits and have more energy since he’s gotten more food into him. It was just scary for a little while because our health was declining at the same time so I wasn’t sure how I was going to syringe feed him regularly when I couldn’t even sit up straight 🙁 we’re both doing a lot better now. Btw, just wondering if $600-800 sounds normal for a procedure like this? I have no problem paying it, and I really don’t doubt it considering how hard it was to schedule, but I want to make sure that sounds like the right procedure!

      I was wondering about his syringe feeding though, because he eats up his pain med and CC pretty easily and I can hear him munch a couple times before swallowing when I am giving those. He doesn’t really make a reaction with the cherry antibiotic, though, which is more liquid, and I genuinely can’t tell how much of it he takes. I push the syringe a little and he just sits there, and I push it a little more and he moves and a little drop falls out of his mouth. I push the rest in (slowly) but he doesn’t give me any indication that he’s swallowing, some dribbles out but I don’t see the rest like falling all over his chin or anything so I’m assuming he MUST be swallowing it and he always smacks his lips afterward but I just want to make sure that sounds right lol

      I’ve been giving him as much CC as he’ll take through a syringe after his meds every AM and PM and he is pretty responsive to it but gets tired of eating after like 3 ml and actually seems like he prefers to eat it from the bowl. I’ve just been mixing it with more water so it’s in the same smoothie state as the syringe and he seems like he has a much easier time drinking rather than eating it. Interestingly as well, he doesn’t care for the loose hay but he does like harder chews for some reason. He’s had a couple of compressed timothy dumbbell toys that he devours really fast. I hear him chewing at them quite a bit as long as I can replace them often enough. I haven’t been syringing him any water though, just putting it out in a bowl. I can tell he drinks it but I am wondering how much I should be making sure he drinks every day?


    • DanaNM
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      Glad you were able to get him an appointment! The price varies a lot depending on where you are, that doesn’t sound too extreme depending on what they plan to do (if they are planning x-rays that sounds normal). They may also be planning to do blood work first to make sure he is likely to handle the anesthesia well. If you share the actual quote we can take a look at the specifics. 🙂

      I think for a tiny bun 3 mLs sounds OK, giving in smaller amounts will prob help him swallow it more easily. Another member had the tip to use 1 mL syringes for syringe feeding (even though it’s annoying to fill them) and I had a lot better success with having the bun swallow more. If he eats it willingly from the bowl you don’t necessarily need to mess with syringe feeding though!

      Preferring the hard chews actually makes sense because those mostly use the front teeth, but hay strands most use the molars.

      If he’s drinking from his bowl and getting critical care then I don’t think you need to be syringing water, especially since you are watering down the CC a bit.

      Overall glad to here he’s in good spirits and you’re feeling better! 🙂

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      Ok, I will try to get a quote from them as soon as I can since they didn’t give much indication about what the price variation is depending on. I’m really not sure what exactly they are expecting to have to do yet, they just said that’s how much it’ll cost, haha.

      I’ll just keep encouraging him to eat and drink as much as he can, then. He seems to do alright by himself, it just takes him a little longer to finish everything and it seems like he only wants to eat on his own during the night.

      I am still having a little trouble keeping his face clean. I wipe the fur around his eyes with warm water a couple times a day but I can’t rub too hard on his skin and face and the fur always just kind of feels… stiff? I work all the eye gunk out as best as I can but his face never feels clean, it’s very hard to dry and it’ll get clumpy again pretty fast. Is there something safe besides just water I should use to clean him better? His face is so, so small, it’s REALLY hard to get a good angle in there while avoiding his nose and eyes.

      And… I flipped him over to clip his nails a few days ago, and he acted like he was dying. He gave me a big struggle to stay still at first and after he calmed down I clipped two nails, but he audibly moaned and shook after each one so I just put him down. He’s always been really good about this so it freaked me out a little, but I think this was when he was starting to feel worse from his mouth and not eating so maybe he was just feeling weak and stiff that day? He really needs his nails clipped but I’m not sure how I should interpret that reaction.

      I am very grateful to finally have somewhere to learn and ask questions! Conker and I would’ve had a much harder time through this if I was still just left guessing about what I need to do for him, but thankfully now we are both more comfortable again. I feel like I come up with a new and specific question every couple of hours about what he’s doing because I just really want to make sure he is comfortable since he’s old and sick and can’t tell me what these things mean lol


    • DanaNM
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      For his crusty face, you can try applying a warm compress to see if that helps. Hopefully after his teeth are looked at his eyes may water less.

      Flipping buns over for nail trims is a bit controversial as it can be stressful for buns, but sometimes it may be less stressful than the alternative. It could have been a bit too much for him given how he’s feeling. You might ask the vet if they can do the rest of them (if you didn’t get them all) when he’s under anesthesia for his teeth.

      . . . 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.  


    • Deleted User
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      Okay, I wondered if it was the flipping over that was hard for him. I had read before that some people were really against it so I tried not to do it for a long time until a vet actually just told me to because it “calms them down” for nail clipping. I think I knew that was weird though because I knew for sure it didn’t calm them down, just made them unable to protest as much.

      I think that is way too much for him now, but do you think you could link me any information about how to get to his nails without flipping him over? He is really chill about being handled and everything but I genuinely don’t know how else to get to his hind feet – should he lay on his side? I will have the vet clip them next week but I’m just wanting to know for when I have to do it in the future. I’m trying to keep them on the shorter side because they’re already long enough that they almost get snagged on things when he is dragging his paws. The nature of my neck problem right now is that it’s very hard for me to lean over and look down for very long, so it would be tough to sit behind him to keep him still and bend forward to be able to see his paws.


    • DanaNM
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      The flipping thing is kind of a lesser of two evils thing. Vets often do it for nail trims, x-rays, and other procedures where the bun might otherwise need to be sedated. I’m just thinking at his age it might be a bit too much for him.

      Here is one method that might work for him if he’s fine with being handled in general:

      Do you have a helper who can trim while you hold? If so there are some other ways that might work better.

       

      . . . 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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      Yes, my brother could help me hold him, which would probably be easier because the bunny in the video is like 3x Conker’s size and some of the positions look hard to hold him in with my big hands haha

      He just got back from another appointment today with new antibiotics. His eye was crusting shut the past couple of days and he started having diarrhea. Poor guy seems so uncomfortable. I had to clean a lot of pudding-like stool out of the fur on his backside, which the vet thinks is just due to his change in diet since he is not eating as much hay. He’s been eating mostly timothy chews instead of hay and they don’t list the ingredients so I’m worried they might have had alfalfa or something. The vet kind of suggested that he is okay to eat alfalfa and kale today though which was wild because where the heck did I read that he couldn’t eat kale.

      He is still in REMARKABLY good spirits, honestly. What a guy.

      Also, in his new pen, he just started using the litter box I set up for him right away on his own no problem. He’s only peed away from it once and a couple times right in front of it cuz for some reason he likes to kick a pile of bedding out and lay halfway in and out of the entrance lol


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      Sorry for the double post again, I’ll try to make it my last but I am really really trying to figure out how I’m supposed to not pick him up out of his litter box and stuff? He’s nervous and uncomfy and would not be enticed to come out on his own accord right now in a million years. I have to give him medicine twice a day, though, and of course he’s been going to the vet a lot. I try to make those the only times, but it IS every day and it does freak him out I just literally have no idea how to give him his meds and clip his nails and clean his butt without picking him up out of his safe space! Especially now that he is not feeling well and having trouble moving. If I try to put meds in his mouth without putting him in my lap he just turns his head away and gets mad, how is everyone else doing this??


    • LBJ10
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      I’ve always used the “sit” method. You sit on your knees and sandwich bunny between your legs. Be sure to tuck your feet in so bunny can’t wiggle backward. For nail clipping, it really depends on the rabbit. Have you tried placing him on an unfamiliar surface, like a table?


      • Deleted User
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        I can’t really sit on my knees, but he doesn’t really go anywhere if he is just in my lap while I’m sitting on the floor. He is also smaller than my thigh so it might be hard to reach down and see him. He’s pretty chill on any surface, but it’s really hard for me to see and move his tiny paws well when he’s standing up. I’m afraid of hurting him in certain positions since I can’t hold his limbs very securely.


    • Bam
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      We’ve always been two people for nailclipping. One person places the bun in his/her lap, eith its back against the persons belly. One hand around the bun’s chest, under the “arms”, the other hand around the bunny butt and thighs, so the bun can’t kick out and hurt itself.

      Then the person with the clippers takes one paw at a time. If the bun seems very unhappy, we do the fore paws one day and the back paws the next. Obviously the bun gets a really yummy treat after, f ex a few sunflower seeds or a piece of fruit. My buns have all quickly learnt to expect an extra special treat after clipping or administration of meds. I put the bun back on the floor, the bun waits for the treat and munches it down -and then I get the bunny butt and the foot flick 🤣


    • Deleted User
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      Okay, I will try this method with my brother holding him! Thanks!

      He became less cool about the litter box after like a day, now he insists on pulling bedding and hay out into a pile right in front of the litter box entrance and peeing on the puppy pad. Spends all his time, face in the litter box and butt out sitting in his pee if I let him. Litter box doesn’t even have a front side so I have no idea why he doesn’t want to go in it, maybe it’s hard for him to move around in a deeper layer of bedding? I’m pretty sure I saw him turn around and drink it yesterday too, so… ok.


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      He is back from the vet. The surgeon examined him and said he couldn’t find any points in his mouth and his jaw had a full range of motion without him reacting. He didn’t want to sedate him for x-rays because he said that would be a tooth root issue, not a molar spur. When I asked the vet about not eating and smacking his lips he just said Conker is old and his only recommendation would be to give him meloxicam to make him more comfortable, but that a lot of old rabbits need to be syringe fed for the rest of their lives. He insisted that it was not worth sedating him when he doesn’t think he will find anything.

      I guess it’s possible that all the stress and new things are just exacerbating his pain. He just seems so uncomfortable and he can’t eat like he wants to. I’m not sure when to worry anymore.

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Forum BEHAVIOR I am worried about my elderly rabbit.