Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

On the road again

July 26, 2017

It’s a summer tradition, the road trip! What could be more relaxing than spending the day cruising cross-country, sleeping in quaint roadside motels, stopping to explore new and exciting places? We humans love an adventure. Our bunny friends, on the other hand…

We’ve met a few rabbits who actually enjoy hitting the open road. One lives six months of the year in a travel trailer, navigating the West with his retiree parents. Another regularly accompanies his family to a campground up north, where he hangs out around the tent with everyone as they roast marshmallows or walk the beach (in his harness, of course!)

These rambling rabbits, however, are few and far between! Most of our furry family members are quite content to never leave their home. It’s stressful enough braving the car ride to the vet and back, and that lasts maybe an hour total!

If you’ve ever taken human kids four states over to visit Grandma, you know that as heartwarming as these trips seem in retrospect, in reality there’s a lot of boredom, car sickness, fussiness, whining, and bathroom close-calls. And unlike your bun, your kids likely had access to travel games, iPods, videos, M&Ms, ice cream cone pit stops, and varied scenery.

This is not to say that we should never travel with our rabbits, but weigh the pros and cons. As a general rule, if you’re planning to be gone two weeks or less, it’s probably best to leave Pawla behind with a pet sitter. If you decide to bring her along, be mindful of a few bunny travel tips.

Stick together: If you’ve got bonded bunnies, they both need to come. If one isn’t healthy or calm enough to travel, they both stay. Choose a carrier big enough for both of them, and line it with a soft towel and pee pad. And keep that carrier close. Never leave your rabbits unattended in a motel room, campsite, rest area—and especially not a car, even with the windows down!

Location, location, location: The safest and most convenient position in the car is in the backseat, with the sides parallel with the seat back and the front opening facing the center of the seat. If you have to stop quickly or get in an accident, their heads and necks won’t absorb the full blow. You’ll also be able to access them easily, and reach in to comfort them.

Food for thought: You probably wouldn’t have much of an appetite for lunch after a few rounds on a roller coaster! So don’t be surprised if your rabbit doesn’t touch her food during the drive. The stress of traveling, the unsteady motion of the car, the unsettling sounds all tend to suppress appetite. Putting a few soaking wet greens in her carrier may entice her to nibble a bit, and provide necessary water.

Be prepared: When we travel, we often tend to play it by ear. Didn’t pack enough food? We’ll just grab something along the way. Need aspirin, bug spray, clean socks? There’s a Walmart around every corner. But find yourself at the bottom of a bag of timothy hay with three days left to go on your trip, and it won’t be nearly as easy to replace. Always stow extra food, dishes, pee pads, medications and syringes, bedding, and at least a gallon of fresh water.

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Something to chew on

July 5, 2017

As a rescue facility, we hear certain questions over and over. Two of the most common are “Why does my rabbit chew on everything? How do I make him stop?” The answers are easy: “Because that’s what rabbits do. You can’t stop them. And you don’t want to.” Let us explain.

There’s a reason that so many of us are addicted to our gum, our pretzels, our gummy bears. Chewing them just feels good! But there’s a difference between our buns and us. We enjoy using our teeth; rabbits NEED to chew and gnaw. It’s vital for their dental and emotional health. Don’t mistake your rabbit’s destructive desires to be willful Bad Bunny Behavior. They’re not!

You’d hardly blame your toddler for taste-testing that six-month-old jelly bean he retrieved from under the sofa. Or for deciding that Dad’s sunglasses are the perfect afternoon snack. We know that if something makes it into our kid’s hand, it’s probably going in his mouth next. That’s just the way young children work.

Guess what? Our four-footed kids have the same all-consuming curiosity and lack of boundaries as our human ones. Rabbits, lacking hands, can’t pick something up and look it over, so they rely on their noses and mouths to tell them what they need to know. Which is mainly, is this edible or is this useful?

Look into your bunny’s mouth. Those fangs are hard to miss! Did you know that unlike our teeth, rabbit incisors grow continuously? Without anything to grind against, bunny teeth will just keep lengthening, until it becomes impossible for the rabbit to chew at all. Without intervention, this inevitably leads to starvation.

A diet rich in fibrous hay is sufficient to keep the normal rabbit’s teeth in check, but that’s only half of the equation. Nibbling and gnawing is a rabbit’s main means of entertainment. It’s how they examine the world, how they interact with it, how they have fun with it! Chewing is instinctive behavior in rabbits. It’s what they were designed to do, it’s what they excel at.

Of course you don’t want Fluffy leaving her mark on Grandma’s heirloom credenza, and you’d rather keep your computer cord in one piece. And if she gets her jaws on your Hershey bar, you’ll have bigger problems than sugar shock. Many things in our homes should and must stay off limits.

In our next blog, we’ll give tips on how to keep Fluffy satisfied without sacrificing your furniture, shoes, textbooks, earbuds…and so on. It’s easier than you might think!

Bunny on a budget

June 21, 2017

They’re fuzzy and lovable and impossible to resist! But if we’re not careful, our rabbits can easily turn iu-1into furry little money pits. We all want our rabbits to have the best, but the best can be a budget-breaker. But there’s no need to take out a second mortgage just to provide for your pet. Here are a few ideas how to skip the pet store markups and score smart substitutions.

bun pen1-1Start by thinking outside the cage, literally. The typical Pets-R-Us offerings are overpriced and far too small. Possibly the easiest way to house your rabbit is to invest in an x-pen. Your rabbit will have room to run, you’ll have easy access when it’s time to clean, and the panels are flexible, so you can reconfigure them as your room layout changes. Worried about the floor? Pick up an inexpensive waterproof tarp, and cover it with newspaper.iu-2

Don’t fall for the “Official Rabbit Product” sales pitch. Why spend $15 for a deluxe “rabbit” litter pan when you can get the same sized cat box for $3? And there’s no need to pay $20 for a bag of paper litter. Try wood stove pellets instead. A 40 pound supply runs about $5, and it lasts forever. An inexpensive spray bottle, a gallon of vinegar, and tap water make an effective and economical substitute for commercial cleaning solutions.

iuRabbit-friendly toy alternatives are everywhere. You could invest $20 in a fabric tunnel destined to be gnawed to shreds, or you could stop by the home improvement store and bring home a chew-resistant cardboard concrete form for half the price. While you’re there, grab a straw whisk broom and a roll of sisal rope for your bunny’s munching enjoyment. The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up a pack of lunch sacks. Fill them with hay and treats for a bunny scavenger hunt.

Speaking of munching, your rabbit, as well as your wallet, will thank you profusely if you avoid those iurdusty bags of stale pet store hay. Why pay $8 for a tiny one pound package that will last maybe a week? A bulk package of 25 pounds of farm fresh timothy on Amazon runs around $60 (with free shipping). That’s a net savings of $144! Use your windfall to splurge on locally grown dried herb and flower mixes to sprinkle on top.

 

Hold everything!

June 14, 2017

Have you ever held a newborn baby? No doubt you moved slowly, supporting the most delicate parts like the neck and spine. We all know infants are fragile. One wrong move could cause serious, lifelong injury. Would it surprise you to learn that our rabbit friends are equally vulnerable?

Watching your rabbit race around the room in a Bunny 500 or launching acrobatic binkies, it can be hard to believe he’s not indestructible. But beneath that impressive musculature lies a skeleton about as sturdy as the balsa wood airplane you made in second grade. Remember what happened the first time you accidentally sailed that plane into the side of the house?

You surely remember the shock of seeing a certain pop singer’s young baby dangling over the side of a balcony, supported only by a crook of Dad’s arm? We can come up with a dozen reasons why this is a bad idea—dangerous, painful, frightening to the child, a whole list of moral objections—yet most people don’t bat an eye when seeing a rabbit hauled around much the same way.

Did you know a rabbit’s ears are among the most nerve-rich and sensitive parts of his body? They may seem strong, and convenient, but they were not designed to support weight. Imagine you were suspended in midair by only a wad of your hair. Hurts like heck, doesn’t it? And while it’s natural for Mama Rabbit to lug her newborn kits around by the scruff of their necks, handling older buns in this way causes extreme pain.

A frightened, suffering rabbit will often try to thrash and kick his way free. Those magnificent muscles can do a lot of damage…to the rabbit himself. Broken bones, bruised organs, spinal fractures, permanent paralysis—the majority of such injuries are a direct result of a panicking bunny fighting for freedom.

As prey animals, rabbits are aware that any wrong move could mean disaster. Is it any wonder they resist being picked up and held? But sometimes, we have no choice. Vet visits, nail trims, medication dosing…as much as your rabbit hates having his paws off the ground, it’s going to happen.

One of our favorite techniques is called the football hold. Your rabbit is tucked against your chest, head under your arm, just as though you were going to run him in for a touchdown. This position supports his hindquarters, where his strongest muscles are and keeps his spine in a neutral position. Rabbits are a bit like ostriches and small children—they figure if they can’t see you, you can’t see them. It’s comforting for a bun to have a place to tuck his head.

For a calmer rabbit, hold him vertically against your chest, one arm circled under his bunny buns, the other snaked under his front legs. Hold him firmly so that he doesn’t jostle, but not tightly enough to squash him. Picture yourself skydiving for the first time. Sure, you could dangle from the parachute alone, but most of us would probably feel more secure with the trusted, experienced instructor’s arms around us!

Thar she blows!

May 25, 2017

It’s storm season in Michigan, and that means we’ve got to be prepared. Whether we’re getting by with candles and canned food for a few days during a power outage, or hunkering down in our basements waiting out a tornado warning, having a plan is crucial. It’s even more important if we have four-legged family members.th-2

A little advance planning now can save valuable time and untold stress later. Don’t wait a crisis hits! Gather the necessary bunny supplies and have them ready and easily accessible, before you need them.

If a storm strikes, you may have to move your pet quickly. A stressed rabbit can easily gnaw through a soft-sided carrier, so invest in one made of sturdy, hard plastic. Line the bottom with a thick towel and puppy pee pad. You don’t know how long she’ll be confined, so you want her to be comfortable. Make sure your name and contact information is written on or securely fastened to the carrier.

Fresh water is essential, so stash a couple gallons in a safe place (along with a bowl). We recommend storing at least five days worth of hay and pellets alongside the water. Pellets will stay fresh up to three months in a Tupperware container or Ziploc baggie. Hopefully, you won’t ever need to use this food, so remember to rotate it regularly to keep it from going stale.

th-1Does your rabbit take any medications? Be sure to have a backup supply on hand. Same goes for extra puppy pads, in case you won’t have access to a litter box for a while. And don’t forget about your bun’s emotional health. A snuggly toy with your scent on it will be a big comfort to her.

Our buns absorb our emotions, so the calmer we remain, the easier it will be on them. Here’s to a safe, storm-free summer!

Furst aid

May 10, 2017

thHow would we get by without our medicine cabinets? Bandaids for those little cuts and scrapes, Benadryl for bug bites, Tylenol for headaches—these are just some things we need to keep on hand. They make us more comfortable, and keep little problems from spiraling out of control.

It’s just as important to nip our rabbits’ health concerns in the bud. Stocking up on a few inexpensive essentials for your rabbit can not only save him from discomfort, but might even save his life! Here’s a list of easily obtainable items that every rabbit parent should have at the ready. Most can be found in the pharmacy section of your favorite store.

  • Infant gas drops. Look for the active ingredient simethicone. Common brands are Gas-X and Mylicon, but generic versions are just as effective. Give 1-2 ccs every hour along with tummy rubs.
  • Desitin or A&D diaper ointment. These work well for sore hocks or urine scald. Be sure to use only original, plain formulas—no added zinc or aloe.
  • Styptic powder. As careful as we may be, sometimes we’re going to cut a nail too close to the quick. Styptic will stop the bleeding quickly. In a pinch, you can substitute corn starch.
  • Digital thermometer. A normal rabbit’s temperature is between 101 and 103. Anything lower and you’ll want to warm him up with towels from the dryer, anything higher and you can spritz his ears and paws with cool water, before calling the vet.
  • Critical Care. For rabbits in GI stasis who are refusing to eat, or for older rabbits who’ve been losing weight, this apple/banana flavored supplement can be a lifesaver. Available on Amazon or through your vet.th-2
  • Metacam. A prescription pain reliever, this wonder drug eases the pain from injuries, surgeries, stasis, and arthritis. Your vet can advise you on the proper dosage based upon your rabbit’s weight.
  • Pedialyte. Plain, unflavored only. If your rabbit needs supplemental fluids, you can syringe feed water or try this. Especially helpful for rabbits going through stasis.
  • Syringes. In a variety of sizes, to administer the above treatments. 3cc is the most common size, although some rabbits prefer 1cc. For force feeding, try 10 or 20cc syringes. These can be found at the pharmacy counter or on Amazon.

Snacking season

April 18, 2017

Spring is finally here! The forsythia is blooming, the buds are popping out on the lilac bushes, and the first tulips and hyacinths are pushing their way up in our garden plots. It promises to be a beautiful season. But appearances can be deceiving. All that beauty can blind us to the dangers lurking beneath the nearest brush pile.iu-2

That gorgeous display of April greenery may be attractive to look at, but for our wild rabbit friends, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet! Tulips in particular are like bunny crack—one nibble won’t do. Those voracious monsters won’t stop until there’s nothing left but a bed full of stubs. And there’s nothing sadder than a shrub that’s been stripped of all its lower branches by the powerful jaws of a hungry cottontail.

thSo what can you do, short of encircling your yard with barbed wire? Fortunately, there are gentler solutions! Chicken wire is inexpensive, lightweight, and, at two feet high, it’s tall enough to keep out even the most athletic rabbit. Walmart carries a green version that blends in well with the foliage it’s protecting.

If fencing is impractical, turn to your kitchen. Mix up a simple natural repellent with eggs, hot sauce,and pepper. Spray it on your growing plants to dissuade foraging pests like rabbits, chipmunks, and deer. The solution won’t harm your flowers or vegetables, and because of the sticking power of the eggs, doesn’t need to be reapplied even after rain.th-1

The easiest, most cost-effective deterrents might be found in the toy aisle of your local Meijer. Colorful plastic pinwheels stuck in the ground every few feet can serve to startle the rabbits, who don’t like the movement. Some people have reported success using balloons, which bob around in the wind and frighten the buns. Neither of these solutions will work, however, if there’s no breeze.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen all else fails, plant more! Strategically placing marigolds or daffodils around the plants you’re trying to protect may work, since rabbits don’t like the taste. And choose your battles. You may have to sacrifice a few tulips to keep the lilacs safe, and vice versa. Remember, providing a snack for the wildlife now and then is just part of interacting with nature. Relax and enjoy!

Bunny on a budget

January 25, 2017

SONY DSCLet us guess! Was “save more, spend less” near the top of your list of New Year’s resolutions? Maybe you’re going to swap your Starbucks Caramel Brûlée cappuccino for McDonald’s black, drop those premium cable channels, or squeeze an extra year out of the family van.

When scouring last year’s budget to find trimmable areas, those of us who have rabbits may be in for a bit of sticker shock! How can a creature so small and seemingly innocuous steer us toward bankruptcy? This might be a slight exaggeration, but if you’ve ever had to rush your bunny to the vet in the middle of the night, you’ve felt the pinch.iu-2

There’s no doubt about it, veterinary care is expensive. But there are ways to spare your wallet without sacrificing Hopper’s health. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: An ounce of prevention is worth a few hundred bucks! Investing a little at the outset will head off a lot of woe later.

Is your rabbit spayed or neutered? This is absolutely essential! Many clinics host Spay Days, where they offer reduced rates. How’s her weight? Obesity isn’t any better for our buns than for, well, OUR buns. A few ounces can make a huge difference on a five pound rabbit. Limit pellets, pile on the hay, and watch out for sneak attacks. If you’ve ever seen your rabbit skidding across your coffee table to get to the bowl of mixed nuts, you know what we’re talking about!

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-3-04-58-pmUnless you have a particularly uncooperative rabbit, there’s no need to pay someone else to handle routine grooming. At your annual wellness visit (Been a while? Schedule one today!), your vet can show you how to trim nails, clean anal glands, inspect eyes and ears, and keep your rabbit’s fur and skin clean.

No bunny parent should ever be without a good reference book. Marinell Harriman’s House Rabbit Handbook lists which common rabbit ailments can be handled at home, and which require a vet visit. A good vet will go over all possible treatment options, and can help you find budget-friendly solutions. The highest priced treatment is not always the best choice.iu

If your rabbit needs a compounded or temperature-sensitive medication (most antibiotics), it’s worth the extra cost to buy it from the vet. But long-term stable drugs like Metacam can be ordered for much less from an online pharmacy. Only deal with reputable companies that dispense American- or Canadian-manufactured meds. And as with most things, the larger the package, the lower the per-dose price. It pays to order as much as you think you’ll use before the expiration date.

 

Twenty questions

January 18, 2017

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-30-02-pmRabbits are mysterious creatures. Even the most attentive, educated bunny parent is going to come up against behaviors and symptoms that they can’t figure out. And unless we have a trust fund from Grandma, we can’t afford to skip work and run Junior to the clinic every other day. In case of emergency or obvious illness, of course, we head straight to the vet or after-hours ER. But what about the less urgent situations we’ll encounter?screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-42-04-pm

Maybe Hopper caught a nail on the carpet. The bleeding stopped, and he doesn’t seem to be in pain. But should you worry about infection? Is it okay to put antibiotic cream on it? A bandage?

dsc_8197_2Or Skippy’s turned out to be a fussy eater. So far her poops are normal and her weight’s stable, but you’re worried about the long term. You’ve heard that some people use yogurt drops or fruit to pique their rabbit’s interest in food. But is that safe?

Maybe that bald spot on Hairyette’s back is getting bigger, and you wonder if you need to take her in or if there’s something you can do at home. Or Fluffy’s been prescribed an unfamiliar medication, and you want a second opinion. Or, with an older rabbit, how do you know when medical science has run its course and it’s time to let go?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ask Dr. Bill Guerrera, the medical director for Colorado the House Rabbit Society. He’s a veterinarian with specialized training in exotic animals. From zoo lions to wild sea turtles to domestic rabbit family members, Dr. Guerrera has seen it all, and is willing to share. Check out his new website, Bunny Hopline (www.bunnyhopline.com).

Your subscription to the Hopline entitles you to 20 questions per year on any rabbit health-related topic. Dr. G guarantees an answer within 24 hours. You’re even encouraged to send photos of iurHairyette’s back or Hopper’s paw, so you can be confident he knows what you’re talking about!

A yearly subscription is $49, well below a visit to most brick-and-mortar vets. $25 of each subscription goes directly to support the HRS, which makes this an even better value. (Are you wondering if you’ll ever have that many questions about your bun? Trust us, you will!)

Fresh faced

September 14, 2016

Fashions change (parachute pants, anyone?), hairstyles change (how about that beehive?), cars screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-9-15-33-pmchange (remember your Pinto?). And while that avocado fridge may still keep food reasonably cold, there’s no denying it adds a questionable aesthetic to your otherwise modern kitchen. Everything, and everyone, could use a makeover after a decade or so of heavy use.

bunny-computerThat’s why we’re proud to announce the launch of our new, improved website! The address is the same: www.rabbitsanctuary.org, but gone are the cluttered pages and hard-to-see print. Our webmaster has completely retooled our site to make it visually appealing and simple to navigate.

When you log onto our site, there’s no question about who we are and what we do. You’ll be greetedscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-9-35-10-pm by beautiful full color pictures of some of our residents, along with photo links to some of our most helpful information. An additional menu bar along the top offers more choices. Find out who’s available for adoption, read a bit about our history (why do we have pigs?), learn how to properly care for a house rabbit, how to decide if a rabbit is right for you, get a heads up on upcoming events, or donate with one convenient keystroke.

iu-5You’ll also find links to our Facebook page with all the latest sanctuary news, our Twitter feed, and our weekly blog. Need to contact us? You’ll find links and info on the site. You’ll even find the bios of a few adoptable rabbits, and a convenient online form if you decide you want to bring a furry friend home!