When I bought my first baby rabbits more than eight years ago, the second thing I did after getting them set up in a suitable cage and pen was to put together a rabbit emergency kit. That’s like a first-aid kit for humans — medications and health care supplies that can either cure your bunny of minor problems or give a temporary fix to major problems before you head off to the vet.
If you own bunnies but don’t have a rabbit emergency kit yet, you should have. If you don’t know what should be in it, here are the things I have in mine, many of which have come in very useful over the eight years I have owned it.
What type of container to use? – I keep my bunny emergency kit in a plastic took box, which is perfect for the job. The larger items fit in the bottom and the small items like syringes and tubes of ointment slot nicely into the shelf on the top. You also don’t need to buy an expensive tool box. Mine was only $10 at my local supermarket chain in Bangkok, where I live, and so far it’s lasted me for more than eight years.
What Items Should a Rabbit Emergency Kit have in it? –
Syringes – If you own rabbits longer than just a few months, you will end up having to syringe feed them many times. I have 10 syringes in all different sizes, so they are perfect for thicker foods or for watery liquids and, of course, for administering medications. Just make sure they don’t have needles.
Terramycin ointment – Living in Thailand, I can buy terramycin eye ointment over the counter at any drug store for less than $2, so I always keep a couple of tubes on hand. It’s a good antibiotic for any bacterial infection a rabbit may get although, of course, still take your rabbit to the vets for a check up.
Saline solution – If my rabbits have an eye infection, I often first rinse their eye out with saline solution and then use the Terramycin ointment. Just be sure the tip of the bottle doesn’t come into contact with the infected eye, as it will contaminate the saline.
Oxbow Critical Care – A so-called ‘rescue food’, Oxbow Critical Care is the grandaddy of all supplements when it comes to getting a sick bunny to eat, and is the thing just about every vet recommends for a rabbit that won’t eat. I always have a one-pound packet in my rabbits’ emergency kit, and I’ve used it more times than I can remember.
A can of pumpkin – Pumpkin is a good thing to use to syringe feed your rabbit if you don’t have any Oxbow Critical Care on hand. It’s quite high in calories, most rabbits like the taste and it’s easy to get it into a larger syringe.
Thermometer – If your rabbit seems hotter or colder than normal, you need to check his temperature. Heat stroke especially can kill fast as can a rabbit that goes into shock (he will usually feel cold) so, if your rabbit is sick make sure you take his temperature via his rectum.
Cooling pad – Rabbits overheat quickly and, as I live in Bangkok, the world’s hottest city, I worry about that, so I make sure I have a cooling pad handy. While this does count as part of my rabbit emergency kit, I actually keep it in the freezer so it’s ready to go if any heat stroke emergency was ever to transpire.
Nail clippers – Rabbits need their nails clipping on a regular basis, so nail clippers made especially for small mammals are an important part of any rabbit emergency kit. Without them, your rabbit’s nails will grow too long and can cause problems with walking and balance.
Scissors and gauze pads – Bunnies do occasionally get injured, especially by other rabbits biting. If this does happen, or any other injury for that matter, use the scissors to cut the gauze pads to the right size and use the gauze pads to soak up the blood while you get to your vet.
Echinacea – I’ve been using echincea in my rabbit’s water for almost a year now and it’s done wonders for their overall health. It’s an herb that is almost tasteless in its powder form yet, added to water so a rabbit can drink it, it will boost your bunny’s immune system and help him fight off infections.
Chamomile tea bags – Chamomile tea can be used to bathe a rabbit’s infected or injured eye, and works wonders for bacterial infections. I’ve also used it to rehydrate my rabbit after he’s had diarrhea as I don’t believe in using a substance like Pedialyte as it has too much sugar in it for a rabbit’s delicate digestive system.
I just brew a bag of chamomile tea, wait until it cools and then add some pineapple juice to sweeten it. Works wonders, and my rabbit’s actually enjoy the taste.
These are the things I keep in my rabbit’s emergency kit, as I believe they are the most necessary. Yes, you can add other things, as every rabbit is different, but having these basics should allow you to cope with most health issues until you can get to your vet.