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Giving Medicine to Your Rabbit

by Suzanne Smith

As much as we always want our rabbits to be healthy, they do sometimes get sick. Depending on the illness, your veterinarian may prescribe some medication. While we understand that these medicines can help our rabbits overcome an illness, the rabbit doesn't and can be quite uncooperative about taking them. Here are some tips to help you succeed.

Pills: If you need to give your rabbit a pill, first just offer it to him. Some bunnies willingly eat the pill right from your hand, as if you are offering a treat. While only a few will take it this way, you have nothing to lose by trying this. If he refuses to eat the pill, don't fret, you have other options. Slicing a raisin and tucking the pill inside is quite effective. Sometimes it helps to give half a plain raisin, and then a spiked raisin followed by another half of a plain raisin.

Another alternative is to crush the pill and mix it with either banana, canned pumpkin, applesauce, baby food, or any other yummy soft food that your bunny likes. Generally the rabbit will just eat this mixture on his own.

If those methods fail, crush the pill and mix it with one of the suggested foods listed above. You can add a little water to thin the mixture. Load the mixture into the back of a syringe and administer it as you would a liquid medicine.

Liquid Medicines: If you are giving liquid medicine, you have two options: 1) Syringe it directly into the bunny's mouth, or 2) Mix it with something and see if he will eat it on his own. If your rabbit loves banana, canned pumpkin, or applesauce, try taking a little bit of it and mix in the medicine. See if he will eat it as a treat.

Syringe feeding medicine to a squirmy unwilling rabbit can seem like a daunting task, yet it is fairly easy to do. If you look into your rabbit's mouth, you can see the incisors (the two pairs of long teeth in the very front of the mouth). Just to either side of the incisors is a gap in the teeth before the molars. Place the end of the syringe into this gap and gently squirt the liquid in. Be careful to use a slow enough pace so that your rabbit can easily swallow it. Administer the medicine too fast and your rabbit will try to spit most of it out. Don't place the syringe too deep into the mouth. If you plunge the medicine directly down the throat, you could cause your rabbit to choke

Right now, you are probably wondering just how you are going to get the syringe into your rabbit's mouth. There are several methods to try and you can choose the one that works best for you. Some people just place their rabbit on a table or counter, hold them securely and gently slide the syringe in the mouth. Others cradle the rabbit similar to how you would hold a baby. (If you chose this method, make sure his head is propped up while you syringe feed). If your rabbit tends to kick and squirm, you can wrap him in a towel, leaving the head exposed the same way you would swaddle a baby. You can use this "bunny burrito" in combination with any of the above methods.

The last method that some people like is kneeling on the floor with their knees slightly splayed and feet together (so that the rabbit can't scoot out the back). They place the rabbit between their legs facing out towards their knees and administer the syringe from above. Before administering the dosage, wipe any traces of medicine from the outside of the syringe so your rabbit can't smell it ahead of time. This trick works well when your rabbit hates the taste of the medicine.

Remember, it is important to your rabbit's health that he finish all the medicine your veterinarian has prescribed. Never stop the medicine (especially antibiotics) without your vet's approval before the treatment has finished.

Best of Luck!

Copyright 2000-2001 - Suzanne Smith