bellebun (bellebun) wrote in bunnyowners,

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Well, after reading through some of the questions on the various rabbit communities on LJ, and being frequently asked similar questions on Practical-Pet-Care, I decided to get snap-happy with the digicam to photograph the steps involved in fairly common rabbit procedures, including handling, grooming, nail trimming and medicating. I'll briefly explain the steps at each stage, and will include a photo of each step. I'd like to acknowledge the "models" for the photos; Chloe (blue otter dwarf lop), Onyx (black otter swiss fox), Yoshi (ermine rex), and Chester (chocolate otter rex). The pics were taken at night, so they are rather washed out, but you get the idea. Ignore how disgustingly big my hands look - they always look large in photos! LOL

Click on a link below to view the tutorial

Handling your rabbit

Well, it's quite simple really; pick the rabbit up firmly, and be sure to support the rear. It's also a good idea to wear a long-sleeved, daggy shirt when handling bunnies (such as the old shirt I'm wearing), to protect against potential bites, scratches, and kicks.

The picture above shows an easy way to carry your rabbit. The hands placed over the ears add the feeling of security (ears are rabbits' centre of balance), and the hand under the rump adds stability, and less chance of injury to the rabbit. However, even in this position, rabbits can kick out or jump off if not held firmly enough. This position is OK for transporting the rabbit, as he or she cannot see things coming at him or her, so it's somewhat less frightening. But, NO rabbit LIKES being carried around.

The picture immediately above shows another, more "advanced" handling technique. Basically, to get your rabbit into this position, you will need to hold him or her infront of you, then swing them around so that their head is beneath your arm. This position is an excellent one to check for a poopy butt, sore hocks, any dirty spots under the belly, and is basically just useful for checking general health. Can be used to transport bunny short distances.

Grooming your rabbit

Grooming is not particularly difficult either. Basically you just have to sit the rabbit on your lap, and brush away! The use of a slicker brush makes grooming quite easy, but other brushes can be used, or even just moist hands will remove alot of dead hair from the coat (latex gloves are another option). If you do use a slicker brush, be careful not to press too hard, or the spines may scratch and/or cause pain to your bunny.

Here's a photo of a slicker brush, for those who are unfamiliar with them

The picture above is of myself grooming Onyx. As you can see, because of the way Onyx is placed on the lap, he does not object too much.

This photo shows one way of getting to the stomach, to groom any hidden matts. You must never forget to brush the tummy!

The photo above shows how to groom the tummy, from another angle.

It's that simple!

A variation to the method detailed above is to place the rabbit on a table, instead of on your lap. If using the table method, you may need to place your hand over the rabbit's shoulders or head to restrain him or her. Either way, try to brush all the way to the undercoat, and don't neglect hard to reach places like the shoulders and belly. This is shown below:

Cutting the nails

Cutting the nails is easy when you know how. There are MANY different ways to do it, but I'll demonstrate my preferred way.

First of all, you will need something to cut them with; human nail clippers, cat nail clippers, or small animal grooming scissors are fine. The scissors pictured below are actual "rabbit nail scissors" - oooh, how exotic. LOL.

You will also have to be familiar with what a rabbit's nail looks like. When cutting, you must be sure to cut ABOVE the quick, that is, the pink vein running through the centre of the nail, as shown below:

Now for the demo:

Place the rabbit on your lap as pictured above. Rabbits naturally stay still in this position as it is their instinct to back up - in other words, they usually won't jump off. They almost go into a "trance" - not the scary kind.

Then, grab a paw, push away any fur, and press gently to expose the nails (as in pics above).

Then, using your cutting instrument, trim the nail above the quick, as shown above. Easy peasy.

It's a little tricker to do the same with the dew claws, but it can be done - just rotate the paw a little to expose the dew claw, as I have done in the pictures above- then trim as per the other claws.

The hind claws are a little harder to access than the front ones, but easy to access with some practice. I am trimming these in the photos above.

It's that simple. I don't need to use towels or any other equipment, but to each their own. I certainly don't see the need for an additional person- I think they'd actually get in the way. But anyway, that's just my opinion. A variation to this method is to have the rabbit facing the opposite way; so that they are facing your body. This way also works well, but I find the rabbit is more inclined to jump off when not placed in the "trance" pose. If your rabbit has dark coloured nails, it may be necessary to shine a torch or flashlight at the nails from below, to highlight the location of the quick.

If you happen to snip the quick or nerve, it will probably bleed. Don't panic- if this happens, simply take a cotton tip and dip it in water, then into some plain flour, and dab onto the nail. If you wan't to get fancy, or have lots of money to waste, you could also use styptic powder for this purpose (or cornstarch for that matter). Either way, the blood will soon clot upon application of the powder (usually).

It's a good idea to clean out the hutch if the quick is exposed to prevent infection, and disinfectant can be applied as a precaution also (such as tea tree oil, or iodine). Seek a vet if bleeding doesn't stop, or the nail becomes infected.

Medicating your rabbit

This is something that can be quite difficult for the novice to master, but gets easier with practice, and it's helpful if you start out with good technique. The process I describe is just my own preferred method which I find works, and force feeding can be done in the same way.

First of all, place a hand towel (or folded bath towel) on your lap, followed by the rabbit. The rabbit should be in the same position as per nail trimming. This, I find, is the easiest way. See picture above.

Then, wrap one side of the towel over bunny, tightly. Not too tightly so that they can't breathe, but you want it firm enough to avoid getting kicked in the face. See picture above.

Then, do the other side, as above.

I then like to raise my knee, to support the rabbit, while I flip them over onto their backs, as per the picture above.

The photo above shows another angle of the same process, with the nasty medicine in view.

Then, I like to gently, but firmly hold the head while syringing the medicine/food with the other hand. Although it doesn't look like it in the picture above, due to the angle at which the photo was taken, the rabbit should be more upright (vertical) than lying flat (horizontal), as they can choke/drown on the medicine being syringed. Bunny won't be too happy with being force fed liquid/food, but sometimes it's a necessity. Give your rabbit a petting, and possibly a treat, after their ordeal.

So that's the process, and it's not all that difficult with practice.

Rabbit Supplies

The picture above displays some of the supplies I like to have on hand to care for my rabbits. They are as follows, from left to right (back):

Towels - Good to have for cleaning up mess, wiping down a damp rabbit, or wrapping to medicate/force feed. It's a good idea to have at least one towel per rabbit, in case you need to quarantine
Unscented baby wipes (pictured below pedialyte) - Very handy to have. Useful for grooming, removing dirt, and sanitizing bunnies' coats
Pedialyte - Childrens powdered electrolytes, available from pharmacies. Mix 1/4 -1/2 a sachet with drinking water during times of stress, GI stasis, diarrhoea or when dehyrdrated
Lemon juice - Good for removing stains from feet. Can be mixed with cornflour to make a paste- then applied and left to dry. Brush out
Aquium hand sanitizer (Pictured in pump pack bottle) - good to clean and disinfect hands, without the need for water. Useful after touching potentially sick bunnies, before touching healthy ones.
Plain flour - used to stop bleeding nails if quick is cut
Divetelact (pictured below flour) - useful for hand raising baby bunnies. This is a small animal milk supplement with low lactose (rabbits are almost lactose intolerant)
Cat hair ball remover - I don't think these are actually beneficial, as they can coat blockages preventing reabsorbtion and hinder digestion of hay. Also prevents absorbtion of vitamins if used regularly. Just one of the many useless things I have for the rabbits.
Pet eye wipes - self explanatory
Sulfaquin - mixed with drinking water to prevent coccidiosis
Chlorsig - Chloramphenicol eye drops. An antibiotic to prevent/treat conjunctivitis. Useful if your rabbit gets dirt/bedding in the eyes to prevent infection. Only available from vets/doctors
Citronella spray - Useful to spray around rabbit cages to keep away mosquitoes and insects (though cages should also be screened)
Paper towel - cleaning up spills, drying off a rabbit
Infacol - Infant colic liquid (simethicone), useful in reducing gas (and associated pain). Available from pharmacies and some supermarkets. 100mg/kg of rabbit (which equates to 1ml per kilo) - syringed via the mouth. Useful for rabbits with Gi stasis, diarrhoea
Betadine - disinfectant for wounds, prevents infection. Spray bottle for easy application
Tea tree oil (15% pure) - disinfectant for wounds, prevents infection. Good to use on nails after cessation of bleeding
Terramycin pink eye aerosol - an antibiotic spray useful for treating conjunctivitis, dirt/bedding in the eyes, snuffles (runny nose) or open wounds. Spray is bright blue so it will stain
Oster disinfectant - a heavy duty disinfectant, used to clean hutches (though only used once a month). It claims to kill the AIDS virus and herpes on contact
Nutripet - vitamin supplement for sick or underweight bunnies. Is designed for dogs/cats but fine for rabbits. Put one or two centimetres on the mouth to be licked off. Can be quite messy and dries rock hard
Bleach - Diluted with water, for weekly cage cleaning, and cleaning of litter trays
Protexin - a probiotic to replenish digestive flora in times of stress, GI stasis, diarrhoea and after being on antibiotics
Soluvet - soluble vitamins, to be added to water
Probiotic (soluble) - powdered probiotic to be added to water in times of stress, GI stasis, diarrhoea and after being on antibiotics
Ivermectin (pictured in little vet sample bottles) - Invaluable for treating/preventing internal and external parasites such as intestinal worms, fur or ear mites
Bunny bath - perfumed powder, safe for rabbits, to be dusted into fur. It claims to "clean and deodorize" though I only use it in preparation for a rabbit show, to make them smell nice
Mortein spider control - a surface spray for use near cages and in rabbitry. Not to be used while rabbits are near by
Band aid healing gel - can be useful in treating bare hocks, though I have found it to be quite useless
Baytril (pictured in vet sample bottle with yellow lid) - Extremely good to have, but generally only available from vets. Antibiotics (oral) used to treat external infections and URIs such as snuffles.
Bunny bath liquid - a mild shampoo for use when a bath is really warranted

Left to right - front:

Egg cartons - inexpensive, widely available toy for bunnies. They love to chew and toss these around
Gauze - clean gauze to dress wounds if needed
Questran sachets (pictured infront of eye wipes) - Only available from vets. Used to treat diarrhoea and GI stasis (binds to bad bacteria, hinders growth of bad bacteria)
Various brushes - The brushes pictured include 2 types of slicker brush (good for getting through long haired coats), and a softer bristle brush (comes in handy for some situations, and bunnies with shorter coats)
Colgate Whitening toothpaste - useful for removing stains from feet. Apply, then leave to dry, and brush out
Dishwashing gloves - Useful for dirty work/cage cleaning
Nail scissors (pictured above yellow gloves) - useful for trimming nails. Can use either rabbit nail scissors, cat claw clippers, or human nail clippers
Fuciderm (pictured in orange box, above colgate and brushes) - Very, very useful in treating sore or bare hocks. Contains an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and steroids to reduce swelling, treat infection and encourage hair growth. Designed for dogs, but the best product for sore hocks I have seen yet. Only available from vets, and you must wear gloves when applying
Harnesses - useful to take bunny out for a run in the backyard, for exercise. Just make sure you don't take your rabbit out during the hottest part of the day, when mosquitoes are around, that no other animals can enter your yard, and that your grass is free from other animals' excrement or chemicals
Cotton buds - useful in applying disinfectants to wounds, cleaning eyes, cleaning ears
Latex gloves - useful for quarantining, applying Fuciderm to bare hocks, cleaning, grooming (run through the coat, especially rexes, removes dead fur, dirt)
Assorted syringes - very useful for medicating or force feeding. Get different sizes, as some medicines are more potent than others, and require more liquid is ingested. Disinfect syringes after use
Vibravet paste - hard to see in the picture (is pictured with syringes); this stuff is an antibiotic that comes "prepackaged" in a syringe, ready for administration. Useful for treating infection, URIs such as snuffles. Available from vets

And that's all I could fit in one photo! And what I consider to be (mostly) useful items for any rabbit keeper.

If anyone would like me to create more tutorials for different processes, let me know and I can create some more. If any sections require further instruction or demonstration, once again, just let me know.

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