It has been a really sad couple of months in my home, losing Dixie, and now on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 I sadly lost my Pebbles to BLOAT. She was the sweetest Harlequin Lop who was so friendly and cared so much for her Little Man, Bam Bam. She was so funny. I took a call from a young man 8 years ago who was moving to Ireland and he just got Pebbles from a pet store. He asked me if I can find a home for her and as soon as he brought her over I was hooked. I couldn’t let her go and she was mine. It took me 3 months to bond her with a Bam Bam and they became inseparable. She loved to groom him and every so often she would get a good humping in. When she was a baby she would run around my legs demanding attention and it didn’t take long for her to to become the bunny in charge. This became her home and we were happy to let her run it.
My tribute to Pebbles is this lesson I hope you all will take to heart.
When Dixie passed I was sad, but I knew she had a heart condition and at 11 years old and I prepared for it. Pebbles was only 8 years young and has never had one sick day in her life. She didn’t eat Tuesday morning, but her temperature was normal. As a rabbit rescuer for 10 years, I did what I learned and started treating her for stasis. Five hours later she didn’t get better so I called the vet. She told me to watch her closely, and if in the next hour or two she didn’t get better to bring her in. Unfortunately she did not make it to the first hour. I picked her up and she took her last breath in my arms.
I brought her to my vet and asked them to do a necropsy. A few hours later my vet called to tell me that Pebbles died from Bloat. For those who do not know about bloat this is the definition by the experts:
Bloat is a dreaded condition in rabbits, with poor prognosis, causing excruciating pain. Most rabbit savvy vets often opt to humanely put the rabbit to sleep, to spare it more suffering. Bloat is caused by an abnormal accumulation of gas that leads to an extreme distention of the stomach.
I am still crying and Bam Bam is really sad but more than that, I’m angry and I’m not angry with the vet. I am frustrated with rescue groups. I spent a whole meeting of the rescue group I belonged to talking about stasis and I never heard the word bloat once. We may tell our adopters about stasis and teach them how to take temperatures, but we don’t teach enough about bloat. As my vet told me, 80% of bunnies with bloat die. Even though we hear that dreaded percentage and in the definition it says vets will opt for euthanasia, 20% live and a rabbit savvy vet can go to every extent to save that 20%.
If we catch stasis quickly we can treat our rabbits but we simply can’t treat bloat ourselves. If I has known more about bloat I would have jumped in a cab and gone to my vet right away. I would spend my life savings to care for my bunnies.
We who have had years of experience caring for rabbits sometimes play doctor with some of our adopted rabbits when their adopters fear they are in stasis. We should always advise them to seek a rabbit-savvy veterinarians, whenever possible. Stasis may be able to be managed at home, but bloat cannot.
If your bunny stops eating and pooping, run, do not walk, to your vet. In the last couple of months I was told 3 of our bunny sitting had passed. Bochy, Whipcream and Zunny. Most times rabbits hide their illness but you know your rabbits best. I cry when any of them pass.
I love your bunnies and mine, and I will give you advice on care, but I cannot replace a rabbit-savvy vet.
I know that Pebbles was greeted at the Rainbow Bridge by my Dixie, Horace and Bugs, and by Bochy and Whipcream, two of my bunny sitting bunnies.