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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Older, sick bun is getting tired and frustrated
Last Post by awisim at 11/03/2012 7:41 PM (5 Replies)
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User is Offline awisim
New York
2 posts Send Private Message
11/02/2012 11:37 AM

Hi, this is my first post, although I have lurked for a while. I'd like some advice, or maybe encouragement, about my rabbit, Artemis, and his ongoing and worsening health problems. Perhaps most importantly I am looking for advise about his emotional health. He is eight and a half years old, and currently suffering from a tooth infection and possible jaw abscess. More recently he has also redeveloped bladder stones, probably due to his currently poor diet. He is refusing to eat anything except for pellets. We have been force feeding him critical care.

I'll try to keep this short, but his health issues are quite a saga. If you'd like to skip over his history, my real questions are at the end. He has had teeth problems throughout his life, with occasional need for trims, minor infections, root elongation, and a number of tooth removals, He has no whole teeth (although he has some deep fragments) left on his lower left jaw, and his upper teeth on his left side are dark colored, possibly dead, but still intact. Several years ago he also developed urinary problems, starting with a set of stones we had surgically removed, then several episodes of sludge. During this time we transitioned him to a low calcium diet, with limited pellets, which i know is not the best for teeth problems, but at that point the bladder problems were more severe than the his teeth.

When the stones came back again, we opted to try shrinking them instead of putting him through another surgery. Sodium citrate did the trick, and since that point he has been on a maintenance dose of sodium citrate every other day to keep his urine ph up. It had worked perfectly until he started refusing all greens and hay. He also had an episode of extreme, acute, undiagnosed liver failure a year or so ago that almost killed him, but he has recently fully recovered from that in the sense that his liver values are now completely normal.

So, over the summer, Artemis's teeth problems came back with a vengeance.Since then he has been on pen-g and baytril, and had a number of dental procedures done. During one of those procedures he had a hard time with the anesthetic, taking several days to fully wake up after we brought him home, so now he gets fluids and extra care while he is under. He seems to improve for a time, and then the infection comes back even stronger. A few weeks ago he had a regrown tooth and his lower left incisor removed, and a CT scan done, which showed a multichambered abscess around his lower left jaw, with bone remodeling. We scheduled him for a marsupialization surgery for his abscess for October 31st.

Once they masked him down and intubated him, things started to go wrong. The tube slipped into his esophagus and started filling his gut with gas. They did an x-ray, and removed the gas with a needle. His abscess surgery was cancelled and we brought him home. The vet who saw him that day was not one of his regular vets (this is a large vet hospital with several rotating exotics vets) and wasn't familair with his history. He said that he could not feel the abscess through palpation, and said that it was likely resolving due to the antibiotics. During his previous visit one of his regular vets, in consultation with a dentist, made it sound like marsupializing it was the only option, so we are pretty confused. We have a call in to the head exotics vet there to talk about it, but haven't heard from him yet.


Artie is so frustrated, so tired... he seems like he is starting to feel really bad, and i am worried that he is starting to give up. We've been injecting him, and shoving medicines in his mouth for months, and he is just getting worse. He still wants pets, still has an appetite, even though he can't really eat, but he obviously just feels really bad. He is used to getting sick, and us helping him get better, and he is really good about medicines, but this is starting to really drag on. Every time we go into his room now he obviously is worried we have come to stab him with a needle.

Any ideas for making medicine time easier? He gets a banana treat afterwards, but he is really anxious when he knows the time is approaching.

Any ideas for his emotional health through all this?

Any ideas for keeping him comfortable, or helping him eat? We've tried really soft baby lettuce, shredding greens, critical care in a dish, nothing has worked.He is on metacam, so his pain is at least tempered by that.

I'm really worried that if he doesn't start to have a more positive experience we are going to loose him, even if the infection doesn't get worse.

Thank you for reading through my novel. I really appreciate any advice you may have. Artemis is very special, and very loved.

User is Offline Kokaneeandkahlua
Edmonton, Alberta; Canada
Forum Leader
12104 posts Send Private Message
11/02/2012 4:16 PM
Welcome! Sorry you have such a health saga to bring you here,

I would suggest trying  the apple banana critical care-it was a big hit at my house. It's complete nutrition and perfect for dental stuff. My bunny who had dental issues would eat it mixed up and put on a plate, but it is intended to be mixed and fed with a syringe orally. So either way that you can feed it works. Plenty of fibre and all the good stuff they need.

If your at all able, I would urge you to try a pet sitter for a respite, many are trained and able to give medication and just taking a day or two off your routine could you help you recoup mentally. It's so stressful caring for sick/elderly animals, it's hurtful that they shudder when you come to give them the medication and it's stressful to keep track of it all the time. If you can enlist help, a family member or friend, or a pet sitter to give you a day or two off, I bet it would do you a world of good stress wise.

I'm sending lots of {{Healing Vibes}} I know others here will have great suggestions for you as well.

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Bay Area
Forum Leader
8982 posts Send Private Message
11/02/2012 7:21 PM
I am so sorry for all that you have had to endure -- you and Artemis! He is very lucky to have such attentive and caring humans!. As much as you want it to make it easier, it seems you have been very sensitive and are making it as easy on him as possible. It's sort of like if someone was going to give you a shot in the arm everyday, and though they help with giving you some of your favorite treats to enjoy afterward, or try to make it soothing during, and all of that helps, it's still something you are not going to look forward too. So I think part of this is coming to an understanding/acceptance that you have and are doing an excellent job in making it as easy on him as possible, but even the very best efforts won't fully take away the dread or discomfort of certain things.

And sometimes, chronic illness does take away from the quality of life and so some hard decision have to be faced.

But for now, it really sounds like you are doing a wonderful job and you may just need a bit of break.

Hugs to you and healing vibes to Artemis!

That's why I think KokaneeandKahlau's suggestion of having someone help you is a brilliant idea. Something I never even thought of! But is perfect if you can make it possible. You may need to have a break from this now and again even more so than Artemis. And being able to separate from his discomfort may actually help you both, as you won't be dreading his dread, and he can't pick up on your dread of his dread.

User is Offline Megan J
26 posts Send Private Message
11/03/2012 9:09 AM
you can take a look online and find recipys for soft treats that you can make yourself
also try giving him 1 quarter of rolled oats

User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
Forum Leader
11066 posts Send Private Message
11/03/2012 10:14 AM
If there is one particular thing he either likes to eat or likes to do, you can try to work it into his schedule as something he gets right after his meds. As K&K and BB said so well, you are all coping with a chronic situation and there's no avoiding the part you dread. But if he knows, or you both know, that afterward comes a bite of banana, or a lap cuddle, or a cradle on your shoulder to look out the window or breathe some fresh air through a screen door, you might make your med time a sort of closeness time as well. Definitely get someone to help you with it. It's a great idea.

When they are geriatric and chronically ill it is very trying for you. My Spockie was disabled when he was 7 and it lasted the better part of a year. He found ways to cope that made him appear, while also on Metacam, that he was ajusting to it and doing whatever he was able to. I was sad watching him, but he perked up when he scooted (no longer walking) across a room or just napped in a new favorite spot. Sometimes, just being in your presence while resting is a better quality of life for them than it appears. Maybe play some soothing music while you are on your computer in his room and he naps. Just be in his company and talk in reassuring tones and give him gentle pets. He knows he is not well, but he loves his family more than he dreads you at any time.
SPIKE, my snuggle bunny (aka Spikey Marbles)

User is Offline awisim
New York
2 posts Send Private Message
11/03/2012 7:41 PM
Thanks for all your encouraging words, everyone. I knew folks on this forum would understand what we are going through. Artemis seems a bit less unhappy today - he spent a good portion of today in the living room with us, instead of hiding in his room. He was having some trouble finding comfortable resting positions, with both his mouth and his bladder giving him trouble, but he definitely wanted our company. I'm trying to make a point to feel as positively about the whole situation as I can, and to remember that we are doing the best we can for him, even if some of it is stuff he doesn't like. Maybe if i stay more positive Artemis at least won't be picking up on my stress, which I am sure just makes him feel worse.

KokaneeandKahlau - I can see the value of what you are saying, about finding someone to give me a break. My partner and I both take care of Artie together, so we both at least get some small amount of respite, taking turns with syringe feedings and what not. If we can get him to a more stable place I'll look into the possibilities for more of a real break.

The apple banana critical care is a favorite around here too! Artie thinks eating weird goo out of a dish is some insane monkey idea and refuses it, but he likes it well enough out of a syringe. One of our other rabbits, however, who lives in the kitchen, starts begging for it just from the smell of me mixing it up for Artemis.

BB - You are definitely right, I do just need to accept that we are doing what we can, and not dread what has to be done, so he doesn't feel me dreading it, because then we both are more upset than we would be otherwise. I'm going to try really hard to sty focused on avoiding a feedback loop of dread between us.

Megan - Thanks, I'll look into recipes for soft treats more if we can get him back to eating some more on his own.

My partner did have the idea today to blend up some of his favorite greens and syringe feed a small portion of those as a break from the critical care, but we haven't actually tried that yet.

RabbitPam - Working a treat and attention into his medicine routine is something we had down pat for a while. Taking his sodium citrate and milk thistle(for his liver) became just a part of the fun of the night time feeding routine, and he got his banana and pellets as treats right after taking his medicines. He was happy to take them because it meant the really tasty stuff was coming. He hates having to have injections though, and now that his mouth the past few weeks has bothered him too much to really enjoy eating the positive medicine routine has really broken down. I'll try to think about ways to bring something more positive back to the medicine time.

Also, I really felt today what you are saying about him having a better quality of life than it might appear, just hanging out in the same room with us. It was really nice to be on the computer and just look over and acknowledge him every so often. I think it was nice for him too.

Thanks again everyone. Artemis understands, probably better than rabbits who haven't had the long journey of health problems he has had, that sometimes when he doesn't feel good the monkey caretakers get some crazy ideas about what they should be doing to help him, but that they really are just trying to help. I just need to remember that he knows that.
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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Older, sick bun is getting tired and frustrated

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