How To Force Feed Sick Rabbits


hey guys this is Haley from 101rabbits.com
and in today’s video I’m gonna be showing you how to force-feed a rabbit
now before I get started I do want to put a disclaimer out there please do not
use this video as a supplement to veterinary care rabbits who are not
eating or who are sick need to be seen by an exotic veterinarian because there
are those rare situations where force-feeding can actually make a rabbit
worse so you need to take them to an experienced exotic vet and get a
treatment plan from them in this video I’ll just be showing how I force feed my
rabbits recently Lulu went through a little scare where we started force
feeding her turns out she was just in a little bit of pain and didn’t feel like
eating for one day and then I’ll be showing ebony who has recently been
going through GI stasis so the first thing I do is I set up my area where I’m
going to be force-feeding at my rabbits personally, I use a towel on a countertop
I find this the easiest place to force-feed a rabbit as it’s the perfect
height the next thing I use are 60 ml syringes I do want to mention that if
you are new to force being a bunny or if your bunny is very hard to force-feed it
might be a good idea to use 1 ml syringes as they are smaller and it’s
easier to not push too much critical care into the rabbits mouth at one time
which can cause them to just spit it out all over if your rabbit is in gi stasis
your vet most likely has given you a treatment plan with different
medications different feeding schedules I like to go ahead and write that all
down on a Google Docs and then just print it out so that I have a reminder
throughout the day on when I have to feed certain things when I have to give
certain meds the next thing you’re gonna need is critical care of course I
personally use Oxbow critical care i buy the one-pound bags as they are cheaper
and I have the apple banana flavor here again if you’re new to force feeding
rabbits or your rabbit is very hard to force-feed I would get the critical care
fine grind papaya flavor it’s basically made for tube feedings but you can
totally use it orally as well it’s just a lot easier to force-feed it as it’s a
lot smoother the next thing you’re gonna need is a tablespoon so that you can
measure out your critical care and then you
go ahead and mix your critical-care around but I do this the first time I am
feeding my rabbits if the critical care has been sitting in my freezer for a
long time or I have just bought in it I like to shake it around just so that
everything’s all mixed up now your vet is gonna have a recommended dosage for
your rabbit based on their weight so for Lulu I had to give her 80 ml of critical
care so because of that I went ahead and did two tablespoons of critical care but
if your rabbit is smaller like for example with ebony I only do 1
tablespoon of critical care for her because she only needed 30 MLS then
you’re gonna go ahead and get some water I use filtered water with my bunnies and
I just put it in a microwavable cup and put it in the microwave because you’re
supposed to use warm water when you mix critical care so I only put it in for
about 40 seconds in my microwave and that seems to be warm enough where it’s
not too hot but it’s not cold then you’re gonna go ahead and add the water
to the critical-care the measurement depends on the critical care you have so
the directions will be on the back of the bag for this specific critical care
for every 1 tablespoon of critical care you add 2 tablespoons of water however I
found that it is way too thick to pull it up with a syringe with just 2
tablespoons of water so I actually went ahead and put 3 tablespoons of water in
per every tablespoon that just works better for me and when rabbits are going
through GI stasis fluid is very important to help their gut to keep
moving so my vet actually recommended to water it down a little bit more so that
they have the extra fluid then you’re gonna go ahead and take a spoon and just
mix up the mixture as you’re mixing it it will become the thicker if it becomes
too thick for the syringe to lift it up you can always add a little bit more
water once you’ve mixed your critical-care
you can go ahead and grab your syringe and start filling it up this part can be
a little bit tricky as sometimes air will get into the syringe so what I like
to do is after I filled the syringe it’s kind of just tap it on the counter and
it helps all the critical care sink to the bottom and the air come to the top
and then you just push the air out of the syringe before you start feeding and
that seems to be a really helpful trick to get rid of all those little air
bubbles once that is done you can go ahead and grab your rabbit if your
rabbit is very sick and lethargic from GI stasis this
process is gonna be a lot easier as a lot of the times they’re more willing to
accept it but if your rabbit isn’t that sick or is kind of on their way to
recovery they might tend to fight back a little
bit when you’re trying to force-feed them so this first example I have Lulu
and even though she wasn’t that sick she is very good at taking critical care I
don’t know if she likes the taste of it or if she’s just good at doing it but
she didn’t used to be when she was younger I think it’s just as she aged
she’s more willing to accept it so as you can see I like to position them so
my right hand is able to force-feed them and as you can see with Lulu she’s
basically just eating it right out of the syringe I’m not really forcing her
too much at least in the beginning so don’t worry if your of it doesn’t take
it this easily this is pretty rare for a rabbit to be this willing to take
critical care but as you can see here I am putting my hand on her head just a
little bit just to try to get her to eat more as she doesn’t really want it but
she is pretty good at taking it don’t forget to give you a rabbit breaks this
amount of critical care all at once is a lot of food for them so if you’re just
constantly shoving it in their mouth they have no time to swallow it which is
why they’re going to be spitting it out all over so you want to make sure when
you’re pushing that syringe that you’re barely squeezing anything into their
mouth just the tiniest squeeze with this big of a syringe is gonna give them
about a milliliter of critical care at a time and that’s quite a bit for a little
bunny that’s why I recommend if you’re new to this process to start with 1 ml
syringes because they’re a lot easier to control how much you’re putting in a
rabbit’s mouth at one time and with these larger syringes especially when
you’ve used them a couple times they get kind of sticky and it’s harder to
control how smoothly you are forced feeding them so as you can see here I’m
just giving her breaks in between little bits of critical care so that she’s able
to chew and swallow not that they’re really chewing anything but kind of
looks like they’re chewing so that’s why I said that so depending on how much
critical care you have to give your bunny this process may take quite a
while especially if your bunny isnt very willing to take it so don’t try to
rush it as this is just gonna cause the critical care to go all over the counter
instead of in your rabbit’s mouth but as you can see even with Lulu even though
she takes it really well little dribbles do fall out of her mouth
and onto the towel so I do like to take paper towel and wipe those off of the
towel just because if she is to step in it it
just makes a big mess and she tracks it all around it gets crusty on her paws
especially if your rabbits in stasis they aren’t gonna be grooming themselves
like they normally would and their furs just gonna get all crusty and weird so I
just like to keep the area all nice and clean by just using little paper towels
to clean up the little dribble edge dribble in the drippage I don’t know I
also like to wipe off their mouths every once in a while because little drops of
critical-care do get around their mouth when you’re forced feeding them but I
will say over the years with practice I’ve gotten a lot better at this the
first time one of my rabbits went into GI stasis I think I probably lost like
10 MLS just all over the counter because I was so bad at like forcing it into
their mouth and my rabbits were really score me and I just hadn’t figured it
all out yet so if this is your first time don’t worry like it’s gonna be hard
to do at first but once he gets a hang of it it isn’t really that difficult and
throughout this video you can see some frustrating behaviors from Lulu she
doesn’t really enjoy this process and most rabbits won’t so you can see her
digging at the towel and I just allow her to express those frustrated
behaviors I don’t try to stop her or force her to keep eating at that time I
just kind of let her do it and then start the process afterwards this
definitely isn’t a pleasant experience for your rabbit but it’s something that
needs to be done for their health and for their safety especially when a
rabbit is sick because when they stop eating it is literally life or death
rabbits could die within 12 to 24 hours of not eating because their digestive
system requires them to constantly have food moving through them so now I’m
gonna go ahead and show how I force-feed evany because she is a little bit more
difficult than mulu to feed so what I go ahead and do is I
place her butt kind of in the elbow of my arm and then
I pick up her front end with my hand and I put my thumb on the side of her face
I’m not putting pressure on it I’m basically putting it there so she can’t
turn her head away from the syringe and that seems to help a lot so basically it
kind of just holds her head in place while I’m force feeding her so that she
can’t really like move around too much but as you can see once I’ve given her a
little bit of critical care I do put her down I let her hop away I don’t want to
like constantly be restricting her this entire process or she would just get so
frustrated and probably start biting me and not be happy so once I’ve let her
swallow all the critical care I’d go ahead and pick her front end up again
and squirt a tiny little bit more in and then I let her go down and swallow the
critical-care and just chill out for a second and then I use my paper towel I
clean her up or I clean her area up a little bit during this time and then
when I feel ready I go ahead and do it again I pick her front end up and I just
give her a little bit of critical care I also want to mention you don’t want to
lift your rabbit up too high or ever put them on their back this can risk the
rabbit aspirating the food it’s extremely dangerous to have your rabbit
like standing straight up or on its back not that you should ever have your
rabbit on its back anyways but it can be tempting in these situations to try to
do something like that just put them in a position so that you can force it down
their throat but if they’re up too high or on their back it can go into their
lungs and they can aspirate which is very very dangerous so you want to make
sure you’re kind of keeping them level to the ground which is why I’m only
lifting Ebony up a couple of inches so even though I’m just showing how I force
feed critical-care this same process works for giving medications or feeding
water or anything like that I do want to make a note if your vet has recommended
you to orally give water to your rabbit instead of sub-q fluids I do want to
mention there is a very very high risk of aspiration so even if you are only
lifting them up a tiny bitte and they’re very flat to the
ground there still is a very high risk of aspiration when force-feeding water
which is why most vets do prefer sub-q fluids for this so because of that you
need to know how to give oral fluids without aspiration risk and there is
always a risk almost every time I’ve had to give oral fluids my rabbits have
started coughing at one point which is why I don’t prefer to do this but if you
are giving oral fluids make sure you’re only using 1 ml syringes so that you
have very good control over how much water is going into their mouth at one
time and make sure you do very very very small amounts make sure you’re giving
your rabbit some breaks in between each little mouthful of water this will also
help them not to choke or to have to cough or anything like that so I do
still do oral fluids on occasion but I much prefer sub-q so definitely
definitely ask your vet if you can learn how to do sub-q fluids if your rabbit is
in GI stasis once I have finished giving critical care I just go ahead and clean
up I just rinse everything out in the sink really well and then put it in the
dish drainer so that’s basically it for this video on how I force-feed rabbits I
hope you guys found this useful again this does not supplement veterinary
treatment this is just for those of you who have gone to the vet and your vet
has recommended you force-feed your rabbit and you’re having issues or
you’re not sure how to do it exactly because vets aren’t always the best at
showing things like this in detail a lot of the times they’re just like oh stick
it in the side of their mouth where they don’t have teeth so I thought this video
might be helpful for some of you guys because those of you guys wondering
what’s going on with Lulu and ebony I haven’t made a youtube video on it yet
but please go to my Instagram and my Facebook page and you can read all about
what’s been going on with Lulu and ebony just a side note they are all fine and
stable as of now ebony is still kind of in stasis but she is on her way to
recovery but that’s basically it for today’s video I hope you guys enjoy it
and learn something new and I will see you guys very soon on a new video bye

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