Smudge, my lop ear rabbit, had been having sneezing episodes for a few weeks. They didn’t happen every day and he was acting normal otherwise so I didn’t take him in right away. Smudge is a great rabbit, doesn’t get into trouble, but he doesn’t like to be handled. Last Friday I decided to take him into work at the vet hospital for an exam to see if I was missing something. Well, we found he did have tooth that was over-grown (this surprised me as nothing in his routine has changed in the last 4 years I have had him). This was easily taken care of. We also found he had a upper respiratory infection. A common cause of this in rabbits is a bacteria called Pasteurella. If untreated, it can progress causing abscesses through-out the body and ear problems leading to balance issues. It is something rabbits can carry and never show any signs. Stress can bring it out, so I wonder if the overgrown tooth played into this.
After trimming the tooth, I started him on Baytril. There were 2 ways I could treat him- 1 cc twice a day or 10cc added to a liter of water. I was hesitant using the second way because my rabbits don’t drink a lot of water, they get a good supply of fresh vegetables which provide a lot of their water needs. I could reduce the veggies so they drink more, but didn’t really want to play with his diet at this time. So I went with the 1cc twice a day. For a rabbit who doesn’t like to be handled. And stress is not something we want to add at this time. What fun.
For 3 days I had to catch Smudge (my rabbits have their own bedroom to run around in) twice a day to squirt medicine in his mouth. This was not his idea of a good time. I could see him dreading me coming into the room. No longer was I the Veggie Queen, she who brought good stuff to eat. Now I was she who made him take bad tasting liquid. I debated about adding it to the water and seeing how that worked when I decided to try something else first.
I don’t give my rabbits a lot of treats. Their diet is mostly hay and veggies and I usually give them about 2 tablespoons of pellets everyday (they could do without the pellets, but since I live near a river and have had to evacuate when it rises to flood stage, I want to be sure they will eat continue to eat them if this happens). I do have some treats that I got from working at the online pet supply retailer that I hand out occasionally. One package is a hard pellet-like treat made from alfalfa. I squirted a little of the Baytril on it and it soaked in. Hmmm. This looked promising. I offered it to Smudge and he ate it! Yes! This was going to work. And it seems to be. He had no porblems taking the treats like that and right now he is off the medication. I heard some sneezing a few days after starting the Baytril and none since.
There are different things you can try to get medication into your rabbit. The House Rabbit Network has a great article called “Giving Medicine to Your Rabbit”
You can also find an article from the House Rabbit Society called Medicating Your Rabbit
You can find additional information about Pasteurella
http://www.fishpondinfo.com/rabbits/past.htm and http://www.rabbit-pasteurellosis.co.uk/