Sienna is animal mad: she loves reading about, watching and playing with animals. She went to Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick’s show in Dublin, and loved it. Sienna had always wanted a pet, but her mother is allergic to cats and dogs, so the family could never have a dog or cat.
A year ago, after much discussion, they agreed that Sienna could have a pet rabbit. If he lived in the tiled area in the kitchen/living room, any fur could be controlled so that it wouldn’t cause any allergic problems.
They found Google a year ago by Googling “rescue rabbit”: they discovered a small pet rescue centre in rural Ireland. That’s how they chose Google’s name: he was an adult, male, neutered, vaccinated rabbit who needed a home.
He settled in well, with his own rabbit areas in Sienna’s family living area. He has a bed, haybox and water bowl at one side of the room, underneath a dresser. And on the other side of the room he has a litter tray: rabbits are tidy, clean creatures who always go to the toilet where they are meant to go.
He does go outside into the back garden in the summer, but he was once chased by a cat, so he’s nervous about going out on his own. He’s only happy to go out if there’s a human to accompany him. If he sees or hears a cat he stamps his back feet, and Sienna knows that he’d like to go back inside.
He’s fed a standard, healthy rabbit diet, with plenty of fresh hay in his hay box (bought from the local pet shop), and a daily ration of high quality rabbit pellets.
GOOGLE LOVES HIS FOOD
Google has always loved his food: he doesn’t like playing with toys, but whenever anyone opens the fridge, he rushes over, waiting expectantly at the feet of the humans who are getting something out. He knows that his favourite treats are kept in the fridge. Sometimes it’s difficult to open the fridge because Google gets in the way, hopping around looking for something tasty.
He enjoys eating kale and parsley, as well as carrots, apples and grapes as special treats.Sienna also gives him occasional tastes of other fruit and vegetables. She never gives him too many treats, as rabbits are prone to obesity if they eat too much.
Google tends to sleep in the day time, in his bed under the dresser, coming out in the evening time. However a few weeks ago, he slept all day. When someone opened the fridge at breakfast time, he stayed huddled in his bed. He didn’t rush over enthusiastically like normal.
When Sienna went to check him, he was stretched out in a type of “Superman” pose, with his hindlegs stretched out straight behind him, his front feet extended forwards, and his head flopped down between them. She offered him a piece of parsley, but he showed no interest at all. She thought at first he might just be tired for some reason, but by evening time, when he was just the same, she knew there was something wrong. She had also noticed that he had not passed any pellets in his litter tray, which was very unusual for him.
That evening, he was still dull and refusing to eat, and something else happened: he started to vibrate all the time, like a phone ringing when the ringtone is silent.
At this stage, Sienna’s mother would normally have taken Google to the vet, but her normal vet was closed, so she decided to – appropriately – use Google to try to find out what was wrong with him. She quickly discovered that he was likely to be suffering from indigestion. She had bought some blueberries the night before, and Google had hungrily tucked into them, even though he had never eaten them before. She found out that these were on the list of foods that should not be given to rabbits other than in tiny quantities. Other products to approach with caution included broccoli, avocados and courgettes.
Indigestion in rabbits is often the result of excessive gas production, with the stomach and intestines bloating and swelling up, with the normal movements stopping: it’s known as gastro-intestinal stasis. Sienna and her mother started to give Google the recommended treatment: a dose of Infacol (just like human babies with colic are given), and some gentle abdominal massage and the same time as rocking him from side to side. They must have moved along a big gas bubble when they did this, because Google let out a huge, loud, fart. As soon as he’d done this, he started to feel better, moving around more, and passing a few pellets in his litter tray. They also offered him some pellets mixed into a mush with warm water, and he licked some of this off a spoon.
They carried on massaging his tummy, and gave him some more Infacol. He seemed much happier by bedtime. The following morning, he was completely back to himself, eating normally and even coming up to the fridge looking for treats.
Sienna learned a lesson that weekend: she has to be careful about what she offers Google to eat. If in doubt, it’s always best to check before offering him a new type of food. And the good news is that it’s easy to find out these days. She just needs to use – wait for it – Google – or sign up with Pete the Vet’s latest website, PetfixClub!