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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rabbit Care in the Philippines 9 – Diarrhea Recovery, Food Consumption & Poop Size

If you read back entries 7 and 8 from https://www.facebook.com/groups/AdoptARabbitPH/files/, you will know that Ethan’s on the way to recovering from his diarrhea bout. For purposes of this discussion, I’m not talking about slightly wet poop or excess cecal. There was blot of liquid poop in his mat and apart from a series of semi formed poops.

However, after bringing him to the vet again for a post recovery check-up, my vet said there was no bacteria in his poop but did observe that Ethan looked even more emaciated than before. And so we do think he went hungry because he didn’t like the hay that was offered in generous amounts.

Since that learning episode, I’ve given Ethan a very solid variety of hay (Choppy Timothy, Oxbow Oat and Oxbow Alfalfa) apart from a pellet here and there. If you look at Ethan’s picture, you’ll see that he’s just a little bigger than my hand. How much hay does he eat now? (new rabbit owners take note). Must be around 7-8 fistful of hay for a day and I could still be under shooting that. Just make sure there’s plenty of hay in the rabbit tray 24 hours a day.

I should have expected though that there’d be a lot more poop if Ethan was eating right. To give you an idea of how much you should expect, this shot is for the night (8 hours estimate). Also take note of the size and color. These are really good samples. I kept congratulating Ethan on a job well done.

And so I am hopeful that even though Ethan still resembles a dinosaur skeleton, that he will develop into a chubby bunny in a few months.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Owning a Bunny in the Philippines 8 - The Baby Rabbit Diarrhea


In the last entry, I was talking about how Ethan almost died because of diarrhea.  I talked about changing his diet from Oxbow Hay to Choppy Hay (both Timothy) since he seems to like that better.  

Most of my research deals with rabbit diets.  I suppose the key mistake I made was not reading enough on baby rabbit diets.  Following his near death experience, I’ve since fed him 5-6 bowls of Choppy Timothy Hay and he has been voracious.  I was similarly concerned about his lack of water intake.  So much so that I even force fed him via a medicine dropper.  It’s clear now that it wasn’t necessary.  As soon as he started eating so much, he also started drinking as much.  From last night continuing to this morning, he has been spritely like he hasn’t been in weeks.  In between all of this, I’ve also given him at least a dozen pellets throughout the day and a couple of handfuls of Oxbow Alfalfa Hay.  Some literature would say unlimited amounts for both pellets and Oxbow Alfalfa Hay.  For now, I will increase the “dosage” but will not go as far as unlimited, except for Timothy Hay.

In this episode, we did call our vet from Vets in Practice.  She advised us to give him a teaspoon of pineapple juice and a few grams of Benebac (sorry I forgot the exact dosage she shared).  

Sadly I think the root cause of his ailment was hunger amidst a tray full of Oxbow Timothy Hay.  For my bigger bunnies, a little bit of tough love forces them to eat leftovers (yeah they all like ‘em new).  But that’s not something I can do with my scrawny baby Ethan.  

So yeah, I think the worst has passed although I’ll still keep an eye on him throughout the night later.   I’m disappointed that after all these years of loving care to my rabbits, I still make seemingly rookie mistakes like that.  I’m just really lucky Ethan pulled through.  

In my next update, perhaps I’ll talk about exactly how much I’ve gone with this Unli Alfalfa Hay thing for babies (rabbits under 1 year is what I read).  

Sunday, December 18, 2016

So you want to get a rabbit 7 - A Baby Rabbit Diarrhea Emergency

I love weekend nights. With no work obligation, I can typically stay up the whole night to play with and care for my rabbits.  I was a little tired last night though coming from a company year-end party and so I was only able to check on my baby Ethan once last night at around 2 AM.  He was fine.  No outward signs of a problem.  The poop was not golden brown, but it was within the realm of normal.  

I stayed with the girls’ room for the rest of the night (Ethan, being new, is still in isolation).  When I was jolted awake by my body clock, it was past 6 AM.  Naturally my first instinct was to check on Ethan.  

I was shocked at the sight.  He was sleeping bent (not unusual for a rabbit, but it was for him).  I also saw splotches of wet poop throughout his cage.  I knew there was trouble.  When I tried carryng him, he had some convulsive actions but couldn’t stand.  

I woke Jean up and told her to run and prepare the glucose solution.  Within minutes, I held him in a trance position (I wouldn’t do this if it weren’t an emergency).  For the next 2 hours it seems, I kept trying to force feed him the glucose solution using a dropper but he hardly responded with a throat motion (i.e. didn’t seem like he was swalowing).  During that whole time, his breathing seemed really shallow and was not moving.  At some point, his head started shaking (like saying no) which seemed like a convulsive reaction too.  I just kept hoping.  

Jean also prepared an Oxbow critical care bowl, but first he needed to respond to the glucose. After a a while, I lay him down on my lap (with mats of course so he won’t fall).  I offered him a pellet.  Ever so slowly, he finally moved and tried to get it.  The next few minutes would be more hopeful as he kept responding to pellets.  I spooned some critical care to him, but he would only take a few.  In the next half hour, I would give him a pellet every few minutes until he could stand on his own.

After he did stand, he stayed on a pooping position (yeah you know what this looks like) for over an hour and must have pooped over a dozen nuggets.  Jean and I had breakfast separately so that he’ll have company.  Throughout that time, he stayed in place and was pooping.  The output?  Wet, but formed.

At that point, I figured the worst was over (at least for the day). He’s still here beside me.  It was harrowing experience even though we’ve been through that several times with Lily over the year.  

Postscript:

If you’ve not read my prior posts,  let me just say that I’m already extremely careful with my rabbits’ diet.  Still, things like this happen.  It’s very important to check on your rabbits (especially babies) at least every few hours.  In my case, in 4 short hours, my rabbit got sick and was no longer able to stand on his own.  We were fortunate this time around.  

I am also taking a risk and just straight shifting him from Oxbow Timothy to Choppy Timothy.  Yes, his poop was nice with Oxbow but he’s also been very picky.  And so it almost looks like he’s lost weight since I got him.  Choppy seems to be more palatable to rabbits.  It’s a risk because it’s a change in diet, but then again it’s Timothy to Timothy.  If this gets him stronger faster, then maybe it’s worth the risk. The adventure continues...


Saturday, December 17, 2016

So You Want to Get A Rabbit 6 - The Hay Panic Buying Episode


As you may have seen in my prior posts, I now have 3 full-grown bunnies and one 4-month baby. This means that the supply and demand dynamics have changed.

In the past I would have like a 2-3 month supply of hay. However, that includes some cheap Star Grass Hay that I got from a local supplier that was not enjoyed by my bunnies. So I’ve thrown the whole lot out. They were starting to smell moldy anyway.

Because I also have a space situation at home and I don’t want hay getting old, I had to manage down the supply a bit to perhaps 1-2 months. Over the past few months, I’ve shifted some of my supplies from Choppy Timothy Hay to Chipsi Meadow Hay because I had some bad stock of the Choppy. The difference is that Choppy came in 750G containers while Chispi came in 5KG containers.

I apologize for the long intro. It’s relevant.

So here’s what happened. My last Chipsi Meadow Hay smelled bad. Yikes. All of a sudden, I’m 5KG down for supplies. It also turns out that I was out of Kaytee Timothy and just had one small bag of Oxbow Western Timothy. Ethan, being a baby has been eating purely the Western Timothy. I’m still letting his gut get used to small amounts of different hay. Even worse, I had three small bags of Oxbow Oat Hay, which for some reason my rabbits have been ignoring (weird, since they used to love Oat Hay, ableit with different packaging).

So here I was with 4 bunnies, a low supply of the staple hay. Easy. Just buy new stocks. Chipsi Meadow Hay is out of stock. I’ve asked 3 different suppliers. OMG.

I immediately called my regular Star Grass Hay supplier and ordered 6 KG (not the tasteless one from above). Now, by bunnies love this fragrant, shredded hay, but it also has some negative impact on the poop. Their poop becomes rather black and on the wet side. It leads me to think it’s too rich to be used as staple. To compare, using Timothy or Meadow (or even Verselle Laga Natural Hay (but they also don’t enjoy this too much)) as staple makes their poop big, golden brown and very nicely shaped.

Luckily, I was able to swap my wet-smelling unusable Meadow Hay from the supplier with 4 bags of Choppy Timothy Hay. So both deliveries happened yesterday. All in all, I received about 9 KG of hay yesterday. Even then I’m not very confident of my supply. My bunnies will mow through that in a few weeks. In the days leading to this, my supply situation became so tense that my wife was volunteering to fly to HK to get hay there. I sort of suspect her motives though. :-)

The whole point my fellow bunny lovers in the Philippines, the hay supply situation in our country is not very stable since we don’t seem to have a very developed rabbit market. The irony of this is that none of the pet stores carry hay. Oh you will find some once in a while, but usually not in good quality.

Here’s the lesson: 1) Have multiple hay suppliers; 2) Get your rabbits used to different staple hay while you have time (so that their tummy doesn’t have to adjust when you do change supplies); 3) Have at least 2 months worth of hay stored. If you love your rabbit, you’ll find that my tip makes sense. Have fun!

So You Want To Get A Rabbit 5 - Rabbit Eye Problems


When I went home the other day, naturally I did my rabbit rounds and said hello.  I was very alarmed when I did my inspection of Ethan because his eye looked awful.  Now that wasn't even there the night before.   I quickly read up on eye infections.  But sadly I received conflicting information.  Some said that the bunny, in the process of grooming, will remove that.  Others had some more worrying information. Naturally, I erred on the side of caution.

So within an hour, Ethan and I were packed and ready to go to the vet.  I had to prepare some cappuccino first since I was quite sleepy.  This was the Thursday of the last weekend before Christmas and I was going to drive from QC to Tiendesitas.  I was in for a 2-hour drive.    For would be rabbit owners, that's an important point.  For the past 20 years, I would complain about any drive that's more than 15 minutes.  But here I am ready to drive for 2 hours to make sure my furry baby is okay.

IF YOU CAN'T PUT YOUR RABBIT'S NEEDS ABOVE YOUR OWN, DON'T GET A RABBIT.


True to form, I was guided by Waze and still got stuck in terrible traffic all over the metro.  In between stops (and there were I lot), I would give Ethan a pellet or two just to make sure he's eating and to take some of the car stress away.

When I got to the clinic, the vet wiped his eye with a saline solution, removing the gob all over his eye. She said it was Ethan's hair getting into and irritating his eye.  It didn't seem like there was another cause.   Good thing Ethan was very nice about it and let the vet do her work.

Afterwards, she prescribed antibiotic drops which I bought in Mercury hours later.

I don't have a picture of Ethan's eye just yet, but it does look nice, black and round again.  So don't worry.  I think he'll recover just fine.

I'll end this little story with my common refrain from past posts.  At the first sign of trouble, bring your rabbit to a rabbit competent vet.  Don't self medicate.

The cost of this episode: P200 anti biotic, P500 vet, (no cost for the saline solution since I have one at home) and about P400 for gas.  Before you get a rabbit, make sure you're willing to spend the time, care and money. 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

SO YOU WANT TO GET A RABBIT 4 - The Rabbit Cage


Before I became a rabbit owner, I used to imagine rabbits in small cages and are hardly moving. That was so the wrong impression. Quite the opposite, rabbits require a lot of exercise and room to move. I think this is a very important consideration if you plan to be a responsible rabbit owner.  Do you have space?   Can you afford the accommodation?  If not, DON'T GET A RABBIT.

I want to show you sample cages of my four rabbits.  Unfortunately, I haven't spayed them.  That's why they're all separate.  But as you can see, there's a fair amount of space in their cages. I don't think it's near ideal yet compared to the hutches I've seen.  But then again, there is something you don't see in this picture.  I let these bunnies run around the house every single day possibly for a combined 2-4 hours.  Unfortunately I don't have enough time awake to let them all out even longer than that (I hear 4 hours is prescribed daily).   But I do let them run until they decide to lie down or go back into their cages to eat.

From a design standpoint, there are a couple of important fundamentals here.  First, I don't use a wire bottom.  I've seen some terrible cages in various pictures of rabbit groups in the Philippines.  I don't know what it's called, but it's like naked wires at the bottom. The default wire of the cages I use has some coating so it's relatively softer.  But even then, the exposed part is very small.  In these cages, you will either see a plastic litter tray, the default tray and soft floor mats (these mats are exclusively used by the rabbits).  The mats by the way are replaced every week (sent to the laundry) and even more frequently if there's a pee mishap.

So why even expose some part of the flooring?   As rabbits are want to do, they spill and throw their water bowls on a fairly regular basis.  So it makes sense that I leave the area near the water bowl open at the floor.  

Apart from the space, flooring, and food & litter tray, you will also find a small grass hut and / or timothy mat inside the cage.  Once in a while, the rabbits seem to want to destroy or throw those around.  It's a good distraction.  

Lastly, in case you didn't notice, all these cages are inside a room -- indoors.   There's also an air conditioner in this room which I typically use on a hot Manila day (11 AM - 6 PM).  What is a hot Manila day?  Well I would say 90% of the year.  

So please, take a cue from me.  If possible, outdo this set-up.  But I can't emphasize enough that it's not just the accommodations, but the time you spent with them that is just as important.  These are medium sized cages, but I also let them out as much as I can every single day (supervised play).

Monday, November 28, 2016

SO YOU WANT TO GET A RABBIT 3 - Rabbit Medication

I don't promote self-medication at all.  In all the local rabbit FB groups, I keep seeing questions about what to give their rabbits if there's some condition or ailment.  I always reply, take your rabbit to a competent rabbit vet.

Most of the time, I see all sorts of recommendations and herbs and poultry medicine.  It's shocking how much tribal knowledge is going around.   My post though for the day is to just give you an idea as to what ailments rabbits may have when you get them (or may develop) so you'll have a better appreciation of bringing them to the vet right away and the costs that come with it.

I got Dexter as a healthy little boy (two years later the vet corrected that she's a girl).  At some point after her first year, she started losing her and developing crusts on her nose and then feet.  Poor girl.  Once we brought her to the vet, I found out she had mites (pretty close to full blown).  And so she was given a rabbit dose of Revolution.  The medicine, I understand from my readings was not really designed for bunnies, but works just as well.  However, it is commensurate to the weight of the rabbit so you can't just indiscriminately apply it.

I had to give her multiple doses over the past months, the succeeding ones to kill the eggs.  Since that time, I've given her quarterly doses for maintenance.  Since I also get my other bunnies treated, I haven't had another episode of mites in the past 1 1/2 years.  It's cool since it's also a de-worming agent.   And so far, I've had 0 side effects.  Rabbits are very prone to mites so make sure you bring your bunnies to a rabbit vet for check-up and application.  This is about P1-2K per quarter depending on the severity.

I got Lily as a scrawny little 2-month old runt.  After her first week, it became apparent that she couldn't balance herself because she had head tilt.  So small and so sickly.  I think partially because one eye was always near the ground, she also developed tearing of the eye.  It may be snuffles.  I still am not sure today.  She had lots of near death moments and I had to bring her to the vet over and over.  Ultimately she was treated and I have eye drops for her.  She still has a partial tilt up to today but since she's much fatter, she's able to carry the weight of her head without losing balance. I have eye drops.  I have glucose drops. I have critical care medicine.  That episode must have been worth P4K in a month.

I got Daisy as a year-old (allegedly) past mother.  She was also scrawny and looked terrible (matting all over the body).  Bioresearch definitely did not take care of her.  In fact, that's why we got her.  What we did find out after a few months (and we suspect it's from her) is that my bunnies had some fungus on their nails. (yep learned that from a vet too).  And so now we're applying fungus medicine regularly but it does take a while to remedy since bunnies aren't exactly cooperative when you fiddle with their nails.   To date, I'm still looking for an herbal solution.   That must be worth about P1K.

Just a few days ago (or has it been a week), we also got Ethan from Bioresearch for the same reason.  He looked forlorn and neglected.  I will stop passing by that place.   From his first trip to the vet, I found out that he had lice!  OMG.  So here we go again.  I needed a revolution round for all my rabbits (the maintenance dose will not do).   This will be another P3K by the time we're done.

I hope I've made my case to always bring your new bunnies to the vet for an initial check-up and regularly for follow-ups.  Make sure it's a rabbit competent one.  There are not a lot in the PH so please do your research.  We owe it to our bunnies.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

END ANIMAL CRUELTY - THE BEGINNING


I have always had a soft spot for animals, especially furry ones. I knew that as a child. I would always cry during animal movies with tragic endings. I can’t even remember how many times I cried when told the story of The Velveteen Rabbit (heck even while reading it myself). When I lost my 16-year old dog, Valiant, I never wanted to have a pet again because I couldn’t deal with the heartache of losing one. My colleague and fellow bunny lover Pearl told me best, “I am nicer to animals than people”.

When I was in Grade 4, I always ordered the Twin Burger (double patty) from Tropical Hut. That continued for years. In college, I craved the shredded TapSiLog from Rodics. When I started working, I started my love affair with Chicken Bacolod and it has been a very faithful relationship. Across the decades, through many restaurants, I would always look for Crispy Pata. And the sisig...

Clearly I have an unresolved dichotomy in my life (apart from some cholesterol and uric acid concerns on the side).

On the remaining 5/12th (seems like a good estimate) of my life, I want to resolve it by pursuing a crazy impossible vision: I want to end all forms of animal cruelty, starting with rabbits of course. I have no idea how. I don’t even know if I can resist the smell of grilled meat. I just know that it has to start by articulating the vision.

End all forms of animal cruelty

But why are we in this situation anyway? Let me share a quick story. I once had a chicken. Me being me, I loved the chicken. Then one day it disappeared. There was tinola on the table. I don’t think I was brave enough to ask, but I didn’t want to eat the tinola. You don’t imagine the cow or what it had to go through when you see a slab of steak. As ordinary people, we don’t really see what goes into the process of “steaking” a cow or “hot dogging” a pig. I will bet you very few would have the natural empathy to even wonder.

If you go back to my favorites list, you will see that I’m not even part of that few. But I’m going to change that.

I am scandalized that people kill for fur, that rabbits are considered meat, that dogs are beaten and eaten, that cows, chickens and pigs are herded under terrible conditions in trucks. The list is endless and it assaults my sensibilities. So lately, I’ve been exploring all these vegetarian options. In fact, I attended this Vege festival in Eastwood over the weekend.

Can I ever resist the scent of sisig? I honestly don’t know. But I know that if I’m ever going to achieve my vision, I’ve got to walk the walk (or at least make significant strides). The first battle is with myself.

Wish me luck!

If anyone wants to take an active part in this cause, please hit me up (privately). Let’s define active as non-lip service: money, time, effort. The whole shebang.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

So You Want to Get a Rabbit 2 

– The Rabbit Diet



A rabbit’s tummy is extremely delicate! In my experience the biggest cause of fatality is a diarrhea. And don’t think like it’s a person’s diarrhea that you can gut (pun intended) for days to weeks. A rabbit’s’ runny poop can kill it within hours. And so the reaction time must be really fast. To help aid you as a future rabbit owner, here are a couple of tips I’ve picked up along the way.

• New food should be introduced in the course of weeks – Just because you see a list of vegetables that rabbits can eat doesn’t mean that you can feed all of those right away. For example, when I got my Lily from Avilon Zoo, one of the key things we asked for is the pellets she was eating. Even though those were not high quality pellets (don’t look and smell it), her tummy was used to those. I weaned her away for about 2 months before buying new pellets. However, I did risk giving her timothy hay right away. So her diet was unlimited timothy hay and the substandard pellets from Avilon Zoo. In practice, I even had multiple types of timothy hay and star grass hay, but I didn’t risk those at once. Along the way, I patiently introduced different types of vegetables, but never more than a leaf or so at a time (basil, kang kong, kamote leaves, dill).

• Hay and clean water are given in unlimited amounts - I could never understand the store practice of feeding rabbits on specific times only (both food and water). My bunnies are always surrounded in hay. That’s how much you need to prepare for. That typical 750 gram timothy hay that is most available in Manila will be finished in a week if it’s the only food you give to one bunny. Depending on who you get it from, that’s about P400 / week. I can’t tell you how precise that is because it’s been a while since I had only that. I always feed a variety of timothy and star grass hay (my personal preference). If I had to advice you, I would keep at least 3 bags in reserve. There are infinitely more dog and cat supplies out there than bunny ones. And knowing how critical food is to rabbits, a healthy dose of preparation goes a long way.

• Veggies and Pellets in restricted amounts – I can’t tell you the practices of breeders and pet shop owners. But as a rabbit owner that cares very much, I err on the side of caution. On a given day, I may give my full grown rabbit – 5 kang kong leaves, 1 very small slice of carrot, a handful of alfalfa hay and about a small scoop of pellets in the course of the day. I don’t give them all at one time. This is not a hard and fast rule of course. My guide is really the poop. If the poop looks a little small and dry, I would give a few more wet kang kong leaves. If the poop is on the wet side, I may restrict veggies and pellets and just keep to hay. This is a practice I have to do every few hours. Yes, you check poop that often. So on the side, you should be cleaning out poop as real time as possible so that you know which “samples” are recent.

• Some paranoia in order – Whenever I see deformed or slightly soft poop, I typically cancel whatever it is I have for the next few hours to observe my rabbit. Yep, rabbit above all else. When the poop is better, I can leave.

So future rabbit owner, please consider my experience. I’ve learned a lot of them the hard way. Taking care of a rabbit takes some money, a lot of time and a healthy dose of paranoia.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bound by Principle


I'm not such a political junkie. For most part I keep to myself and my bunnies. You also won't accuse me of being very good at keeping in touch. However, it is an interesting fact for me that everyone I've met through the decades that I've truly admired were active in TSM.

#RoRo.

It's comforting that principles connect us even when contact is not there. Like attracts like. In the same way that I try to hire employees that have the same moral fiber (not always successfully okay), I will attempt to select leaders that way (unfortunately I've never picked the most popular one). I think it's the same with these folks. And it's a long shot, but I bet these are the same folks that were pro-Salonga, pro-Gordon and as a folly of my youth, pro-Miriam before she aligned with the dark side (long, long time ago).

On to happier news. I just encountered someone in FB who also wants to put up a bunny foundation!  Yey! But since this is a quarter-political post, I wonder if there will be a rabbit party-list someday. If you guys form that, I will support you 100%.





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