Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hydrangea Chlorosis

I have an old Hydrangea (guessing 10 years).  It has stopped blooming for a good number of seasons now.  And since I'm such pro worms, I never did apply chemical fertilizer.

Here's before (May) and after (July) shot.  What has happened is that my plant has developed chlorosis or discoloration of the leaves due to some nutrient deficiency (nitrogen, magnesium or iron).

I've read that soil alkalnity impacts the ability of plants to take in those nutrients.  Given all the egg shells and banana peels I've dumped in the pot over the years to try and get it to bloom, I'm guessing the soil's pretty alkaline by now.

To remedy the discoloration, I've added some vinegar to the water I use and I've also added a good amount of coffee grounds.  Finally, my rabbits also contributed a substantial amount of old hay and hundreds of poop.

Apart from the addition of organic content, I've also pruned the stems very aggressively.  Interestingly, I just plugged the cuttings in soil somewhere in the backyard.  While most died, a couple actually rooted.  I've moved one of those cuttings to a hydroponic set-up, but that's a story for another day.

I honestly thought greening up the leaves will be faster but it took all of two months before the picture can tell the difference.   Next stop is to try and make it bloom (years in the making and going).

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


I've decided to share some of my experiences as rabbit owner (with 2 neuters & 3 spays).  It's not a lot, but probably one of the most you'll get from a non-vet.   Plus, I've supplemented my experience with a lot of reading and exchanging thoughts in international rabbit owner forums.

My objective here is to arm you, as rabbit owner, so that you know what to look for, what to expect and how to prepare when it comes to rabbit neutering / spaying in the Philippine setting.  This is not meant to be vet advice.  It is meant to arm you with the questions you need to ask.

1. Finding / engaging the vet

Easily one of the most challenging parts, there are not a lot of known rabbit vets in the Philippines.  Unless your vet is an experienced rabbit surgeon, don't have him perform the operation.

Once you've found a rabbit vet, have a discussion with him on what will happen, what drugs will be used, success rate, tests, among other things.  Discuss with him the contents of the succeeding numbers.  It will help you determine whether you will be comfortable with him doing the surgery.

For example, if his success rate is in the low 90s, you should have second thoughts.  For example, if he prescribes amoxicilin, you should have second thoughts. For example, if he doesn't display empathy to your rabbit, you shoud have second thoughts.  Clear enough?   Great.

2. Blood Test

Personally, I find this as a very telling step.  If the rabbit vet can't handle your rabbit well enough to extract blood efficiently, think again.

If he attempts to lift your rabbit by the ears, the scruff or some other disturbing way, find another vet.

Granted, extracting blood is not easy.  But if it takes 4-5 attempts, I woud just leave.

The blood test would generally check platelets, liver and kidney, among others.  The results should be available within an hour.

The blood test can cost you up to P3K

3. Pre-Operation Prep

Personally the first step for me is to bond with your rabbit.  Tell him that you love him and that he needs to be brave and strong.

Make sure your rabbit eats a lot before your vet trip.  If your vet tells you that your rabbit's tummy needs to be empty before a surgery, that's a red flag.  Rabbits should never fast.  In fact, before a surgery, I feed really good hay, lots and lots of pellets and bowls of veggies.  You'll see why in the post-op section.

In BSF, there are three injections given before the surgery: one that minimizes surgery side effects, and two that effectively knocks out your rabbit for the duration of the surgery.  Unfortunately, I don't have the names and dosages of those drugs.

Alternatively, your rabbit may get very minimal injected anesthetic but will be gassed during the surgery.

If your vet's plan is to gas the rabbit to sleep from the start, I personally won't be as comfortable since it takes time to work.

Once your rabbit is asleep, your vet will shave the fur around the surgery area.

4. Surgery

Neutering takes about 15-25 minutes.  Spaying takes about 30-40 minutes.

5. Post-Operation Care

Make sure you can be with your rabbit after the surgery.  There's usually a small recovery area with other pets.  Expect your rabbit to wake up as fast as 10 minutes after surgery.  Macky, however, took over an hour to wake up.  For about 1-2 hours after waking up, your rabbit will be extremely groggy.  He'll fall down, lie down in the most uncomfotable poses, and will keep trying and failing.

My rabbits are just in their carrier while recovering.  I make sure to put in a towel to cover the ears as these will be cold after a surgery. Just make sure they don't cover the face since your rabbit is still unable to move properly.

After about two hours, you should be able to go home.  There are a couple of drugs that you should expect to be prescribed after the surgery:

a) Oral Liquid Antibiotics -- Doxycycline and Baytril are okay.  Amoxicilin is not.  Could be for 7-14 days, twice a day.

b) Oral Liquid Pain Killers - Meloxicam for at least 5 days.  For a 2-kilo rabbit, expect something like 0.4-0.7 ml (1.5 ml / mg strength) twice a day.  Vets in the Philippines typically under dose so be wary about this.  Remember, a rabbit in pain won't eat.

c) Topical Antibiotics - This could be Hibiclens (chlorhexidine).  Better if sprayed rather than rubbed.  This is probably for 14 days

d) e-collar - I alway get prescribed, but I personally don't use.  There are rabbits that may tend to fiddle with their stitches.  That is extremely bad.  That's why the e-collars are recommended.  In my case, I just watch my rabbits non-stop and guide their face away from the surgery spot when they groom.

e) Benebac (probiotics) - I find this rarely prescribed, but it's a given that you should have this everytime you use antibiotics on your rabbits.

All in, with the blood test, medicine, and surgery a neuter might cost you P5K-P7K and a spay might cost your P8K-P10K.  However, this largely depends on which clinic you use.  I'm giving you the high-end estimate.

Once you get home, place your rabbit in his cage.  In my case, I remove completely cover the flooring with mats. I even remove the litter tray.  You want stuff soft to prevent your rabbit from hurting himself.  Keep the room quiet since your rabbit will be feeling awful.

You probably won't see your rabbit eat for many, many hours -- long enough that you'll get worried it's GI.  A female will react worse than a male.   In most cases, your rabbit will just be catatonic for hours in a chicken pose or likewise look uncomfortable.  Make sure he doesn't groom the surgery area by covering the part with your hard when he tries to groom and then gently turning his head away.

For the next couple of hours (next 24-48), you should also regularly try to feed him all his favorites.  In my case, I try kang kong, kamote leaves, basil, dill, oregano, mint, banana, pineapple and Oxbow Critical Care.   In the past surgeries, my rabbits have eaten almost exclusively dill on the first few days.  That's why for Macky & Violet's surgeries, I spent a month heavily watering my dill plants to make sure I have enough when surgery day came.

If you're like me, you may suck at giving medication too.  Instead of syringe feeding the medicine, I just place the medicine over dill in a bowl (yes, the dose won't be super precise, but at least you got your rabbit to drink).  Obviously the hardest will be the first 3 doses since your rabbit will probably not eat even veggies.  The only solution there is to keep trying (yes, I also try syringe medication -- sometimes it works).  This is also why for the first 2 days, I have heavy doses of pain killers.

Time the probiotics about 5-8 hours after the last antibiotic dose.

By the third day, you should see a dramatic improvement -- eating, flopping, etc.    Throughout the recovery period though, your pimary concern is that your rabbit eats and drinks.  In my case, it's about 95% veggies on day 1, 95% veggies on day 2, 60% veggies, 20% pellets, 20% hay on day 3 -- so on and so forth until your rabbit's diet normalizes.

Spraying the stitches on a daily basis is also a challenge.  For me, this is a two-man job.  You will keep your rabbit caged the entire week (yes, he will get so bored).  But to spray Hibiclens, I get him out on a tray.  I lift the tray and then my bunny's forelegs.  My wife will then spray generously.  To make sure you rabbit doesn't lick the medicine, I feed two bowls of veggies and a ton of pellets right after spaying to keep him preoccupied.  So you many want to time your feeding with the spray.

6. Post Operation Check-Up

After a week, you bring back your bunny to the vet so he can check the stitches and will give you continuing advice (I.e. continue or discontinue medication).

That's it! Hopefully this little piece helped you.  Just keep in mind, this is for your rabbit's health and love life (can't bond without fixing).

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


A couple of days ago, our smores girl, Elin, hit me up saying that Mochi had an incident and showed me a picture of his wounded paw.

In an ideal scenario, here's what should have happened.  Give first aid by applying a weak betadine solution and then put Neosporin after the wound has been cleaned.  Depending on the time, you may or may not be able to find a rabbit vet.   In this particular case, the first aid should have been enough in the meantime.  Once in the vet, you should expect them to clean the wound and then apply topical antibiotics (like Neosporin).  If it looks worse, the vet might prescribe an oral anti biotic.  Finally, if it looks like the wound will become an abscess, expect instructions for daily flushing with saline solution.

What did happen is that the first vet just scraped the wound and asked her to continue applying betadine.  A day or two late, there was some discharge from the wound already.  She went to another vet, who then prescribed antibiotics and probiotics. To me, that was the more appropriate treatment.

So here's the main point of this article.  We know that there are just a handful of rabbit vets in the Philippines.  This makes it extremely important for us owners to read up constantly on various parts of rabbit care (diet, medication, first aid, etc).  For any scenario, it's important that we have some clue on how to administer first aid and secondly, what to expect from the vet.  By arming ourselves with a lot of knowledge, we will be able to ask better questions when we're getting our kids checked.  We would intuitively know if the vet is carrying the bunny wrong, or is not checking all the angles, or is prescribing the wrong medicine.

I'm not assuming that we'll ever be as knowledgeable as the vets but it's extremey important to have some fighting knowledge.  In Elin's case, it could've have saved her time and money if she had gotten the correct care that she needed on the first vet visit.

I've been meaning to write about this topic for a while now.  Elin's case just helped present it.  Hopefully this encourages us all to read up more (and watch videos).  It could literally be life and death knowledge.

Rabbit First Aid Kit

Monday, March 19, 2018

Feeding Rabbits in the Philippines: Why You Don't Give Grass from the Sidewalk / Open Lots (20)

Even to non-gardeners, it is fairly common knowledge that dog & cat poop are dangerous to your garden.  Your favorite pets' poop and urine have dangerous toxins, bacteria and parasites that can harm you and your other pets.

Would you eat herbs and lettuce coming from a field with dog / cat waste, garbage and exhaust from the nearby road?

Probably not.  The concept at work is phytoremediation.  Plants clean the soil and air by absorbing the toxins.  That means though all the dangerous stuff are in the roots, stems and leaves.  That's why you don't eat them.

That's why you shouldn't feed rabbits grass and plants coming from high-risk lots (parks, empty lots (people frequently throw garbage), gardens with pets).

If you're thinking of adopting a rabbit because you think these nearby "food sources" will make feeding them cheap, think again.  It's a bad idea that will harm rabbits.

Do read my prior article related to this (link below).

SaveRabbitsPH Phytoremediation Article

Friday, January 26, 2018

My 2018 For Animals

It's been over a year since I last ate meat.  At the tailend of 2016, I made a call to stop eating meat cold turkey (now a seemingly inappropriate reference).   Let me be clear.  This has nothing to do with health.  It's a not a "diet".   These are not doctors orders.

It has everything to do with my bunnies, with my love for animals, with consistency of character.  

I suppose a lot of people cannot begin to relate with that (or are even interested to).  At the most basic, a lot of people love their own dogs and cats.  They pamper, buy nice things and give medical care.  Their own dogs and cats.   But they are unable to transcend this care to other dogs and cats that are being abandoned and abused.  As such, they see only a microcosm of the issue.  They breed one or two pups to be given away or sold to friends.  It seems harmless until you think about the thousands of animals that have no home. One more you breed is one less that can have a home.

If at that level, we already don't recognize the problem, then we probably won't understand that a cow deserves as much love and care as a dog.  I recall this bruhaha about the killing of a dog in a film last year.  While I agree with the indignation,  I can't help but hope (in vain) that people will take that indignation and extend it to other animals.  Millions of animals get slaughtered every year.  Why cry over the dog and not all the other animals?  

There's also the case for church going, spirit preaching, love for fellow man espousing folks.  They too are unable to transcend this pursuit of purity with mercy for animals.  How does this not reek of hypocrisy?   Pray and kill.  Pray and kill.

Or perhaps there is a valiant bread winner who takes pride in putting food on the table.  That is noble, no doubt about it.  But it can also be achieved without being cruel to animals.  With proper planning, you can have sufficient nutrition from all plant sources.  Ultimately, his human drama is not a reason to kill.

I always lament that found my soul very late in my life. And even now, I haven't even reached half my destination. I am still unable to give up fish, cheese and some other animal products.  But my hope is that at least, my awareness is already there and that I will find the strength to be more compassionate to animals.  Let's see what 2018 brings.  My most tangible steps for this year will be to shift to non-dairy milk.  Fortunately, I find both almond and rice milk to be delicious.

Friday, November 10, 2017


I've had several posts over the years on growing siling labuyo.  If you're thinking of complications of propagation and care, don't.  The plant I'm showing you is about 3-4 feet high already and has been blooming for months now.  But I didn't even plant it.  I think here's what happened.

I have a nearby sili plant.  It bloomed.  The "fruit" fell. The seeds germinated wild and grew into this big plant.  No watering.  No fertilizer.  No special soil.  So I guess just throw a couple of old sili (the ones you don't want to eat anymore) on the soil near plants that you water.  Wait for a few months. That's it.  In fact, I saw a few other small sili plants nearby.

You can even grow it in pots if you want.  Good luck!

Saturday, November 04, 2017


GI Stasis is one of the most common rabbit killers -- perhaps only next to baby rabbit diarrhea.

Has your rabbit been lethargic, ignoring hay, veggies, pellets and water?  Has been hunched in a corner?  Has had very few, small and deformed poop? Has been behaving very differently from what you're used to?

These are telltale signs of GI stasis.  You should make plans to bring your rabbit the moment the rabbit vet clinic opens.  Keep in mind that a rabbit is not like a human that can survive weeks of poor appetite.    You're not counting weeks; you're counting hours.

In the meantime, here is the first aid I do for my bunnies:

1) I check if the tummy is bloated (feels like a balloon).

2) Do tummy massages throughout the night.  I tend to do 30 minutes at a time and then let my bunny rest.  Watch Youtube videos on how this is done.

3) Give simethicone at 1 ML / hour for 3 hours via syringe (available in Mercury at about P100 / 10 ML)

4) If tummy is NOT bloated (or has subsided from #2 and #3), hydrate your bunny by force feeding Pedialyte and / or dextrose water.   In my case, it's been easier said than done so I can't really place a limit.  I only give as much as my rabbit lets me.  But just keep in mind that a rabbit can roughly finish a 200 ML drinking bottle in a day (give or take a few depending on the bunny).  Hydration is an urgent concern. 

5) If  tummy is NOT bloated, offer a variety of veggies almost constantly.  Different rabbits will respond to different veggies.  But more often than not, the fragrant ones win the day for me (cilantro, basil, and dill).   Simply putting a bowl in the cage or room is not enough.  Put the veggies in front of your bunny's face.

5.1) Mix the veggies with some Critical Care.  I've had zero luck feeding CC by itself, but good enough chance when I lace the veggies with CC.

6) Keep your rabbit warm.  I usually put a blanket.

7) Give gut motility drugs (metoclopramide & ranitidine).  I use the dosage prescribed by my vet beforehand.

8) Give pain killer (meloxicam).    I use the dosage prescribed by my vet beforehand.   Pain management is extremely important for GI stasis (i.e. they won't eat while in pain).

9) Give probiotics (benebac. NEVER dairy probiotics).  GI comes with a bacterial imbalance that needs to be corrected.

Once you get to the vet, I now always ask for a 100 cc hydration.  Without hydration, the poop in the tummy can harden, causing a blockage which will complicate matters even more.  Even simpler, dehydration can also kill your bunny really fast.   Aside from hydration, your vet can further assess the concern (i.e. is there excessive bacteria in the gut (for antibiotics), are dental issues causing the GI stasis).

Please don't make the mistake of NOT going to the vet.  You are risking you rabbit's life by doing that.  In fact, you may need to bring back your rabbit repeatedly, especially for hydration.

Disclaimer:  I'm not a vet.  I'm not an owner with 200 years of experience.  But I have faced GI stasis so many times this year and I've researched the first aid over and over.  And there's nothing I wouldn't do for my bunnies.    Please do your own research.   I'm merely telling you what has worked for me.

Good luck dear bunny owner!


First Aid Kit

Rabbit Vets in the Philippines

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Rabbit hydration can save your rabbit's life.   In fact I would argue that urgent rehydration has saved my rabbits' lives multiple times.
Here's my story.  Take note of the time stamps.  At 9 PM, my rabbits water bowls are usually replaced.  Lily was still her typical self throughout the night (running & playing).  As I left for the office at around 5 AM, I noticed that her water bowl still seemed rather full.  I replaced her water and left.  Stupid me, I didn't think much of it because I've been very worried about Daisy and her hay intake and took for granted that I may have two sick bunnies at the same time. 
In the middle of meetings, I would typically send SMS to my sister as she normally watches over the bunnies in our absence.  I kept asking about Daisy as I normally do.  At about 3 PM, she told me that she noticed Lily wasn't eating or drinking.  Holy crap -- it suddenly dawned upon me that it may have started from the past night.  That's 18 hours! 
Naturally, I drove home with my wife (I always drive in rabbit emergency situations) and naturally employed my public utility driver ethics on the road.  This was a very urgent situation.  Our vet was in VIP Mandaluyong only until 6 PM (QC to Mandaluyong can be as brutal as 2 hours if you're lucky).   Given those constraints, we didn't have time to observe Lily at all.  I had my sister prepare her stuff so that we can leave right away.  
#Lily_SaveRabbitsPHSo let's pause a bit.  By this time I already knew that she will need 100 CC of fluids.  Whatever the diagnosis may be, I knew that she will need rehydration.  So why not oral rehydration at home?  It will be nearly impossible for a rabbit that doesn't want to eat or drink to be force fed that much.   SubQ was a lot more efficient and fast acting.  
In the car, Lily was already lethargic.  The behavior persisted even when we got to the vet (yes, we made it with time to spare).  So this is where understanding your rabbit's normal behavior comes in handy.  Lily hates being in the vet, especially with dogs.  She thumps and thumps when there are barking dogs.  That time, she was just quiet and not active.  
So while there, she was given 100 CC of a Sodium Chloride solution (.9% I think) along with Baytril (prescribed following a fecal exam), B Complex and a pain killer.  Once that was done, I had the confidence that she would be okay.  
Upon getting home, she started eating small bits of kamote leaves soaked in drinking water.  Within the hour, she pooped some really small dehydrated fecal pellets and peed dark colored urine -- both clear signs of major dehydration.  But she recovered.  By the following morning, she was back to producing giant poops.  
On the side, she was prescribed Baytril and so I'll keep giving that for a couple of days.  I'll also observe and give gut motility as needed.  I was also prescribed pain meds, but did not give that anymore since she regained her appetite right away (key point -- if rabbits are not eating, they are most probably in pain).  
So let me end this with another reflection.  This was a happy ending.  I would reckon, however, that if she did not receive the hydration at that point, things could have easily gone really bad.  Not eating will induce GI.  No drinking will compact the contents of the tummy and make pooping even harder.  Without the first aid, that story would've been over in a day (bad ending).  
For rabbit owners, if your rabbit has the not eating & drinking symptoms, don't hesitate.  You need a rabbit vet immediately or your rabbit can die.  You're not counting days.  You're counting hours. 
In succeeding posts, I'll talk a little more about hydration. I've had a good number of episodes related to this.  Until then, please keep your bunnies hydrated.   

Friday, October 13, 2017


Wow, I just realized that my hydrangea is now seven years old.  It's hands down my oldest plant alive.  The problem is that it hasn't bloomed in about 3-4 years.  Well this year I finally sat down and tried to figure it out.  Since it was very prone to wilting, I placed it under a well shaded tree.  It turns out it needs some sunlight in order to flower.  So I pruned the calamansi tree that shades it.

Furthermore, the last time it bloomed, it had pink flowers. I bought it specifically because it had lavender blooms.  To fix that, I also mulched it with some banana peels since supposedly potassium turns it blue.

If you look at the picture, it does look pretty big now -- just no flowers.  Well let's see in a few months if it blooms (I expect March or so).

Thursday, October 12, 2017


As a responsible rabbit owner, one of the first things you need to find is a rabbit savvy vet in the Philippines. Why?  Normal vets can frequently misdiagnose rabbits and give the wrong medicine.  At worst, your rabbit could die.

Fortunately one of our rabbit loving friends is compiling a list of "exotic" pet vets as it's called.  If you know of any ethical bunny vets that are not on this list, please do tell me so that we can add them.


Good luck on your vet trip!

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