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Friday, September 13, 2019

Lily's Story


Lily

Sep 9, 2019 approximately 3 PM

Within minutes after I arrived, Lily's siezures became more frequent and harder.  It was extremely difficult to watch.  But I held her through all of it so she doesn't leap out into the floor and hurt herself more.  Mommy was there holding her too.  And through every sob, we were repeatedly whispering to Lily, "let go baby. Mommy and Daddy will be okay" even though we knew we weren't.  We just didn't want her in pain anymore.   "We'll see you someday, with Dexter, Daisy and Eeyore." 

As the painful end neared, I felt her heart beat dozens of times per second -- so fast I felt it would explode.  But what could I do but sob, hold on and tell her that I love her over and over? 

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing. 

And the helplessness of it all added to the pain.  Why can't we save you, baby? Why couldn't we do a damn thing to even help you through this?  And you're so innocent, so well loved and so well cared for.  As we felt her expire, amidst our tears, our doctor injected her with the drug that will ensure she goes to her forever sleep. 

As rabbit parents, we have to believe she will go to rabbit heaven to wait for us, along with her old friends.  We have to believe it, because really, what is the alternative?  That we've lost you forever.  No, that can't be.

January 2, 2016

For over 2 years, Dexter was the only child in our family.  It tooks us years to get over the trauma of past losses and didn't want any new rabbits. 

But today was a new year.  We took a road trip to Avilon Zoo in Montalban because we wanted to see rabbits.  At that time, I was still clueless that all breeders were exploiters. I just wanted to see rabbits.  As we neared the end of our day long trek, we still hand't found rabbits.  Apparently they were kept away from the public because they were almost eradicated by some disease.  And so we were taken to some back area where there must have been 50-100 rabbits.

That's where we saw Lily.  She was with a mother and other kids in a cage.  But she looked at us and interacted.   And she looked like a Little Eeyore (ergo Lily).  So we took pictures and videos of this charming, skinny and extremely young rabbit.   We moved on of course and I tried petting her father, Ricky in another cage.  He promptly bit me.  In any case, they were trying to repopulate and so none of the rabbits were for sale. 

As we went home, we kept talking about Little Eeyore.  As the following week progressed, we kept talking about Little Eeyore.   By January 8, we made a decision to get her. 

She wasn't for sale, but the caretaker did remember how much we doted on her. So we had her delivered to Avilon in Tendesitas the following day.  We were there after lunch and waited long after they closed for her arrival.   We were so anxious as we waited since we know how much travel can stress rabbits. When we got her, we were happy, excited and of course a little bit scared.  It took us a few more hours to get home. 

But when she did get home, everyone in the house was excited.  Except Dexter.  She was so used to being the only baby that she absolutely went nuts trying to attack Lily.  She also completely lost her litter training.   And this went on for many, many months for Dexter.

Lily, on the other hand, was every bit a baby.  She was ran and jumped constantly.  I brought her to my old room where she spent most of her play time (outside Dexter's disapproving glare). 

But while she was a cute, happy bunny, it also became apparent very early that she was sickly.  Within a month since getting her, the EC parasite manifested, resulting in a head tilt.  At first we thought she was just being cute, but then she frequently lost her balance and kept falling.  We even had to surround her cage with mats and towels to minimize the impact because she fell down a lot.  In some cases, as she fell, she wasn't able to get up and therefore couldn't eat or drink.  Thus, at least 3-4 times within the following month, we found her motionless and barely alive.   Many times we had to infuse her with Mondex for a long time before she moved again. 

Our evolution as bunny parents were equal parts research and experience.  With Lily's frequent near death episodes, thus began our 24x7 coverage of the buns.  When we went to work, my sister or my mom was there to watch her.  Years later, it's really just part of our standard level of care.  Never leave the buns for more than a few hours at a time.

Nevertheless, with a month-long treatment, she got past her health challenges and remained happy and playful.  Many times, I would let her sleep on my lap.  Still the EC forever left marks.  Her head remained permanently albeit slightly tilted and her eyes, watery and a bit bulgy.  Her one ear always stood up, making her look like a half lop many times. 

In hindsight, we believe she already had EC when we got her, which probably means the entire colony had it.  I can only hope some of them pulled through. 

Lily was quite gentle even for rabbits.  As a baby though, she did have a box inside her cage and she was super protective about it.  When inside the cage, she can be extremely fierce if you tried to touch her box.  Similarly, she hated being groomed and would attempt to bite you like a rabid dog if you tried (with tail suddenly going up).  She was not one for hygiene I guess.  If fact, we would often joke then that Dexter groomed for a long, long time, going through the ears, her feet and everything else she can lick.  Meanwhile, Lily had a much shorter attention span, choosing to groom one limb only per session.

As rabbit go, Lily was very friendly.  Even though Dexter never really warmed up to her, Lily never stopped trying to be friends.  In fact she would frequently lie down outside Dexter's cage during her playtime, somehow oblivious that Dexter wanted to attack her.

In retrospect, Lily didn't have a long period of specialized attention like Dexter did.  In 2016, our love for rabbits opened a dam.  By May 2016, we rescued Daisy from her super awful living situation in Bioresearch; by October we did the same thing for Ethan (who also looked like Lily and Eeyore).  By then, rabbit care had really taken on a 24x7 flavor and our supply boxes started to multiply. 

At that point, we still had a cage + playtime outside set up.  When in her cage, Lily always had a forlorn look as if to say, "Daddy, I want to play outside."  Even then, it was also apparent she hadn't mastered litter habits.  Her mats were frequently wet with urine and to be replaced several times in a week.   While our other buns learned to bite their cages to demand playtime, Lily whacked her water bowl around instead.  Like other buns, she also had a fixation for laying down beside the water bowl, but that almost always caused a spill. So for Lily, replacing the water also had to be done every few hours. 

Lily grew up fairly low maintenance.  Apart from her eyes that needed saline or antibiotic drops every so often, she grew up quite content and quiet.  She was very happy when she was out on playtime.  In fact, she gave so much of herself when running that she was exhausted by the time she stopped.  Honestly it gave us quite a scare several times.  As rabbit owners, we all know that our kids will react to pellets or veggies at any time.  But for Lily, following playtime, she'll ignore any treat for at least half an hour.  That's how tired she got. 

From her 2nd to 3rd years, it was becoming apparent that her hormones were kicking in.   For many reasons, she was the last bunny for fixing.  But we just couldn't ever get around to it.  But having an unspayed bunny does have benefits to the owner.  At that point, she was learning how to follow when I walked around.  She came when I called and allowed me to carry her around.  Also quite amusing was how she left remnants of spray and poop all over when at playtime.  But best of all was the loyalty and the

Lily 2

clinginess.  When  we sit down on the floor during her playtime, she would frequently squeeze beside our legs or arms once she done and wanted to rest.  From there we could pet her indefinitely because she stayed content for such a long time.  And we did that a lot at different times of the day,  In time, Mommy even incorporated eye cleaning time during their bonding sessions.

From the time she was a baby to a day before her passing, Lily relished her play time.  In truth, most of my bunnies probably had 2 or 3 running times in them at max.  Lily, however, seemed ready to run at any time of the day.  At her best, she'd run around the house 5-6 times a day.

In my mind, all I really want was to give my kids the best possible quality of life.  And so I'd wake up every night after midnight so I can switch houses to make sure Lily and the other bunnies were okay, had hay and water, and of course had plenty of opportunities to run around the house.  For rabbit owners, you've probably experienced that they become hyper near the 3 AM - 7 AM windows.  If you want to watch binkies, those are good times to really let them play.

As mid 2018 rolled in and Ethan got sick with UTI and other diseases, we knew we had to make a change with the set-up.  From cage + playtime outside, we transitioned to big pen + playtime outside.  With about a 30 ft perimeter for her pen, Lily would run in circles at random times of the day.  This is outside the 5x she would run outside.  Such an athlete that one.

I guess this is partly why she remained quite lean.  For almost a year, we tried to get her to reach 1.8 kg since she kept clocking in at 1.7 kg and below and felt a bit bonier than the rest (i.e. Carrie).  At some point, we also noticed that her hay intake had gone down, although we couldn't figure out why. 

For about 6 months from the end of 2017 to mid 2018, we bonded her with Ethan.  They hit it off almost immediately and were always compressed beside each other.  Sometimes they slept in the same small carrier when they in fact had their own carriers and lots of space around the pen.  It was such a happy time for them and for us watching their wonderful relationship. After all, what is cuter than a bunny?  A bonded pair of bunnies that look like twins!

During the Ethan period, Lily's eyes started looking better.  That's because Ethan was such a dedicated groomer.  She'd lick Lily's eyes clean.  Sadly for Ethan though, Lily never did acquire good grooming habits and very rarely groomed Ethan back although he was clearly waiting for reciprocation. 

Sadly we had to keep them apart when Ethan got sick and remained sick for the next 6 months.  I suppose Lily got used to living alone again.  But there was the antisocial Carrie next door.   Things, however, did not happen as smoothly as you might think.  In one very memorable episode, after I let them run around the house at 6 AM, I moved houses to clean up.  Back one hour later, I was shocked to find Carrie missing.  I found her in a tunnel on top of poor catatonic Lily.  I don't know how long she mounted, but Lily couldn't fight back anymore.   As it turns out, first she opened her pen, then she open Lily's pen.  Mental note: lock the pens after leaving.

At times during 2019, it seemed like they would be friends though. Through pen bars, they would sometimes lie down beside each other.  And during each one's playtime, they would make it a point to visit the other.  But I also know it's impossible because Lily is unspayed and would forever be trying to hump.   For some reason, Carrie has grown a lot more docile and attempted to be friends with both Lily and Ethan (when they visited him).  When they interacted between pen bars, sometimes they snuggled nose to nose; but just as often, Lily lunged and bit of patches of white.   

But despite not having a mate anymore, she still always had her playtime and she got tons of hugs and kisses from Mommy and Daddy on a daily basis.  At those times, I knew she felt content.

As Lily matured, she developed what must be the hairiest dewlap I've seen.  So apart from her wet eyes and upturned ear, she also developed a fairly messy wet dewlap.  Every so often, Jean and I would take her to the car (to discourage movement) and would take pains to cut off her dewlap.  She never liked it and always showed stress after, but it was that or get her neck skin infected.   But she just had so much hair.

Towards the end of 2018, Lily's health started showing signs of wear and tear.  We noticed that starting Oct or Nov, she would experience GI stasis every 3-4 weeks.   We had lots of fears of course.  We knew that an unspayed bun at that age becomes very susceptible to ovarian cancer.  I first hoped it was just a manifestation of false pregnancy (i.e. instead of pulling out fur and acting like crazy, maybe she just stopped eating).   But several months down the road, we had her x-rayed and the doctor found a kidney stone.  And it suddenly made sense.  From then on began the last long chapter of her life.  She had weekly subq fluids injected.    To her credit, it seemed like she was just shaking those off and remained quite the happy bun once we got home.  At some point, she even started stepping out of the carrier during the car trips.  The preventive action gave us a reprieve and her stasis incidents became few and far between. 

To make sure she was hydrated and strong, we also upped her critical care and pellet ration to about triple our norm.After all, with the end 2018 episodes, she had dropped to 1.6 kg.   We also gave her unli romaine lettuce for a while, but she wasn't really fond of them.   We also got her fresh buko juice several times a week and she drank these happily. These all seemed to help.  Gradually, we noticed her bulk up again.  On our last weigh in, she already reached over 1.8 kg, which was, quite ironically, her peak weight.

On her last X-ray in June, the kidney stone seemed to break up.  As can be expected though, her creatinine and other markers were a bit above normal.  Still we openly hoped that the stones would break up even more, but there was also a very real risk that the stones would move and get stuck along the tubes.  That would be an instant disaster.

Last Sunday seemed like a normal day.  My wife went to the vet early to fall in line and I followed suit with Ethan and Lily in tow.   She had her subq, some hair shaving and nail clipping.  The session lasted a little longer than I expected, but I wasn't alarmed.  When we got home and I put her in the pen beside Ethan (to visit), that's when I first noticed something was off.  She wasn't sleeping, remained hunched, and ignored her pellets.  I shrugged it off and cleaned.  After all, post-vet stress is almost to be expected.   When I put her back to her own pen about an hour or so later, that's when I really concluded something was off.  She was showing stasis symptoms already.  That was extremely unusual since subq actually almost always treats that condition.    By nightfall, it was becoming apparent that she wasn't responding to any first aid treatment, which has never happened.  No activity. No poop. No intake. Thus the day changed from normal to desperate in under 12 hours.  By 1 AM, we had decided that it was time to bring her to the emergency vet for another subq dose.  We had never done that before in all the bouts of GI stasis that we've encountered.  This was ominously different.  When we got home near sunrise and Lily now loaded with more fluids, there was still 0 improvement.  It was becoming painfully clearer with every minute that there was no coming back from this episode.   By mid morning, we drove her back for confinement already.  She was going to need an IV line to survive this.  But alas, stuck in Manila traffic for almost 2 hours, she had her first siezure in the car.  And we cried and told her to let go.  Not two years ago, Daisy died exactly the same way, also in a car

Lily 3

going to the vet.  It was all so shocking.  24 hours ago, she was still playing normally.  Now she's showing signs of death.  Her rapid deterioration was so shocking and extremely hard to accept.  As a father, what else could I do?  I just kissed and hugged her non-stop while thanking her for the years with us and telling her I loved her so much.

By the time we reached the emergency room, she was already very weak.  She showed some fight every now and then, but overall the situation was quite grim.  When we were finally in the suite, it was wait and see.  We planned on how to do our night rotations, etc.  She hardly moved, but then again, I also thought we saw the last of her siezures for a while.  After lunch I decided to go home to check on my other kids. But before I left, I asked Lily to please wait for me.

Within five minutes from leaving, my wife called and said Lily has been having aggressive siezures.  And again the helplessness of it all made my heart ache over and over. When I arrived home, I had the quickes check and feeding before I rushed back.  Through my back and forth rides, I just cried the whole way. What can I do?  My baby was dying.


Post Script:

As we got home with her body later that night, my sister, who doted on the rabbits so much, and my mother, cried along with us. 

The depth of our love is very much mirrored by the fact that our kids rely on us for their entire lives.  That they are forever babies makes the love so much more intense. 

To Lily, Dexter, Daisy, Eeyore, my childhood dogs Valiant, Igor and Engot, and all the other pets in my life, I love you all.  Please wait for me.  I will see you all someday.   And although it's probably not wise for me to do so because I get so attached, I may still have to save some other animals in my life.   But that's why Mommy is there.  Someone has to keep me sane. 


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

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NEUTERING / SPAYING RABBITS IN THE PHILIPPINES (22)

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

RABBIT CARE IN THE PHILIPPINES: WHY SELF STUDY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT (21)


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
https://m.facebook.com/SaveRabbitsPH/posts/429342937446940

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

GROWING SILING LABUYO

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

RABBIT FIRST AID IN THE PHILIPPINES: HELP MY RABBIT SURVIVE GI STASIS THROUGH THE NIGHT (19)


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!

Related:

First Aid Kit

Rabbit Vets in the Philippines



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CARING FOR RABBITS IN THE PHILIPPINES: THE IMPORTANCE AND URGENCY OF RABBIT HYDRATION (18)

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

MY MOPHEAD HYDRANGEA IS NOT BLOOMING

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).



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