Preparing an emergency kit for your rabbit can be a great stress relief. You know that if an emergency happens, you’ll have the supplies you need to care for your rabbit when they need it.
Of course, the first action you should take when you are faced with an emergency situation is to get in contact with your rabbit’s veterinarian. But it’s always useful to have supplies on hand in the case that you cannot get to your vet right away. It’s also a good idea to have basic supplies so that you can deal with minor accidents that don’t require veterinary care.
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Why is it important to have a first aid kit for your rabbit?
Having a bunny first aid kit on hand will make sure you are prepared to deal with minor accidents. It will also give you the tools you need to take temporary measures while you get your rabbit to the vet when there is a more serious emergency.
A first aid kit is also the place you can store your basic rabbit care tools. Storing products such as brushes and clippers in the first aid kit will keep everything in one place. It will prevent you from misplacing any items so you can find them again whenever you need them.
The first aid kit is also a way of making sure you have everything you would need in an emergency situation. If there is a natural disaster that forces you to evacuate your home, you’ll have everything for your rabbit in one place so you can quickly gather everything and get to safety.
1. Veterinarian contact info
It’s very important to make sure you have your veterinarian’s phone number and address in your first aid kit. Put this information on the cover of your kit, or in an easily visible place, so it will be immediately available if you need it. Many people will choose to put this information on the refrigerator instead of in the kit, but it can’t hurt to have this contact information posted in both locations.
If your usual veterinary office is not a 24-hour clinic (most aren’t), it’s also a good idea to find one of these emergency animal hospitals in your area. Emergencies can happen at any time, so it’s best to be prepared with another location if your rabbit gets sick during the night or on a weekend. This is especially important for pet rabbits because not all emergency veterinary hospitals are prepared to take rabbits. You may need to do some research to find a 24-hour clinic that has staff trained to take care of your sweet bunny.
2. Gauze pads and bandages, Q tips, cotton pads
The typical assortment of bandages and cotton pads are very useful in caring for minor wounds or accidents. Gauze pads and cotton pads are used for cleaning the area surrounding the wound and applying a disinfectant. Q-tips can be used for cleaning the area around the eyes or even cleaning out a rabbit’s scent glands.
You’ll want to get self-adhesive or non-adhesive bandages. These are the types that will not stick to your rabbit’s fur and cause pain or fur loss later on. The self-adhesive bandages tend to be easiest to apply to pets because the bandage will easily stick to itself.
For serious wounds, you want to get your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible. Even for minor cuts and scratches, it’s a good idea to get your vet to take a look at your rabbit. Rabbit skin surrounding cuts and scrapes has the tendency to form abscesses and become infected. It’s always better to be on the safe side and get a professional to take a look at it.
Include a disinfectant solution in your first aid kit that you can apply to cuts and scrapes. You can get a pet-safe antimicrobial solution at your local pet store. Vitericyn is a trusted and often recommended brand (view Vitericyn here). This solution even comes in a spray bottle that makes it easy to apply to minor cuts.
You can also use hydrogen peroxide and dilute it with water. Add 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 20 parts water and mix the solution. This would look like ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide added to 5 cups of water. You can put the solution in a spray bottle, or apply it on with your cotton pads.
Be very gentle with any wounds, even if they are just minor cuts and scrapes. Rabbit skin is surprisingly fragile and can tear easily. So don’t scrub at any cuts, but instead use a gentle dabbing motion.
Keeping a pair of nail clippers in your first aid kit means that you’ll always know where to find them when it comes time to clip your rabbit’s nails. Rabbit nail clippers can be pretty small and easy to misplace. I used to always lose them and be forced to purchase another pair every few months. So I find it useful to keep these with the first aid kit.
Replace your nail clippers every couple of years or when you notice that they don’t easily cut through your rabbit’s nails anymore. Over time, the blades will dull. Dull blades mean there is a greater chance an accident will happen during clipping.
Styptic powder is most often used to clot up a bleeding toenail. If their toenail catches on something and breaks off, or you clipped too far and hit the quick of their nail then there will likely be a lot of blood. Thankfully, this is not usually a dangerous situation, and all you need to do is help to stem the flow of blood from the nail.
Sprinkle a small amount of the styptic powder on the bleeding nail and put some pressure on the area using a gauze pad or cotton pad. Once the bleeding has stopped, gently wash the styptic powder off of the area so that your rabbit does not ingest it.
Instead of purchasing a container of styptic powder, you can also choose to use corn starch. This is a much cheaper option since corn starch is available in bulk at the grocery store. Just pour some of the corn starch into a container and keep it with your rabbit emergency kit. It’s also a little safer because rabbits can ingest it in small amounts.
It’s useful to have some extra syringes and an eyedropper in your first aid kit. The eyedropper is used is the occasion that your rabbit has an eye irritation. This can help flush out any foreign object or gunk and remove it from your rabbit’s eye.
It’s a good idea to keep at least one syringe on hand so that if your rabbit ever needs to be fed critical care or given medicine or water for hydration, you will have the tools available. If your rabbit ever has to take medication, your vet will likely include a few syringes with it. I always like to hold on to the extras so that I have a variety of different sizes to use if they are needed in the future.
If there is one item on this list that you should prioritize adding to your first aid kit, it’s Critical Care. This is a formula used to force-feed rabbits in emergency situations. It gives them the nutrients they need to remain healthy and keeps their digestion going. Learn more about Critical Care and why it’s so important.
Critical care is a powdered formula that is used to force-feed rabbits when they are ill or recovering from illness. The powder is mixed with water to create a mixture that you can use to syringe feed your rabbit. This may be necessary to keep your rabbit’s digestive system going and give your rabbit enough calories.
Most of the time, your veterinary office will have packages of critical care on hand for you to purchase when your rabbit has an emergency. However, my vet recommended I always have a bag at home just in case.
How To Make Critical Care Rabbit Formula For Emergencies
8. Gas drops
Rabbits have a sensitive digestive system and can suffer from a gas build-up. To help ease your rabbit’s discomfort and prevent GI stasis, you can give your rabbit a few drops of simethicone, also known as infant gas drops. This is sold in most grocery or drug stores in the baby aisle.
If you notice your rabbit is sitting uncomfortably, pressing their belly onto the floor, they may be suffering from gas. Try to give them 1 mL of the simethicone formula every hour for 4 hours. If there is no improvement after this time, and your rabbit has not been eating or pooping for the past 10 to 12 hours, then you should treat it as an emergency situation and get your rabbit to the vet immediately.
9. Heating pad
A heating pad can be a potential life saver in your first aid kit. When rabbits get stressed, their body temperature falls, making it more difficult for their body to function properly. On these occasions, it is necessary to externally heat up your rabbit using a heating pad.
You always want to keep the heating pad at a low setting. Place it near your rabbit or with a towel wrapped around the heating pad (never directly against your rabbit). You should also always make sure your rabbit has the option to move away from the heating pad if they want to.
You can use a heating pad to help your rabbit stay warm if they have gone into shock, are recovering from surgery, are suffering from hypothermia, or if they have GI stasis. This should only be a temporary solution to help your rabbit while you get them to a qualified veterinarian.
10. Ice pads
Ice pads won’t be kept inside the first aid kit, but are still very useful to have when you need them. Keep them in the freezer so that they’ll be ready to use. You could also freeze some large water bottles to use as ice pads. Frozen water bottles could even be considered a safer option because if the rabbit decides to chew on them, it’s only water on the inside.
Ice pads or frozen water bottles can be used to help your rabbit stay cool in the summertime. They will be essential if your rabbit starts to overheat, giving your rabbit a cool place to lay against and lower their body temperature.
11. Antibiotic cream
Antibiotic creams can be used on rabbit cuts or scrapes to prevent infection. Topical creams like this can be found at a drugstore (e.g. Neosporin), but don’t use the creams that also include pain relief. Since rabbits are so much smaller than humans, the pain relief element in these drugs can have negative side effects. You want to use only a small dab of the antibiotic cream on your rabbit and then cover it with a bandage temporarily. This will prevent your rabbit from licking it and ingesting the cream.
You can take your rabbit’s temperature at home. This will give your vet more information when you call to make an appointment for your rabbit. You will need to get a rectal thermometer for this procedure since that’s the only way to get an accurate reading with rabbits.
You’ll also want to get some Vaseline or petroleum jelly to use as a lube for the thermometer. This will make sure the rabbit is comfortable during the whole procedure. When taking your rabbit’s temperature, you’ll want to make sure it falls into the normal range of 101.5ºF and 103.5ºF.
Scissors and tweezers are versatile tools to add to your first aid kit. They can be used to cut bandages or trim the fur around a cut (carefully!). Scissors can also help to open up the frustrating packaging of other supplies when time is of the essence. Tweezers can be used to remove a lodged splinter.
You’ll want to add at least one large towel to your first aid kit. This can be used for anything from putting your rabbit into a bunny burrito when you give them medication, to keeping your rabbit warm when you bring them out in their carrier during winter. A towel can also be used to give your rabbit some footing on a slick surface and prevent injury.
You always want to have a small carrier for your rabbit available. This obviously won’t be physically in your first aid kit, but you’ll want to keep it nearby in a place you can easily get to if there is an emergency. You’ll need a carrier for when you take your rabbit to the vet, and you’ll need a carrier if there is ever an evacuation in your building or area.
I like to use this carrier with a top door so that I can more easily get my rabbit inside in an emergency situation. A small cat-sized carrier will work for most rabbits. When choosing a carrier you want to make sure that your rabbit has space to turn around completely, but not much more so that you can avoid injury while in a moving vehicle.
If your rabbit has any medications that they need to take on a regular basis, these should be kept in the first aid kit. Any medications that need to be refrigerated should be kept in a specified spot in the fridge so that you know exactly where to find them. It’s a good idea to keep the correctly sized syringe in the same spot so that you give your rabbit the right dosage.
Medications can be expensive, so you may also want to keep any of your rabbit’s old medications until they expire. This way, if your rabbit experiences the same medical problem again, you might not have to pay for their new medicine if there is still enough of the old one available.
17. Hand sanitizer and gloves
To prevent a bacterial infection or the spread of any disease, it’s best to have hand sanitizer and medical gloves available. These are obviously for you and not the rabbit. Making sure to wash your hands with water and soap is also a good preventative measure to take.
18. Saline solution
Saline solutions are good for washing out your rabbit’s eyes if they get debris or gunk stuck in them. You can purchase an over-the-counter saline solution that is used for contact lenses. Just be sure that it is a simple solution and does not contain any medication. You can also find pet-specific eyewashes, such as the Vetericyn eyewash.
Use the solution with an eyedropper to gently flush the eye. If you notice that gunk tends to form in and around your rabbit’s eyes often, it’s a good idea to get them a health check. This could be a sign of clogged tear ducts or teeth problems in rabbits.
You may want to keep your rabbit’s grooming items together with your first aid kit, to keep them from getting misplaced. This will be whatever brushes your rabbit prefers since many bunnies can be picky with their grooming supplies. You’ll also want to include a flea comb so that you can have it available if your rabbit contracts fleas.
Sometimes when rabbits get sick they don’t want to eat or drink anything. This means they can quickly become dehydrated. It’s a good idea to have plain Pedialyte or packages of rehydrating salts around that you can use to syringe feed your rabbit and keep them hydrated. These will help replenish your rabbit’s electrolytes as well as give your rabbit their much needed water.
If you don’t have these on hand, plain water is still very useful. If your rabbit won’t drink, you can syringe feed it to your rabbit. You can also try adding a little bit of unsweetened apple or carrot juice to make it more appetizing.
- Hess, Laurie DVM Ph.D. “Rabbit Care: First Aid Kits for Your Rabbit.” PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/rabbit/care/rabbit-care-first-aid-kits-your-rabbit.
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