Archive for the ‘diet’ Category

Well, poor Frankie’s in cecal dysbiosis. Maybe. Or he’s tottering on the edge. Or he’s okay?

I apologise for the amateur diagnosis, I’m just trying to understand what’s going on. My cause for concern? Frank’s not eating any (or hardly any) hay. This has been going on at least three days now. And I’m concerned because a diet low in fibre (whatever its reason) will lead to a sick rabbit, yes? Other signs of ill health I’ve observed are:

  • Reduced appetite (I already mentioned he’s ignoring his hay, but he’s also been sluggish with his greens, pellets, and water)
  • Occurrence of unformed cecals (i.e. mushy poops, some large like fecals but they’re not fecals, they smell and feel like cecals — this does make sense, considering the lack of hay consumption; I found a pile of five or so found yesterday; today, only one so far)

We’re not in emergency mode. He’s still peeing and pooping fine (aside from those mushy cecals). His mood, mobility, and energy levels are normal. But I am worried.

My first plan is to stave off ileus, for which my ideas consist of:

  • Forcing water (which I’ve already started doing)
  • Belly massage (started yesterday evening)
  • Papaya enzyme tablets (he’s been on “moult-levels,” i.e. 60mg/day, since his vet appointment last month when the vet felt a little something, maybe fur, in his belly)
  • Simethicone if I suspect gas (I did give him one dose yesterday)
  • Forcing Critical Care, Pedialyte (if he stops eating, drinking)
  • Maybe the vet will give me some pain meds tomorrow (like Torbugesic) in case ileus sets in over the weekend? (I already have some leftover motility drugs, i.e. Metoclopramide)
  • And, of course, encourage encourage encourage!! (I even went out and bought more grass hay today, so now we have four varieties!)

My second plan is to figure out WHY he’s gone off the hay.

  • My first idea is: dental trouble
  • I don’t have a second idea, but I know it could be any number of things

Obviously I need a vet to help me with my plans, but the long weekend is coming up and both my vets are booked solid tomorrow. If it turns into emergency, I’ll go by the closer of the two and they’ll try to squeeze him in. And there’s always (God forbid) the 24/7. Tomorrow I’ll call the vet and ask for a brief consultation, at least.

These two links have informed me:

If you have insight into what’s going on here, please share it with me!

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Photo of small agouti rabbit eating green leaf lettuce out of a glass bowl on the kitchen floor; shot taken from the sideThese days, Frank really enjoys his green leaf lettuce. It used to be that he distained green leaf and enjoyed red leaf; but, for many months now he’s been disinterested in red leaf, and the last two times we’ve served green leaf, he’s wolfed it down. Whata mutable bun!Photo of small agouti rabbit eating green leaf lettuce out of a glass bowl on the kitchen floor; shot taken from the front

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Drawing of sage (Salvia officinalis) plant, with flowers and seeds

Public Domain

Over the holidays, I picked up a sage Derby from our local cheese shop and fell in love. Big hit with the guests, too. I’m new to sage and when I spotted fresh bunches in the fruit market, I was happy to think I could share my discovery with Frank. He liked it, of course; why not? It’s awesome! Even smelling it on his breath was a pleasure; I’m excited to use it in my own cooking. Maybe a tomato sauce?

From searching online, I’ve found that sage appears to be a healthy green for rabbits (low in oxalates and not indicated in gas, high in vitamin A, and with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, although perhaps a little high in calcium; also, it does contain thujone which, in large amounts, can trigger fits in epileptics). Do other buns like sage?

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Close up photo of Brussels sprouts after they've been plucked from the vine; photo Copyright Eric Hunt http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brussels_sprout_closeup.jpg

Photo credit: (detail) Eric Hunt

Frank has really been enjoying his Brussels sprouts lately. The other day I caught him reaching over his carrot greens to better snag a Brussels sprout leaf! That is unheard of.

I offer Brussels sprouts in moderation because I’ve read they’re high in calcium oxalate (which can cause bladder disease/stones) and goitrogens (which can affect normal thyroid functions), they’re indicated in gas production, and they destroy thiamin (vitamin B1). I also only offer the dark green outer leaves because white/light vegetables are indicated in diarrhoea and anyway don’t have much nutritional value. In spite of all these negative aspects of Brussels sprouts, they are still a good green to throw in the mix because they have moderately good vitamin A levels and because a varied diet has so many benefits, including a balance of nutrients in the body (physical), and an enjoyment of and interest in eating (emotional).

I have never seen any problems arise from feeding Brussels sprout greens occasionally to Frank. I’m happy to see that he likes them so much now – it was almost a year ago that I first introduced them!

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dill… neither here nor there

A picture of fresh dill (Anethum graveolens) still in the pot.

Photo credit: (detail) Forest & Kim Starr

Because I don’t like fresh dill very much, or at all really, I hadn’t (up to now) brought any home for Frank. But autumn is here and the pickings at the fruit markets are getting pretty limited/shoddy. And Frank’s become picky – turning his nose up at old yummies like bok choy and mint. So last time I went to market I bought some dill. Does Frank like it? Well, it doesn’t appear to be a favourite, but of the three times I’ve served it, he’s finished it twice. (The other time I found it hidden beneath a big ol’ pile of mint, so maybe that’s a case of ‘results inconclusive.’) I’ll take that as a good sign.

Do your buns like dill?

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I’ve been careful about serving Frank parsley and spinach. He loves these foods, but they’re always identified as high in oxalates in the rabbit literature I read (see my Online Resources in the side-bar for a sample), and oxalates are in turn identified as toxic if allowed to build up in the system over time. So, we serve these foods sparingly (or else in large amounts for a few days, and not again for a couple of weeks).

Now I read on a site about the human diet that collards, and especially dandelion greens, are also high in oxalates (www.branwen.com/rowan/oxalate.htm). A surface google of “oxalates” seems to support this information, but I had never heard this before in regard to rabbits, and dandelion greens are a staple of Frank’s diet!

Next I read on a rabbit forum that most oxalates in the diet may not even be absorbed by the kidney, and are instead harmlessly excreted (www.rabbitsonline.net/view_topic.php?id=13618&forum_id=17).

Sure, I’ll ask the vet about this when our next visit rolls around, but what about you, dear reader? What do YOU know about oxalates, and how do you treat them?

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a taste of kale

Last night I made kale soup for dinner (you know where I’m going with this by now, right?). I’ve read that kale is high in oxalates and indicated in gas, so this will not be a regular addition to Frank’s diet, although he was quite taken with it – choosing it over his cilantro, even!

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Last night presented yet another opportunity to share our dinner with Frank. His initial response to the small collard green I thrust before his nose was not encouraging, but after I ripped the leaf and bruised it a little he took it in his mouth and very carefully nibbled down to and around the white spine. I included a few more leaves in his dinner salad and this morning they were all gone.

I also included a large handful of curly parsley – a great yet uncommon (due to the oxalates) favourite of his – to encourage his recent adventurousness.

A good start to the week. Happy Monday everybun and body!

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yummy fennel greens

Last night we had an arugula and fennel salad for dinner, so we shared it with Frank (minus the dressing for him, of course). This was his first time eating fennel (so far as we know). Actually, it wasn’t a straight share: he got a few sprigs of greens while we ate the bulb. He liked it! Good for bunnies. I saved the rest and will wait a day or two before trying again.

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Watercress was not at all a hit this time around; in fact, it’s been repeatedly left untouched. True, when I put it in the fridge I thought “does this smell like cheese?” Perhaps it was tainted or spoilt in some non-visual way.

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