Convincing Rabbits to Take Medication

Rabbit Vet Check-Up

Bailey at her yearly vet check-up.

Sometimes our sweet little bunnies get sick and we need to give them medication that could come in various shapes and forms. This is not always an easy task, as rabbits often vehemently refuse to do so. Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you and keep everyone’s stress level down.

The number one thing you want to do is securely hold the rabbit. Most bunnies hate being picked up, so it’s a good idea to keep their feet firmly on the ground or (even better) a table or counter-top. We like to place a towel on the counter and Bunny or Bailey on top of it. The towel prevents them from slipping and can be wrapped around their posterior for a more secure hold. This is also known as the Bunny Burrito.

Pills
Before you try to trick your rabbit, try offering the pill as if it was a treat while the rabbit is still hopping around happily. Some bunnies will just eat it. If that doesn’t work, add it to a small piece of banana or another favorite treat (seedless grape, apple). Even wrapping it in herbs or placing it in the pellet bowl (if you feed any) could help. The next step could be to use a pill crusher, which is available in most pharmacies for less than $10. The powder can be mixed with a favorite treat very effectively. If your bun still refuses to eat the medicated treat, you can mix the crushed pill with critical care or a small amount of organic baby food (check the label to make sure it has nothing but veggies or fruit and water) and syringe feed it all carefully.

Syringe Feeding Critical Care

Bunny on the counter top. He was fed some critical care from a syringe.

Fluid Medication
Medication that is fluid and has to be taken orally is a little less difficult to give to a rabbit. Again, some bunnies will simply drink it from the syringe if you offer it. If not, hold your bun securely as mentioned above and carefully syringe feed the liquid. It helps to put one hand over the ears with your fingers close to the mouth. Slowly squirt the medication into your rabbit’s mouth from the side (there is a small gap next to their front teeth). Only small amounts at a time; you don’t want your bun to choke. Instead of syringe-feeding, you could also add the liquid to a piece of mashed banana, apple sauce, or other favorite treat. It’s difficult to tell how much of the liquid was actually consumed, though. Plus, not every bun can be tricked that way.

Some fluid medication has to be placed behind the ears. That is not a difficult task and bunnies can usually not reach that spot, so you don’t have to worry about them cleaning it all off. It’s still a good idea to find some distraction such as food, cuddles, or a toy.

Ear Drops
Adding ear drops to the ears feels uncomfortable and cold to a rabbit. It will immediately start shaking its head to get the unwanted fluid out. Try warming the ear drops up by keeping them in your pocket for a few minutes first. Hold the rabbit securely, maybe with a second person right there, and place the syringe close to the ear before adding the drops as quickly as possible. Be prepared for sudden movement from your rabbit. It will continue to shake its head for a while after the treatment.

Eye Drops
Again, hold the bun securely and pull the top eyelid gently up or the bottom eyelid gently down. Add the drops carefully and let your bun blink and adjust to the added liquid. Repeat if necessary.

Ointment
Topical ointments can simply be rubbed onto the affected spots during regular cuddle times. The challenging part comes after applying the ointment: Making sure the rabbit doesn’t lick it all off immediately. Try distracting the bun with food (right before a regular feeding is a good time for such medication) or by giving extra cuddles or offering toys filled with treats.

Spray
Medication that comes as a spray is rather rare, but just in case you do come across it… Use a pair of disposable gloves, spray the liquid into your hands, and apply it to the affected spot(s). You could also try brushing the medication on with an old bunny brush. That way the rabbit doesn’t accidentally inhale the spay.

 

We hope this article is helpful! If you have any other tricks or ideas, please share in the comments!

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Author: Bunny Approved

2 Comments

  1. Brandy Anderson
    Brandy Anderson On February 5, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I have found getting the rabbits used to eating canned pumpkin when they are healthy is a great help when they are not feeling as well since they can avoid novel food. I give them a dish of pumpkin once a month and they feel it is a great treat. If they are going off food the pumpkin can tempt them to eat, plus it is high in fiber and water.

  2. Toni
    Toni On May 17, 2015 at 3:03 am

    My bunny Audrey needed oral medication and the syringe thing was not working well! I was reminded of a cat that I was looking after who had the same problem and so I put the dose (or part thereof) on Audrey’s paw and she licked it up.

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