CRITICAL CARE FOR RABBITS
Compiled by Judi Inglis, President of Rabbit Runaway Orphanage, Chapter Manager, House Rabbit Society, Australian Chapter and from information supplied by Oxbow.
Critical Care(TM) is a superior pet food which can be given voluntarily or by syringe feeding to herbivores which are unable to eat their normal diet due to illness or surgery. The special composition of this high-fibre timothy hay based product ensures an improved physiological gut environment and aids proper digestion.
How do I prepare critical care?
Mix one part of the powder with 2 parts of warm water. Please ensure Critical Care is fed at room temperature or warmer.
Critical Care should ideally be prepared fresh for each feed. If necessary, the powder when premixed with water can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.
If the consistency of the prepared feed is too thick, you can add water at any time until you have the desired consistency.
Mixing critical care
Critical care is mixed with water to the consistency of thin porridge, yogurt or a thick gravy. The consistency should be more towards liquidly than stiff and gluggy. Mix some warm water first and then dilute with cold water. If it is too thin, we will lose the fibre content, if it is too thick the bunny will have trouble swallowing it. HINT: If the bunny will not take the critical care then mix a thin slice of mashed banana into the mix. Give the critical care in small doses during the feeding time.
For severely underweight buns
You can add some weight gain pellets and a slice of banana to the critical care mixture. Grind up the weight gain pellets in a coffee grinder to make a powder consistency. Mix with the critical care. We use “high gain true gain” weight gain horse pellets. You can also offer this mixture in balls or in a bowl to assist weight gain.
How much should I feed and when?
The required amount of Critical Care (CC) for each animal depends on several factors, such as animal type, age, weight, and clinical condition. The daily amount for any animal may be adjusted based on veterinary recommendation. Weak, dehydrated animals may also require additional fluids to be administered by a veterinarian if they are not eating. Your bunny should eat 50mls of CC per kg of their body weight per day (over a 24hour period). How many feeds needed will depend on how much your bunny will take and their overall health condition.
How do I Syringe Feed?
Use a long nozzle syringe. Often when syringe feeding, it is not the food that deters the animal from eating, but the procedure of restraint. So, it’s very important that the caregiver remains calm and relaxed. Slow and deliberate movements with frequent breaks will decrease the stress for both the animal and the caregiver.
Download a print friendly version here for Feeding Chart
Tips if feeding alone
Take a deep breath and relax
Place the bunny on a towel on a table with their bottom facing you, so that if they back up your body acts as a barrier
Stroke or massage the animal gently
Give a syringe of water to the animal prior to feeding
Lean over the bunny, insert the feeding syringe beside the front teeth Feed in small amounts giving them time to swallow
Continue to pat between feeds
Tips if you have help
Burrito wrap your bunny and bring the towel back to expose their head Make sure they are secure but not wrapped to tight
One person holds the bunny
The other feeds small amounts giving time to swallow
Pat between feeds
Prior to feeding critical care, please have your rabbit checked by a bunny savvy vet to ensure there are no blockages or bloat developing. Critical care feeding is just part of treatment, which also includes fluids and pain relief and may include other medications to treat the underlying cause.