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View count:19,355
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Duration:05:21
Uploaded:2017-02-23
Last sync:2018-05-12 05:20
Jessi and Cheeks the rabbit talk about some of the ways we can help make the lives of our aging rabbit friends as comfortable as they can be.

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Hi guys!

This is Cheeks, he's a Netherlands dwarf rabbit, and he's one of our most loved animals at Animal Wonders That's because he's so gentle and calm, and more people have met him, pet him, and bonded with him than any of our other animal ambassadors. But just because we love him so much, that doesn't mean he's just gonna stay the same for ever and ever.

Cheeks is getting older, and because we love him, that means we need to change the way we care for him. It can be difficult caring for an aging animal friend. So I'd like to use Cheeks as an example and share the best ways to care for a senior rabbit.

I went ahead and put Cheeks back so he could rest while we continue to talk. Now, the best diet for a young rabbit includes high quality rabbit pellets, leafy greens, fresh vegetables, and unlimited access to grass hay. When a rabbit gets into their later years, which is around 6+ years, their body starts to slow down, and sometimes, their organs become less efficient at doing their job.

Cheeks, like most aging rabbits, has slowed down, and he isn't as active as he once was. In the last few years, he prefers to spend more and more time just relaxing in his enclosure. If your senior rabbit is acting grouchy or isn't as active as they once were, it could be a sign of arthritis.

Arthritis is painful. So if they're suffering from it, they'll be reticent to move around. But rabbits need to be able to move around to remain healthy.

They must be able to get to food and water, maneuver in and out of their litter box, and be flexible enough to reach around and eat the cecotrophes they defecate that contain essential nutrients. If it hurts too much to do any of these activities, meloxicam, better known as Meticam, is a mild pain medication that can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis and get them up and going again. Cheeks is not on a daily dose of Meticam yet, but we offer it as needed if he's having a rough day.

We've given him good-tasting treats from the syringe before, so giving him medication now is a cinch. One of the biggest concerns when it comes to older rabbits is making sure they maintain a good weight. This is determined by their diet and their digestive system.

Cheeks is still a decent weight. But he isn't eating as regularly as he did in his younger years. Because some senior rabbits don't eat ugh, it's important to make sure they get enough fiber in their diet.

Older bunnies will often take in an abundance of fluids, and not balance it out with solids and fiber. Reducing fresh produce and increasing their consumption of pellets and hay, will help make sure they get plenty of fiber. Sometimes, even if you offer the perfect diet, your rabbit isn't able to eat it.

This is where their digestive system comes in. And it starts with their teeth. As a rabbit gets older, there's a higher chance that their teeth will start to have problems.

Sometimes they become overgrown. Or their incisors or molars become malaligned. A trip to the vet is needed to find out if this is an issue.

Cheeks's teeth were examined by our vet, and they're doing great. So we don't need to file them down. Nonetheless, he is having trouble taking in the proper amounts of fiber.

Cheeks has stopped eating his hay. And when a rabbit doesn't get enough fiber, they end up with more liquid in their poop. Which is what we call diarrhea.

And if left untreated, it can lead to dehydration, and even death. We tried offering him extra young, leafy greens to encourage him to consume more fiber. And he munched on them a little bit.

But not enough to maintain good GI health. So he was having bouts of diarrhea. We needed to figure out something quick, before his GI tract became inflamed.

So we tried one of his favorite treats, minced apple, and mixed it in with his pellets, to see if that would work. And it did! The apple gets him excited to eat.

And then he continues eating the apple-scented pellets for the rest of the day. This combo helped keep his digestive system running smoothly for a while. But recently, he's been having diarrhea every few days again.

So, we're upping our fiber. And this time, we're trying another option: Critical Care. This is mostly powdered Timothy hay.

And if you mix it with water and stir it, you'll get a nice paste which you can put in a syringe or small bowl. We used to give Cheeks two tablespoons of Critical Care every time he had a bout of diarrhea. But in order to increase his fiber, we decided to do it every single day.

But to get him to eat it, I chop up a slice of banana, which is his favorite, into tiny pieces and mix it into the mash. And then I serve it on a lid in a small dish, to prevent his bedding from getting stuck into the mix. Cheeks is loving his Critical Care and banana mix.

And so far, it's been a success. His digestive system has been stable for several weeks now. Not all rabbits will react to aging the same way Cheeks has.

Some rabbits will gain weight as they become less and less mobile. This can cause a whole different set of complications. Like kidney and heart disease, increased arthritis, and sores on the hocks of their back feet.

The hock is where they rest their weight when they're sitting still. Managing their pain level with pain medication and treating sores are priorities. Providing soft, stable bedding is essential to reduce pain and provide adequate traction.

All senior rabbits also need to have their diets adjusted to meet the specific needs of the individual. A trip to the vet is necessary to determine what treatment options are right for the specific needs of your aging rabbit. If you have a rabbit as a companion, it's a good idea to start thinking about the future and how you can provide them the best life possible.

Providing a healthy diet and a good environment is a must, no matter what their age. If you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel, Animal Wonders Montana. And if you'd like to support animal education, and help us continue making videos like this one, you can go to patreon.com/animalwonders and become a patron.

Thanks, and we'll see you next week! I'm not really sure how she is going to do in the deep snow. So I'm going to see if she wants to smell this stump.

What do you think Lollipop?