Recognising Pain in Rabbits

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michaels4gardens

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Rabbits hide their pain very well, People not very familiar with this can be misled into thinking that a rabbit is not in pain because they exhibit no "drama"
A rabbit will sit quietly and look calm and peaceful until a few moments before they die from the pain.

Look for
"hunched up" body posture
teeth grinding
listing back and forth
eye squinting or closed eyes
ears laid back against the body [in rabbits that usually have ears up]

JMHO
it is an important part of responsible animal husbandry to make sure your animals do not suffer needlessly.
If an animal is considered "breed stock", or is terminal [ie: produced for food] there is no reason to nurse it back to health when it is not going to be suitable for either purpose when / if it recovers. The suffering it goes through while you are "trying to save it" is needless suffering.
 

grumpy

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A good precursor is keeping an eye on their feed intake, too. :D
That's a sure sign of problems not yet noticed.

Grumpy.
 

MaggieJ

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I agree with both Michael and Grumpy. Thanks for posting about how to tell if a rabbit is in pain, guys! It's an important topic.

I think people with pet rabbits are more likely to hesitate to euthanize an ill or injured rabbit, which is understandable. Offering willow twigs or branches so the rabbit can self-medicate on the inner bark can be helpful while making a thorough assessment. It is a very effective analgesic. I know -- I chewed some myself once when I was out of aspirin.
 

Nymphadora

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Thank you all for posting this! I know it's a hard topic to talk about sometimes, but it's so important to know when the animals you're raising don't yelp or bark or "speak" like we do. It's good to have some reference material on hand if there's a suspected injury or the rabbits start acting oddly.
 

michaels4gardens

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MaggieJ":1dxsem6e said:
I agree with both Michael and Grumpy. Thanks for posting about how to tell if a rabbit is in pain, guys! It's an important topic.

I think people with pet rabbits are more likely to hesitate to euthanize an ill or injured rabbit, which is understandable. Offering willow twigs or branches so the rabbit can self-medicate on the inner bark can be helpful while making a thorough assessment. It is a very effective analgesic. I know -- I chewed some myself once when I was out of aspirin.

just a note... willow bark is great for bone, joint, and tooth pain, but ,not so much for headache , sore muscles , or soft tissue injury pain... <br /><br /> -- Sun Aug 21, 2016 9:11 am -- <br /><br />
grumpy":1dxsem6e said:
A good precursor is keeping an eye on their feed intake, too. :D
That's a sure sign of problems not yet noticed.

Grumpy.

perfect-- off feed, - is often the only sign we get a rabbit is not feeling well, [before it is too late ]
 

Nymphadora

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michaels4gardens":3f0cm5i8 said:
just a note... willow bark is great for bone, joint, and tooth pain, but ,not so much for headache , sore muscles , or soft tissue injury pain...

I'm curious about this, because like MaggieJ, I have chewed willow bark myself specifically for a headache... is it metabolized differently in rabbits, so it would be less effective for soft tissue injuries?
 

michaels4gardens

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Nymphadora":1nsq3wr6 said:
michaels4gardens":1nsq3wr6 said:
just a note... willow bark is great for bone, joint, and tooth pain, but ,not so much for headache , sore muscles , or soft tissue injury pain...

I'm curious about this, because like MaggieJ, I have chewed willow bark myself specifically for a headache... is it metabolized differently in rabbits, so it would be less effective for soft tissue injuries?

For "most " people, - willow bark is more / less effective for above noted pain-- different people react differently... I haven't been able to tell how rabbits feel about it.. I have seen rabbits eat a huge amount of willow bark with no apparent adverse reaction

-- Sun Aug 21, 2016 9:35 am --

For instance-- people report "numb teeth" quite often after ingesting white willow bark. People also usually say it is great for their rheumatism . conversely -- quite often people report disappointing results when using it for headache, sore muscles, cuts and bruises . [I suppose they are comparing it to over the counter drugs]
 

alforddm

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Aspirin in an NSAID. Therefore I'm assuming willow would be as well. Differences in results could be due to what is causing the pain, ie pain caused by inflammation would be more responsive to willow than other types of pain. Differences in dosage would play a big part as well as the types of willow used. White willow is the one that contains the most salicin but the amount of the effective ingredients will most likely vary from tree to tree and even year to year depending on growing conditions.
 

Rainey

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We feed willow every day to our rabbits and often to our goats. We also make tea with willow bark for aches and pains, especially in spring when we're using muscles that have been taking it easy through the winter. (We put in other things that taste good because the willow bark isn't the tastiest tea) At first I wondered if it could be a problem for the rabbits to have as much as they do, but we haven't seen any problems that I could attribute to excess willow. It is a preferred food. In summer they mostly just eat off the leaves, but the willow that is dried and fed in winter the rabbits eat more of the woody part.
 

michaels4gardens

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Rainey":3ix1dsh2 said:
We feed willow every day to our rabbits and often to our goats. We also make tea with willow bark for aches and pains, especially in spring when we're using muscles that have been taking it easy through the winter. (We put in other things that taste good because the willow bark isn't the tastiest tea) At first I wondered if it could be a problem for the rabbits to have as much as they do, but we haven't seen any problems that I could attribute to excess willow. It is a preferred food. In summer they mostly just eat off the leaves, but the willow that is dried and fed in winter the rabbits eat more of the woody part.

that brings up another point-- since rabbits can eat 10 x more willow bark in one sitting, than it takes to numb a 150 lb person, just how effective is willow in controlling pain in rabbits??
 

MaggieJ

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Good question, Michael. It doesn't seem to thin their blood to any dangerous extent, so one has to wonder if it affects them the same way as it does people.

What I like about it is that it is also a safe rabbit food and the rabbit can control how much it takes. But then I've never had a seriously injured rabbit and sick ones are generally dispatched rather than treated.

I never intended to derail this thread when I mentioned willow. I simply thought it might be a useful tool to control pain while assessing if a pet rabbit could be healed or would be better euthanized.
 

michaels4gardens

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MaggieJ":kn7tdeey said:
Good question, Michael. It doesn't seem to thin their blood to any dangerous extent, so one has to wonder if it affects them the same way as it does people.

What I like about it is that it is also a safe rabbit food and the rabbit can control how much it takes. But then I've never had a seriously injured rabbit and sick ones are generally dispatched rather than treated.

I never intended to derail this thread when I mentioned willow. I simply thought it might be a useful tool to control pain while assessing if a pet rabbit could be healed or would be better euthanized.

I think it is all relevant,
I totally agree with your self medication comment, by letting them eat white willow.

but- I have seen a lot of hurt rabbits over the years, and dealt with their "owners" who thought they were not in much pain because they were not hearing the "death squeal"
For some reason, a lot of people feel broken bones, and injuries hurt "animals" less than they do "humans" - I find this "just amazing".

I just wanted to try to explain to those inexperienced in this, how to recognise when a rabbit is in pain.
 

MaggieJ

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In general, I agree with you, Michael, but many pet owners may feel that a rabbit with a simple fracture will heal and may have many good years ahead that may be worth suffering through a certain amount of pain. Injured people often endure considerable pain while they are healing. My rabbits were livestock, but where a loved pet is concerned, the "acceptable discomfort" line may be drawn in a different place for many people. I remember a cat that I had as a kid who broke a hind leg. People didn't run to the vet with pets much in those days and my parents took a "wait and see" attitude. I'm sure the cat suffered some, but it did heal just fine on its own, regained full use of the leg and had many more years with us. (Loved that cat!)

That said, I am very glad that you posted about this. We ALL need to know how to tell if our animals are in pain . . . and as you so rightly said, rabbits are silent sufferers.
 

Zass

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michaels4gardens":2rvwuh8h said:
JMHO
it is an important part of responsible animal husbandry to make sure your animals do not suffer needlessly.
If an animal is considered "breed stock", or is terminal [ie: produced for food] there is no reason to nurse it back to health when it is not going to be suitable for either purpose when / if it recovers. The suffering it goes through while you are "trying to save it" is needless suffering.

My opinion is a little different, or maybe, it has more exclusions.
I feel there can be a reasonable amount of suffering to tolerate for various reasons.

I have taken the time to nurse several production animals back to heath that were later dispatched and eaten. Having gone through those experiences has helped me develop a better understanding of rabbit health and nursing care in general, and a pretty solid understating of specific maladies I've seen in my own herd.

The most obvious example I have would be from nursing rabbits who were experiencing GI stasis. Stasis is very painful and slow to treat, but I am still glad I took the time to work several animals through it.
:lol: Basically, I learned the hard way that gi issues in rabbits are just not worth dealing with.

I can now recognize the earliest signs of gi slowdown in my herd, and prevent stasis from setting in to begin with, usually with just a simple dietary adjustment.

Knowing exactly how much suffering is experienced, I am completely confidant in culling any lines prone to gi upset.

I have been able to ID that certain brands of feed or supplements were contributing to imbalances that could later lead to painful problems, and stop feeding those well before my animals had to suffer.

I also rely on those experiences heavily to help diagnose and talk pet owners through their problems.
I am also a lot more confidant when making decisions on when to cull, and when to treat.

So, what I'm saying is that I agree that "Culling is not an option" is a fairly ridiculous thing to say in respect to meat rabbits, but, that I also believe there can still be some value in learning the hard way.
I bet plenty of those refuse-to-cull people end up being the first ones to say, "Just put the poor thing down" a few years later.
 

MaggieJ

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I've decided to "sticky" this thread. It has a message that is relevant to anyone raising or keeping animals -- particularly rabbits!
 

michaels4gardens

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michaels4gardens":1nifep07 said:
Rabbits hide their pain very well, People not very familiar with this can be misled into thinking that a rabbit is not in pain because they exhibit no "drama"
A rabbit will sit quietly and look calm and peaceful until a few moments before they die from the pain.

Look for
"hunched up" body posture
teeth grinding
listing back and forth
eye squinting or closed eyes
ears laid back against the body [in rabbits that usually have ears up]

JMHO
it is an important part of responsible animal husbandry to make sure your animals do not suffer needlessly.
If an animal is considered "breed stock", or is terminal [ie: produced for food] there is no reason to nurse it back to health when it is not going to be suitable for either purpose when / if it recovers. The suffering it goes through while you are "trying to save it" is needless suffering.

I agree with Zass,
I probably was not very clear in the above statement, - I do believe in "nursing" a rabbit back to health from an injury if it seems there is a "good" chance the rabbit could heal up and be suitable for either purpose. <br /><br /> -- Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:53 pm -- <br /><br />
grumpy":1nifep07 said:
A good precursor is keeping an eye on their feed intake, too. :D
That's a sure sign of problems not yet noticed.

Grumpy.


This is a good example of why "free feeding" of rabbits "may not" be a good idea, -- I always feed a prescribed amount to my animals-- precisely because-- -- I can notice immediately if an animal is "off feed". --- as Grumpy pointed out--low/ no feed intake it is almost always a sign of a problem you have not noticed yet. and-- in my experience-- often it is the only sign you may get in time to "do something about it".
 

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I am new to rabbit raising, I was blessed to go from 0 to 6 in one day. I have 2 bucks and 4 does. One of the bucks has looked 'off'. (Since they were practically free, I didn't fuss.)

He looks unkempt - IMHO he was too skinny when I got him 3 months ago. He has put on weight but looks shaggy/unkempt. He almost seems 'tense' his eyes are bright, but sometimes half open. He is not chomping his teeth, he moves around the hutch. He eats the greens and pellets. (I have been reading here that I should not free feed, so I will make adjustments.) However, he does seem to eat fewer pellets than the others, i.e. they run out of pellet feed before he does. He eats as much of the greens as the others.

I feed them all garlic leaves, comfrey (occasionally) borage, sage, thyme, purslane, coltsfoot, strawberry leaves, raspberry leaves, and weeds and flowers I recognize as safe. Basically, whatever is growing now. They get hay as needed.

Everyone else seems happy and in good shape. I live in zone 8, and it has been hot for creatures in permanent fur coats.

Any thoughts? If he is suffering, I want to take care of that.
 

KimitsuKouseki

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TornadoRed":3fqf2gav said:
I am new to rabbit raising, I was blessed to go from 0 to 6 in one day. I have 2 bucks and 4 does. One of the bucks has looked 'off'. (Since they were practically free, I didn't fuss.)

He looks unkempt - IMHO he was too skinny when I got him 3 months ago. He has put on weight but looks shaggy/unkempt. He almost seems 'tense' his eyes are bright, but sometimes half open. He is not chomping his teeth, he moves around the hutch. He eats the greens and pellets. (I have been reading here that I should not free feed, so I will make adjustments.) However, he does seem to eat fewer pellets than the others, i.e. they run out of pellet feed before he does. He eats as much of the greens as the others.

I feed them all garlic leaves, comfrey (occasionally) borage, sage, thyme, purslane, coltsfoot, strawberry leaves, raspberry leaves, and weeds and flowers I recognize as safe. Basically, whatever is growing now. They get hay as needed.

Everyone else seems happy and in good shape. I live in zone 8, and it has been hot for creatures in permanent fur coats.

Any thoughts? If he is suffering, I want to take care of that.
Give us a few pictures, we might be able to see something or even a video of behavior you feel is "off"
 

TornadoRed

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good idea, brb :D <br /><br /> -- Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:38 pm -- <br /><br /> OK, finally I got a pic to upload. It's the only one I can get that is small enough, the rez is not good I am sure. He just looks shabby to me, the other rabbits' coats are smooth and shiny, his is rough and dull. He is matted on his haunch, this is new. I checked (he hated that) there isn't a sore.

I can't upload the video to show you how he moves, but it doesn't look different (i.e. no limp or struggle) from the others.
bun1.png
 

KimitsuKouseki

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He looks fine to me, he probly just has a different type of fur for some reason. You should cut off the mats or pull em off gently if he lets you. Also considering his fur type you might want to consider brushing him from time to time.
 
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