“She’s growing a turnip on her side” was how the conversation started with our youngest daughter about her rabbit. Sounded like an abscess, possibly from one of her guinea pig garden mates, or an injury from digging to China under the dog house.

It turned out to be a major surgery event and Flopsy the rabbit came home attached to 2 drip pumps, heat pads, multiple medications and bandaged up from the neck to the hips. The car just needed flashing lights to complete the patient transfer as smoothly as possible! Flopsy is a $20 Shepparton Animal Shelter adoption of less than 2 months. She was found on Balaclava Road and her owners never came to rescue her so we finally gave in to the requests for a rabbit. She is very soft, fluffy and friendly. I can see why she became a stray as she is a digger- of- note and maybe her original owners were pleased when she left!

This recovering bunny was placed in the laundry with heater moved in for the night, she was syringe fed by her doting 11 year old owner while her intravenous constant rate infusion (of the same pain-relief drug I had with my elbow surgery) was pumped in overnight through her tiny ear vein. The only difference between our post-op recoveries was that she did not have a button to press when she wanted more! Because she cannot tell us how painful she was feeling we had to monitor her breathing rate which is a good indicator as to how comfortable she was. It is a bit of a balancing act controlling the pain but not making her too dopey that she does not want to eat. She was checked during the night, kept comfortable and by the morning had chewed one of her drips so she was obviously feeling better! A major area of concern with rabbits and surgery is in the post op period when pain and stress can slow or shut the gut down. This leads to rapid gas accumulation and is life threatening. This is why pain management is so critical. She was syringe fed Critical Care paste which helped keep her digestive system going.

Unlike dogs and cats that are kept off food the night before surgery, rabbits need to be kept eating and it helps to bring a lunch box in with the favourite food. If he/ she has a rabbit mate they should go in with the rabbit to keep company and help reduce stress!   Abscesses are common in dogs and cats. It is interesting that some of our chosen pets make routine procedures so much more challenging especially when deep as with Flopsy. Happy to say she is making a good recovery and is enjoying being indoors at night as her clipped coat makes her susceptible to the cold. We are all hoping she stays out of trouble for a while. It is inspiring to see how much effort owners will go to in order to help their pets when the need arises. As our daughter said she deserves the same care as we do. What is it about animals that they so quickly form a bond with our hearts? She makes us happy so we want her to be happy too!

-Dr Fiona Cameron