Monthly Archives: April 2014

Rabbit Savvy Vets: The Catch 22 Situation

For the vast majority of us raising pets, these animals tend to be “infused” into our lives and they become a part of the family. We as pet owners care for them and want the best for them. The slightest sign of sickness would throw our day’s routine upside down and our hearts/minds become burdened and worrisome until we know for sure our beloved pets are well on the way to recovery.

Up until today, throughout the world, rabbit owners are still struggling to find rabbit “savvy” veterinarians. Rabbit savvy veterinarians are very rare due to the nature of veterinarian practice and how much opportunities they are given or exposed to. I have written about the main reason why not many vets are well-versed with rabbits and it still remains the same today. The main reason most people do not send their sick rabbits to vets is because the cost of treatment can be higher than replacing the sick rabbits. Sadly, that is the attitude of many pet owners in general. But that has changed over time. We now have rabbit owners that are willing to seek the best healthcare for their rabbit but unfortunately, we do not have many vets who are good with rabbits which are considered as exotic animals.

Because of how precious our pet rabbits are to us, it is impossible for us to subject them as experimental or learning subjects for vets that are willing to “try” treat them. At the same time, without practice, they will never learn and we will never have vets that can treat rabbits. A catch 22 situation.

We all know how vulnerable rabbits are and being animal of prey, the moment they show signs of sickness like curling up at the corner of the cage or have stopped eating, most of the time it could mean that they are in dire need to medical attention. More often than not we are down to a 50:50 chance battle.

I often think about emergency situations while raising Holland Lops for the past 7 years and to be very honest, I found that there are not many choices. Treatments are usually either invasive or non-invasive. Invasive may be in the form of surgery and placing a sick rabbit under surgery would be similar to euthanasia. Most of the time it would be non-invasive and treatment with careful doses of drugs. We depend a lot on the expertise of veterinarians to diagnose and prescribe the best combination of drugs.

Again, we might only have about 50% chance to bring bunny back to recovery mode. What if we are faced with the other 50% and lose our bunny after giving our best shot?

While mourning the death of a beloved pet, it is only normal that we question how and why, the should and could haves will play constantly on our minds. But I must say that there are many variables that can cause death in animals under treatment. Like humans, it also depends on how the body reacts to treatment. There is also the element of the type of drug used. The potency of the drug down to the chemical content of the drug. It is very difficult to pin point the real reason unless a post-mortem is done. What good is a post-mortem when our beloved pet has already passed on? Unless we want to learn so that we can avoid a repetition of such situation, a post-mortem would be a reasonable decision.

I felt that veterinarians have taken a lot of blame under many different circumstances. Not only here in Malaysia but many places throughout the world especially with Internet and how much information is on our fingertips. Then there are the forums as well. We really have to understand that a cry for help on cyberspace will most probably be responded by numerous advices from a vast number of different experiences, each unique to a its own scenario (variable). We have to analyse all the responses very carefully before concluding which should be the best solution. A vet on the other hand, have to face a situation real-time and react the best he/she can not under a virtual environment but real life scenario. The reason why they do what they do as vets is because they are trained under such circumstances and we as pet owners must trust their decision which is made with their vast experiences and knowledge.

If a treatment fails and we lose our beloved pet, I believe that as pet owners, it is our responsibility to be open and share our thoughts with the veterinarian who have treated our pet. I feel that it is very important firstly for our closure of losing a pet and secondly, there will be something that everyone can learn from our experience. By sharing with the vet openly and honestly, it will help the vet understand the situation better, and if it was a mistake, to learn from it and be a better vet. Most often than not, we tend to shun our vets and the only thing they will learn is that they are getting less customers coming to their practice after words of their (one) alleged mistake spread in cyberspace. I believe that is very unfair and counter productive. We should seek clarification to dispel our own assumptions. We should also respect vets who are willing to learn, admit their mistake and never afraid to face any situation head on. The least we can do is tell them of our concerns and hope they will be receive them in good faith. I always believe that there is an opportunity to learn from every situation and unless we share the knowledge, we will never grow. I might lose a pet under certain circumstances today, but if I share the situation and learn from it together with my vet, somewhere down the road, the knowledge can be used to save more lives.

Let us not keep our grieves to ourselves but turn it into something positive while we find closure for losing our beloved pets.

I am not asking you to volunteer your pet rabbit as an experimental subject for vets but if you have chosen a good vet for your pet, please follow through and have an open communication policy with them. A good vet will and should always be open to discussion and willing to clear any doubts that you have.

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An Article Worth Reading

Ellen Whyte is no stranger to pet lovers here in Malaysia especially among the cat lovers. A cat lover herself, she first gained a huge readership writing the book Katz Tales and she writes for The Star newspaper’s Katz Tales/Dog Talk section published on most Saturdays. I met Ellen the first time back in 2010 when she was writing on Pet Ethics. She is a strong supporter of pet/animal welfare and most of the time, you will see an adoption section as part of the Dog Talk articles.

Today, she wrote a very compelling article entitled “Defects in purebred dogs“. This article is not only relevant to dog lovers but for all animal lovers alike because it affects whatever animal that is tagged as “pedigree”.

Like the experience shared by Ellen in her article, I too received numerous inquiries about the Holland Lop breed and at times, am lost for words. We cannot deny how cute these rabbits are but each do come with certain genetic related fault. As I said, the article is very relevant to any species “governed” by any sort of “breed standards” which simply put is a set of specification of man made or human interpreted desired of a certain animal. The article can be replicated 100% except changing the subject of dogs to any other animal species.

Do not get me wrong because I also believe that like every living thing under the sun, thoughtful planning and careful handling of any subject can help eliminate/lower the risk of bad traits manifesting when animals are bred. There are reputable and ethical breeders out there, just rare. It is a very difficult balance to strike between passion and profit. I do not normally recommend breeders because I just do not have as much confident or faith in the genetic composition of the animals sold. It is heart breaking to learn after a few months or years, that the animal purchased has developed some sort of hereditary sickness. It does no good to both owner and the pet. The outcome can often end with either a broken heart or an abandoned animal.

I have often encouraged people especially starters to adopt hybrids because these are the animals that have gone through generations of “natural selection” and possess hybrid vigour – in short, stronger.

No doubt, pedigree rabbits make good pets and not everyone who have pets breed them (and some are even against breeding). For those who are aspired to be breeders, all I can say is that, know your animals well and well enough to be sure they will produce defect free offspring. You must always prepare and know the right thing to do when defect surfaces and in other words, be responsible not only as a pet owner but one who passes on animals to others.

Again, I invite you to read Ellen’s article here and to understand the extensive damage that can occur if animals are bred too fanatically “close” to “breed standards”:

A short snippet from the BBC’s Pedigree Dog Exposed Documentary:

And here is the full documentary:

The documentary also mentions “dwarf” breeds and we too have those in the rabbit world. The dwarf gene makes a rabbit cute and chubby.

The take away point in this video is one of the last quotes:

“There are those in the dog world who care passionately about health, who try to do the right thing. The problem is that they are trapped in a system that often rewards doing the wrong thing”

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Little Things In Life

Let’s start off today’s post with a little quote I found on the Internet and here goes…

“I think it’s important to find the little things in everyday life that make you happy” ~ Paula Cole

We tend to have the desire to achieve great things but most of the time great things are accumulation of small efforts through time. This year marks the 7th year that I will be operating this weblog. Never thought I will get past the 5th year but here I am still enjoying this hobby. The thought of not having rabbits in my life seemed to be like contemplating suicide. I do not think I will ever live without rabbits. Perhaps there might be interval in between without rabbits but eventually they do come back somehow.

I sometimes wonder to myself how much one can actually write about his/her rabbits and keep a weblog such as this one updated frequently. In fact, I am not even going to talk about rabbits in this post today and I do not have any rabbit photo to share either.

It is about the little things in life.

I just want to reminisce through the years and try to recall the type of pets that are commonly kept.

Throughout the 80’s dogs are pretty common and most people kept mongrels. A Spitz can be seen as a pedigree back then. Fishes are very common too and I did grow up with a huge Koi pond in our garden. Ornamental fishes like the goldfish, tiger barb, sword tail and gourami are pretty common and I have kept them at certain point of time. I have always like cats too but Persian cats were very costly and they do not look anything like what we have today. Their muzzles are too sharp for my liking. I remembered that I requested my parents to get me one of those cute short muzzled Persian kittens but ended up adopting a spayed Siamese mixed from SPCA.

Pedigree dogs started to thrive in the early 90’s. I remember the Boxers, Shih Tzus, Dalmations and Golden Retrievers being some of the favourites.

And today, we have so many choices and varieties. Whatever the animal you like to keep as a pet, it can be found fairly easily. There are so many new breeds of dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and fishes. And then there are the exotics like ferrets, civet cats, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, snakes and chameleons. Whatever that you want, name it and most probably you are able to keep one as pet.

But it all starts with the little things in life…

Something as little as a Sapphire Dwarf Hamster…

Amber

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Genesis Ultra Premium Extruded Timothy Rabbit Food (Restocked)!

Good news!

The wait is over! The new stock for Genesis Ultra Premium Extruded Timothy Rabbit Food has arrived!

Please order at www.tinycritterz.com!

For free shipping packages (Peninsula Malaysia only), click here.

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Pitch Black

Isn’t he cute?

Introducing…
Isn't he cute?

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Filed under In The Nestbox