When it comes to providing first aid to your rabbit, having the supplies readily available can take a lot of stress out of the situation. It’s easy to build up a first aid kit for your rabbit that leaves you prepared for almost any illness or injury.
The most important items to include in a rabbit first aid kit include:
- Veterinary Contact Information
- Medical Records
- Gauze and Bandages
- Cotton Pads
- Nail Clippers
- Styptic Powder
- Infant Gas Drops
- Antibiotic Creams and Sprays
- Preparation H
- A Cat Carrier
- Electrolyte Solution
The above list are some of the most important items you’ll need for the ultimate rabbit first aid kit. These items should cover all but life-threatening emergencies involving a hurt or sick rabbit.
(For severe illness or injury, a veterinarian should always be contacted. When in doubt, call a vet.)
1. Have Your Rabbit’s Veterinary Contact Information Ready
One of the most important things you should keep in your rabbit’s first aid is several phone numbers and email addresses for your preferred vet, as well as a copy of their office hours. Remember that many vets may keep odd hours where they are only in the office during the afternoons on certain days, and some may even serve multiple offices that they switch between during the week.
It’s also a good idea to keep contact information for multiple vets on hand, including an emergency vet for off-hour emergencies in the middle of the night. Ensuring you have enough money in your bank account for possible medical emergencies for your rabbit or any of your other pets also helps keep your animals happy and healthy.
Here’s a checklist of the information you should keep handy in your rabbit’s veterinary contact information:
- Your primary veterinarian’s phone number
- Your primary veterinarian’s office hours
- A backup veterinarian and their contact information
- A copy of updated credit card or debit card information (including CCV number) so that you can perform a payment to the vet over the phone if necessary, even if the card is not present
Many veterinarians specialize in treating dogs and cats, so you may have limited vet options to treat rabbits and other small exotic animals.
This is why you must have your vet’s information ready to go in case of a medical emergency.
2. Medical Records Help Vets Determine Why Your Rabbit Is Ill
With all your rabbits, you should keep detailed medical records of their surgeries, their vaccinations, any medications they’re on, and details of any observed medical conditions or behaviors.
Since animals can’t talk, it’s up to vets to deduce the causes of their illnesses and injuries by collecting clues from their behavior.
Along with keeping an eye on how much your rabbit eats and drinks, you should also keep an eye on their droppings and note any changes you see that might indicate illness. It’s good to keep a record of what you feed your rabbit. Weighing your rabbit periodically can help you keep tabs on whether your rabbit is gaining or losing weight.
Here’s a checklist of the different things you should keep with your rabbit’s medical records with your rabbit first aid kit:
- Spay/neuter records
- Vaccination records
- Feeding record (including water intake)
- Notes about stools or behavioral changes
- Weight record
- List of medications
- Printouts of all vet visits and notes from the vet
Your vet should have vaccinations and your rabbit’s medical history at the veterinary office, but it’s always wise to keep a separate copy of these files at home. It gives you a backup and allows you to quickly transfer to a different vet’s office if you decide to change vets.
3. Gauze and Bandages Are Useful for Treating Cuts on Rabbits
Along with gauze to dress an open wound in a rabbit, you also need wrapping bandages to help secure the gauze in place in such a way that the rabbit can’t immediately chew it off. Vetrap is a popular bandage brand for wrapping wounds on rabbits and other livestock for a few reasons:
- Wraps easily around hard-to-wrap places like joints
- Lightweight and durable, these bandages are both challenging to chew through and less tempting to chew than a heavier bandage
- Self-sticking bandage technology that keeps them in place but prevents them from getting caught in your rabbit’s fur
Hopefully, you won’t ever be put in a position where you need to bandage a rabbit’s wounds without a vet’s supervision. Still, in case of an accidental injury around the house like a cut or a dog bite, a bandage can help prevent unnecessary blood loss and keep the wound from becoming infected.
You should also keep a set of blunt-tipped scissors in the first aid kit for cutting gauze and bandages to rabbit size.
4. Cotton Pads Are Useful for Cleaning Rabbit Ears
One minor issue that pet rabbits run into frequently is a build-up of wax or other debris in the outer ear canal. To remove this build-up, cotton pads can be used with a few drops of warmed mineral oil to rub the inside of the rabbit’s ears gently.
Q-tips can also be a useful addition to the rabbit first aid kit, but rabbit owners need to know that, like with humans, Q-tips are not designed to be inserted in the ear canal for ear cleanings.
Use caution when using Q-tips in a rabbit’s ears as this can damage the inner ear and cause unnecessary pain for your pet.
Instead, focus on cleaning the parts of the ear that can be easily reached with a flat cotton pad or cotton ball.
5. Disinfectant Can Help Your Rabbit from Getting Sick
Disinfectant is an essential part of any first aid kit. This is a clinical disinfectant rather than the type of disinfectant used to clean a wound (we’ll discuss that type more further below).
Clinical disinfectant should be on hand to sterilize the following tools:
- Nail clippers or other tools in the first aid kit such as scissors
- A quarantine hutch (in case of rabbit illness)
- Food and water containers (disinfect during regular deep cleaning sessions)
Disinfecting first aid supplies is especially important if you have multiple rabbits. This is because you can quickly transfer a contagious disease between rabbits and hutches if you use the same tools and dishes to serve all of them.
If any of your rabbits are suffering from a communicable disease such as a respiratory illness, they should be isolated from the other rabbits, and their enclosure should be disinfected to prevent the disease from spreading.
6. Nail Clippers Are Necessary to Keep Rabbit Nails groomed
Even though they aren’t necessary for medical emergencies, keeping a pair of sanitized nail clippers on hand for keeping your rabbit’s nails trimmed are useful for a few reasons:
- They help keep your arms and lap from getting scratched up when you’re handling your rabbits. Sometimes rabbits become skittish and struggle to get away—if their nails aren’t clipped, this can lead to bad scratches for whoever is holding them.
- They help prevent damage to hardwood floors. Like with dogs, a rabbit’s fixed claws can cause scratching damage to hardwood floors if rabbits can run around on them. Keeping rabbit nails trimmed down can help solve that problem.
If you train your rabbit early on that getting their nails cut isn’t a bit deal, many rabbits can learn to sit quietly for a trim. Wrapping the rabbit up in a towel is also a good option for keeping them calm during the nail cutting process until they get used to it.
7. Styptic Powder is Useful for Stopping Blood Loss in Rabbits
Styptic powder is good to have on hand if you’re cutting nails because it is easy to accidentally cut into the quick of your rabbit’s nail while trimming them (though this is painful and should be avoided whenever possible).
Styptic powder is used to stop bleeding and is especially useful for quick-cut nails. Styptic powder is also good to have on hand for any minor scratch or injury.
TIP: In a pinch, if you don’t have any styptic powder available for your rabbit first aid kit, cornstarch can also work in the same way to stop bleeding.
The advantage of using cornstarch for this purpose is that many people keep a supply of this staple in their kitchen already.
8. Syringes can dispense Your Rabbit Food and Medicine
A problem that people can run into with sick rabbits is that once they stop eating, they can go into a decline as their digestive system shuts down. Rabbits are delicate animals, and when they get sick, they need to be treated quickly to recover.
A syringe can be used to administer either oral medications or administer a little electrolyte formula (like Pedialyte) or organic baby food for rabbits that are not eating.
For this reason, keeping a syringe in your rabbit’s first aid kit is essential.
9. Eyedroppers Are Necessary to Give Rabbits Eye Medicine
An eyedropper is useful for administering eye medications for rabbits. This is an especially important tool for longhaired rabbits that may be more inclined to have runny eyes or eye problems due to their hair.
Keep in mind that a rabbit’s natural tears will wash eye medications out, so if your vet prescribes eye drops for your rabbit, they generally need to be treated with them several times a day for them to be effective.
Along with eyedroppers, it’s also a good idea to keep some eye ointment on hand for your rabbit if they develop minor eye problems. Here are a few options you have found on Amazon:
10. Infant Gas Drops Are Useful for Rabbit Stomach Problems
You might not think of infant gas drops when you think of things that need to go in a rabbit first aid kit, but one of the most common medical conditions that rabbit owners run into is digestive issues.
Rabbits have fragile digestive systems, and in case of bloat or another type of stomach upset, a few drops of infant gas drops can help make your rabbit much more comfortable.
Another problem that rabbits can run into is a medical issue called GI stasis, where the digestive system stops working, and the rabbit stops producing droppings. This can be caused by (or cause) intestinal obstructions.
Intestinal problems in rabbits are sometimes a medical emergency, so if your rabbit exhibits stomach related problems or stops eating, be sure to consult with a vet as soon as possible. Digestive aids in rabbit first aid like gas drops are intended to stabilize the rabbit until medical help is available.
11. Antibiotic Creams and Sprays Work Great for Rabbit Injuries
One of the biggest threats to rabbits, when they get a wound, is an infection, so an antibacterial solution for rabbit wounds is a must-have in your rabbit first aid kit. Neosporin is a popular antibacterial ointment for topical use but should only be used on a dressed wound since rabbits are not supposed to swallow it.
An antibacterial spray that is intended for veterinary use is Vetericyn. This spray is readily available in most farm supply stores and some pet supply stores too. Since most antibacterial creams and sprays are meant to be used on skin injuries online instead of internally, it’s a good idea to bandage up any wound where an antibacterial cream or spray is used.
This is especially true for wounds in areas where a rabbit is more likely to groom or lick to alleviate the pain of the injury, such as their feet or legs.
12. Thermometers Are Needed for Checking a Rabbit’s Temperature
Just like with human first aid kits, keeping a good thermometer (in this case, a rectal thermometer) in your rabbit’s first aid kit is an integral tool for checking on your rabbit’s health.
Checking your rabbit’s temperature should be one of the first things you do if your rabbit starts to act like it feels unwell or quits eating. An elevated temperature could indicate a fever from either illness or an infected injury such as an abscess.
When detected by a thermometer, A fever is an indication that your rabbit should be taken to the vet as soon as possible for a more thorough examination, which may include bloodwork or X-rays.
Along with an excellent rectal thermometer, rabbit owners should also keep some petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, available for inserting the thermometer. The thermometer should be coated in the petroleum jelly before inserting it in the rabbit’s rectum to avoid causing discomfort or snagging.
13. Towels Are an Essential Staple in Rabbit First Aid
Many rabbit owners may not think of dedicating specific towels to their rabbit’s first aid kit, but this is a good idea for a few reasons:
- Towels in a first aid kit may end up getting biohazardous waste on them, such as blood, urine, or feces that you don’t necessarily want your regular bath towels coming into contact with even after being washed.
- Towels can be used to help restrain rabbits during home veterinary procedures and inspections. This helps the rabbit owner keep the rabbit more still and helps the rabbit feel more secure and comfortable. Towels can be used to restrain a rabbit for everything from putting in eye drops to clipping their nails.
It’s a good idea to choose white-colored towels for medical towels in your rabbit’s first aid kit. The reason for this is, while white towels may show blood or other bodily fluids more readily than other colors, rabbit owners need to know when their rabbit is bleeding.
Sometimes due to their thick fur, it can be difficult to tell where blood is coming from, and a white towel can help you figure it out.
White towels can also be bleached and sanitized easily without having to worry about damaging them.
14. Probiotics Are Good for Keeping Your Rabbit’s Gut Healthy
Because rabbits have a fragile digestive system, employing probiotic supplements to establish a healthy gut flora can help prevent some rabbit digestive issues such as gas, colic, GI stasis, and bowel impactions.
Scientific studies have shown that, especially when they are young and first being weaned off their mother’s milk, probiotic supplements can help baby rabbits stabilize their digestive systems and successfully make the jump to solid foods.
While the scientific evidence for probiotics in rabbits is still somewhat limited, these supplements are harmless for rabbits and, in many cases, can have positive effects on their weight, appetite, and digestive health.
Here are a few probiotics you can feed your rabbit on Amazon:
- Healthy Gut Probiotics for Rabbits
- Geneflora Digestive Enzymes
- BalancePro – Probiotics for Dogs, Cats, and Rabbits
Keeping an eye on your rabbit’s digestive health before they develop a problem is better than treating a medical emergency. Providing a rabbit with probiotics can help make your job easier as a rabbit owner. Other ways to protect a rabbit’s digestive health are restricting treats and making sure the rabbit has nutritious pellet food as its main food staple.
15. Preparation H Is Good for Treating Sore Hocks in Rabbits
Preparation H may seem like an odd choice for a rabbit first aid kit, but this hemorrhoidal cream is a terrific choice when you’re trying to treat sore hocks in your rabbit.
Sore hocks (also known as pododermatitis) is a medical condition that involves the rabbit developing pressure sores on the bottom of their feet.
This condition is usually the result of not enough free movement and poor hutch bottom materials that cause chafing.
The rabbit’s back feet are usually the feet affected when they have pressure sores, and sore hocks can cause swelling and pain. In its early stages, sore hocks can be successfully treated with Preparation H because it can reduce swelling associated with the pressure sores while they have a chance to heal.
A rabbit’s sore hocks are usually treated by:
- Changing out the rabbit’s bedding
- Keeping the pressure sores sanitized
- Alleviating the rabbit’s discomfort
- Encouraging them to move around more often in free-ranging activity
16. A Carrier Is Crucial for Visiting the Vet with Your Rabbit
Even if your rabbit is normally docile and calm, you’ll need to have a carrier of some kind to bring your rabbit to the vet—hard plastic cat carriers with a handle that are lined with a few towels are usually a good option.
Many veterinary offices require that pet owners keep their animals restrained in a carrier in the waiting room to ensure the safety of all animals present.
Usually, calm rabbits can panic and try to bolt if confronted by a strange dog or another animal at the vet. Keeping them in a covered carrier can help keep them comfortable and calm as they are transported back and forth for medical care.
When you look for a carrier for your rabbit, be sure to choose a carrier that is large enough for your rabbit to stand up in without its head brushing the roof of the carrier and that it is wide enough for the rabbit to turn all the way around.
This can help prevent the rabbit from feeling trapped. Rabbits can be sensitive to stress, so owners should make their rabbits as cozy as possible to keep their stress minimal.
Here are a few good options for transporting your rabbit to the vet:
- Midwest Travel Pet Carrier
- Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Travel Carrier
- Ferplast Rigid Pet Carrier
17. A First Aid Kit Flashlight Helps You Inspect Your Rabbit
An excellent tool to keep in your rabbit first aid kit is a strong LED flashlight. Many small, strong flashlights designed for low light conditions such as auto repair garages can help you see into your rabbit’s ears, eyes, nose, mouth, rectum, or under their fur if you suspect they are sick or injured.
Finding injuries in a rabbit’s mouth or ears (or on their skin) can be difficult if you have a squirmy rabbit or they are a dark color.
A strong flashlight can make a considerable difference when it comes to getting a close look at your sick or hurt rabbit.
Flashlights can also help you inspect for fleas if you suspect that your rabbit may be carrying some stowaways.
18. Electrolyte Solution Can Be Used to Nurse a Sick Rabbit
When rabbits become ill, they lose their appetite and start ignoring their food and water. Without keeping their strength up, some rabbits can deteriorate rapidly from dehydration and GI stasis.
Electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte can be an excellent choice to treat rabbits suffering from a variety of conditions, including the following:
- Respiratory illness
- Wound infection
Electrolyte solution helps keep a rabbit hydrated and can give them enough energy to get back on their food. In GI stasis cases, treatment with Pedialyte can be enough to soften the contents of the stomach and get the digestive tract moving again.
TIP: Rabbits in GI stasis will not usually take an electrolyte solution by drinking it of their free will, so a syringe should be used to dribble the electrolyte solution into the rabbit’s mouth gently.
Be careful not to force too much solution on the rabbit too quickly, as this can cause aspiration or choking.
Heating and Cooling Pads Can Help You Adjust Your Rabbit’s Temperature
A common medical condition that rabbits can run into is overheating, especially in tropical climates. While rabbits are relatively tolerant of cool weather, hot weather can do them in quickly.
Heatstroke is common in rabbits, especially those that are housed outdoors or in barns without adequate ventilation.
In this instance, a cooling pad can be crucial to getting a rabbit’s internal temperature down. Still, even for rabbits that aren’t sick with the heat, adding ice packs to your rabbit’s hutch wrapped in a towel can help give them a cool spot to lay down in scorching weather.
Since rabbits aren’t prone to getting cold, heating pads are usually used for rabbits when you’re rearing young rabbits.
Young rabbits can become chilled if they are separated from their siblings and mother, and a heating pad can help keep them comfortable and keep their body temperature at a proper level.
Be sure to wrap a heating pad up in a towel to prevent it from coming into contact with a rabbit’s skin and ensure that the heating pad is set to the lowest setting to prevent burns or overheating.
Keeping a Rabbit First Aid Kit Can Be a Lifesaver
Nobody wants to have to use their first aid kit for their sick or injured rabbit, but having the right supplies on hand can take a lot of stress out of the situation if it does crop up. While a rabbit first aid kit can’t treat more serious medical conditions, it’s a fantastic way to get a leg up on any medical emergencies you might have to deal with in your rabbit.
Remember, if your rabbit is showing signs of fever or exhibiting severe medical symptoms, such as refusing to eat and drink or uncontrollable bleeding, it is imperative to get them to a vet as soon as possible.