Category Archives: Pet Tips – Rabbits

Easter Bunny

Rabbits are closely associated with Easter. Shortly following the holiday, our rabbit department sees an increase of rabbits who’ve been surrendered to shelters. Our rabbit intake department needs to find foster homes for too many rabbits. They’re happy to save them, but they really wish people would reconsider giving live animals as gifts.

Great Companion, Bad Gift

Great Companion, Bad Gift

Carrie (shown here) was a gift, but not everyone in the family was happy with this present. She ended up confined to a cage–alone–most of the time. She was sad and lonely; rabbits require social interaction as well as exercise. While rabbits are adorable and fun pets, they do require a lot of care and patience–often as much as a dog or a cat. Read about rabbit care, and if you still like the idea of a hopper around the house, please consider giving Carrie a good home.

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Upcoming Class in Bunny Basics

How to Care for Your Pet Rabbit

Rabbits are gentle, affectionate animals who thrive in calm, attentive homes. But they have specific needs to keep them healthy and happy, and they are not low-maintenance pets, as many people believe.

Einstein says come learn something new!

Einstein says come learn something new!

If you have–or will soon have–a special bunny in your life, please join us for this program (for adults and children 7 years and up). We’ll discuss rabbit behavior, care and supplies, and offer tips on how to choose–and where to find–the right bunny for your family.

Saturday, March 23rd 1:00–2:30 p.m.

Rocky Run YMCA
1299 West Baltimore Pike, Media, PA

This program is free and open to the public.
For more info: Call: 610-876-1479  •  Email: info@acdc.ws

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Winterize Your Rabbit

Riley

Outdoor hutch rabbits suffer greatly, especially in extreme temperatures–hot or cold–and become susceptible to illness. Bring your bunnies inside and discover what wonderful, litter-trained pets rabbits can be.

If you’d like to learn more, ACDC rabbit counselors are always available to teach you everything you need to know!

In addition, ACDC will present Bunny Basics: How to Care for Your Pet Rabbit at the Rocky Run YMCA on Saturday, March 23rd from 1:00–2:30 p.m. Come learn all about these gentle, affectionate animals – and discover exactly what a rabbit needs to stay happy and healthy.

In addition to discussing topics such as rabbit behavior, proper care, housing options, and litter training, ACDC’s rabbit experts will demonstrate proper handling techniques and offer tips on how to choose the right rabbit for your family. There will be information sheets to take home and plenty of time for questions. Join us!

Rocky Run YMCA is located at 1299 West Baltimore Pike, Media, PA.

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Whatever Lola Wants…

A Rabbit Success Story

by Nikki Senecal

After finding a rabbit on Petfinder, Steven Calvanese and Kristen DiRado filled out the ACDC application. Lori, ACDC’s rabbit coordinator, contacted them with disappointing news. Three other families were interested in that particular rabbit. After a conversation where the affianced couple explained their lifestyle and pet ownership experiences, Lori suggested they meet Sally.  Kristen checked online for a photo of Sally, and fell in love with her coloring and her big, floppy ears.

“When we met her in person, her personality melted our hearts!  She immediately hopped up to me and Steven, happily greeted us, and then began playing without a care in the world.  She was very funny to watch, as she is extremely inquisitive. “

Growing up, Kristen had small animals, like hamsters, because of her allergies to cats and dogs.  Her family had rescued a very sick rabbit when she was young, and she noticed the fur didn’t bother her.  “Steven always had cats growing up, and I could tell he missed having a pet. “

Like many adopted pets, Sally has had a name change. After learning just how particular their new rabbit was, “we started calling her Lola; for whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!”

Lola receiving love in her new home.

Lola, Kristen says, is a character.  “She is determined and quite the risk-taker.  She is a champion hopper; one day I had turned around for a second, and then found her standing on top of her 30″ high house!  Although she looked very happy and proud, the thought of having to be rescued has stopped that from happening again.”  Lola likes to run up the stairs and dance and hop up and down the upstairs hallway.   After her bunny marathons, she likes to cuddle.  “If I lay on the floor, she’ll touch my nose to hers, lie down and fall asleep.  And no matter what she is doing, the minute you start petting those cheeks, she plops down and the world stops.  Of course stopping is not up to you; you get attacked by licks until you start again.”

Lola’s quite an ambassador as well. Kristen’s nieces are afraid of animals, but “It’s been nice to see my nieces interact with her.  We helped her by giving her a ‘furever’ home, but now she is helping my nieces understand animals more.”

Kristen recommends rabbits for those who have done research about rabbits and determined rabbits would fit with their lifestyle “Rabbits are not cats or dogs. Rabbits require space and attention.  But if you do your research, and love your bunny, you will be loved back, unconditionally.”

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Zippy’s New Home

Rabbits express joy by doing “binkies.” For those new to rabbits, binkies are when bunnies hop into the air often twisting midair and flicking their feet and heads. (Check out YouTube.) And since Zippy has gone to live with Amanda Mechlin and Mike Crowley in King of Prussia, he has been showboating not only with binkies but with his speed. “He likes it when we sit on the floor with him and he gets very excited and shows off.  He likes to come right up and let us pet him, and then he is off again! He is so fast!” says Amanda.

Zippy lives in Amanda and Mike’s living room where they can enjoy his company.  “It brings us so much joy to watch him run and hop around and do binkies.” When he’s not running around the room he likes to relax in a comfortable laid out position.

Amanda has always had and loved pets, which she feels are part of the family.  Growing up she had rabbits, “I always found them sweet and cute.”

When she saw Zippy’s profile, “I just fell in love with him.  I had never seen a rabbit with such unique colorings and a ‘lion’ mane!” When Amanda showed Zippy to her fiancé, Mike, he declared Zippy was “magnificent.” And the adoption process began.

Amanda describes Zippy as a “very charming little rabbit.” A fan of cilantro and romaine lettuce, Zippy also enjoys blueberries as a treat.

“I love spending our evenings with him. He has just made us so happy, and I can tell he is happy too!”

Amanda and Zippy

Please join the Animal Coalition of Delaware County in our support of the “Make Mine Chocolate Campaign” again this Easter. Rabbits, social but often fragile creatures, do not make good pets for small children.

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Hot Bun in the Summertime

Cory is available for adoption.

Lori Vear, ACDC Rabbit Director, is hot and bothered. She’s working hard to get pet rabbits indoors during the summer. “Outdoor hutch bunnies face life-threatening conditions. Rabbits do not tolerate heat well, and high humidity combined with temperatures over 80 degrees can kill a rabbit,” Lori explains.

High temperatures can cause a rabbit to suffer from heat exhaustion. Rabbit sweat glands are located in their lips, which are not very effective in dispelling heat. Bunnies cannot easily pant when hot, compounding the problem. As the temperature rises, rabbits tend to drink less water, causing dehydration, and then they do not pant at all. Unsurprisingly, Lori’s on a mission to get people to keep rabbits indoors in air conditioned environments.

She offers these tips to help pet rabbits who must stay outdoors survive the heat:

  • Keep the hutch in complete shade and in a breezy area.
  • Fill clean, empty plastic soda bottles with water, freeze them, and put them in the hutch for the rabbit to lie against. Replace often.
  • Provide plenty of cool, fresh drinking water.
  • Know the DANGER SIGNS: A bunny who is listless, stretched out, panting, or drooling is in a state of emergency. Bring him inside, rinse his ears with room-temperature water, offer him a drink of water, and get him to a vet immediately.

Still, Lori and many others believe that rabbits are pets best kept indoors. “Indoor rabbits are affectionate, playful, and easily litter box trained.”

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ACDC Teams Up With Make Mine Chocolate™ To Bring Awareness About the Reality of Easter Rabbit Adoptions

The Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) and Make Mine Chocolate™ are encouraging local residents to re-consider hasty rabbit adoptions this Easter season. Every year, pet rabbits are bought or rescued to be given as Easter gifts, only to be returned or dropped off at over-crowded humane societies or worse yet, abandoned outside to fight off predators, cars, injuries and illness. According to some estimates, 90 percent of rabbits brought into American homes for the spring holiday will end up euthanized. This unfortunate trend could be avoided with proper research and careful consideration. Rabbits make wonderful, loving pets but they are also fragile creatures that require some extra attention. And because of their fragility, rabbits are not recommended for households with small children. Easter-time marketing campaigns and movies like “Hop” may have parents thinking otherwise and that now is a perfect time to adopt a pet rabbit, but following are some tips and information to consider before choosing between a live animal or the Cadbury variety.

A Rabbits Life:

“Rabbits can live up to 10 years and require as much care and attention as dogs and cats,” says ACDC Rabbit Director Lori Busch. Along with this commitment come the daily requirements for exercise and grooming. Rabbits need several hours of daily exercise and should be provided with an exercise pen. Homes should also be rabbit-proof as rabbits have a natural instinct to chew. Rugs, drapes, table legs and electrical cords are all easy picking for a roaming rabbit. Rabbits also shed and unlike cats, hairballs can be a serious health risk. Owners should be prepared to brush their rabbit every day with a flea comb or slicker brush. Additionally, rabbits need to have their nails trimmed every eight weeks. Pet rabbits are very much companion animals and require daily love, attention, and playtime with their human counterparts.

Rabbits are famous for their reproductive abilities and can have multiple litters of up to nine young, known as “kittens”, each year. ACDC recommends spay and neutering for all of its adopted animals including rabbits. Altered rabbits are healthier and live longer by eliminating cancer and are less prone to aggression. Rabbits can begin reproducing as early as 4 months of age, so altering a rabbit as it reaches maturity will prevent a lifetime of overpopulation. An experienced rabbit veterinarian should always perform spaying and neutering and rabbits require annual vet check-ups to ensure proper health.

Rabbits are also ground-based, which is great for pet owners who prefer not to have pets on the countertops or jumping into the laps of houseguests, but it also means they may not enjoy being held in person’s (adult or child) arms for long-periods of time. Rabbit.org also suggests that the “natural exuberance, rambunctiousness, and decibel-level of the average toddler is stressful for most rabbits.” Calm homes make for calm rabbits.

Rabbit Resources:

In addition the Animal Coalition of Delaware County website and blog, the House Rabbit Society offers a comprehensive guide to rabbit care and information. MakeMineChocolate.org is also an excellent resource to bring awareness about springtime rabbit adoptions and ways to help.

What You Can Do:

There are several ways you can help, but prevention is the main thrust of the Make Mine Chocolate™ campaign. Awareness of what it means to own a rabbit for a pet, or any animal for that matter, is a huge step towards preventing unwanted and abandoned pets.

Other ways you can get involved are through our volunteer programs, through fostering, by donating and of course through adoption.

When you adopt through ACDC, you open up your home and lives not only to a pet truly in need of your care, but to a community invested in insuring a successful transition. Both you and your new family member will be apart of our caring and supportive community.

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New Year’s Resolution: Keep My Family Together!

By The Tidy Cat Whisperer:

2011. It is a new year. Oh yes “whoopee”. So many people are now out celebrating the passage of time and the ritualistic saying goodbye to the year just completed and the eagerly anticipated year to be. The year we’ve just left behind-although flawed and fraught with inequities- is at least familiar territory. Some people are anxious to leave that with which they are familiar. You know, the old “change” thing. Even if we are in a bad situation, we HATE change. The new year ahead?  Unknown territory, and therefore subject to much speculation-and not just where people are concerned.

The Stinky Cat and the Tidy Cat Whisperer (TCW) don’t always agree on everything: but one thing we DO see eye to eye on is the fact that, in the year just completed more pets have been turned into animal shelters and rescues than the aforementioned shelters have room for. Which means that some of these pets never find a second chance for love and a forever home. It is the sad, yet inevitable result of life in a post-economic-meltdown world.

One of the prime reasons that cats and dogs are turned into shelters is due to dreaded “inappropriate elimination”: in other words, failure to use the litterbox (cats) or poor housetraining habits (dogs).  Many rescues and shelters are overwhelmed by more strays than in previous years, coupled with more animals turned in due to financial considerations than usual. Today’s new “economic reality” has been a disaster for animal rescues and shelters, not to mention most human welfare resources. That is why TCW and Stinky  Cat are here: to help.

According to TCW, “often all too often litterbox issues could have been avoided if a little more thought and planning had been in place.” In other words, if you already have a cat and you are not sure how your cat would react to another cat in your home, then before you decide to bring a new cat in do some research. Ask your vet how to integrate a new cat into an environment with an existing cat. Ask friends who have multiple cats how they were able to integrate the cats. And for pete’s sake, ask all these questions BEFORE you make the decision to bring another animal into your house. And, although declawing a cat makes life convenient for people, it quite often makes life for your cat very inconvenient and in many cases can lead to inappropriate urination.

The Stinky Cat adds that “inconsistent housebreaking or lack of any sort of training at all can contribute to a dog’s poor housetraining habits. A dog without proper housebreaking is not the fault of the dog; it is the fault of the people who did not spend the time to train.” Typical life situation: Cute puppy, family loves the puppy, brings the puppy home. All is right with the world. Then reality sets in. Mom & dad work 8 hours a day, kids are in school, no one has time to house train the dog. Yet, the dog is the one who pays the price by being turned into the local shelter, where an uncertain future awaits. Note to dog owners: no matter how old the dog is, it is never too late to house train a dog. It CAN be done-and often is very successfully.

Unfortunately people all too often choose the “easy” way out, either by medication (Xanax, Buspar) or by simply deciding that they can no longer “deal with the situation” and the only alternative is to rehome the pet. This blogpost is a plea to ALL pet owners to please consider every option before making the decision to rehome your pet.

Many vets, rescue groups, dog trainers and shelters will spend time working with you and your pet to try and help resolve the issues that might prevent you and your pet from enjoying your “furrever time” together. In a world that has morphed into moment-to-moment, day-by-day, we remind you that one way to ensure the stability of your own household is to make sure the needs of all the members of your household-including your pets- are properly attended to.

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Does the Fourth of July cause your pet to panic?

By Nikki Senecal

When I was growing up, we had a 125-pound Doberman Pinscher. Many people were scared of Humphrey, but there was only one thing he was frightened by: thunder. At the first sign of a summer storm, he would huddle under the dining room table shaking pathetically. It made you want to crawl under the table to hug and reassure him.

That, it turns out, is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Animals who are frightened by loud noises—like thunder or 4th of July fireworks–shouldn’t be babied; that can reinforce the fearful behavior. Nor should you punish an animal for his fears.

Finding A Place to Feel Safe
Letting your dog or cat find a place where they feel safe, however, is one of the many things you can do to help ease phonophobia, whether the cause is thunderstorms, fireworks, or the vacuum cleaner. Allow your cat to hide out under the bed or in a small space. Perhaps put a bed in a closet and let them know it is there. Leave your dog’s crate open—and throw a blanket over it to create a more cave-like space. Rabbits and guinea pigs should be given extra bedding, so they can burrow for comfort.  Wherever your pet finds comfort, don’t try to lure them out; it could increase their stress.

When you know loud noises will occur, like the upcoming 4th of July holiday, your pets should be inside. Make sure the doors and windows are closed, in case the stress causes your pet to attempt an escape. To prepare for this possibility, make sure Fluffy and Fido’s tags are attached and up-to-date.

You could try turning on a radio or television loudly to drown out the outdoor sounds. Your pet is used to having strange sounds come from these devices.

Training
Desensitization training may work for your dog. This technique involves exposing your dog to low levels of the anxiety producing noise while performing positive activities, like obedience training or playing games. However, trainers usually recommend starting this training before you need the dog to behave. Dogs who are afraid of fireworks, should be trained during the winter, for example.

Find a recording of the noise that your pet is afraid of. While playing the sounds at a barely audible volume, engage your pet in an activity like obedience or trick training. Give food or other rewards during the activity when the pet accomplishes what he is supposed to. If your dog shows signs of fear, stop and try again later, playing the recording at an even lower level. It is important that you don’t reward your pup while he is fearful or anxious. Sessions should last about five to 10 minutes.

As training progresses, gradually increase the volume for each session. Because dogs aren’t good at generalizing, you should repeat the exercise in various rooms. When your pup does not show fear when the recording is played at a loud volume, you may want to try playing the recording when you are away from the house for a short time. When Fido appears to have lost his fear, the sessions can be reduced to one per week. These sessions may need to be repeated at regular intervals over the course of your time together. Finally, during a storm or the Fourth of July, use the same activities and rewards you used in the training sessions.

Medication

  • Appeasing pheromones are available for both dogs (DAP) and cats (Feliway). These chemicals mimic the pheromones produced by lactating mothers that give puppies and kittens a sense of well-being. The result is a calmer, less stressed animal.
  • Melatonin can be used in both dogs and cats. Several articles published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association show that melatonin has a sedative effect. One trainer I know uses it for her German Shepherds who are afraid of thunderstorms.
  • Other medications, like xanax, can be prescribed by your veterinarian if your pet has more severe anxiety.

Although some of these treatments are available without a prescription, you should discuss all of these options with your vet.

Alternative Therapies
Anxiety Wrap – According to some experts, pressure applied to large areas of the body can be comforting. Although no scientific studies have been done on this therapy, T-Touch and Temple Grandin’s “Hug Machine” are both examples of this theory put in practice. There are a number of “maintained pressure” jackets available on the market.

Whatever you do, project a calm attitude. Your pet looks to you for guidance. If you show no fear, it may be calming for your rabbit, guinea pig, dog, or cat. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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How Do I Know My Pet is Sick?

Knowing what to watch for in your pet's behavior can help catch illnesses early.

By Nikki Senecal 

 
There are many times I wish my dog could talk, but that feeling is compounded by worry when she seems to be feeling ill. (Talking animals would make the vet’s job easier too!) 

   

If we remember that we’re mammals too, diagnosing our pets can be a little easier. How do you know you’re sick? Vomiting, diarrhea, appetite changes, abnormal bleeding, and lethargy signal something’s wrong in humans. It turns out many of these symptoms signal problems for our pets too.      

Guinea Pig     

  • Bloated abdomen
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

Rabbit   

  • Loud tooth grinding
  • Very hot or very cold ears
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Labored breathing
  • Drooling or a wet chin
  • Loss of balance or head tilt
  • Abnormal fecal pellets (smaller, irregular shape, droppings laced with fur)
  • Loss of appetite or lethargy

Cat   

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Stops using the litter box or strains upon elimination
  • Develops puffiness or a lump under the skin
  • Hides for more than a day
  • Becomes ill-tempered or doesn’t want to be touched
  • Increased head shaking
  • Changes his routine or loses interest in his favorite games
  • Stops grooming
  • The “third eyelid” (nictitating membrance) emerges from the corner of his eye

Dog   

  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased drinking
  • Vomiting or unproductive retching
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or bloody feces
  • Unexplained, sudden weight loss
  • Seizure
  • Pale gums or tongue
  • Increased panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Straining to urinate, decreased urination, or bloody urination
  • Inflamed ears or skin, or smelly ears
  • Discharge from ears, eyes, or nose
  • Difficulty walking or lameness
  • Head shaking

Take notes on changes in your pet’s habits and health and take him/her to the vet at the first sign of concern. Your vet will want to know details of your pet’s symptoms, including when they began. Until animals learn to talk, your pet needs you to speak for her.

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