Considerations & Tips For Having Rabbits as Household Pets

Rabbits1

Some bunny out there wants to be a part of your family—but he has special requirements to stay happy and healthy. They can be trained to use a litter box, they’ll come when called, and some will engage their owners in a daily game of tag! Domestic rabbits are delightful companion animals. They are inquisitive, intelligent, sociable and affectionate—and if well-cared for, indoor rabbits can live for seven to ten or more years.

There’s a lot of variety among domestic rabbits. The more than 60 breeds include the Dutch, who’s very popular in the United States, droopy eared German lops and furry Cashmeres. Rabbits range in size from teeny two-pounders to the 13-pound Flemish Giant.

Rabbits and Children: Some Words of Caution

Our culture is so filled with images of children and rabbits together (think the Easter bunny and Peter Rabbit) that many parents see rabbits as low-maintenance starter pets for kids. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rabbits are physically delicate and fragile, and require specialized veterinary care which Lange Animal Clinic provides. It’s true that children are naturally energetic and loving, but “loving” to a small child means holding, cuddling, or carrying an animal around—precisely the things that frighten most rabbits. Rabbits can’t cry out when distressed. Instead, they may start to scratch or bite to protect themselves from well-meaning children. Thousands are abandoned at animal shelters every year for this reason. Many rabbits are also dropped accidentally by children, resulting in broken legs and backs. While a rabbit may be a great pet for your family, an adult should be the primary caretaker.

Cost

When you first get your rabbit, you’ll need to spend about $90 for a cage, $30 for a carrier and $25 for a litter box. Food runs about $125 a year, plus $25 annually for toys and treats, $125 for veterinary care and $400 annually for litter and bedding material.

The best place to get your bun? Adoption is your first, and best, option! There are many homeless companion rabbits at shelters and rescue groups all across the country.

Housing and Exercise

Where’s the only place for your rabbit’s cage? INDOORS! Although an outdoor hutch has been the traditional housing for a rabbit, today we know better. A backyard hutch forces these social critters to live in unnatural isolation. Furthermore, rabbits can die of heart attacks from the very approach of a predator or vandal. Keep your bunny safe indoors, where he can have plenty of interaction with family members.

They may be small, but rabbits require a lot of room for housing and exercise. They have powerful hind legs designed for running and jumping. Get your pet a cage that allows him to move freely. The minimum recommended cage space for a single rabbit of a small- to medium-sized breed is four feet wide, two feet deep and two feet tall. Although wire-bottom cages are common, they can ulcerate a rabbit’s feet. If you have a wire cage, cover the bottom with a piece of wood or corrugated cardboard. Better yet, buy a cage with a solid bottom. Please put down plenty of straw, hay or aspen shavings so your pet can make a cozy nest.

Please note, rabbits should not be housed with other rabbits unless all are spayed and neutered. Introductions are often difficult and injuries can result, so please introduce them in neutral territory, under careful supervision.

Did you know that many rabbits have been surrendered to shelters because of destructive behavior? In most cases, their owners failed to provide them with appropriate toys to fulfill their natural urges to dig and chew. Safe chew toys include cardboard boxes, an old telephone directory (that’s no joke!) and commercially made chew sticks. You buny will greatly appreciate his own digging box, such as a cardboard box filled halfway with soil or shredded paper.

Your rabbit needs a safe exercise area with ample room to run and jump, either indoors or out. Any outdoor area should be fully enclosed by a fence. Never leave a rabbit unsupervised outdoors—even for a few minutes! Cats, dogs and even predatory birds can easily get around fencing material. Also, rabbits can dig under fences and get lost. You can rabbit-proof an indoor area by covering all electrical wires and anything else your pet is likely to chew. Recommended exercise time for pet rabbits is several hours per day.

Diet

The most important component of your rabbit’s diet is grass hay, such as timothy or brome. This is crucial for keeping his intestinal tract healthy. Unlimited hay should be available at all times.

You’ll also need to feed your bunny good-quality rabbit pellets. Opt for a formula with at least 15 to 19 percent protein and 18 percent fiber. Until your pet is fully grown (around six months), he can have all the pellets he wants. After that, pellets should be limited to 1/8 to 1/4 cup per day per five pounds of bunny body weight. Pellets should be fresh and plain, without seeds, nuts or colored tidbits.

Fresh leafy greens make up a third component of your pet’s diet. He’ll enjoy dark leaf lettuces, collard greens, turnip greens and carrot tops. We recommend a minimum of two cups per six pounds of rabbit.

Clean, fresh water, dispensed in a bottle or sturdy bowl, should be available at all times.

Litter Training

Rabbits are very clean by nature, and will do their best to keep their living quarters clean. Most rabbits will choose one corner of the cage as a bathroom. As soon as your rabbit’s choice is clear, put a newspaper-lined litter box in that corner. Fill it with timothy hay (or any other grass hay except alfalfa) or pelleted-newspaper litter. If the litter box is changed daily, your rabbit’s home will stay fresh and odor-free. Don’t use pine or cedar shavings! The fumes may affect your rabbit’s liver enzymes, which can cause problems if the animal needs anesthesia for surgery. Avoid using clay cat litters (both clumping and non-clumping), as these may result in respiratory or gastrointestinal problems.

Handling and General Care

Rabbits can be messy, so you’ll need to clean your pet’s cage once or twice weekly. Put your rabbit in a safe room or alternate cage as you sweep out the cage and scrub the floor with warm, soapy water.  Pick up your rabbit by supporting his forequarters with one hand and his hindquarters with the other—failure to do so can result in spinal injuries to the rabbit. Never pick up a rabbit by his ears; this can cause very serious injury.  Brush your rabbit regularly with a soft brush to remove excess hair and keep his coat in good condition. Brush from the back of the head down to the tail. Ask your veterinarian how to clip your pet’s nails.

Health and Veterinary Care

Rabbits should be spayed or neutered by one of our Veterinarians who is experienced with rabbit surgeries. Spaying or neutering prevents unwanted litters, spraying in males and uterine cancer in females. Our primary rabbit Vetarinarian is Dr. Grimm.  Feel free to contact Dr. Grimm if you have any questions regarding proper care and health for rabbits or if you are considering adopting one.  You can reach her by email at kgrimm@langeanimalclinic.com.

You should bring your pet to Lange Animal Clinic for a check-up at least once a year. If your rabbit stops eating or moving his bowels for 12 hours or longer or has watery diarrhea, don’t wait—contact us immediately. Other signs of illness include runny nose and eyes, dark red urine, lethargy, fur loss and red, swollen skin.

Rabbit Supply Checklist

– Cage, preferably solid-bottom

– Carrier

– Good-quality rabbit pellets

– Litter box with hay or pelleted bedding

– Grass hay and hay rack

– Sturdy ceramic or metal food bowl

– Ceramic water bowl or water bottle that attaches to cage

– Grooming brush

– Digging box and safe chew toys

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Why We Bond With Our Dogs Like We Do With Babies

Some dog owners treat their dogs like their babies. While this might seem ridiculous to some, a new study in Science proves the bond between dogs and their owners can be as emotionally strong as the connection between mothers and their children.  It’s the latest in a growing body of science that explains how dogs have gained such an important place in human society.

“Owner-dog bonding is comparable to parent-infant bonding,” writes Takefumi Kikusui, from Azabu University in Japan, via email. “And this is surprising to us … because there is not a reproductive relationship between humans and dogs.”

But any dog lover who has gazed into the big eyes of a pleading pup is not surprised.  Previously, the researchers had shown the eye connection between dogs and humans increases the levels of oxytocin in people. Oxytocin, aka the “cuddle chemical,” is a hormone mammals produce in the brain that encourages bonding between mothers and their offspring. It’s also involved in partner and social bonding.

Most evidence shows this kind of connection works within a species— humans produce oxytocin because of other humans, and dogs produce it because of other dogs.  But the new study is the first to show the hormonal bonding between dog and human.  That is, the feeling is mutual.

Dogs know when we’re happy or angry

In the first experiment, the researchers measured oxytocin levels in 28 pairs of dogs and their humans before watching them interact for 30 minutes. People talked, petted, and looked at their canines. Afterward, the researchers screened oxytocin levels again.  The results:   owners and pups that gazed at one another more showed increased oxytocin.

Humans “use eye gaze for affiliative communications and [are] very much sensitive to eye contact,” says Kikusui. “Gaze, in particular, (over touch, for example) led to the release of oxytocin.”

For the second experiment, the researchers dosed 54 dogs with either a spray of saline or oxytocin in the nose. The female dogs treated with oxytocin spent more time gazing at their owners, which after 30 minutes boosted the levels of their owners’ oxytocin.  “[This] suggests that this gaze behavior is really critical in oxytocin release,” says Evan MacLean, senior research scientist and co-director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, who wrote an article about the findings. “When they receive oxytocin, this causes dogs to look more at people and the more they look, it boosts [oxytocin levels] more.”

What’s more: Wolves, which dogs descended from about 30,000 years ago, do not experience an increase in oxytocin from gaze.  “This means that dogs have acquired this superior ability during [the] evolutional/domestic process living with humans,” says Kikusui.  This provides more evidence of how deeply dogs are attuned to humans.  We make the claim that dogs might have hijacked [the oxytocin] pathway. It is in place in humans and we use this in our romantic relations and with children. And we know it is important,” says MacLean. “This is sort of an accidental thing that happens over … time.”

“This special bonding relationship with dogs is fairly unique,” he says.  So our advice… keep cuddling with your furry friends!

Dangerous Pills for Pets

Anyone who takes medication prescribed for someone else puts themselves at risk of illness or even death – and this true with your pets, as well. Although there are many medications used in both animals and people, the effects, doses needed, and other things aren’t always equivalent.

About one-quarter of all phone calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) are related to human medications being ingested by a pet. Your pet can easily ingest dropped pills or may be given harmful human medications by an unknowing owner, resulting in illness, or even death, of your pet.

The APCC provided us with the 10 most common human medication complaints they receive. Here they are, in order based on the number of complaints:

Ibuprofen – Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) is the most common human medication ingested by pets. Many brands have a sweet outer coating that makes it appealing to pets (think “M&M,” but a potentially deadly one). Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

Tramadol – Tramadol (Ultram®) is a pain reliever. Your veterinarian may prescribe it for your pet, but only at a dose that’s appropriate for your pet – never give your medication to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian! Too much tramadol can cause sedation or agitation, wobbliness, disorientation, vomiting, tremors and possibly seizures.

Alprazolam – Alprazolam (Xanax®) is prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication and a sleep-aid. Most pets that ingest alprazolam can become sleepy and wobbly; however a few will become very agitated instead. These pills are commonly ingested by pets as people put them out on the nightstand so they remember to take them. Large doses of alprazolam can drop the blood pressure and could cause weakness or collapse.

Adderall® – Adderall® is a combination of four different amphetamines and is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. This medication doesn’t have the same effect in pets as it does in people; it acts as a stimulant in our pets and causes elevated heart rate and body temperature, along with hyperactivity, tremors and seizures.

Zolpidem – Zolpidem (Ambien®) is a sleep-aid for people. Pets commonly eat pills left on the bedside table. Zolpidem may make cats wobbly and sleepy, but most pets become very agitated and develop elevated heart rates.

Clonazepam – Clonazepam (Klonopin®) is used as an anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety medication. It is sometimes also prescribed as a sleep-aid. When animals ingest clonazepam they can become sleep and wobbly. Too much clonazepam can lower the blood pressure, leading to weakness or collapse.

Acetaminophen – Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a very common pain killer found in most households. Cats are extremely sensitive to acetaminophen, but dogs can be affected too. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. It can also cause damage to your pet’s red blood cells so that the cells are unable to carry oxygen – like your body, your pet’s body needs oxygen to survive.

Naproxen – Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®) is an over-the-counter pain reliever. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to naproxen and even small amounts can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

Duloxetine – Duloxetine (Cymbalta®) is prescribed as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety agent. When ingested by pets it can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.

Venlafaxine – Venlafaxine (Effexor®) is an antidepressant. For some unknown reason, cats love to eat the capsules. Ingestion can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.

As you can tell from this list, a medication that does one thing for people does not necessarily do the same for our pets. And although this may be the list of the medications about which the APCC receives the largest numbers of complaints, remember that any human medication could pose a risk to your pets and not just those listed above.

We recommend the following guidelines to keep your pets safe:

  • Always keep human medications away from pets unless you are specifically instructed by a veterinarian to give the medication;
  • Do not leave pills sitting on counter or any place a pet can get to them;
  • Do not leave pill bottles within reach of pets (You’ll be surprised how fast your dog can chew through a pill bottle.);
  • If you’re taking medications out of the bottle and you drop any of it, pick it up immediately so you know your pet won’t be able to eat it;
  • Always contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested any medication not prescribed for them;
  • Never give your medication (or any medications prescribed for a two-legged family member) to your pet without first consulting a veterinarian.

…and last, but not least, always keep the number for Lange Animal Clinic handy (309-347-4679) and the APCC number handy (1-888-426-4435). You don’t want to be looking for it in an emergency situation!

International Assistance Dog Week August 2 – 8

servicedog

Each year, beginning on the first Sunday in August, the staff at Lange Animal Clinic celebrates the hard work and heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs around the world. This year, International Assistance Dog Week falls on August 2, 2015 – August 8, 2015.

Where the acceptance of service dogs is concerned, we’ve made great strides in the United States over the last year. For example, New Jersey lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at educating employees on the rights of citizens with a disability to have a guide or service dog with them in public places. This came about after an incident in 2013 involving a legally blind man who was ordered to remove his dog from a store, even after providing proof that his dog was a trained service animal.

In other places in the country, children are being taught about proper etiquette when dealing with service dogs, which is a fantastic step toward increased safety for the disabled, the dog, and the children.  Unfortunately, even in light of all of these positive changes, the process continues to be a slow and tedious one.  Raising awareness about the importance of these animals is going to require many more years of dedication on all of our parts.   These dogs are more than just pets to the people they serve.  They change lives in profound and positive ways, and refusing to welcome them into public places is not the way that they should be treated.

This time next year, we’re looking forward to sharing more progress and positive updates about the acceptance of service dogs.  Here’s how you can help:

  • If you are the owner or manager of a business, we want to encourage you to teach your employees about the importance of service animals and the work they do. You might even consider learning more about how service dogs are actually changing the workplace.
  • International Assistance Dog Week hosts fundraising events all over the United States. If you’re lucky, there will be one in your town this year, which is a great opportunity to support this very important cause.  You can find a local IADW event by clicking HERE.

Download the New, Free ASPCA Harmful Substances App!

We wanted to share with all of you that the ASPCA has just launched a very useful free app for smartphones and tablets which quickly and easily allows you to gather critical information on substances that may be harmful to your pet(s) based off their species!

With just a few swipes, you can:

  • Lookup, by species, substances of all sorts to determine if they may or may not be harmful to your pet(s).
  • Easily select which item you are searching for in based on their quick selection menu.
  • Gain access to colorful images for easy identification, level of toxicity, side effects, and actions to take for each item listed.
  • Complete access to their “chocolate wheel” and “rodentislide”, quickly helping you determine the level of severity for your pet if these substances are consumed.
  • Quickly contact the ASPCA 24/7/365 hotline number, with full access to their specially trained staff and toxicologists in a click of a button.

Below are some screen shots of this new free app which is available for download:

smartphone screenshots

To download the app based on your device- click on either one of these links:

DOWNLOAD NOW

Downloadicon-Apple

Downloadicon-Android


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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It’s Going to Be a HOT & HUMID Day in Pekin Today- Keep Your Pets at Home and Please Share This with Friends & Family

dogsleftincar

Today, the temperatures in Pekin and the surrounding areas are supposed to hit the low 90’s.  Bella, Dotty, Jake, and Snickers…sure, they’re fairly common pet names, but they’re also the names of just a few of the pets that died last year because they were left in cars on warm (and not necessarily hot) days while their owners were shopping, visiting friends or family, or running errands. What’s so tragic is that these beloved pets were simply the victims of bad judgment.

Want numbers? An independent study1 showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. And cracking the windows doesn’t help….

Temp in Cars Table

…add to that the fact that most pets are not properly restrained while in the car, and you’ve got some dangerous situations – for people and pets alike. Unrestrained pets can be seriously or fatally injured, or could even hurt you, in a collision or sudden braking situation. In addition, they’re a distraction for the driver, which increases the risk of driver errors. According to a 2010 American Automobile Association (AAA) survey, 2 out of 3 owners engage in distracting behaviors (playing with, feeding or petting their dog, or letting their dog sit in their lap) when pets are in the car…and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 20% of injury crashes involve distracted driving.

Please don’t become another statistic: only take your pets in the vehicle with you when you absolutely need to, and always properly restrain your pets while in the vehicle.

How can you help prevent these injuries and deaths?

  • Learn more about keeping your pet safe during travel;
  • Set a good example by leaving your pet(s) at home except when you need to have them in the vehicle;
  • Set a good example by always properly restraining your own pet(s) while in a vehicle;
  • Educate clients, family and friends about these issues and how they can keep their pet(s) safe;
  • SHARE THIS POST!

Here is a video of a well known Veterinarian, Dr. Ernie Ward, who locked himself in his car armed with a thermometer to see what it feels like for an animal in the same scary situation. With him, he brought a clock and a video camera and narrated his experience as the time ticked and the mercury level rose.

https://youtu.be/JbOcCQ-y3OY


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Our Services
Setup an Appointment

Dental Cleanings for Cats and Dogs- Importance and Benefits

Professional dental cleaning performed by a Lange Animal Clinic Veterinarian is often indicated when periodontal disease is present.  Our own teeth are scaled by a dentist or hygienist – we sit in the chair and open our mouth when requested, letting the professional do their work. While the principles of good oral hygiene and dental health are the same for dogs and cats as for people, there are some significant differences. Humans understand why the procedure is important, and we typically do not need sedation or restraint. Neither is true for our pets.

Here are some very interesting statistics and facts:

  • Eighty-five percent of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age.
  • Dental disease can result in bad breath, painful chewing, and tooth loss.
  • Bacteria under the gum can travel to the heart, kidneys, and liver.
  • A professional dental cleaning is required to remove plaque and tartar from a pet’s teeth and to assess the health of the mouth.
  • A thorough dental cleaning requires that the pet be under anesthesia.
  • Regular at-home dental care can help improve the health of your pet’s mouth and lengthen the intervals between professional dental cleanings.

Another important difference between human and veterinary dental practice is that we tell the dentist when there is discomfort; to ensure that nothing is missed in dogs or cats, our patients require a thorough oral examination as part of a dental scaling procedure. Additionally, bloodwork is required in advance of a dental cleaning to ensure your pet is not experiencing any other health concerns.  Occasionally, a Lange Animal Clinic Veterinarian may recommend dental radiographs as well.

Dental


Every professional dental cleaning starts with a review of the patient’s general health and any previous dental history. For a thorough, safe dental cleaning in veterinary patients, anesthesia is essential, as this permits a comprehensive assessment of the tissues, allows dental radiographs to be made when indicated, keeps the pet immobile during the process, and eliminates pain or discomfort- followed by the cleaning (scaling and polishing procedure) itself above and below the gum-line. “Non-anesthetic or Anesthesia-free dental scaling” is not recommended by American Veterinary Dental Council (AVDC).

Depending on the overall health of the teeth, there may need to be tooth extractions for those where periodontal disease have severely damaged them.  This process is performed during the cleaning and we do our best to communicate this to our clients in advance of the dental cleaning procedure.  However, once we are actually able to get under the gum line we may, from time to time, discover the roots of a tooth is damaged to the point it should be removed.

Overall, dental cleaning for dogs and cats is a very important treatment that should be performed.  Your pet will feel better afterwards and the quality of life will be improved.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

About Us 
Our Services
Setup an Appointment