Bunny behaviour, Tofu Tuesday
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Tofu Tuesday: 10 tips for looking after a blind rabbit

tofu-star-glasses

Uh oh, another surgery

So…last week, Tofu’s corneal ulcer went from completely healed to a brand new corneal ulcer followed by a very bad infection. A corneal ulcer is just a fancy word for a scratch on the surface of the eye. With a blind eye that is constantly open, it is prone to things poking in there and scratching the surface which can quickly lead to infection. By quickly, I mean quickly! On Thursday it was decided by the vet he must have his eye removed (enucleation).

As much as it breaks our hearts to put him through another surgery (this will be his third surgery this year), we were partly glad that he won’t ever have to deal with another eye infection again. If this infection had healed with antibiotics, could we really go running to the vet every other week for a new infection and more antibiotics?

The surgery went smoothly and apparently Tofu was hungry right after surgery which is a sign of a happy rabbit. He’s been eating lots at home. He has a painkiller once a day and has been on a small course of preventative antibiotics. I read that parsley and coriander (cilantro) are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants so Tofu has been given as much of those as he can eat. It’s a good thing he loves them!

Tofu has had cataracts in both eyes for a few years rendering him mostly blind and earlier this year, after corneal ulcer and eye infection, he had his left eye removed (enucleation). Because his loss of sight has been gradual, he has adapted to blindness really well. As long as we don’t move things around or put things in his way, he’s navigates his domain with ease. His bunny GPS works very well.

Grounded

For the next 2 weeks, as prescribed by the vet, Tofu is being kept inside while he recovers from surgery.

Tofu has other ideas and has been yearning to go outside to play. Less than 12 hours after surgery, Tofu ran to the back door and waited to be let outside. I tried telling him that he wasn’t allowed outside for 2 weeks but I don’t think he understands. I feel like such a mean bunny mama but it’s for his own good. Restricting his area will help him heal. Right now, he has no fluff on the right side of his face and so he could easily bump his stitches by being too rambunctious.

I put up some bunny barricades (a long painting and a cardboard box) in front of the kitchen door so that he can’t get into the kitchen or access the back door. The kitchen has 8 clothes horse legs, 4 table legs and 24 chair legs. That’s 36 things that a blind rabbit could potentially bump into.

Yesterday morning, Tofu the bunny broke through the bunny barricade and escaped out the open back door while I was outside. He almost made it down the deck stairs before I arrested him for trespassing. So close baby. So close. I’m keeping the kitchen door locked for now. Yes, it’s kind of weird that we have a lock for the kitchen but now I see how handy it is.

We’ve already had a post-surgery re-visit with the vet and everything is going well. Swelling is down, weight is steady, temperature is good, appetite is up.

Doing the right thing

It’s never easy trying to figure out what the right thing to do is when it comes to sick pets. There is no right or wrong answer but after a very short consideration, The Koala and I both agreed that we would try surgery. I read a few pieces online about when the right time is right to let your pet go and Tofu isn’t there yet.

It might be time to consider euthanasia if your pet is…

  • Suffering untreatable pain.
  • Unable to eat or drink normally.
  • Unable to breathe properly.
  • Is incontinent and unable to keep themselves clean.
  • Is unable to stand or move normally.
  • Has become so blind or deaf that it cannot have a fulfilled life.
  • Is ill and the emotional or financial demands of caring for it are more than you can manage.
  • …And your bunny cannot find joy in their life.

Tofu’s eye problems are treatable and the pain was diagnosed and passing. I have no doubt that surgery is what Tofu would have wanted. He’s so tough and a real trooper bouncing back so quickly. Still, now he is completely blind, I think he feels loneliness more acutely now. To combat this, we talk to him a lot, giving him plenty of attention and snuggles. He enjoys many things in his life, evident by his relaxed demeanour and plentiful teeth purring. He finds joy in his precious garden which he is looking forward to.

Tofu runs into our room at midnight each night and paws around near my side of the bed until I wake up and scoop him up onto the bed. He has been sleeping on our bed every night post-surgery. I think he finds it comforting to be near us.

He is still beautiful to us.

Disabled Rabbits Group

I couldn’t find much info online about blind rabbits, but since I joined the Disabled Rabbits Group on Facebook, I met many others who have blind rabbits. The members have given so much useful information to me.

It has been a real comfort to know there are many other blind rabbits out there. In the first 24 hours after joining the group, I saw that two more new members joined to seek information on their own blind rabbits.

I’ve compiled some info for those that are looking for tips on looking after a blind rabbit. Hopefully this is of use to someone out there while they are awaiting acceptance to the group.

It helps to talk to a blind rabbit, always announce your presence and let the first pat be very gentle so not to startle him. All of the tips make sense but might not be obvious at first.

10 tips for looking after a blind rabbit

  1. Do not move furniture around. Rabbits have a very good memory of where things are. Moving things around can be stressful.
  2. Restrict roaming area and block off access to stairs.
  3. Always place rabbit back on a “home base” so he knows exactly where he is. I use his litter box as his home base. There is no mistaking the scent of the litter box!
  4. Talk to your rabbit to let him know you are there. Actually, I sing to my bunny. I like to pretend he likes my singing.
  5. When touching your rabbit, be very gentle at first so he doesn’t get a shock.
  6. Tap the floor gently or rub your fingers together just before touching bunny or offering your hand for a sniff, so he can hear close your hand is.
  7. Blind bunnies will rely more heavily on their sense of smell. Avoid perfumes and heavy scents. You may find they will “chin” things a bit more. This is to mark things as “mine” and may help them find their way.
  8. Remove sharp corners or cover sharp corners with duct tape.
  9. A bunny friend can be a great comfort to a blind rabbit, but note that blind rabbits can be harder to bond. If you do get a bunny friend, find one that is gentle and calm. Don’t bond rabbits that are sick or recovering from surgery. Wait until they are healthy before beginning.
  10. Most of all, be patient.

If any are you are struggling with a blind bunny and need some advice or someone to talk to, feel free to contact me.

Click here to see more editions of Tofu Tuesday.

5 Comments

  1. colleenanderson says

    Awwww, poor Tofu, but he has the best humans. You’re right, he’s not ready yet to go to the green fields of bunny heaven. He’s losing his eyesight but he’s still functioning. What a little warrior he is. I never had a chance to see a geriatric bunny with the ones I had. Their deaths weren’t that nice.

    But I sit here writing this with a little fat cat purring on my lap. She has a bad hip and I’m trying to get her back to comfortably jumping on to my bed before the winter sets in. We love our little furry people and they love us. I hope Tofu heals quickly and is back to nibbling his cherished garden.

  2. Le boyfriend here is telling me to send you all our love, that you are doing the best for the little guy and we all know some decisions are super hard to make but you seem to be making the most of it. Tofu has truly proven to be a trooper.
    All of our love.

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