Thursday, February 16, 2006

Helping Missy breathe easier

Miss Buns has a chronic respiratory infection called Pseudomonas that was diagnosed in December of 2004. This bacterial infection is very difficult to get rid of. My vet and I have been treating her for more than a year now with various bunny-safe antibiotics and still every culture and sensitivity test we do comes back positive. I've more or less given up on the idea that we'll ever cure her of it (I'm not willing to subject her to a cocktail of strong, injectable antibiotics) so I concentrate my efforts on coping with and keeping the infection in check. When her breathing gets bad and she starts sneezing too much I dose her with 10 days of Baytril and that seems to do the trick for a month or two. Twice a day I clean the crusty stuff from around her runny eye to keep the fur on her cheek from falling out. She enjoys this extra attention and daily *grooming* from me and generally won't struggle as I wash her cheek fur and comb through it with a small flea comb. Sometimes she gets pissed and will nip me if I'm not careful and pull at her skin.

Every so often her breathing sounds just horrible and I can see that she is congested and struggling to breathe through her stuffy nose. Today was such a day. My vet was kind enough to loan me a nebuliser machine (used by people with asthma) to treat this congestion. I use a very weak mixture of a liquid antibiotic and saline solution in the nebulising machine. Then, I corner Missy and hold the mouthpiece in front of her face so that she has to breathe in the medicated mist. We've done this often enough that she is no longer freaked out by the mist floating past her nose, nor is she bothered by the sound of the machine. She'll sit quietly for the 5 minutes or so that the treatment lasts and will sometimes nibble hay from her litterbox or wash her face in the adorable way that bunnies do. None of it seems to faze her at all, thankfully. Lately, she is so comfortable that she *chins* the mouthpiece, claiming it as *hers*. Once we've finished, I always give her a favorite treat to reward her for behaving. I also give a treat to Freckles who lives on the other side of the lattice wall you can see in this photo. A favorite and convenient treat is a few craisins which she gobbles up quickly.

The nebulsing has a dramatic effect on her breathing and I'm thankful to my vet for suggesting it as an alternative treatment. I know a few people who nebulise their rabbits every day to treat chronic respiratory problems and they've all said that their bunnies handle it well. For Missy, I think it's the craisins when we're finished that make it worth the bother. And she does breathe easier afterwards. She always feels well enough for a treat!


Rita said...

You might try melaleuca (tea tree) oil. It's fragrant, a natural antibiotic, and I have used it with hot steam when my breathing is particularly labored.

Check with the vet for bunny safety, of course, but you can safely use tea tree oil topically, mixed with shampoos, lotions, dirctly on cuts or abrasions, ingested with vitamin supplements, even dripped into teas.

Good stuff.

LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Rita. I'll have to check it out with some friends who use homeopathic stuff with their rabbits. I've been looking for something other than an abx to add to the saline solution, because I'm nebbing long-term and sporadically - I don't need to make the infection any more abx resistant.

Thanks for the visit and comment.