If you are advised by our veterinary surgeons to provide assisted feeding to your rabbit, here is our guide to doing so.
What equipment do you need?
As rabbits are commonly nervous animals, it is important to ensure you have everything you need ready before handling them.
Syringe – a large nozzle syringe is ideal as it will be easier to draw up the fibrous meal
Towel – may be needed to wrap or secure your rabbit
Food – already mixed as per instructions on packaging
What food should I use?
There are a few options of fibrous critical care feeds available for rabbits that are not eating for themselves, such as products produced by Burgess, Supreme, Oxbow.
How do I handle my rabbit for syringe feeding?
Some rabbits may be willing to take the feed from the syringe sitting on the floor or in your lap, however others will be more resistant. If they are wriggling or resisting then it is best to place them in a towel to help them feel more secure.
Place your towel out on the floor with your rabbit in the middle and their head at the edge of the longest section. Fold the towel from shoulder to bottom on both sides making sure that the front legs are secured inside and fold the remaining section to cover their bottom. If you have another person in the household, it can be very useful to have extra hands to help.
Always remain as calm as possible to reduce your rabbit’s stress levels.
How should I completed the syringe feeding?
With your syringe filled with some critical feed, place the end into the large space in your rabbit’s mouth just behind their front teeth (incisors) and in front of their premolars. Angle the syringe slightly towards the back of their mouth and very slowly start pressing the plunger to gently dispense the food and avoid aspiration.
Only feed in small quantities such as 2-4ml at a time to allow your rabbit to chew, swallow and have a rest. If your rabbit is showing signs of chewing and swallowing, this can be repeated until your have fed around 5-10ml.
Some rabbits may be more reluctant and the food may dribble out their mouth, please keep trying as long as the food is being spat back out. Do not continue if you cannot see them chewing, swallowing or food not being spat out. If they are not tolerating the syringe feeding, please contact the veterinary practice for further guidance.
Always check the instructions of the critical feed for further instructions on how often to repeat, typically it can be between 2-6 hours but this can vary.