General Bunny advice?

  • #1
Back in November, I added a second bunny to our family. Penelope Pit stop was born on 2/9/2014 and in November, Nelly came to live with us.

It very quickly became clear to me that Nelly wasn't a very healthy bunny. The first night I had her, Fudgie was banned from the front room, the Baby was in bed and Nelly had free run.

After about an hour, she started sneezing. This first episode lasted about 45minutes and she was sneezing two or three times a second for the entire duration. Needless to say, being in a new home, she was terrified if I went too near her. It was heartbreaking.

That night, she started again and this time it lasted about three hours. The next morning, I took her straight to the vet.

She was swabbed and tested positive for Pasteurella. Not unusual, as most bunnies will test positive for Pasteurella but that she was exhibiting symptoms showed a lowered immune system and an underlying issue.

The underlying issue turned out to be a chronic respiratory disease, that she likely will have all her life. She has fortnightly check ups at the vet, where she receives antI biotic and some sort of steroid.

The issue I'm having is that nothing seems to be helping her sneezing. The episodes haven't decreased in duration or severity. During the episodes she is rendered paralysed as she sneezes so often, she physically can't do anything. After three hours of sneezing, the poor girl is exhausted. She will let me carry her to her pen now, and I move her as she starts and make sure she has a bowl of water right by her, as well as some leafy greens so she can build up her strength.

Fudge now lives with my Mum as I was terrified of her catching Nelly's lurgy.

I'm after a bit of advice on reducing the amount of dust that could set off her sneezing. Generally;

What sort of litter do you use?

Being a bunny, she needs constant access to hay, but this makes me sneeze... surely it won't help her. Is there an alternative that still provides the fibre and nutrition of hay? Would grass work?

Has your bunny ever had pasteurella and what helped your bunny recover? I know Nelly has the underlying respiratory disease but I'm trying to help her beat off the pasteurella so she has more strength to fight the disease.

What sort of things does your bunny like to play with? I want her healthy time to be happy time so I'd like to give her plenty to occupy herself with. She has plenty of toys and odds but you can never have too many!

Where does your bunny feel safest? Where do they run when they're afraid? Fudge runs and humps her teddy, Nelly has no interest in that so I'm not too sure what else to do, other than give her her big cage with houses and hides holes in.

Of course, I'm following the vets advice. I find that sometimes, real advice is just as valuable and it's not really medical advice I'm after, just some more ways to love her!

So, generally speaking, do you have any tips to give her a good life? Treats and toys? Bedding and hides? Litter and food? Anything your bunny loves, I want to hear!

Thanks guys.xx
Thai Aquarium owner
  • #2
We have 2 rabbits running in our garden during the day here in Thailand, and were bought together as little babies.
Fatty and Daisy Bunny have the run of the garden , and play with anything they like as stimulation - from the garden hose to the trees to the brush in the porch ( 3rd hose now and lost count of the number of brushes).
Both of them treat our garden as a huge salad bowl, but they are fed 2 times a day with fresh kale, and a commercial grass pellet food.
As for there feeling secure, ever since they were very small their house was a wire cage about 2 ft square, and when they got too big for that, I made them a much, much larger cage, but the original cage is inside the large one, and they associate that with food and safety, and will run to that if feeling threatened by a cat or something.
Our bunnies are each now over 4 years old, and seem to be very happy and healthy
  • #3
My wife and I have two mini-lops that we adopted from a nearby farm. We joined some house rabbit societies. They have websites with free information that is invaluable on topics of health, food, bedding, etc.

Food depends on how old the bunny is. Let me back up a bit and address bedding. Many people use those wood shavings. DON'T use them. They can contribute to respiratory illnesses and also cause bunnies to sneeze. Here's an example of the wood shavings to avoid (in general avoid ALL wood shavings):

Our two bunnies live in a dog playpen in our living room. Underneath is some carpet we bought at the local DIY. The carpet is roughly 7ft long by 3ft wide. The playpen is set back about 4-6 inches from each edge.

We have no bedding on the floor of their playpen. We use as the litter for their litter box.

I strongly urge you to AVOID any scented products. Many places like to sell scented bedding or litter. The bunnies don't like it and it can be bad for them.

Bunnies need a nonstop supply of hay. People think rabbits eat carrots and other vegetables when their diet is over 70% timothy hay. Non-adult bunnies can have alfalfa hay but adult bunnies need timothy hay as their primary food.

We use because that is the farm our bunnies came from. But, any timothy hay is fine. In contrast read what is said about alfalfa hay at:

Unless your vet says otherwise always give limitless timothy hay and water (in either a bottle or bowl, depending on what your bunnies prefer). Bunnies need to constantly eat and to constantly eat hay to keep their digestive tract moving. If they don't they can get GI stasis where foodstuffs are stuck in their digestive tract. If that happens they can die without early diagnosis and speedy treatment by a vet.

Other Food
The House Rabbit Society has a great article on vegetables to feed your bunnies. Our local rabbit specialist vet always defers to them for food suggestions.

Near the bottom of that article are some helpful lists. I keep those lists at the ready when I do the weekly grocery shopping.

Some quick tips that I've learned about our bunnies. Leafy greens should be 75% of the bunny's vegetable food. The article says how much to feed. There's 2 categories of leafy greens. One category are low in a certain type of acid. Those are the BEST ones to feed regularly.

From that category here are some our bunnies love:

The top 6 we buy every week
Red or green lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Cilantro ****Great when their tummies are giving trouble*****
Dandelion greens
Mint (any variety)
Bok Choy ****high in calcium, stay away if there's white sludgy stuff in the litter box so we stay away from it*****

Bunnies can also have a tiny tiny bit of non-leafy vegetables and/or fruit as a special treat every once in a while. This includes carrots...just do it rarely. We've given our bunnies a tiny bit of carrot, banana, apple, or blueberry as a special treat from time to time.


This is similar to the hay. Younger bunnies need alfalfa pellets and older ones need timothy pellets. has more information about that near the middle and bottom of the page.

Some other bits of info. Bunnies are very smart. They need time out from their cage/playpen every day. They like to explore and spend time with you. Keep them entertained and their minds working otherwise they may prove destructive.

Keep your electrical cables protected or out the way. Bunnies like to chew on them and that could be their last time.

As to toys it depends on each bunny's personality. Our's like to jump on things, hide under things, chew, toss stuff around, dig etc. You can find toys that motivate what they're inclined to do.

Best of luck with everything moving forward.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Thank you ever so much!

I'm sure her hay is exacerbating her symptoms but I'm well aware of the risks of GI statis and was just wondering if there was an alternative. I'm happy to carry on giving her hay, to which she has constant access.

She's a juvie, so she has a bit of alfalfa hay but it's mainly timothy. I struggled to get Fudge off Alfalfa onto timothy so I decided to start Nelly straight away.

She has two table spoons of junior pellets a day and I don't use the last part of the bag as it tends to be dustier.

She's a house bun, with free run of the house. As I had a house bun before, I'm (luckily) bunny proofed to the rafters!

She has Kale, spinach, savoy cabbage, dandelion greens, clover, spring greens, and other green leafy things daily. I give her a handful of three kinds of veg.

She's never had carrot as I've heard of issues with calcium build up in their urine tract, caused by carrots. But she does have carrot greens.

She has a bowl of water in every room of the house, which I refill twice daily.

For bedding, she has a blanket. Fleece, no silk or stitching. Litter is shredded paper.

She's a very calm ,quiet bunny who has never stomped her feet or barked. She's never darted off, she comes to me when she's scared, so I'lltry giving her a few more hidey holes around and see if any take her fancy.

She's content to just be around people, she doesn't really play or chew anything. So I'll let her have a play with a few new bits and bobs, perhaps buy her a few random household items to destroy (fudge loved headphones. Lost £100s of headphones!) as she doesn't seem interested in anything I've offered her.

Thank you ever so much guys. I really appreciate it. Nelly sends lots of binkies.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I've just discovered Readigrass. It's dehydrated grass as opposed to dried and looks less dusty. Going to give it a whirl.xx

  • #6
Do you try soaking hay? I've done it for horses already when it was too dusty.
I think this was already mentioned, but another alternative is to feed hay pellets.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Oooh thank you.

She has pellets and hay. I'm just searching for the least dusty things I can possibly find!

Cheers for the tip.xx
  • #8
No problem. Just google soaking horse hay and a whole bunch of info should pop up. You might want to use an onion bag just to keep it neat. Just put the hay in the bag and put it in a glass in the sink and run water on it like that. IME, the dustier the hay, the longer you soak it. The dustier hay requires running water for a while. So in horse terms, that means putting the hay in a large bucket, sticking the hose in, and leaving it overflowing for a good 15 minutes.

Edit: here's some links I found

This link covers nutrition of soaked hay

Another thing you can do, if you don't already, is to find some horse hay for sale. Make sure it's for horses and not cows. Around here, they're about $4 and it lasts quite a long time. If you have room, that's quite a money saver.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Thank you ever so much. The readiness is £10 per kg so it would have been mega pricey. This sounds a much better idea. Thanks for the links. Very interesting info!xx

  • #10
You're welcome! I hope it was able to help
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I feel better about giving her hay now, that's a great help! Fingers crossed she'll be able to enjoy munching on it now, rather than avoiding it!

Thanks Blue.x
  • #12
Nelly sends lots of binkies.

lol, can never get enough of these. Best of luck with your rabbit. They're fantastic animals aren't they. That's interesting about the soaked hay. Let us know how that worked for you.

On a side note, for bunny happiness: ours LOVES his "hay tower"!
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
She would love that!!! I just had a fish and plants delivery so I have some boxes, I might throw something together whilst I look for one!

The soaked hay has worked wonders. She still sneezes, but not for hours. Five minutes or so. Everyone is happier, getting more sleep and feeling perkier.

I've been looking at pellet-less diets and they seem very complex and nutritionally unstable. But with the progress made so far, with a couple of other changes, I'm not too concerned about dusty pellets any more.

Thank you!xx

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