A Hare-raising Raisin Tale

Raisin the rabbit hopped into our office one day with a history of a poor appetite.

How poor?

Well, Raisin’s daily intake slowly dwindled for more than one week, and by the time he came in for an exam, he had not eaten one blade of hay for days.

The Kim family was very worried.

“Dr. Kaya, Raisin has not eaten for more than three days. He still drinks some water, but without any food he’ll die,” said Mr. Kim.

As I questioned the Kims about Raisin’s diet, I found out that, true to his name, Raisin loved raisins. He ate about a dozen raisins a day. I explained to Mr. Kim that raisins are not the best treat for rabbits. The high sugar content encourages “bad” bacteria to flourish in the intestines, and ultimately led to an imbalance of Raisin’s natural flora. This imbalance can cause a condition called GI stasis, which simply means the gastrointestinal system comes to a screeching halt.

Raisin’s physical exam revealed a full stomach. The food contained within had probably been there for more than a week because of GI stasis. With his intestines stuck in limbo, gas produced by bacteria had built up and made Raisin very uncomfortable. On a positive note, bunny gas doesn’t smell.

I prescribed some antibiotics, probiotics and other medication to jump-start Raisin’s intestinal tract. Our staff also taught Mr. Kim how to syringe-feed Raisin a watered-down hay and pellet slurry. Within days he should be good as new, or so I thought.

One week passed without any change. Another week rolled by, and Raisin was still not eating. Fearing that maybe the medications were not being given properly or that the hand-feeding lacked a “professional’s touch,” I offered to take Raisin to my home so that I could personally oversee his treatments. I felt confident that after a couple of days at the “Kaya Rehab Center” I’d have Raisin back to his old self.

I was wrong. After three days of strictly following my own instructions, Raisin still didn’t eat. Extremely worried and a bit frustrated, I decided to take Raisin into our yard to get some sun and exercise while I contemplated what to do next for my anorexic buddy. I made sure that the fence was secured and that any crawl space was blocked off with a brick or two. The last thing I wanted was to have Raisin disappear under the fence and scamper down the street.

As I sat deep in thought, I looked up and saw Raisin quietly munching on grass. Fighting back the urge to jump up and yodel with glee, I watched as a few minutes later he hopped over to our papaya tree and started to gnaw on the bark. He then nibbled away at some fresh and dried leaves that were strewn about the yard. Occasionally I would also see him licking dirt in what I assumed was an attempt to get some minerals. This activity continued for the next 30 minutes, then Raisin took a little nap under our longan tree.

For the next few days, Raisin and I would make our way to the fenced-in yard for our daily therapy. This “nature” remedy was a simple reminder of where our furry little friends came from.

Yes, Raisin still had a wild side. Soon he was back to normal eating his regular diet – minus his favorite treat, of course. There would be no more raisins for Raisin.