March 20, 2013

Dealing With a Loss of a Pet

One of the saddest aspects of pet ownership is coming to terms with the death of a beloved pet. Our pets are part of the family and as such, it’s only natural that we mourn and grieve their loss.

What to expect emotionally

While some (mostly those who don’t own a pet themselves) scoff at the idea of mourning a pet, it’s actually a perfectly normal and natural response. The stages of grief for those who have lost a pet are in fact very similar to those who have lost a family member or loved one.

While the length of the mourning and grieving process is individual to each circumstance, the following emotions and stages are quite common:

Stage one: Denial – Typically, this stage lasts the shortest and occurs when the owner hasn’t yet accepted, or come to terms, with the loss.

Stage two: Anger – In the next stage, many pet owners channel their anger towards a third party for the loss of their pet.

Stage three: Guilt – There will always be the ‘what if’ component of any loss and it’s normal for a pet owner to feel guilt over what they could have done, even if there were no other options.

Stage four: Depression – The final stage of grieving is typically personified by a deep sadness that permeates the pet owner’s life and reduces their motivation.

Coping mechanisms

Thankfully though, there are coping mechanisms that you can put in place to help deal with the death of a pet, the first of which is to allow yourself to grieve. Whatever you are feeling, acknowledge the emotion and let it run its course. The following, lists some coping mechanisms you can try:

• Where possible, speak to friends, family and loved ones about your loss.
• Prepare a tribute to celebrate the life of your pet. This could be a scrapbook, a letter or a poem to your pet.
• Make a difference to the lives of other pets and either volunteer your time at an animal rescue organization or donate money on behalf of your pet.
• Seek the support of professionals, whether that is your own family therapist or an organization like The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. The American Veterinary Medical Association also has pet loss support hotlines available for your use.
• If the sight of your pet’s belongings upsets you, you can put them away during your mourning period or donate them to charity.
• You can organize a memorial or funeral for your pet. This is one of the more practical aspects to consider. Whether you choose to create a burial in your backyard, or plant a tree in your pet’s honor, the final resting place of your pet is a special and important decision.
Other tips

• If you have other pets, understand that they may experience grief too, even if it’s just in response to your own.
• Do not bring a new pet into your life until you feel completely ready. You must be emotionally up to the demands of a new pet and able to dedicate yourself to their upbringing.
• If you have children in your family, be honest and open about your pet’s death and support your children through their grief.

And finally, be kind to yourself. This is a difficult and emotional event in any pet owners life. Ensure that you take care of yourself and give yourself the time and the space to move on.

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October 17, 2012

What Do Rabbits Eat?

Many of us have seen cartoon images of rabbits munching on carrots. But in reality, what do rabbits eat?

It depends on whether the rabbit is a tame pet or a wild creature.

Both wild and domestic rabbits are herbivores. They need to ingest high levels of fiber every day. As well, both tame and wild rabbits need a diverse diet to get the right nutrition.

Wild rabbits spend much of their time foraging for food. In general, they eat:

  • weeds
  • grass
  • hay
  • flowers
  • and other plants

When it’s available, wild rabbits will also eat fruit like apples that have fallen to the ground.

Any gardener will tell you that rabbits are fond of leafy vegetables and other garden treats. When wild rabbits can get into a garden, they will dig up carrots, sweet potatoes, and nibble the leafy tops of everything else.

Rabbit Digestion: Teeth and Droppings

Rabbit teeth grow rapidly. That’s why they like to chew on tough materials like tree branches or bark. This helps keep their teeth ground down to normal levels.

Although they may gain a little nutrition by chewing like this, it’s more an instinct that leads rabbits to spend a lot of time chewing on things.

Rabbit digestive systems are built to handle fiber in a special way. After all, rabbits eat a lot of fiber.

Rabbits produce two kinds of droppings. One is composed entirely of true waste material. The other contains soft semi-digested nutrients. Rabbits ingest the soft droppings as they are passed in order to further digest this nutritive material.

Rabbit Nutrition: What to Feed a Rabbit

For domestic rabbits, the key to good rabbit nutrition is variety.

The ideal diet for a pet rabbit includes unlimited access to hay. For convenience, most rabbit owners like to use a wall-mounted feeder.

Also include a variety of fresh vegetables. Most pet rabbits should be offered about 2 cups of mixed vegetables each day. Some mixed vegetables that rabbits like to eat are:

  • kale
  • broccoli
  • dark lettuce
  • sprouts
  • parsley
  • mustard greens
  • celery
  • spinach

You can also give rabbits daily treats like fruit or root vegetables. Most rabbits enjoy apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Strawberries or raspberries also make a great rabbit treat.

Never feed a rabbit beans, nuts, seeds, bread, cereal, corn, rhubarb, peas, or sugary food.

Commercial rabbit foods work well too. Some experts say that providing fresh vegetables, fruits, and hay more closely mimics the wild experience of an untamed rabbit.

There may also be nutritional concerns about the fat or carbohydrate content of some types of commercial foods. However, a commercial pellet food may better provide all needed nutrients. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian.

April 23, 2010

Rabbits as Pets

Filed under: bunny as pets,pet bunny,pet rabbit,rabbit as pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:23 am

Rabbit as PetsRabbits are among the most common pets in North America. We think they’re cute and cuddly and even though they may not be as loyal or affectionate as cats and dogs, we still love them. Caring for a rabbit is somewhat different than caring for cats or dogs and this article will outline some of the necessities of rabbit care.

  1. Rabbits should live in a cage for several reasons. First of all, rabbits are timid but very fast creatures and they can be very difficult to collect if they happen to get away from you. I’m reminded of a neighbor whose pet rabbit escaped into the neighborhood and wrought havoc on local gardens. It took several weeks for the owner to finally catch her again. A 3 foot by 3 foot cage is sufficient for an average sized rabbit and it provides a comfortable living environment. In addition to their difficulty to catch, rabbits are basically impossible to house train. Giving a rabbit free run of the house will inevitably result in you constantly cleaning up rabbit pellets.
  2. Rabbits need a solid diet including alfalfa pellets, hay, and green vegetables. Alfalfa pellets provide many of the nutrients that your rabbit needs to survive while green vegetables and hay improve digestion. On occasion you can treat your rabbit with some fruits like banana or apple, but not too often because fruits are high in sugar.
  3. Rabbit proof a room so your bunny can exercise. You cannot leave a rabbit in a small cage all the time. They like to run and stretch so try to have a room or area in your yard that is safe for your rabbit to exercise.
  4. Rabbits’ teeth never stop growing so they tend to chew a lot. You can buy some rabbit chew toys or just give them some cardboard, toilet paper rolls, or branches from fruit trees.

Finally, rabbits need love just like all pets. They are social animals and even though they may not be as affectionate as dogs or cats, they still appreciate affection.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.