What is an emergency?

Emergencies can happen at any time and it is useful to know how to recognize an emergency and what to do.

Common emergencies include (but are not limited to):

  • Attack by a dog, cat or other animal
  • Bloated stomach
  • Breathing difficulties such as increased respiratory noises or open mouth breathing
  • Collapse
  • Head tilt +/- rolling
  • Fight wounds
  • Lethargy, anorexia and lack of defecation for longer than 12 hours
  • Traumatic wounds (from a fall or being accidentally stepped on)
  • Seizures
  • Straining to urinate, blood in the urine
  • Swollen or squinting eyes


What to do?

  1. It is important to STAY CALM, and to contact your veterinarian (or pet emergency centre) as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms for advice and for a CONSULTATION to be booked AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.Your rabbit or guinea needs likely medical attention. If you are not sure whether it is an emergency it is always better to call and ask.
    When in doubt, ask!
  2. Handle your injured rabbit or guinea pig GENTLY so that you don’t add to the injury. Try to reduce your pet’s stress levels as much as possible.
  3. Provide WARMTH if your pet is collapsed and or if you suspect that your pet is cold.
  4. If your pet has been inappetent or anorexic but is looking well enough to swallow (and does not have a bloated stomach) you may commence slowly SYRINGE FEEDING Oxbow Critical Care (herbivore emergency food) slurry.
    We recommend that all pet owners have a packet of Oxbow Critical Care at home in case of an emergency.
    If you are not sure whether to commence feeding, please ask over the phone.
  5. Always provide fresh hay, veggies and water to all pets at all times.
  6. Provide a SECURE environment to limit self trauma. This is especially important for a pet that has seizures, or head tilt/rolling. A handy tip is to use rolled-up towels for padding of corners and edges so that your pet cannot hurt itself.
    Rabbits that are still eating despite having a sudden head tilt are actually coping relatively well with their symptoms. Head tilts may look worse than it really is for the rabbit, however veterinary attention is still urgently required (within 12-24 hours).
  7. Be sure to use a pet CARRIER CAGE when transporting your rabbit or guinea pig to the vet clinic, and if you have time pack a lunch box in case they have to stay.