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Posted on Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Swaddling pet rabbits can help make medicating them safer and easy

By Lorrie Shaw


Flickr photo by picto:graphic

The vast majority of animals that I care for are fairly easygoing about my giving medication to them, and if they're not, they tend to not fuss too much and have attitudes toward me that are pretty forgiving.

Medications aren't limited to pills — liquids, injections and even transdermal preparations are all used in veterinary applications, so depending on the type of prescription, technique and speed are often the truck in making the task easy and comfortable.

One species of companion animal can be a little tricky when it comes to administering meds to — rabbits — and that is true for a few reasons.

First, bunnies are skittish. As prey animals, by instinct they have a strong flight response when frightened or unsettled, so because of that, they do try to fight and get away.

This reaction can present a problem when they are picked up — an action that can cause them to be frightened. The fact that bunnies have delicate bones in their back is a cause for concern when the need to handle them in a way that they may not care for (in this case, to administer medication) arises.

Pet rabbits tend to kick their powerful legs in an effort to get away. This action can jar the spine, causing it to break.

Because of this, taking special care to support their weight in a way that their legs would when lifting and carrying them, and employing a swaddling technique so to speak when medicating them can help avoid any injury to your pet.

Referred to as "burritoing the bunny," swaddling the animal in a large towel is an easy way to comfortably and safely restrain them while performing the task.

It's easy enough to do: take a large bath towel (larger than your pet), fold it in half, then fold a far corner in slightly. Put the rabbit's head where the corner is, fold the bottom half of the towel up over the animal's back and then wrap each side of the towel snugly over his body, just like you would an infant.

This allows better control and keeps the rabbit from kicking and thrashing about.

For added control, consider sitting down with the animal in your lap while medicating it.

To see a demonstration on how to swaddle your rabbit, click here. Dr.Jeffery R. Jenkins, DVM, DABVP offers this tip and others on how to properly handle your bunny whether picking him up, or transferring him in or out of a pet carrier.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly and subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

Now I'm being a smart guy but I'm wondering if this would work with some of the big he-men I know who faint at the sight if needles? But in all seriousness one of our dogs is almost held like this when she gets her shots.