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Analgesia and postoperative care

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Abstract

Rabbits are often used as animal models for aspects of pain and anaesthesia, not only to provide good care for the laboratory rabbit, but also to increase understanding of the pharmacology for other species. This chapter considers analgesia, pain management in specific conditions/situations, postoperative care and hospitalization. : Instilling food into the stomach prior to recovery from anaesthesia.

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Figures

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2.2 This rabbit was suffering from acute enterotoxaemia. He died, and post-mortem examination showed a severely inflamed caecum. The hunched posture, unresponsiveness, piloerection, immobility and desire to hide are typical signs of pain.
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2.3 Site of injection into subarachnoid space. The subarachnoid space can be used to deliver local anaesthetics or morphine. The injection is given at L6/L7. The landmarks are the iliac crests (X) and the spinous processes (•). Prepared vertebrae showing the intervertebral space are shown in Technique 3.1
Image of Sites of needle insertion for dental nerve blocks numbered below. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission.
Sites of needle insertion for dental nerve blocks numbered below. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission. Sites of needle insertion for dental nerve blocks numbered below. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission.
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2.5 There are many simple steps that can be taken to reduce stress and improve recovery in hospitalized rabbits. A kennel in a quiet place away from unfamiliar noise and the sight and smell of other animals is ideal. Provision of a wide range of favourite foods, including fresh grass and dandelions, will tempt rabbits to eat, although food may need to be shredded or grated for rabbits with dental problems. Good quality hay or dried grass should be freely available and the use of racks or jars will reduce contamination. Water should be provided in a bowl, rather than a sipper bottle, which can reduce water intake ( ). A litter tray is beneficial, especially for housetrained rabbits.
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2.6 This rabbit is showing many positive behavioural signs that indicate that he has recovered well from surgery to repair a fractured tibia. He has come out of his cage to investigate the surroundings and is scent-marking the radiator. His fur is groomed and he is weight-bearing.
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2.7 Indoor rabbit runs. These enable rabbits to express most of their normal behaviours. The runs should be tall enough to allow the rabbit to stand and provide sufficient length for limited exercise – particularly useful for rabbits with gut stasis. The run is built from perspex/plastic, enabling easy cleaning and disinfection. A darkened ‘house’ provides security. Seeing other rabbits in neighbouring runs also helps to provide mental security. (© John Chitty)
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2.8 Syringe feeding is a safe and effective way to provide food and fluids to a rabbit that is reluctant to eat on its own. It can be used for any rabbit that has not eaten well. The majority of rabbits will accept syringe feeding. There are several methods of restraint. Wrapping them in a towel and cradling them is often successful. A relaxed attitude and patience is required to administer the food into the diastema and wait for the rabbit to swallow it between mouthfuls.
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