Quality of life scoring in senior rabbits

Will I know when it is time for my rabbit?

A shared experience from one of our members of staff and a personal reflection she wrote to support other rabbit carers.

Most of my rabbits passed away around 4-5 years old but you are 10 now and still with us. During the years we had to take you to the vets a few times and they found out you were struggling with arthritis and cataract. The quality of life scoring I used to do seems to be getting harder now you are senior.

You used to go out in the rabbit hutch, but you have gone so skinny I am worried you will get too cold now even though you love the fresh grass. I also worry about fly strike even more as you cannot groom yourself. Days seem to flow into each other, but my mum came over who lives far away and mentioned you are really starting to age now, and she noticed a real change.

Will you let me know when it is time because I don’t want to keep you for my sake? Now you are on pain relief I do feel better. I have spoken about it with my partner, and he is also keeping a close eye on droppings and if you are eating properly. I also explained to him what quality of life scoring in senior rabbits means and what to look out for. In a way it has been good because everyone who knows you now knows so much more about elderly rabbits and what to watch for. Every visitor gets a speech from sometimes the most unexpected members of the family about elderly rabbits, “don’t lift her”, “she has impaired vision, you know”, “do you think she is panting”? Everyone is watching and minding you.

Help is out there

I work for Dignipets and booked an online visit with our hospice nurse this really helped me, not just to go through your quality of life, but to also feel less lonely with all the decision making. And it gave me some ideas on what I do and don’t want when the time is there to let you go.

But you are mine and it would be my decision to make. I have a few things that I know you enjoy and made a little bucket list just in case and I am taking a lot of pictures. Sometimes I do things and think things that seem silly, but I am following my instincts and when I look back only then I will know it was right.

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