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  • Writer's pictureGail Petersen

Justin Case…of an Emergency

If you are relatively new to being a house rabbit companion, you might ask: what kind of emergency can happen? After all, your house rabbit is tucked up warm and cozy in your house that has been bunny-proofed and you keep an eye on them all the time.

They Can Surprise You

Like the day my six-year-old Lionhead, Bear, was scampering from room to room when I saw him stop and start furiously licking his paw. Then I saw the blood! I momentarily flipped out and started examining every part of his body to see where the blood was coming from. He had caught a toenail on the saddle between two rooms and the nail had popped out. Blood was everywhere…it seemed.

Enter Justin Case

I learned early in my bunny companionship life that a box, drawer, case, backpack, or location that has emergency supplies is indispensable. The “Justin Case” will contain many things you need to treat a rabbit’s physical mishaps.

The Toe Nail

In the toenail situation, we got the case, found the styptic powder and the Q-tips, and quickly applied some to the area remaining from the missing nail. It immediately stops the bleeding and you can hold your rabbit for a few minutes to calm him down so he doesn’t lick it off. You can use cornstarch and regular white flour too. After a few minutes of cuddling, away Bear went to play with his friend. If I didn’t have the Justin Case, I would have wasted time while he was bleeding getting the necessary items together.

Dry Skin

Most of us suffer from dry skin in winter or certain times of year. So do rabbits. Especially when they shed. It looks like flakes of skin near the nape of their neck, sometimes it is tiny flecks all over their body. Your first step to determine the cause of the flaking is to apply some Vaseline from the Justin Case on and around their ears. Not a lot, just a light coating. If you see improvement after a few days, it is probably dry skin. If it doesn’t improve, a vet visit is appropriate. It could be mites or “crawling dandruff.” In that case, you’ll need a prescription for treatment.


Heavy pollen seasons make many species sneeze. For rabbits it could be the dust in their hay or another sinus-related reason. If your rabbit is sneezing a lot and seems uncomfortable or lethargic, you may want to consult your vet about keeping some allergy medications appropriate for your rabbit in your Justin Case. Some folks have a nebulizer they can use to help clear our bunny’s congestion. Sneezing can be serious, lead to infection, if not treated promptly and properly.

Hay Up the Nose

That sounds like a very bizarre circus trick. But there have been more incidents of vets taking hay or seeds out of rabbits’ noses than I care to think. My own Honey, who was only with us for a few weeks, started sneezing constantly. Fierce, loud sneezes, poor girl. After consulting with Safe Haven Rabbit Rescue, to the vet we went. The vet kindly removed a quarter-inch piece of hay out of the highest part of her nose. I couldn’t see it when I looked. They used a magnifying glass. Hay removed. Rabbit back to normal with a little Metacam to ease the discomfort.

What’s In My Justin Case

Q-tips and styptic powder, as mentioned. Plain Vaseline, two kinds of combs – one for mites and one for normal grooming, ear wax softener, and plain Neosporin (not the Plus type). 1 ml and 3 ml oral syringes for liquid medication and syringe feeding.

Cotton balls or pads to clean eye ducts that may leak salty tears that dry and irritate. Toenail clippers and small sharp scissors for cutting off tangled mats of fur. A hair dryer to dry a wet bottom if they need a butt bath. Lots and lots of clean towels. A baby thermometer is useful too – the kind with the flexible tip.

Critical Care for emergency feeding, Recovery Plus for after a procedure at the vet, eyewash for foreign objects that may get in their eye, a stethoscope to hear the gas in their tummy (a few bucks

in a pharmacy), a small flashlight to check scent glands or ears for cleaning.

Simethicone liquid (to alleviate gas) for children that is very useful if your bun has a tummy ache. Keeping metoclopramide on hand is essential if you believe stasis is setting in.


In addition to your Justin Case, there may be medications that your vet prescribes for different conditions, acute or long-term. I have several at home. Your situation may vary from mine. However, it is wise to make sure the scripts are renewed so that essential medications are available if needed in an emergency. It can take days to get a vet visit, and you don’t want your bun to be in pain waiting for that.

Examine Your Justin Case

Take stock of your emergency supplies so you can handle some of the crazy things that rabbits get into. We’ve had two buns get in a fight and cut through the lip of the other. ER Hospital visit but I had cotton balls and pressure to keep it clean. We know rabbits that get hurt by family cats and dogs too. Even little children can accidentally mishandle a fragile rabbit.

I invite you to post a weird or normal situation you’ve encountered and recommend a product for the “Justin Case.” Most importantly, keep your vet’s number in your phone for all questions and concerns.

Please post your questions in the comments section.

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