Affording Medical Care For My Bunny

I am going to be brutally blunt here, right off the bat. If you cannot afford or are unwilling to pay for emergency medical care for your rabbit(s), then you probably should not have one.

Rabbit vet care can be very expensive. It is just as pricey or even more so than vet care for a dog or cat. People routinely are faced with $1000+ bills when a bunny gets sick and needs medical care. It is not a matter of “if” you will get one of these bills when owning a rabbit, but simply “when”.

As with all creatures, the older you get, the more you will need to see a medical professional.  Because rabbits are exotic pets, they will need to see a specialist. Dog and cat vets simply do not have the expertise or knowledge to treat your sick rabbit.

Do you want your doctor looking up how to treat a serious illness on the internet before he treats you. It does not instill confidence or give you much hope when you know that your doctor is treating or seeing a medical problem for the very first time.

A rabbit specialist is critical for your pet’s survival, when he is seriously ill. If you care about your pet, you want to give him the best chance at making it and so it means you must use a more expensive rabbit specialist vet to provide the best care possible.

After having lost a couple bunnies to dog and cat vets, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a rabbit specialist vet available when your bunny needs one. This is definitely going to cost you something and bearing the expense is part of being a responsible pet owner.

Would you not take your children to a doctor or dentist if they were sick or in pain? Would you not find a way to get them care, even if you could not afford it? It is the same for pets.

You must find a way to get the proper care to a sick animal, regardless of the cost and whether you have the funds readily available. IF this means putting it on a credit card or finding a friend to let you put it on their credit card, it just needs to be done. You don’t hesitate and let someone die because it is not convenient or affordable for them to live.

What defines us as a society and as human beings is our reluctance to accept and allow others to suffer. To turn your back on an animal or other creature that needs your help, makes you less human. To be human is to empathize and feel the pain that others feel. It is part of what we are as a species.

So I get back to my point. You have a responsibility as a pet owner to provide good and proper care for your charges and do all in your power to prevent abuse and suffering.

This translates into a huge weight that must be shouldered when you have several pets and maybe even some human children, too. I have met many families who have several children and a house full of pets on top of that. Most of them are very responsible and provide very well for them. What worries me is when I hear people making excuses about avoiding expenses and vet care that they know are necessary.

The bottom line is if you cannot afford five or six kids, two dogs, three cats and two bunnies, then what in the heck are doing getting in over your head like that? I know it is with good intentions that we take on such huge responsibilities, but why burden you and your family with what you know eventually will become unbearable? It is only a matter of time before a menagerie like that will become very expensive.

Should you really be taking on that third dog, that sixth bunny, that tenth cat. Some of us try and rescue every critter that needs our help, but I can tell you from experience that rescue work can easily become a full time job. It takes a lot of dedication to have a full time rescue job, especially if you have a family, too. All the work and time are nothing compared to the expense that can be incurred, regularly. I have seen more than one family go broke trying to rescue animals. This is why rescue is best done in a group where the time, expense and responsibility can be shared. I know that there is a fine line between rescue and hoarding pets.

To me, when your “rescues” are being harmed by your inability to provide proper care, including medical care, then you have crossed the line.

I recently met a family who has spent an enormous sum of money to spay and neuter a large unexpected litter of bunnies. Even with discount services and HRS rebates, their expense for this stretched the family budget to the limit. They were trying their best to cope with ten bunnies that were now part of their family, but it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The number of times your bunnies will visit a vet seem to be directly related to the level of experience you have as a bunny lover. The less you know about bunnies, the more often you make mistakes and the more likely you will be making frequent vet visits. I always tell people that it is a long journey to learn about rabbits. It takes time and you will make mistakes.

Now multiply this inexperience factor by ten rabbits and it is almost guaranteed that there will be more vet bills to follow. This is where you must make a decision. How do you afford the inevitable vet bills for so many bunnies? If you are independently wealthy or make a lot of money, that is good, but what about the average person? How do you afford so many rabbits?

There are pet medical insurance policies but they can be impractical, since they charge by the animal. Five or six animals would end up getting expensive with just the monthly premiums, alone.

Anecdotally, the family with ten rabbits suddenly found that half of their buns were very sick. They were in dire need of a vet, but now they are seeing an impending vet bill TIMES FIVE! They were already strapped for money from spaying and neutering all of those rabbits. To save money, they wanted to take one bunny in to the vet and hope that they could get enough medications to treat all five. I am not saying that was not a well intentioned plan, but how do you decide which bunny gets to see a doctor and which ones will not? Do you see where I am going with this?

This is where you have to ask yourself, is ten rabbits too many for a family who cannot afford them? I cannot answer that for them, but I know that the answer for me is, yes.

The Bunny Guy

7 thoughts on “Affording Medical Care For My Bunny

  1. Hi Bunny Guy,

    Really enjoyed your perspective on vet care, ownership and responsibilities. As an exotics hospital employee I can’t begin to tell you how many times in a week we are seeing rabbits who are near death due to the client “not knowing that rabbit’s need veterinary care”, “I thought he would get over it as he hasn’t been eating for x amount of days”, “too expensive” and the ever popular “I don’t have the money for this (while pulling out a brand new smart phone) and you are going to let my rabbit die because of it?”. Geez……common sense is not….

      • Hi Karen

        One thing I believe that makes my book and philosophy different from others is that I do not believe that a book can teach what a vet went to school for many years to learn. There is no substitute for good vet care. You cannot self diagnose your rabbit and no book can teach that.

        The attitude in the public is that vet care is too expensive for a $20 animal. I have worked at the local veterinarians convention providing rabbit info to vets from around the country and many report that they will not see six rabbits in a year.

        This is heartbreaking, especially when we know that pet rabbits are a lot more delicate and fragile than most dogs or cats. People DO tend to let a rabbit suffer, rather than spending the money it takes to provide the proper care. I just don’t get that. Would these people let their kids suffer a tooth ache if they were low on the money? It does make me wonder.

        One of the things that I have tried to impress on the public is that BECAUSE of future vets bills that rabbits are expensive and even high maintenance pets. If it were not for those vet bills, I would probably not feel that way, but the reality is that you cannot have a pet and not provide him medical care and good rabbit medical care is expensive.

        So many people do not see this and continue to consider their $20 rabbit a cheap children’s pet, but I am here to tell you that this is not only a myth but completely false. Thank you for your input. You hit the nail right on the head with your comment.

        The Bunny Guy

  2. Your blog is great. I am a new house bunny owner and indeed, good vet care is expensive. In the 4 months Ive had my little girl it has cost me nearly $1000 including the dental extraction due tomorrow! She has brought so much joy and love into my home that she is worth every penny spent and more. It worries me so much, , especially with Easter coming, that many bunnies wont be so well cared for.

    • Thank you for your post and story. You are correct, our pets are worth every penny we spend on them.

      The sooner that the public realizes that rabbits are expensive high maintenance pets, the better. Their vet care simply costs more than that of dogs and cats, while the public does not understand or realize this. They think they are cheap easy kids’ pets, when nothing could be farther from the truth.

      Thank you again and please give your lucky bunny a big hug for us.
      Stephan
      The Bunny Guy

  3. This is a great article. Im still learning about rabbits and got my first one the day after christmas last year. He was a rescue that lived in horrible conditions. (The only thing in his cage was a food bowl with musli, no hay. And a bottle of extremlly dirty water. No human interaction or time out of the cage. He was also sitting in more poo that substrate.

    I brought him home and bought lots of toys and hoses for him. Soon he had his own room and he was runnig free in the house most of the day, no cage for that little guy <3 (We didnt bunnyproof the room, we didnt know about that then, but now the rabbits are nowhere its not proofed, but he didnt bita anything thanfully!

    But one day he stopped eating. We cheked his teethes and relized he somehow had broken both of his upper front teeths. I called around to diffrent rabbit vets in my contrary and took out the remaning part of the teeths (they where stuck in the meat so to say) And then gave him cut hay as well of a lot of masshed carrot.

    I cheked his theetes every day ( In a towel, he wasnt tame at this point) and it all worked out great.

    After some time again (About a month later) he stopped eating, I cheked the teeths, thinking it might be the same problem, but no, they where whole. So we brought him to the vet that could not find anything wrong with him (dog/cat vet) he sounded normal, cheeked the inner teeths and everything, nothing. So he was sent home with some Cc (after this incident we always have this at home)

    It worked and he started to eat by the next day again.

    a month later again I relized he was eating weirdlly, so cheeked his teethes (Now at this point hi is supertame so no problem for him)
    I relized one of his fron upper teethes where broken again. I tried removing it, but it was stuck in there. So I first looked around where he broke it of and saw that it was when he had jumped down my bed in my room (Found some blood) So we brought him into the vet, this time a rabbit specialist and they operated on him. Everything was good with him but my pockets where empty. As a kid who cares for then 8 pets on her own (had a bird who also been in and out from the vet so I was broke)

    Then next month! I closed the door as he flew out the door but he got stuck inbetween and hurt himself really bad. An hour away we have a rabbit specialist vet but I couldnt get to one at once. He was eating (Stayed up with him all night) but couldnt stand on the leg that gotten in between the door. I gave him some pain meds and when we finnaly got to the vets the injury had gotten worse than it was when it happened. The lower bones in the front leg (Ulna and radius) where both broken of and had moved upwards in the leg. We decided to put him down as the operation would most likelly had to be redone about 2-3 times costing waaay over my budget, even if my sister was willing to pay it I feelt he couldnt go in like this. The operaton was risky, and he would sit, depressed in a cage all day for months onwards. He was depressed even seeing a cage….

    He was my first ever rabbit and many things went wrong. Im still paying of my debth to my sister for that last vet call that costed me around 400 dollars. But after this summerjobb its all payed of and I can start rebuilding my vet found. Today I own 2 rabbits One was found on our parking lot a little while before Usopp, my male, was put down.
    The second was a suprise from my sister who is paying for the vet bills for both of my rabbits until I have the enconomy for it again. No payback needed for me 😀 I love her verry much haha :)

    I will pay about 300 dollars to have Melody spayed soon and then have, after all my debths are payed, about 250 dollars left for my vet found. After that, about 25 dollars a month will go in there. Not a lot of money, but thats what I can afford. Next summer I will have a summerjobb as well and after that I got a real jobb waiting for me, so one more year of slowlly saving p untill I can just fill the saving account up <3 :)

    Sorry for the long post, just wanted to shere my story. And really sorry for the bad spelling, english is not my mother tounge.

    Today the rabbit room has been bunny proofed like crazy i have cc at hand at all times and the door into the bunny room has a baby gate to stop this from ever happenig agian.

    • Your story brought tears to my eyes. I feel so bad for your first bunny. I hope that you learn how to safely keep anything like this from ever happening again. Rabbits are so fragile and the vet bills are always so expensive. That is why they are an exotic pet. Good luck and hugs to your two girls.

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