The Importance of Record-Keeping

profile of rabbit under chair
 When I received the survey forms for the new House Rabbit Society rabbit Health Database Project, I was able to send them back only because I keep my own extensive medical records for all our animals. When we moved to Mississippi, I asked my rabbit veterinarian in Indiana to photocopy my three rabbits’ medical histories, and to my dismay, the records were virtually useless. Not only were antibiotics not recorded, histories incomplete, and no anesthesia dosages listed, but part of Melissa’s very sketchy history appeared on Jeremy’s chart, making it seem that he had been the one with a bacterial Infection.Fortunately, most vets’ records are far more complete than this. Having worked for my dog and cal vet,I know that the general practice is to write down as much potentially useful inforamtion as possible. Sill, since not all veterinarians are aware of the House Rabbit Society database project yet, they may not realize that some additional information should be recorded if your rabbit’s records are to be helpful to House Rabbit Society. This added attention to detail may even save your rabbit’s life some day, so making sure that records are complete and accurate is especially important.The first step is to give your veterinarian copies of the forms from the database survey. Ask that he or she look over the forms and then file them with your rabbit’s records. Explain that in order to help rabbits across the country, you would like to be able to provide as much information as possible to House Rabbit Society should your rabbit become ill. The forms make clear exactly what information is most useful to House Rabbit Society.

Second, begin keeping your own records. No matter how experienced, caring, and wonderful your veterinarian is, no one loves your rabbit as much as you do. Despite my deep respect for and personal friendships with my vets, I learned long ago that the only way to be absolutely sure that all the little details are being kept track of is to keep track of them myself.

To this end, I made up sheets on the computer (a typewriter would do as well) for general information, veterinary visits, medications, and the results of blood work, bacterial cultures, and urinalyses. The chart for blood chemistries, for instance, lists the blood values most commonly referred to (creatinine, BUN, glucose, liver enzymes, etc.) where they can be compared at a glance with the values from previous tests.

On the medications page (probably the most useful of all) I keep track of any drugs prescribed for the rabbits, being sure to spell the names correctly and write down all dosages accurately. There is a column for reactions so I know whether a particular drug given sub-cutaneously caused the skin to slough, or if another, given orally, caused diarrhea. I also record any nutritional supplementation that accompanied the medication (such as acidophilus during antibiotic therapy). If there Is ever occasion to consider such medication again, I will know what caused problems before. Because accuracy is so important, be sure to ask your veterinarian to spell and explain any terms you do not understand, and always ask for as much Information as your veterinarian can provide on a given condition.

I keep this medical data in binders (one for each animal), and take the appropriate one with me whenever I visit the vet. Often my veterinarian refers to my records instead of hers! Since I have been doing this, I have noticed an additional advantage. Instead of being a mere bystander to my animals’ treatment, I have become a real participant. In order to keep good records, I have educated myself about various ailments, and am able to contribute in meaningful ways to the health care of those I love. More and more often these days, people are involving themselves in their own health care; why not get Involved in that of the animal members of your family as well? The bonus of adding to the ever-growing House Rabbit Society database and helping rabbits for years to come is certainly an additional incentive.

by Elizabeth TeSelle


DATE MEDICATION DOSAGE REACTIONS 8/25/89 Chloramphenicol (w/ acidophilus) 3.25 cc BID 2 wks Little effect;
switched to Ditrim

9/l0/89 Ditrim injectable (given SQ) .45 ml SID 2wks Switched to

9/28/89 Tetracyline l-250 mg. capsule
SID in water 6 weeks

10/4/90 Baytril #5 tabs. (w/ acidophilus) 2 tabs BID 2-4 wks Tolerated well; no
diarrhea. Kept on it
for 5 weeks.

3/27/91 Baytril #5 tabs. (w/ acidophilus) 2 tabs BID 5 wks? Again, no diarrhea.
Used for 8 weeks.

7/19/91 Baytril #5 tabs. (w/ acidophilus) 2 tabs BID 8 wks? Mild diarrhea.
Disc. after 10 days. 8/l/91 Baytrll Injectable (given SQ) .5 cc BID 6-8 wks? Was on injectable for 6 weeks. Caused blistering even when mixed with sterile water.