Feeling guilty after the death of my 11,5 year old rabbit friend

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Dear all

I am reaching out to you all to tell you the story about Franz.
Franz was one of my 3 beloved bunny family.
I am a human doctor and I cared for my bunny so many years and did everything for them
He was the last bunny of my group. He had wonderful years at our home and he was all my heart.
Sadly in 03/2020 he began to make painful sounds when he was peeing. No sand was found in the bladder. But we started hydrating him more and things got better.
Then in 04/2021 things got very bad. he stopped eating his gras and his vegetables he loved. He did not want to eat his hay anymore. He started to get GI stasis, but with all the medications and care we made it to get the hard stool out of him. Then he startet to get bad diarrhoea. It got worse and worse. Like the vet told us, we proceeded with metamizol, small dosages of paspertin, colossal etc.
It got worse and Franz began to press its belly on the floor. We totally lost our nerves. Put him in the car and took the long one hour drive to specialist in Vienna. They made a high resolution xray and told us that he had several broken vertebral bodys because of its age. No neurological symptoms - but maybe pain. So it was not clear if he stopped eating because of the pain and got the GI stasis. They said he needs pain medication because without the pain medication he would not get back to normal with his intestine. So they started to add metacam. They checked his full blood status, everything OK! They did a heart ultrasound - everything OK - strong heart. They said he is not dehydrated. But the Vet visit was very stressful for him.

At home, during the night he got worse and worse. he was laying in my bad and loosing a lot of stool. his heartrate on the next day was only 60 anymore. The vet told me to proceed with pain medication. Another vet told me it could be an intoxication with Metacam. I totally felt totally lost. event though I did everything 24/7. including syringe feeding etc.

So he was lying there under his blanket. And we decided like the specialist vet told us to bring him to the vet. It was the hardest descicion to make for ever in my life. Because I wanted him to die at home, peaceful. Without pain.
But we decided to go to the vet. He already was a sleep. Heartrate very down.

Then In the car, 1 minute before we arrived the vet (15 min. away from home), Franz started to have cramps in the transportation box. I was shocked to my bones. He screamed, opened his eyes widely. It was simply horrible. I wanted to die. I couldn't take a breath anymore. It was so horrible to see him in pain and panic, because the hours and hours before he was sleeping.
We brought him into the office of the vet and it was such a horrible situation. The assistant of the vet tried to fixate him on the table, so he was not able to drop down. But he turned him on the back and screamed. it went through my bones. The Vet gave him epinephrine to help him and another emergency medication because he wanted to rescue him, because his heart rate was not to bad. And until yesterday he was not dying.
I was so confused - because I wanted him to put Franz to sleep. but in this dramatically situation the communication was very bad.
Then the cramps started again and my husband said to the doctor he should end this horrible scene. We cannot bear this situation.
So I ran out of the vets office. And he put Franz to sleep. I am not aware of what happened in the office.

It was the bases experience in my life. And I have nightmares since half a year.
Now I do not have any rabbit friend anymore. After so many years. I feel ashamed because I decided wrong ways.

Thanks for reading my story, in the memory of Franz, my beloved rabbit friend for 11,5 years.
 

JBun

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I've had several rabbits over the years. I've experienced some of them dying at home before I could get them to the vet. Some of illness and some of old age, and those convulsions and sometimes screaming as well, has been something that pretty consistently happens with almost all rabbits at the end of their life, regardless of the cause of their passing, even when it has just been from old age. And I know, it's really traumatic to experience it and not to be able to do anything to help them but sit there and try and get to the vet if possible.

Because rabbits can't communicate how they feel, we have to essentially try and make our best guess on what is wrong, what they need, and how best to help them. It's very imperfect, but it's really all we can do. You did your best to help your rabbit. Sometimes at the end of their lives, everything seems to start going wrong with their health and it's just a battle to try and keep on top of it so they can maintain a good quality of life for whatever time they have left. I can't see any missteps in what you did to try and help your rabbit. You did everything you possibly could. It sounds like your rabbit developed enterotoxemia which is something they can be prone to developing due to their sensitive digestive system, and unfortuanately when it happens, it's almost always going to be fatal.

You gave your beloved rabbit a good long life, and I imagine it was one filled with happiness and being loved by you. That's the most important thing we can do for them.
 

Preitler

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I'm sorry you had to go through this.
I had my free roam house bunny Herr Hase put to sleep a month ago, I dreaded the moment that decision would be needed to be made from the day I took him in 5 years ago (before he was an outdoor bunny and not a pet), At the point I finally made the decision I had the feeling I waited too long, postponed it for days. He detoriated gradually for about a year, some issue with his spine, and the last two weeks he could not get up anymore, needed help to eat and drink, and it got rapidly worse every day. not moving causes other issues.
You did what you were able to do in that moment. Hindsight always is 20/20, don't blame yourself. I know how off the rails I was those days, haven't eaten for days, unable to make a coherent phone call to the vet.

I'm still not up to creating a thread at the Rainbow Bridge Announcements, but I will at some point, for closure.

Alles Gute, von einem Ex-Burgenländer.
 
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You tried your best. That is all we can do. I feel guilty over my choices over my rabbits care too. She might still be alive if I had ordered x rays sooner. My rabbit had cancer and I nursed her for two months. It seems there is always something we could have done better when we look over our actions. We can only do our best. I’m so very sorry over how awful it was for you, losing Franz. I’m so sorry! But the confusion at the vets office was very bad, everyone was upset and no one wanted Franz to be in pain and keep suffering. I’m sure you made him so happy while he was with you and I’m sure he loved you. We cannot always make the perfect choices and be perfect. That is not possible. We can only try our best. Please forgive yourself.
 

HalaBuns

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I’m so sorry for your loss and what both you and your bunny went through. I feel that guilt is part of the grief process and no matter what decisions we made, we will always blame ourselves in some way because of the outcome. Could we have done this differently, or that differently? Ultimately we just rely on the professionals and what they tell us, because that’s all we can do. And whatever choices we make are done believing they are the best for our loves in that moment.

I too experienced the screaming and convulsions when I had a bunny dying in my arms and I was pretty traumatised from the experience. It was extremely difficult, knowing there was nothing I could do but cradle him and that stuck in my mind for a very long time. One thing a friend said to me though was that it was a reflex response, rather than a sign of him being in pain and that he would not have had any awareness of it. That gave me a bit of comfort.

You really did everything you could, none of it was your fault and I hope you find peace soon ♥
 

john.thorpe1952

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I suppose whatever someone else says may sound like platitudes or makes the right noises to virtue signal,but i know how you feel and the pain of the loss and the guilt.If we didn't care so much we wouldn't hurt so badly let's face it.i have roken my heart several times over the deaths of my 'babies',and wept uncontrollably in the vet's surgery.They are so special and give so much in return for so little,that they take a piece of us with them when they go.I only hope that in some way we get to meet up again in spirit,and that we canexplain how much they enriched our lives with theirs.you are not alone and we do understand.
 

DelawareRunner

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Really sorry for your loss. You did all you could though. Watching them die is pretty traumatic, I agree. My Lily passed away at the age of twelve; she lived a very happy life. However, she wasn't spayed and died from uterine cancer. Thankfully, it took her fast. However, I was up with her half the night right before she died and planned to take her to the vet the next day since I knew she was in distress. She died before the vet opened and I saw her pass. I still remember it vividly. I was so upset for not getting her spayed, but back when I adopted her it wasn't as common as it is today and she was a couple years old when I adopted her. I swore my next rabbit would be spayed and she was.

They steal our hearts though. I know mine have, and I totally understand where you are coming from.
 
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Dear All

your words really touched my heart. Never before someone found the right words for what happened.

Did you all continue with a new rabbit friend? I really do not feel to start over again....
 
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I'm so sorry you experienced that terrible trauma. I know that both human doctors and vets often have to grapple with whether to prolong life or to prioritize comfort, and that decision is even more difficult when they lack insight into the disease trajectory. Know that you did your very best, your bunny was very well loved, and had just one bad day. Sending big hugs
 

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