How to help my bunny be happy again

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Hi everyone, this is my first post seeking advice about my rabbit, Chino. She is a 5 year old pure bred flemish giant. Last year (2020) she lost two bunny friends and now she is all alone. We believe she could be depressed as she's not as social and happy anymore. She's eating less and has lost all her excess weight. Originally she was a little overweight but the vets weren't concerned. She lives outside in her large hutch. We've tried bringing her inside for a few hours and spending lots of time with her. This originally started to help until she started hiding and didn't want to come inside. I've tried sitting out there and talking to her but she doesn't come up to the chicken wire anymore for pats and treats (dandelions/daisies/grass etc). I'm not sure what else to do? Any suggestions?
 

JBun

Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
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Is it just her hiding when you go out to get her to bring her in, or is she hiding and trying to avoid contact inside too? How has she reacted when she was inside with you? Are you picking her up and holding her to bring her in?
 
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She doesn't hide when she is inside only when she is outside. She is not a fan of being picked up so we have to transport her in a large box. Even when we don't go to transport her inside she hides outside. Only sometimes she comes over not always. She may hide because she doesn't want to be picked up but once she is inside she's very happy and relaxed.
 

JBun

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I think if you work on training her to voluntarily self load into a pet carrier, this will change how she reacts to you. Some rabbits really hate being picked up, and any attempts to do so can affect their ability to trust you. So that's what I would suggest. Work on loading into a crate with treat reinforcement. Then she'll learn to eagerly come when you approach her.


Training a rabbit to go into a carrier

Ideally finding a new spayed/neutered compatible bunny companion would be best if that works out for you to do. But if not, next best would be bringing her indoors for permanent human companionship, if your circumstances permit, you can effectively rabbit proof, and she is happy and comfortable being indoors.



Something else to keep in mind is that for a large breed rabbit she's considered old. So it's possible there could be some health issues causing her more depressed state and weight loss, like arthritis. With large breed rabbits they can also be more prone to joint issues(especially in the hips) and heart problems. So those may be things you will want to ask your vet to specifically check for.


If she does have joint issues or heart problems, this could also make her more uncomfortable to be picked up, and so really affect her when you try and do so. If it's causing her increased pain to be picked up, then she definitely would be more inclined to want to avoid this happening. And if she does have arthritis, twice daily meloxicam might be something to talk to your vet about trying out(provided there are no kidney or stomach issues). This certainly helped my old rabbit be more comfortable in her last year.


 

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