Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Fruit remedy may have saved rabbit

Finbar the rabbit was treated with pineapple juice after a giant furball was found in his stomach (Nick McGowan-Lowe Photography)

A bunny on the brink of death has been saved after vets at an animal charity used pineapple juice as a last resort to remove a giant fur ball in his stomach.

Finbar the rabbit was rushed to the PDSA's PetAid hospital in Glasgow by his owners James and Christina McNeil after he stopped eating and drinking and appeared lethargic.

Vets examined Finbar and suspected something might be wrong with his intestines so prescribed drugs and liquid feeding at home to try and help him. When Finbar did not make a marked improvement, the vet X-rayed the rabbit's intestines, showing he had the biggest hairball staff at the hospital had ever seen, filling his entire stomach.

Realising the two-year-old rabbit was close to death, PDSA vet Susie Hermit drew upon her knowledge about the possible benefits of pineapple juice in helping to break down hairballs.

Susie said: "An enzyme contained in pineapple juice is claimed to break down the material which holds fur balls together. However, the juice could just work because it provides rehydration and energy.

"We could see from Finbar's x-ray that it was a huge fur ball - the biggest I've ever seen in a rabbit, and unfortunately Finbar was so ill that an operation to remove the hairball was too risky. I had heard before about using pineapple juice to treat this condition and there was nothing else we could do - it was an all or nothing situation. Thankfully Finbar started to improve after a combination of pineapple juice and drugs to get his bowels moving. Whether this was solely due to the pineapple juice, I'm not sure, but it seemed to make a difference."

His owners were delighted to have Finbar back at home.

Christina, who was given Finbar as a present from her two daughters, said: "I couldn't believe it when the vet told me to bring along a carton of freshly squeezed pineapple juice to the PetAid hospital as I'd never heard of it being able to help with fur balls. After the vet showed us how to administer the juice by a syringe we did it at home every day and after two weeks he started to get better. We're just so thankful to PDSA for everything they've done as we were really worried at one stage whether he would have to be put to sleep.

"Finbar is such a character and we are so pleased he is still with us. As PDSA have advised us, we'll make sure we groom Finbar's coat daily to reduce the chances of him developing a hairball in the future and make sure he gets plenty of fibre in his diet to make sure any hair moves quickly through his intestines."

PDSA advises pet owners not to administer pineapple juice unless recommended by a vet. If an owner suspects their rabbit has a hairball, they should contact their vet for advice.

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