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PROFESSOR RABBIT

Observation is the key to making sure that you spot your rabbit's health problems early. Rabbits, unlike humans, cats, and dogs, can get into life threatening situations much more quickly (see link for Rabbit 911). Rabbits will try to hide that they are ill. This is a tactic that prey animals use to avoid being selected for dinner by predators. Learn as much as you can about rabbit health in general. Learn your particular rabbit's usual behaviors, the normal feel of his/her body, his/her routine eating and elimination habits, the normal appearance of his/her fecal pellets, and his/her daily routines. Subtle changes can indicate that your rabbit is having a problem. Keep in mind that everyone, even rabbits, have off days. However, with rabbits it is better to err on the side of caution.

"Detecting an Illness Before It's an Emergency," by Dana Krempels Ph D. This article includes instruction about how to take your rabbit's temperature.

A healthy adult rabbit should see his/her vet once per year for a well rabbit exam.

Learn more. Take Intro to Rabbitology, a course in basic rabbit behavior and care, and Advanced Rabbitology, a course in home health care for your rabbit.

A healthy geriatric rabbit, age 6 and above, should see his/her vet every six months for a well rabbit exam.

The Importance of Medical Record Keeping for Your Rabbit

Do a daily fecal exam and pain assessment of your rabbit to spot problems early.

Learn more about fecal examination. Read "The Mystery of Rabbit Poop." by Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

A Formerly Neglected Now Rescued Rabbit
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The results of previously untreated ear mites.

Have a DISABLED RABBIT? Click here to join an information and support group composed of other rabbits parents with a disabled bun.

HEALTH AND MEDICAL MANAGEMENT OF YOUR RABBIT

KEEP A FILE OR NOTEBOOK WITH ALL OF YOUR RABBIT'S MEDICAL RECORDS IN IT. Take it with you when you visit your vet's office so you can add the results of the most recent exam to it. This information is invaluable if you have to visit an emergency clinic where your rabbit is unknown.



SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR RABBIT.

Read the HRS Article on Pre and Post Operative Care and other information on spaying and neutering.

SURGURY AND RABBITS

 

Some vets give Ketamine and Valium as pre-operative medications.  These drugs must be metabolized out of the body by the liver and/or the kidneys.  If you have an older rabbit or one who has been ill, it might be a good idea to get blood drawn for laboratory tests to make sure that the liver and kidneys are in good working order.  Many vets choose not to medicate pre-op.  NOTE:  the liver function variable in rabbits is billiverdin, which is analogous to billirubin in humans. 

 

The anesthesia of choice for rabbits is isoflurane.  Rabbits are rarely intubated.  Instead, they are placed in a box where the isoflurane is gradually increased until they lose consciousness.  The rabbit is then removed from the box so that the surgery can be performed.  Unconsciousness is maintained by the isoflurane being administered via facial mask.  Servoflurane is newer but more expensive and is similar enough to isoflurane to not merit the extra expense.  Rabbits who are older and/or been anesthetized multiple times may become immune to isoflurane as they age.

 

Sutures should be non-exposed, non-reactive, and absorbable.  PDS synthetic is a good choice of suture material.  Make sure your vet will be using a suture pattern that keeps stitches buried beneath the skin (intra-dermal suture pattern) because rabbits tend to chew their sutures.  Elizabethan collars are best avoided in rabbits because they interfere with caecotrophy and grooming. Also, as prey animals, they may feel trapped, desperate, and depressed. Rabbits frequently stop eating because of these reactions.

 

To keep them from chewing out their stitches, make a body stocking out of a sweatshirt sleeve, the top of panty hose, or saran wrap, which will stick to their fur to keep the bandage in place.  Make sure that the wrap is loose enough for your rabbit to breathe normally. Small wounds can be covered with surgical adhesive.  REMOVE THE BODY STOCKING EVERY THREE TO FOUR HOURS SO THAT YOUR RABBIT CAN MOVE ABOUT AND ELIMINATE NORMALLY FOR A TIME WHILE YOU ARE SUPERVISING HIM/HER.  CHECK YOUR RABBIT'S BOTTOM TO MAKE SURE FECAL PELLETS ARE NOT ACCUMULATING THERE.

 

PAIN MANAGEMENT IS ESSENTIAL.  For abdominal surgeries like spays, some vets will give Meloxicam by injection pre-operatively so that the rabbit wakes up without pain.  After a spay, most vets will keep the rabbit 2-3 days so that they can monitor her condition.  Pain medication, such as Meloxicam, is given 12-24 hours post-op. 

For how to prepare for and care for your rabbit after surgery, click here for a link to "Rabbits And Operations." When at the site, click on Small Pets 10.

If your rabbit is facing a surgical procedure, click here to read Dana Kremples' article, "Pre and Post-Operative Care of Rabbits."

RABBIT MEDICATIONS & DOSAGES

Click here for Dr. Chark's Drug Dosage Calculator for Rabbits.

Rabbit Drug Cross Reference Table at http://www.lagomorphs.com/mainpage.html

Rabbit Health / Medication at http://www.lagomorphs.com/mainpage.html

Giving Medicine To your Rabbit

RABBIT DIAGNOSTIC LABORATORY TESTS
 
 

Hematological (blood) tests helps your vet understand what is wrong with your rabbit.so that s/he can make an accurate diagnosis.  Learn more:

Rabbit Health / Tests at http://www.lagomorphs.com/mainpage.html

MAKE A DAILY ASSESSMENT OF YOUR RABBIT'S FECAL PELLETS:

Fecal Pellets (Bunny Berries) Exam: Normal fecal pellets are a bit tacky to the touch when first passed. They dry quickly, have the consistency of sawdust, and are round like peas. They should not be misshapen. The bigger the better, but the size of the pellet varies with the size of the rabbit. If they are strung together like a string of pearls, your rabbit is ingesting too much hair. S/he and all companion rabbits are in need of grooming. Changes from your rabbit's normal pellets indicate a health problem. If you are taking your rabbit to the vet, collect some of the problematic pellets to show your vet.  Rabbits also have cecal pellets.  They are not seen in a healthy rabbit.  What is a cecal pellet? See www.rabbit.org/chapters/san-diego/diet/cecals.html


MAKE A DAILY ASSESSMNET OF YOUR RABBIT FOR EVIDENCE OF PAIN:

Pain Assessment: Your rabbit exhibits symptoms of pain by hunching up in the back of his/her living quarters or in a corner, grinding his/her teeth, not being as active as usual, not grooming him/her self or other companion rabbits, not being inquisitive, not responding to a favorite treat, and/or not eating or producing fecal pellets. Rabbits in pain can become aggressive with other companion rabbits or their humans, especially when being picked up. Hunching and tooth grinding is particularly associated with abdominal pain. Pain associated with urinary problems causes a rabbit to strain and appear uncomfortable.
 
Giving aspirin for pain remains controversial.  Most agree that a small amount of baby aspirin (dosage:  5 lb baby = 5 lb rabbit) is okay in a situation where you can't get your rabbit to a vet for several hours and you need to provide relief for your rabbit until you can get other medication.

Click here for Maria Parga's, MRCVS, article, "Pain in Rabbits: Assessment and Relief."

ANOREXIA IS A RABBIT EMERGENCY! See Rabbit 911.


Abnormal fecal pellets and/or the presence of pain indicate a health problem in your rabbit. The following discussion about the most common companion rabbit aliments will help you determine what is wrong with your rabbit and what to do about it.

Click here to read "The Anorexic Rabbit," by Frances Harcourt Brown.

Rabbit Health / Rabbit Diseases at http://www.lagomorphs.com/mainpage.html

Dental Problems:


Teeth issues are wide spread in rabbits.  They can develop malocclusions (misalignments), elongated crowns, molar spurs, and problems secondary to metabolic bone disease. These may be caused by congenital defects, trauma, foreign bodies, tumors, and incorrect diet.  Malformed teeth can also be caused by cage biting, usually a symptom of boredom and/or an obsessive compulsive disorder.

One of the first symptoms of molar malocclusion may be the rabbit's reluctance to drink from a water bottle and preference to drink from a bowl. Excess salivating or drooling, causing wetness or hair loss under the chin, and difficulty swallowing can also be observed. Lack of or reduced appetite, sudden avoidance of hard foods such as carrots or pellets, shift in preferred foods, or food build up on the front paws or under the chin is characteristic of rabbits with dental disease.

Treatment usually involves periodic grinding down or trimming of the offending teeth. If dental problems are untreated, secondary gastrointestinal (GI) stasis develops leading to liver damage and death. You must take your rabbit to the vet as soon as you spot symptoms. Since a dental exam is part of the routine exam that your vet does, you will know if there were previous underlying problems or new ones developing.
 
Feeding second cut hay (it's less stalky) to rabbits with chronic dental disease is a good care tip.
 

American Veterinary Dental College list of Veterinary dentists (USA and international)

Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Problems:


A brief explanation of your rabbit's GI system will help you better understand GI problems and the supreme importance of diet. The rabbit's digestive system is adapted for the processing of large quantities of fibrous food. They are hindgut fermenters. That means to extract nutrients, they depend on microbial fermentation of food within the caecum, a part of their intestines. After digestion in the stomach, the end products are separated in the colon into indigestible material and substances that can be metabolized by caecal microorganisms. Indigestible fiber passes down the colon and is eliminated as hard, dry fecal pellets (bunny berries). Digestible substances and water are passed into the caecum where bacterial fermentation releases nutrients by forming pellets of soft caecal contents. These are known as caecotrophs. They are periodically expelled from the anus and re-ingested as a source of nutrients. This process is known as caecotrophy and is essential to your rabbit's good health and nutrition. In healthy rabbits, caecotrophs are consumed straight from the anus and swallowed whole. It is unlikely that you will ever see them unless your rabbit is ill.

See Rabbit Health / Rabbit Physiology at http://www.lagomorphs.com/mainpage.html

To recognize symptoms of GI illness in your rabbit, you should do a fecal pellet exam and a pain assessment. In addition, feel his/her abdominal area for masses and listen for the presence or absence of bowel sounds. The types of GI aliments that you may see in your rabbit are:

Bloat:  True bloat has a poor to guarded prognosis and is an emergency.  The cause of bloat appears to be an obstruction- food, fur, or some inorganic material the bun has swallowed- in the pyloric sphincter or somewhere in the intestine. It can also be related to scar tissue from an ulcer.  Rabbits are very prone to ulcers.  The obstruction causes the food in the stomach to ferment and creates gas that backs up into the stomach.  A rabbit's stomach does not have the ability to greatly expand.  As the stomach bloats, it compresses the chest cavity causing cardiovascular collapse and death.  The gas also causes severe pain leading to shock and/or causing the rabbit to give up the will to live. Torbutrol (butorphanol) sub-Q is the only medication that seems to help the pain. 

Find a rabbit savvy vet who will perform tubing procedures and recognizes the possibility that rabbits who re-bloat within a 24-hour period often die. Lab analysis of each fatal case has revealed the evidence of kidney/liver disease.


Gas: usually occurs from eating too many gas-producing vegetables. Symptoms of gas problems are indicated by your rabbit not eating normally, by posture that is hunched up with his/her stomach pressed to the floor, or by you hearing loud gurgling noises.

To treat gas, you can give the infant formula of simethicone (available in drug and grocery stores as Mylicon). Check with your vet for dosage for your rabbit. Gentle abdominal massage with your fingers, placing your rabbit on a towel on the top of a running clothes dryer, or taking him/her for a car ride also helps. The goal of all these treatments is to break up the bubbles so that the gas can be passed.

GI Hypo motility / Slowdown (Stasis) / Obstruction: occurs when there is a decrease in normal GI movement (motility) that pushes digesting food through the intestines. Obstruction occurs when food, hairballs, or foreign material that your rabbit ate and cannot digest (carpet, fabric, computer cable, etc.) cannot pass through the GI tract. This problem may also be caused by stress, dehydration, insufficient dietary fiber, lack of exercise, or another underlying medical problem. It is often accompanied by gas.

Your rabbit exhibits symptoms of GI hypo mobility by hunching up in pain, grinding his/her teeth, not being as active as usual, not grooming, not demonstrating usual inquisitiveness, not responding to a favorite treat, and/or not eating or producing fecal pellets. THIS IS A RABBIT EMERGENCY. Get your rabbit to the vet or RABBIT APPROVED emergency clinic immediately. DO NOT WAIT EVEN IF A VET TELLS YOU TO DO SO (if you are told this, get a new rabbit vet).

Preparing for and while in transit, keep your rabbit warm. If you know how, take your rabbit's temperature. Because rabbits have a low tolerance for GI pain, their body tends to go into shut down with a resulting drop in body temperature. One of the most common causes of death during GI slowdown is low body temperature. Wrap your rabbit in a towel and put him/her on top of a hot water body or heating pad set on low.

If you know what your rabbit has eaten that may be the source of the problem, tell the clinic staff. Diagnosis will probably be confirmed by radiographs. Treatment is aimed at removing the underlying causes, preventing dehydration and imbalance of critical physiologic chemicals (electrolytes), softening the mass by moistening it, maintaining or restoring gut motility, protecting normal gut bacteria, and preventing liver damage. You can expect the vet to administer oral and/or subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids and/or enemas, medications for pain management, and possibly medications to increase GI motility. Hospitalization and/or surgery may be required.

Care tip:  one of the best treatments for GI stasis is exercise even though your rabbit will not be happy about making him/her do it.  Giving your rabbit petromalt (Laxatone--- available at your vet's office) during periods of heavy shedding is a good preventative.  Some people have substituted liquid mineral oil.  Be advised if your rabbit gets mineral (or any) oil in his/her lungs, s/he will die.  Petromalt preparations are safer in this regard.

Read Vet Susan Brown's GI Stasis article (includes dietary recommendations for treatment)

Read Linda Seamon's article on Bloat in Rabbits.

Link for article Distinguishing Gas From Bloat

Nursing Your Rabbit Thru GI Stasis

Administering Sub-Q Fluids video

Read Dana Kremple's article on Ileus in rabbits.

PROBLEMS THAT DISTURB CAECOTROPHY THREATEN THE GOOD HEALTH OF YOUR RABBIT. Any condition that reduces flexibility and causes immobility can result in uneaten caecotrophs. This includes insufficient space in living quarters, musculoskeletal conditions that limit flexibility or cause pain, obesity, dental disease, any condition that reduces appetite, and neurological disease. Healthy rabbits that are fed a high fiber diet will consume all of their caecotrophs. Rabbits fed a low fiber diet will often leave caecotrophs uneaten because they are deprived of certain vitamins and amino acids that are necessary to their health.

Caecotrophs are differentiated from true diarrhea by their strong characteristic odor and soft pasty consistency. Hard pellets continue to be produced whereas in diarrhea no hard pellets are produced. Uneaten caecotrophs are a hygiene problem but not life threatening. Your rabbit will continue to eat well and produce his/her usual number of hard fecal pellets. Consult with rabbit knowledgeable people and/or your vet to get help with keeping your rabbit clean and making diet changes that will end the problem. Rabbits with diarrhea are usually anorexic and depressed. Because of major disturbances in metabolism, diarrhea can become rapidly fatal. SEE YOUR VET OR EMERGENCY CLINIC IMMEDIATELY.  Your vet will probably advise you to take your rabbit off all fruits and vegetables.  A diet of hay for about four weeks is the treatment of choice for this problem but do what your vet recommends.

Genital-Urinary (GU) Problems:


Neutering/Spaying: is required to keep your rabbit cancer free and on his/her good behavior. About 80-90% of unspayed female rabbits will develop ovarian or uterine cancer by the age of three. Incidence of testicular cancer in male rabbits is not high but neutered male rabbits are less likely to mark territory by spraying urine. Neutering and spaying reduce sexual frustration, aggression, destructive behaviors, and generally improves litter box habits. Female rabbits can be spayed at four to six months. Male rabbits can be neutered after their testicles drop at about three to four months.

URINE EXAMINATION: normal urine color can range from pale yellow to orange to brown to a dark red color that can be mistaken for blood. The color variations depend on the diet and are the result of the excretion of plant pigments. Normal rabbit urine is also turbid due to the presence of calcium carbonate.

Lower Urinary Tract Disorders: Companion rabbits are prone to lower urinary tract disorders. Urinary incontinence, "sludgy urine," depression, hunched posture, teeth grinding, perineal scalding, increased intake of water (polydipsia), excessive urination (polyuria), straining to urinate (tail is held high and rabbit may groan), and loss of litter-box habits are symptoms. A diet high in calcium, continuous confinement in a cage (because the rabbit tends to hold urine in for as long as possible so as not to soil his burrow), inadequate water intake, obesity, inactivity, arthritis, and genetics are predisposing factors.

"Sludgy" urine is a result of the calcium carbonate accumulation in the bladder that becomes a thick paste or sludge with the consistency of toothpaste. As a result, the rabbit develops bacterial infection and urinary incontinence. GET YOUR RABBIT TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY.

Your vet will test your rabbit's urine and may take radiographs. Underlying conditions will be identified and treated. Soiled and matted hair around the genital area will be removed and the area cleaned and treated if necessary. Pain medications and antibiotics will be administered. You will be advised on how to care for your rabbit at home.

If your rabbit has a medical problem that prevents him/her from urinating on their own, you may have to do bladder expression for them at home.  This link is to a video that shows you how to do it:  http://www.youtube.com:80/view_play_list?p=B2F6E8F4A4BD093F

How to Sex Your Rabbit from Rabbit Network

How Can I Determine the Sex of My Rabbit by Dana Kremples

Reproductive Tract of The Female Rabbit

Endometrtis, Orchitis, Pyometra

Causes of Red Urine in Rabbits, by Holly Nash, DVM

Yahoo group about rabbits with chronic renal failure (CRF), a kidney disease.

Expressing the bladder videos (mechanically helping your rabbit to empty his/her bladder):
 

Infections:

Tularemia
 
Caused by a bacterium Franciscella tularensis usually from a bite from a blood sucking insect.  The organizm causes acute blood poisoning and is fatal.   Read more at  http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Skin_diseases/Bacterial/Tularemia.pdf
 

Muscle-Skeletal Problems:

SPONDYLOSIS OF THE LUMBAR SPINE

This is a fairly common disease of rabbits over 4 years of age, particularly females of medium to large breeds.

Cause: The vertebrae in the lumbar or back area gradually develop little bony protrusions that can eventually bridge to the adjacent vertebrae resulting in the fusion of the two. No one knows the exact reason this happens, but it is likely an aging process. It can be aggravated if a rabbit is carrying excess body weight (obese). This is not life threatening and can progress for years.

Signs: The fusing of the vertebrae decreases the flexibility of the spine and prevents the rabbit from being able to jump and run as easily. Before these bony "spurs" fuse completely, they can rub on each other and cause some pain. The pain may come and go dependent on things such as the weather and how much exercise the rabbit got the day before. Rabbits affected with this disease"shuffle" rather than hop and on some days can become very reluctant to move at all. As the disease progresses, it may be difficult for the rabbit to get in and out of the litter box and he may soil himself.

For more information see:

Ophthalmic (Eye) Problems:


In companion rabbits, dental disease is often manifested in eye symptoms. This is partially due to swelling that blocks the duct that drains tears allowing bacteria and debris to accumulate. Conjunctivitis often results.

Conjunctivitis is characterized by excessive tears, swelling, and ocular (eye) discharge. Predisposing factors other than the above mentioned dental disease include poor ventilation and urine soaked bedding which leads to high environmental ammonia levels that irritate the conjuctiva. High protein diets, hay dust, mechanical irritation, eyelid abnormalities, and trauma are also factors. Your vet will identify the underlying reason for the conjunctivitis. Any foreign body will be removed. An antibiotic ophthalmic solution will probably also be prescribed.


Respiratory Problems:


Pasteurellosis as a primary infection in companion rabbits is uncommon. When it does occur as primary, it is in the newly acquired rabbit that has been bought from a breeder or a pet shop. Otherwise, it is found most often as a secondary infection and respiratory disease is the most common manifestation. In the adult rabbit, chronic, recurrent infections, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, bronchopneumonia, and tear gland infections are possible symptoms. High environmental ammonia levels, poor ventilation, poor air quality, and proximity to other infected rabbits are factors in acquiring the infection.

Treatment in the acute phase is by administration of antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). In chronic conditions there is an increase in pus production that makes it a difficult condition to cure. In addition to antibiotic therapies, surgical attempts may be made to drain the pus.

Rhinitis or "snuffles": is characterized by repetitive sneezing, snorting, and upper respiratory tract noise such as wheezing. It may be caused by pasturella or other organisms, foreign bodies, or tooth abscesses. Your vet will treat rhinitis by increasing your rabbit's fluid intake, by using steam therapy to loosen secretions, and by bring relief, and prescribing antibiotics, if appropriate.

Nebulizing Rabbits

Neurological Problems:


Vestibular (the system that maintains posture in relation to gravity) disease: is usually a result of E. cunniculi (a parasite that affects the central nervous system) or pasteurellosis infection. It is often referred to as wryneck , toricollis, or head tilt. It can also be caused by trauma, abscesses, toxoplasmosis, ear infections, or other neurological disorders. Depending on the cause, the vestibular symptoms can resolve with no treatment at all or the prognosis can be very poor. You vet will determine the cause and treat it appropriately. Antibiotic therapy will be prescribed if the cause of the vestibular disease is infection and your veterinarian will instruct you about how to give supportive care. Other medications that affect the vestibular system may also be given. THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Treatment protocol for E.cuniculi

Treating Head Tilt (Torticollis) http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/tilt.html

More infomation and help for head tilt, nystagmus, wry neck at http://www.onthewonk.com  and http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/OnTheWonk

Skin Problems:


Most skin problems develop because something interferes with or makes grooming difficult. Many skin diseases can be prevented by providing soft clean bedding, opportunity to exercise, a high fiber diet, weight management, and a companion who will diligently keep the coat free of mats and debris. Rabbits' skin is thin and sensitive and therefore easily irritated.

Cuterebra or werbels may be contracted when indoor rabbits are taken outside to play. This is particularly a problem in this area in the summer and the fall.

Dermatitis: results from constant irritation or wetness and may be caused by a variety of organisms in the locations that are continually moist. Your vet will cut the fur away from the affected area, clean the skin with an antiseptic, apply antibiotic cream, and in severe cases, prescribe systemic antibiotics.

Myiasis (Fly Strike): occurs in rabbits housed outdoors and sometimes in indoor rabbits when there are caecotrophs stuck to the perineal area when flies lay their eggs in soiled fur or infected skin. When the eggs hatch, the maggots are intensely irritating to the rabbit who becomes restless and exhibits a decreased appetite. If treatable, the fur must be clipped and the maggots picked out. The area can be dried with a hair drier. A precautionary dose of Ivermectin (toxic to maggots)is given and antibiotic therapy started. About half of the rabbits with Fly Strike have to be euthanized.
 
VIDEOS

FLYSTRIKE:  SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT: http://www.vetstoria.co.uk/templates/fly_strike_in_rabbits_1_symptoms_and_treatment-8-384-familypet.html

FLYSTRIKE:  Prevention (best to house rabbits indoors) http://www.vetstoria.co.uk/templates/fly_strike_in_rabbits_2_prevention-8-387-familypet.html

Parasitic Skin Problems: Fleas, Ticks, Ear Mites, and Fur Mites: Rabbits can get the same fleas that dog and cats get but the distribution on their body is different. Rabbits usually get fleas on the head, around the eyes and ears. However, the treatments used on cats and dogs can be LETHAL to rabbits. Selamectin (brand name Revolution) is safe for rabbits. Follow your vet's instructions in administering it. If you notice only a few fleas, remove them with a flea comb.  NEVER USE ADVANTIX OR FRONTLINE.  IT WILL KILL YOUR RABBIT.  USE REVOLUTION OR ADVANTAGE to treat fleas

TICK REMOVEAL:  www.lyme.org/ticks/removal.html

Mites can be found in the fur of rabbits who exhibit no symptoms. When there are symptoms, your rabbit will start scratching a lot, lose hair along his/her shoulders or back, and have crusty, flaking skin. Revolution is a good treatment for rabbits. Follow your vet's instructions.

An infestation of ear mites causes a crusty material on the skin of the ears, head shaking, and intense itching. They can also cause secondary infections. If left untreated they can cause head tilt (see Vestibular Problems). Ivermectin will also treat ear mites. If there is a secondary infection, your vet will prescribe an antibiotic.

In the case of all parasitic problems, environmental problems and issues of barriers to the rabbit's self-grooming should be addressed. Early intervention is essential to prevent secondary conditions that are costly and could be deadly to your rabbit.

Abscesses: are a cavity formed by disintegrating tissues and pus. They are formed as part of the body's inflammatory response to bacteria. In rabbits they are often caused by underlying dental disease, penetrating wounds from bites, foreign bodies such as seeds that penetrate the mouth, and surgical wounds. Depending on their location, they can be slow or fast growing and relatively painless or very painful. Symptoms result when they rupture or their growth starts interfering with the functioning of other organs. If this happens, your rabbit will show symptoms of pain, GI trouble, etc. as previously discussed above. Treatment involves draining the cavity or, ideally, surgical removal if possible. Rupture will probably make your rabbit very sick and require immediate attention from your vet. Otherwise, surgery can be planned.

NOTE:  Pus in rabbits is not liquid (it's like cream cheese in consistency) as it is in humans so it does not drain.  The capsule containing the pus must be surgically removed.

The Bicillin Protocol (M. Moore) for treatment of abscesses.

Herpes Virus:
 
There are several herpes virusus that can affect rabbits.  Two are specific to rabbits.  Herpes simplex can be passed from humans to rabbits but not from rabbits to humans.  Read more at http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Skin_diseases/Viral_diseases/herpes_virus.pdf 
 
 

HOME CARE FOR YOUR RABBIT

 

After your rabbit has seen the vet and the acute problem is stabilized you may have to provide home care for your rabbit.  This often involves syringe feeding, syringe administration of medications, and sub-cutaneous administration of fluids. 

 

To syringe feed, make sure you get a 35 ml or 65 ml catheter tipped (not lura-lock) syringe from your vet.  You should have also gotten packages of an Oxbow product called Critical Care, a powdered form of food for sick rabbits.  The powder comes in flavors and can be mixed with baby food applesauce, squash, or any approved fruit or vegetable that your rabbit particularly likes.  The mixture may need to be diluted with water.  Insert the syringe in the side of the rabbit's mouth and gently push the liquid into his/her mouth.  Take care not to squirt the fluid down the rabbit's throat and into his/her lungs.  Most rabbits are not fond of this procedure and will not be at their most cooperative.   Critical Care can also be directly purchased from many rabbit rescue groups and Alerts/News at the Oxbow web site. 

Most rabbit medications come in suspensions of fruit flavored liquids that can be administered by pulling the correct dosage into a dropper and then squirting the liquid into the rabbit's mouth.  Many rabbits learn to like the flavor and will eagerly suck the fluid from the dropper when offered.  See links below for detailed information about medicating your rabbit.

If your rabbit is not eating or drinking, is having diarrhea, s/he may have become dehydrated.  You can check your rabbit's state of hydration be lifting up the skin at the scruff of the neck.  If it snaps back into place, your rabbit is well hydrated.  If it stays tented and is slow to return to its normal position, your rabbit is dehydrated (skin tenting equals 5-7% dehydration).  If your vet feels that your rabbit needs more fluids, s/he will give you saline solution to inject sub-cutaneously at the scruff of the next.  The usual dosage is 100 ml/kg of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 lbs.)  Your vet will instruct you in this procedure before you leave the office.

Giving Medications to your rabbit:
 
 
Video:  How to Make A Bunny Burrito:  http://www.truveo.com/Bunny-Burrito/id/3113523250

DISABLED RABBITS

Cross posts for help for pets in need at http://www.handipets.com

E-MAIL SUPPORT GROUP (members only). 
 
 
ARTICLES & LINKS:
 
 
Carts at http://www.k9carts.com/success.html   
Carts, products, support at http://www.handicappedpets.com

Custom carts at http://www.doggon.com
 
 

Housing, supports, and care ideas for disabled rabbits at http://www.mohrskc.org/hrswebpg19.html

GERIATRIC RABBITS

E-mail support group for Senior Rabbits:

Problems of the Geriatric Rabbit, by Gary Riggs, DVM:  http://www.ohare.org/vol5_3.htm#geriatric

How to Mnage the Geriatric Rabbit, by Karen Rosenthal, DVM:  http://www.vin.com/VINDBPub/SearchPB/Proceedings/PR05000/PR00408.htm 

Treasuring Your Older Bun, by Josie Thompson, DVM:  http://www.rabbit.org/chapters/oakland/oldbun.html

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

Alternative Therapies at http://www.lagomorphs.com/mainpage.html

REFERENCES:


Harcourt-Brown, Frances (2002). Textbook of Rabbit Medicine Oxford, England: Alden Press

Smith, Kathy (2003).  Rabbit Health in the 21st Century: A Guide For Bunny Parents, Kansas City, MO.

RabbitWise strongly recommends that you buy and read Rabbit Health in the 21st Century by Kathy Smith (see Links), that you get involved with a rabbit organization, that you take the Rabbitology classes, and that you check out the links on this page.

For the Swiss work on rabbit medicine click here for the MediRabbit.

Click here to go to the public site of the Veterinary Information Network. In the search bar, type in rabbits for links to rabbit care and medical articles.

Where can I find a rabbit knowledgeable veterinarian to care for my rabbit?











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