In the 1990’s something weird was happening to cats in Adelaide. It may have been happening sooner but it was certainly in full swing when I graduated in 1994. It was dramatic and awful, and we really couldn’t explain it at the time.Continue reading “Does my cat need heartworm prevention?”
‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ Rapid Care
What To Do When A Rabbit Is Sick
- When rabbits get sick they tend to hide serious illnesses until very late so if something is suspected to be wrong it’s best to get it checked by a vet
- Common causes of illness in rabbits are gastrointestinal stasis, kidney stones and traumatic injuries
Now dive deeper.
Caring for rabbits is an increasingly large part of our daily workload. Here are three of our recent cases which show the complexity and variety of rabbit diseases, and the need to treat them with special care. One story does not end well; the owner has requested we included this as a warning to other rabbit owners.
Mr Poppy is over ten years old, and still healthy and happy even if he sleeps a lot these days. Like most rabbits of his age, he needs daily treatment for arthritis, but he’s still an active bunny. As you can tell by what happened.
He came in from playing outside with his mate holding up a hind leg. When he came to us, it was clear he had multiple fractures of his metatarsal bones. Without surgery, he would be in serious trouble as a rabbit’s hind leg must be fully functional, and it wouldn’t ever heal by itself.
We scheduled surgery for the next day. Rabbits can’t and don’t vomit, so we don’t starve them before surgery. This is also to help prevent gastrointestinal stasis (see Hunny Bunny later).
We placed a drip for intravenous fluids in a marginal ear vein, and gave him a normal gas anaesthetic via endotracheal intubation, just like dogs or cats (or people!). His X-rays showed three fractures; the two central bones needed pins but the third (arrow) would heal once we aligned the other two. It may look logical from the xray but trust me: there is nothing more fiddly and needing more patience than pinning such tiny bones.
His whole anaesthetic took two hours but we are very happy with the result. At suture removal yesterday he’s looking great, moving well and even starting to ‘thump’ again. In the meantime his owners found the cause of the injury; his mate had knocked a loose brick off a pile and he was probably in the wrong place.
Hip Hop was a well-loved bunny who we not only saw for regular check ups, but would even go to board with Rachael’s bunny at times. All seemed well until Hip Hop started losing weight and going off her food.
Just like in any species, we took blood which showed tragically advanced kidney failure. Hip Hop’s x-rays showed large nephroliths (kidney stones) which were considered to be the cause of the problem. Our opinion was that he was unlikely to survive the disease, very likely to get worse, and so we recommended euthanasia to prevent suffering. Her owner was devastated.
On investigation, it was discovered that her diet contained a high percentage of lucerne hay. Her owner knew the importance of hay in a rabbit’s diet (see Feeding Rabbits). However, when selecting hay, it is a common and easy trap to select lucerne hay; it’s nicer looking, as you can imagine from the second picture, and rabbits prefer it.
The most important message here is that lucerne hay (identified by its oval leaves; it’s not a grass) contains an excessive amount of calcium. Kidney and bladder stones are a great risk, though until I saw HipHop’s problem I didn’t know just how high that risk was. When selecting hay for your rabbit, make sure to only feed grass hay or meadow hay.
Hunny Bunny came to me one recent Saturday lethargic, not eating and limping on a hind leg. He was clearly in pain. It was also clear that the pain had caused a secondary ‘gastrointestinal stasis’ where his gut had stopped moving. Crucially, he was no longer producing the steady supply of droppings that indicate a healthy rabbit.
To give an idea of how we think, our concern was mainly the fact that his gut had stopped. This is often fatal to rabbits even more than colic can be to horses. Rabbits are herbivores with a complex fermentation process easily disturbed by outside forces. Read more about GI stasis and rabbit digestion here.
Seeing he was not too bad, and hoping it would be a short-lived problem, I prescribed pain relief. He did improve over the weekend but deteriorated again so that several days later it was clear he needed to be hospitalised. We placed a drip and started medications to control pain and stimulate his gut, combined with syringe feeding a critical care mix. It was touch and go for several days and his full recovery was only possible when we could send him home to the continued care of his owners.
He’s back to normal now, and his owners have since found what is likely to have been the cause. A goshawk is hanging around their yard, and although they do not usually attack such large prey it does seem to have attempted to take him and caused the injuries in the process. Goshawks are one one of the rarer native species in Adelaide. I always get a thrill when I see one so I hope the two can live in peace and harmony.
Have something to add? Comments are welcome and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet has has a problem, please seek veterinary attention.
Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
Having pets is such a rewarding part of being human. But have you ever thought how it is we can keep animals as pets? Why are some animals great as pets and others often a complete disaster? What’s going on? Today I want to explain why a small group of mammals are literally made to be our pets and why you should think very carefully before owning any others.Continue reading “What koala cuddling can teach us about pets”
The fact that you are reading this means that you use the internet and you probably know how to use a smartphone. What you may not know is how useful your smartphone can be for your pets. These amazing pieces of technology are not only changing our lives but those of our pets as well. Here are some of the ideas we see:Continue reading “How you can use your smartphone to help your pet”
“I thought you can’t bath a dog more than once a month”. We hear this almost every day when we tell someone how the right bathing strategy can help their dog’s skin (read how to bath dogs later). This has to be the most common and widely held myth of all and it deprives dogs of a great way to soothe their itchy skin. However, there is an element of truth to it.Continue reading “Bathing Dogs: How Often To Bath, How To Do It”
Please, please, don’t ever think you are wasting our time! When you tell us something isn’t right, we’re not going to ask for proof. You know your pet better than anyone so you are the first person to see your pet’s illness. Sometimes, at the vet we won’t even be able to see the problem but we’re always going to take it seriously.Continue reading “You’re NOT wasting our time!”
Everyone says large dogs die sooner than small dogs. You hear it on the TV, in the park, and it’s been said as long as anyone can remember. Just google this blog’s title and you’ll see what I mean. But is it true?Continue reading “Do big dogs have shorter life spans?”
Choosing the right place to board your cat is more important than you think. Twice in the past week we’ve seen cats get sick after being in boarding. We also seen cats lose weight and have anxiety problems which could have been avoided if their owners knew what to look for when choosing.Continue reading “How To Find A Good Cat Boarding Cattery”
“Watch out. Those dogs are crazy, they bark and dig and destroy things.” This is what Daisy’s owner was warned when he told his friends he wanted a heeler.
Luckily for him and Daisy he didn’t listen and followed his instincts. And he is now able to enjoy one of the closest and happiest dog-owner relationships you will ever see. Read how he did it.Continue reading “Myth 25: Heelers, Kelpies and Collies are crazy”
Those who have been following our Facebook will know about the three dogs owned by a victim of domestic violence. She was taken to hospital and her dogs were in urgent need of emergency housing. Now that their owner has found safe accommodation, she has been reunited wth her beloved dogs and it is safe to tell their story.Continue reading “Golden Grove Boarding Kennels help a woman in need”