Signs of a sick rabbit
My rabbit is showing symptoms like weight loss, hair loss, dehydration and varied colors in his stool. What should I do?
Melena is a condition in which digested blood is found in the rabbit’s fecal contents, making them appear green–black or tarry colored. It occurs as a result of bleeding in the upper digestive tract. It can also result from bleeding that has taken place in the oral cavity or upper respiratory tract. The affected rabbit swallows and digests this blood, which then results in the appearance of the melena.
Symptoms commonly associated with melena: Diarrhea, loose stool, green black stools, fecal staining of the skin around the anus, anorexia, weight loss, teeth grinding, abdominal distension, stomach ulcers (may be more common in stressed rabbits), dehydration, paleness of mucous tissues, poor haircoat or hair loss.
Causes: Gastric tumors,Gastric ulcers – typically associated with recent stress (disease, surgery, hospitalization, environmental changes),Obstruction in the digestive tract - tumors, foreign object,Metabolic disorders - liver disease, kidney disease, Swallowing of blood - oropharyngeal, nasal, or sinus lesions ,Reaction to drugs such as corticosteroids, analgesics, Bacterial infection, Clotting disorders (ie, lack of blood clotting, resulting in excessive bleeding). Rabbits with melena usually require hospitalization for 24 hours in order to receive medications, electrolyte therapy, and fluid therapy.
If, on the other hand, your veterinarian suspects there is an object lodged in the abdomen or that your rabbit is suffering from a tumor, he or she will most likely perform a laparotomy, in which an incision is made into the abdominal wall.
This will also enable your veterinarian to gather a sample of the growth for a biopsy, the only method for conclusively diagnosing whether a tumor is cancerous or not .
It is important that your rabbit continue to eat during and following treatment.
Encourage oral fluid intake by offering fresh water, wetting leafy vegetables, or flavoring water with vegetable juice, and offer a large selection of fresh, moistened greens such as cilantro, romaine lettuce, parsley, carrot tops, dandelion greens, spinach, collard greens, and good-quality grass hay. Also, offer your rabbit its usual pelleted diet, as the initial goal is to get the rabbit to eat and to maintain its weight and nutritional status.
If your rabbit refuses these foods, you will need to syringe feed a gruel mixture until it can eat again on its own. In some cases, tube feeding is more appropriate. Do not feed your rabbit high-carbohydrate, high-fat nutritional supplements.
My rabbit has been itching and scratching lately despite getting cleaned regularly. What should I do?
Scratching, rubbing, chewing or licking a certain area of its skin is often indicative of an inflamed layer of skin.
The causes : skin tumors, parasites (eg, ear mites, fleas, fur mites), allergies (eg, food allergy, medication allergy etc), irritants (eg, soaps, shampoos, bedding, harsh cleaning solutions)
If allergies are thought to be the cause, the vet will prescribe antihistamines. Otherwise, sprays, ointments or gels for local application are given; sometimes a zinc oxide plus menthol powder is prescribed. However, it is important that during treatment the affected area should be kept clean and dry.
Sometimes the application of anything topically - soaps and products containing alcohol, iodine, and benzoyl peroxide - can worsen itching; plain cool water may be soothing in these cases.
However, use extreme caution when bathing or dipping a rabbit into water, as it may become stressed and shake to the point of causing skeletal fractures.
Also, prevent the rabbit or its cage mates from licking ointments/gels before they are dry, and watch for signs for toxicity in the rabbit(s).