Rabbits Online > Pet Rabbit Discussion > Health & Wellness > My Netherland Dwarf bunny is underweight and not eating much

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Old 11-23-2012, 01:17 AM   #1
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Location: Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, USA
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I apologize if I come off as clumsy, but this is my first post.

My girlfriend and I have a gray, 2 pound (at least, he was) Netherland Dwarf, Otter Point, neuter male named Ollie. He is about 4-5 years old (a rescue) and he has been having difficulty eating his hay, lost interest in it, entirely, as food for several weeks. He has been on alfalfa-free pellets, as the vet said that they were giving him bowel infections, so he has not been on them for some time. Sadly, our vet and everyone in the area that we have contacted doesn't seem to have ANY alfalfa-free formula. Due to this, his weight has dropped dramatically.

We took him to the vet, who said that he would need money for blood work, which we are working on, to determine why he isn't eating his hay. He placed him on Oxbow Critical Care formula and we have been feeding him that for several days. He initially had interest in eating that alone, but it seems that he has lost interest in voluntarily eating that as well, so we are feeding him a syringe-full with a syringe of water every 4-6 hours.

My main question is this: would it be safe to return him to an alfalfa pellet formulation if he shows interest in eating it, given the condition he is in?

Thank you very much for your help. I am extremely grateful.

Further information:

Fecal and Urinary Output

- are the bunny's poops and pees normal? Some diarrhea after administration of the formula
- when did they last use their litterbox? Fairly frequently and recetnly
- any unusual behavior? straining to pee? unusual litter habits? No, aside from his apparent weakness and abstinence from food.
- what litter and/or bedding do you use? I believe the brand is Kaytee, but he stays with her in her room.

Medical History

- spayed/neutered? Neutered
- has s/he been to the vet or been sick before? Yes, as mentioned above
- is s/he on any medications? Only Oxbow Critical Care feed.


- what specifically does your bunny eat? Primarily timothy hay and alfalfa-free pellets.
- when and what did s/he eat last? We have been feeding him a syringe full of supplement food and one of water every 4-6 hours.
- any changes in the way s/he eats? (ie: not eating a particular food, odd chewing motions, etc) Not that I am aware of.


- movement - any unusual movements? Is s/he hopping normally? He just appears weak.
- is the rabbit molting? He's shedding some
- any weight loss? Yes, dramatic.
- any sign of drooling? wet face? No
- runny eyes? Yes, but the vet said that it was likely a sinus duct that was clogged by tooth root overgrowth.
- wet nose? coughing? sneezing? No
- is s/he breathing normally It appears so.


- any plants, chocolate or other substances within reach? No
- has the rabbit been outdoors? No
- any other pets? if so, have they been ill? Her family has a dog, but he's simply diabetic and doesn't even enter her room, where Ollie stays.

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Old 11-23-2012, 01:19 AM   #2
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I would appreciate any help at all in dealing with his care, regardless of the nature of the advice. Thank you all very much. <3

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Old 11-23-2012, 01:30 AM   #3
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What do you mean by alfalfa free pellets? At first I thought you meant timothy based pellets but then you mentioned weight loss from not being able to find alfalfa free pellets. I'm confused

The vet cant really know if teeth roots are causing the watery eye without having an xray of the head to actually confirm it to be the cause. I just went through this with one of my bunnies. She actually had to have her tear ducts flushed.

So is your rabbit eating anything at all?
Bunnies are like potato chips you can\'t have just one~ Maria
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Old 11-23-2012, 01:48 AM   #4
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Have his teeth been checked? Sometimes a rabbit will stop eating it's hay because it has developed sharp points on it's back teeth and it is cutting into the cheek or tongue. Because it is hurting it to eat, it will subsequently stop eating. This is especially a possibility for an older rabbit. I would definitely get his teeth checked right away. It may solve your problem entirely.

You could also try getting a different kind of grass hay. The coarser the hay(more thick stems) the more fiber but less protein. So maybe look for a softer early cut hay. It will be easier for him to eat and also have more protein in it to help him put on weight. Do you feed him any veggies? Green leaf veggies are easy for them to eat and they will often times eat them even though they won't eat pellets. If he's not used to veggies though, you will want to start off with small amounts to make sure he handles them well.

Is it for certain that it is the alfalfa that is causing the problem with him, or could it be the grains and molasses that is added to the pellets? I have a rabbit that got stressed, got sick, and once he got better, I couldn't feed him pellets anymore without him getting sick again. He won't eat hay so I feed him an alfalfa/timothy horse feed pellet. It doesn't have anything added to it, just plain alfalfa and timothy hay. So it wasn't actually the alfalfa in the pellets that was causing problems for my rabbit, but whatever was added into the pellet with the alfalfa.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:05 PM   #5
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I use Nutri Cal for cats/dogs to increase calories with a small amount of supplement.

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Old 11-25-2012, 06:36 PM   #6
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I'm sorry guys, this has been a rough few days.

Ollie passed away, though the emergency vet said that she was unsure why. She recommended an autopsy, but due to cost and, more problematically, the office being closed for Thanksgiving weekend, that was largely out of the question.

I am fairly certain that he died from some form of liver failure. I think that hepatic lipidosis was at least a contributing factor, especially considering the fact that he was anorexic, but the nutritional supplements didn't sustain him toward the end, either, even when force-fed.

I have been going over everything to try and figure out if I did anything wrong. A few months ago I gave him rose petals from roses I bought at the store for a short period. I washed them vigorously and he loved him. Could there be a relationship? Does anybody know?

His eyes ran for over a year, but the vet continuously said that it was different things, the treatment for which never worked, from an infection to a blocked duct. Could this be related?

He died at the end in the veterinary ER, on a heating vent. He had been suffering diarrhea from what little we were able to feed him. His temperature before being heated was so low that it wouldn't register, so it was below 90F. He seized a few times before he died. It was awful. He was really lethargic and couldn't stand or control his bowels before the end. The vet said, "This is more than just dehydration."

Thank you very much for your time and answers.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:51 PM   #7
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OMG, we're so sorry to hear of your loss. He wasn't exactly a youngster anymore, so it just may have been his time. We've had some that were near 14 and others at 3 that passed. The old ones we knew were going to be leaving, but our younger ones came as a total shock. Our first bunny, Commander Bun-Bun was just a little over six and passed in 4 days despite two vet trips and a lot of expense. Sometimes, it's just not to be. Like Johnny Cash once sang, "I don't like it, but, I guess things happen that way". Rest in peace little man and binky free.
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:16 PM   #8
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I'm so so sorry for your loss
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:14 AM   #9
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I'm so sorry you lost your beloved bunny! it sounds like you did everything you could for him and gave him a wonderful life for as long as fate allowed.

binky free, Ollie!
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:45 PM   #10
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Thank you for your condolences, everyone. It's greatly appreciated <3

My girlfriend has been wanting to get a small, female, blonde-coloured (I guess orange or cream), lop-eared bunny for some time now. We hadn't gotten her yet, due to cost and such, but needless to say, that has changed recently. I think my girlfriend would recover better from her loss if she had something warm and fuzzy to love on.

Does anyone know a reputable place I could find a small, , blonde, Holland Lop girl or a similar bunny? A rescue, any bunny that needs help, really, is preferable, but I am not totally unopposed to the consideration of an (*ethical*) breeder.


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