Any experience of an enlarged heart

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Well-Known Member
Oct 27, 2019
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Sadly one of our bunnies Narla was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. I was wondering if anyone else has any experience with this that they could share. We had her investigated due to her third eye lids showing at unusual times but that was her only symptom.

Thank you
The only somewhat similar situation I experienced, was with a rabbit that had thymoma. This can show similar symptoms of a protruding third eyelid, increased respiratory effort, fatigue, and weight loss, because it puts pressure on the heart and chest cavity. Though heart problems can't be cured, there are meds that can be given, to help alleviate symptoms and reduce the strain on the heart.
Thank you for the info JBun I feel gutted at the moment as she was sedated to have her x-rays and also teeth done as they thought they were sharp and could be causing her pain. Given her health otherwise the vet was extremely shocked to find what they did on the x-rays. I feel like in trying to do the right thing and find out what was wrong giving her an anaesthetic was the worst thing we could have done for a heart problem. :(
You couldn't predict what the vet would find. You were doing your best to provide the care you thought your bun needed.

I think heart problems are more common in rabbits than it seems. It's just that they usually go undiagnosed until a stressor causes a sudden cardiac event, which usually proves fatal. I think it's fortunate you discovered the heart problem before something triggered an attack, and while there is still time for you to try and do something to help your bun.
Hi @JBun Narla’s x-rays were looked at by a specialist vet and they have suggested a referral consultation and Heart MRI scan as he was suspicious about thymoma. If you don’t mind me asking were you given any treatment options for your little one that was affected by this? I feel so conflicted about what to do I’m terrified that giving her more tests will cause too much stress on her heart but desperately want to try and help her if we can. Thanks so much
My bun was very poorly and towards the end of his life when it was finally suspected he might have it and not a heart condition (second opinion from a different vet). We attempted steroid injections to start with, but he passed soon after starting them.

For a rabbit that is still healthy enough, if it's an available option for you to access these other treatment options, and it's possible to manage for you, there are the possibilities of having surgery, radiation, and/or chemo to treat thymoma. Though there's also deciding if it's in the rabbits best interest to subject them to these procedures that are bound to cause additional discomfort and/or pain, even though it's temporary. But that's something each individual owner has to weigh, whether it's worth the risk and difficulty. Or not, and just manage the symptoms with meds as best you can and let bun live with what time they have left as comfortably as possible.

If your bun does end up having thymoma and you decide to explore the radiation
treatment route, the vet school in Edinburgh is listed as having that capability. There may be other locations in the UK, though they're not listed in this article below. There are several links in this article, talking about the different treatment options.
Oh bless him poor little man. Narla has an enlarged heart and now suspected thymoma I’m unsure if the two things are connected but it’s not sounding good. She is well at the moment and hasn’t lost any weight so if we are going to try and do something now is the time. Unfortunately we don’t have insurance and are funding everything out of our own pocket which the vet knows so
I’m hoping they wouldn’t recommend a referral and scan if they thought there was not a reasonable chance of being able to do something but it does sound like there might be some options if that’s what is going on.

The hardest part is going to be deciding what to do due to risks of causing more pain like you say. I think we will just have to trust the vets on what they think is the best route for her quality of life. Thank you for sharing your experience I really appreciate it.

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