Help! Floppy rabbits

Discussion in 'Rabbit Veterinarian List' started by AmeliaL, Jan 17, 2020.

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  1. Jan 17, 2020 #1

    AmeliaL

    AmeliaL

    AmeliaL

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    So I adopted a rabbit Bonnie last year to be bonded with my old boy, Oscar. They were very happy and healthy for around a year before I found Oscar suddenly flopped on his side all rigid in March. I took him straight to the vets but unfortunately he had to be put to sleep. I thought this was due to old age and catching something in the garden or maybe a brain tumour until today.

    I adopted another rabbit Barney in April and bonded him with my other rabbit Bonnie no problems. They’ve been loving together happy and healthy until October time where I noticed his back legs became floppy and weak and he started to fall over. I also felt that he had lost weight although he was still eating and had a good appetite. Obviously I was hugely concerned (following what happened with Oscar) and took him straight to the vets only to be told that he was absolutely fine and maybe there was something going on before I adopted him. I wasn’t happy with this so sought another opinion from a different vet practice only to be told practically the same thing. So I took him home with some worming tablets and he seemed to perk up and I didn’t notice him falling anymore. I continued to raise that he was wobbly and that I thought he was skinnier than usual at their vaccinations and was told again that he was fine.

    This morning I found him laying on his side unable to move (like Oscar) and he was very sadly put to sleep and they told me at this point that they thought he was also very skinny (which I had been repeatedly raising!!)

    I feel that this is all connected and I’m wondering if Bonnie has something that is affecting her partners. I’ve been told that they can’t test for any parasites (I’m suspecting e. Conuculi) and that it will cost over £300 for blood tests which may tell me nothing!

    I really don’t know what to do next. I’m concerned Bonnie is going to be lonely without a friend but equally I don’t want to get another rabbit for the same thing to happen. Please let me know if you have any ideas/experiences/suggestions!

    Thanks, Amelia
     
  2. Jan 22, 2020 #2

    Theo

    Theo

    Theo

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    Interesting. Maybe she does have some type of parasite. I would let her live alone and give her lots of attention. I wouldn't try it out with another rabbit just to be safe. Only do the test if you think it is absolutely necessary.
     
  3. Jan 22, 2020 #3

    AmeliaL

    AmeliaL

    AmeliaL

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    Hi Theo,

    thanks for getting back to me! It’s an odd one but I think that’s my plan at the moment. I am expecting a call from a more senior vet sometime this week to discuss as well so I’m hoping they may be able to give me a bit more info. She’s fine in herself other than being a little depressed from losing Barney :(
     
    Brie Prsnk likes this.
  4. Jan 22, 2020 #4

    JBun

    JBun

    JBun

    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    First off, I'm very sorry for the loss of your rabbits.

    I really think you need to find a more experienced rabbit vet. Neither of the ones you went to sound like they are particularly knowledgeable about rabbits. Any vet that doesn't take the symptoms of a rabbit developing hind limb weakness/paresis as a very serious condition, isn't a good rabbit vet. The links below have lists of recommended rabbit vets in your country.
    https://www.harcourt-brown.co.uk/ve...-by-rabbit-owners/vets-owners-recommendations
    https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-care-advice/rabbit-friendly-vets/rabbit-friendly-vet-list/

    E. cuniculi can cause hind limb weakness, so is a possibility. But for you to have two rabbits develop very similar symptoms and not being related, makes me think there is some other cause. E. cuniculi can manifest with a variety of symptoms depending on which part of the body the spores end up affecting, such as kidney disease, neurological problems, ocular, heart, lungs, etc. For you to have two rabbits develop the same symptoms just makes e. cuniculi not as likely because of the randomness of how it develops.

    I would first look at a possible toxin in the environment, particularly if they are allowed to roam in a garden. I know there are toxic mushrooms that can result in causing hind limb paresis, usually temporary if excessive amounts aren't consumed. Then there is the possibility of a common trauma occurring causing spinal injury.
    https://rabbit.org/hind-limb-weakness-in-the-rabbit/
    http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/paresis.html

    There is something called floppy rabbit syndrome that is a temporary condition possibly brought on by a potassium deficiency. It usually results in the body being flaccid while the rabbit remains alert and can usually still move their head. Once the potassium balance is restored the rabbit quickly recovers, often within a weeks time.
    http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/00dis/Miscellaneous/Floppy_Rabbit_Syndrome.htm

    There is also toxoplasmosis from cat feces, that can result in hind limb weakness/paresis, along with other symptoms.
    http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Neurology/Toxoplasm/Toxo_rab_en.pdf
    http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/00dis/Parasitic/Toxoplasmosis.htm

    But for there to also be weight loss involved would make trauma and floppy rabbit syndrome less likely. So maybe a toxin that was ingested on a consistent basis, or possibly toxoplasmosis.

    Though e. cuniculi isn't as likely, it still could be a possibility. Because blood tests are costly for it and not always conclusive, often vets will go ahead and treat for it based on symptoms presented. It's what I would do. Usual treatment is with panacur(or other brand of fenbendazole dewormer) 20mg/kg, using either the liquid or panacur rabbit paste, for a minimum of a month. Vets will often include the anti inflammatory meloxicam to help reduce inflammation that could result in cell damage. In very severe cases some vets will opt for a short course of steroids to get the inflammation down quickly.
     
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  5. Jan 22, 2020 #5

    AmeliaL

    AmeliaL

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    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for all this info! In terms of rabbit friendly vets, my nearest is over 2 hours away unfortunately. I’m happy to travel but my rabbits aren’t! It’s unfortunate I live so far away from everything. I have requested that I am referred to an exotics specialist by my current vets and they are doing this at the moment.

    I’m thinking it’s unlikely to be something in the environment as I moved house/gardens between having the two rabbits to very different areas and I have checked all the plants that they can access.

    I also considered floppy rabbit syndrome but I think it’s less likely due to the weight loss and the way that they both flopped over was a lot more stiff.

    I haven’t heard of toxoplasmosis but will look into this.

    Barney did have a short course of Panacur when symptoms were first identified which is maybe why it took so long from first symptoms to the eventual end point. I wasn’t told much about this and what I should do next but I guess it could also make the e conuculi less likely if he had a course?
     
  6. Jan 22, 2020 #6

    JBun

    JBun

    JBun

    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Not necessarily. E. cuniculi can be very hard to get rid of completely. That's why the course of medication is for so long. It's really not a good idea for only a short course of it to be given to a rabbit exhibiting symptoms, as it's more likely to not be helpful and could lead to medication resistance with the affecting parasite. A short course is only recommended if a rabbit is not currently affected but has been exposed to one that has.

    Many times giving the medication just knocks the spore count down so the rabbit becomes asymptomatic but still carries the spores, which can reemerge at a later time. So it's not unusual for a rabbit that has had e. cuniculi, to have to be retreated several times through it's life.
     

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