kidney disease/diabetes in rabbits

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erikamc

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After our male bunny passed away from most likely a genetic condition (he was the last one alive out of his entire litter at the age of 1.5) we decided we were going to stick with one bunny, our female(S) Rorschach. however, even though they weren't bonded, she was super mopey. The pet rescue I foster for ended up with a white supposedly female bunny and I convinced my boyfriend to give two bunnies another try by just splitting the room in half and each having their own side (so only two litter boxes instead of three and no cages to clean). So thats what we did. We brought home Betty White, separated them with an expen and zip tied cardboard to it to do the best we could at isolation. Took Betty to the vet to find out that Betty was a boy, so Betty White is now Barry White. Barry drank a lot of water from day one, but he was also eating a ton of cardboard and we didn't know his history so the vet said we'd wait and see. Barry was neutered. about 2-3 weeks ago we decided to see how Rorschach and Barry would do meeting as they seemed to enjoy each other through the bars, instant love. Made me so happy. But Barry was still drinking a lot and peeing a lot and I noticed yesterday he lost weight. I'm waiting for the vet to call me back to see when they can get him in for some blood work. Barry is still active, and still eating, and since this has been going on from day one with us, I'm not freaking out too much. I'm also a former vet tech though and I'm pretty sure its one of two things. Barry White is either diabetic, or his kidneys are shot. Since diabetes is super rare in bunnies, my money is on that, because that would just be the way things go in my house lol! Any way, I guess I'm wondering if it could be something other than those two things. Also curious if anyone here has a diabetic bunny?
 

JBun

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You're right, diabetes would be extremely rare in rabbits. And kidney disease is much more likely than diabetes, but there are a few other possibilities that I would be looking at first, that are more common causes for weight loss, craving fiber, and excessive thirst and urination in rabbits. The most common cause being dental problems.

Rabbits, like horses, have teeth that continue to grow, and if improper wear occurs they can develop sharp points on their molars, which then dig into their tongue and cheek causing ulcers and makes it painful for them to chew certain foods, most often that being hay. This can cause reduced appetite and reduced hay eating, which would account for the weight loss, especially if pellets are limited in the diet.

The reduced appetite and not eating hay well will slow down the gut, which then causes a craving for fiber, and if a rabbit can't chew hay because it hurts from the mouth ulcers, they sometimes turn to cardboard to try and fill this craving(which then poses a gut blockage risk).

Dental problems can also cause a rabbit to drink more to fill the stomach because it hurts for them to chew. So they're hungry but chewing causes pain, so they turn to water to fill their belly, and also the water to help sooth the mouth sores.

It's also possible it could be an infected tooth causing pain and these symptoms instead of molar spurs. If so, you may need xrays done to confirm or rule out possible tooth infection, along with a thorough dental exam to check for spurs.


So that's what I would be looking at first, as the cause for your rabbits issues. Especially if your rabbit is selectively eating and not wanting to eat certain foods like hay. It would be the most common reason to see these types of symptoms in rabbits.

If dental problems can be ruled out and your rabbit is continuing to eat plenty of hay and pellets without issue, next most common reason for weight loss and excessive thirst/urination, would be kidney problems caused by the parasite e. cuniculi. And if this is the cause of your rabbits impaired kidney function and it isn't too compromised, there is a possibility that with treatment, that kidney problems won't be permanent. But it just depends on the extent of the damage the EC spores have done.



So those two possibilities are what I would be looking at first. Another possibility can be diet related, if you feed a pellet free diet. I encountered it with a new rabbit of mine years ago, that was corrected with a diet change. And then a very rare possibility could be if you feed a mostly pelleted diet, with the pellets being a bulk quality pellet(feed store pellets, though pet quality pellets could still be a culprit, just less likely), and there is a problem with the vitamin D content of the pellets. If you do either of these, I can explain the possible causes in more detail if you think this could be the problem.
 

erikamc

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Hmmm....the vet did check his teeth and said they might need to be trimmed down the road, but maybe she didn't get a good enough look at them. he seems to eat hay, but maybe he isn't actually. I'm glad there might be other causes because it would be heartbreaking to lose him. I also apparently need to find a new bunny vet as mine is retiring. they get 1/8th a cup of oxbow adult pellets once a day (she is 9 pounds and her weight is good, he is the same size as her, but ya know, skinny). unlimited hay access and maybe about 3-4 cups of greens a day. off to shop for a new vet, thank you so much for the info, and hope!
 

JBun

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Until you're able to get this sorted out, if you can't verify your bun is eating plenty of hay, you may want to supplement his food to see if it helps him put some weight back on. If it is a dental problem and he isn't eating much hay, he'll need food he can eat until you're able to get the dental problem sorted.

Maybe try more pellets. At almost 10 lbs he could easily be given 1/2 cup or more a day, unless too many pellets cause digestive problems for him. Or try a hay pellet, like standlee timothy or orchard hay pellets made for large livestock. I've used them for a rabbit I used to have, that wouldn't eat loose hay when I first got him. They are a bit bigger pellet, but it didn't seem to be an issue for him to eat, and it worked well to supply the fiber he needed in his diet until he eventually started trying loose hay.

Best of luck with the vet hunting. I know what a task it can be to find a good rabbit vet.
 

erikamc

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I was thinking that (more pellets) and I'll make my boyfriend sit in there and watch him eat them to make sure Rorschach isn't stealing from his plate. I did get him in for Friday morning hoping they are a good bunny vet, at this point they were the only vet that does bunnies who could see him this week (and the 4th vet I called).
 

erikamc

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So Barry White had his very appointment Friday morning. He does have some points on his teeth, she said it isn't bad yet but there is some ulceration. He is going in on the 16th to get them trimmed, and we will do blood work then as well. She sent him home on some antibiotics and pain meds. In the meantime, we have been separating him to give him as many pellets as he wants a couple times a day. I think that's been working because I feel like his water consumption and urine output has gone down significantly. Now I feel horrible to think that he was starving :-(
 

JBun

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It's part of the difficulties of rabbits as pets. They don't let you know like a cat or dog does, when something is wrong. A cat or dog will meow or whine, or follow you around to let you know they're hungry or not feeling well. A rabbit just goes quiet or soldiers on quietly, finding a way to compensate.

It's not always easy to notice, especially when they're in a pair or group and you can't always monitor their input and output as precisely as you can when they're just by themselves. It's usually when they start showing more symptoms that it becomes more apparent there's a problem. You're not alone there, in having these things slip by at first. They can be easy to miss. But good thing is you did catch it in time to get him looked at and get the problem checked out, and hopefully corrected with the trim.
 
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