Leg Abscess - the healing process

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Rayen

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Quinn has never liked me. He's tolerated me, but that was at best when we were at a distance. I was generally okay with this. I could still clip his nails and make sure he got everything he needed, I just didn't pick him up very often.

I now regret that. I was cleaning their cage when I noticed he was limping a bit. I took a look at his leg, the dreaded abscess right in the joint of his back leg. I've dealt with these things a million times before in other animals, dogs, cats, rats and guinea pigs. So off to the first vet I went.

I was given medication and was told to keep it clean and that it would take a long while to heal fully. So I did what I always do. I cleaned it several times a day, I made sure he was getting his medication and I made sure he was eating enough and kept everything clean.

It didn't heal. Time went by and I decided to take him to a new vet to see what their opinion would be. It was not good news. The vet told me that he could do surgery on it but that ultimately he was certain it would fail and that the leg would have to come off. He recommended just amputating the leg.

Of course, I was devastated. I took a couple of days to think it over. I was almost certain I would just suck it up and get the leg taken off. I was doing research on how best to care for a three-legged rabbit who was older (he's six and a half years old) but I don't know if it was my terrible google searching skills or what but all of the stories I came across ended in sadness.

So I went to yet another vet for yet another opinion. The vet assured me that she could do the surgery to clean the leg up. That the infection wasn't nearly bad enough to just take his leg off. So I booked the surgery.

As it goes, he went through the surgery and the call came in a few hours later. The infection was worse than she thought (of course) and she wasn't sure if things would go well for us. Most of the leg tissue had to come off, not much besides tendons and the bone was left behind. There was a lot of puss. She wanted him to come in at least once a week for penicillin shots and bandage changes.

Three days went by and off we went to get his leg looked at. Three people entered the room, they started to take off the bandages and all of them looked at the wound. At first, the vet let out a disappointed sound. She said that she thought she could see some puss and that it didn't look too good. The second vet bent down to get a better look, smelled it and said that she could see new tissue growth and that it didn't smell like it was infected.

They decided to take him back to clean it and get a better look. An anxious twenty minutes or so later and they brought him back in with his leg bandage changed.

It was finally some good news! Apparently the tissue growth was something she hadn't expected to see at least for another week and there hadn't been any new puss. If everything goes well, she said that the chances for recovery are a lot better now.

Quinn has been extremely uncomfortable these last few days. He sprays now, and every time I have to clean out his cage or check for dampness or give him medication I get urine thrown at me. Sometimes I get both poop and pee all over me. He stubbornly refuses to be syringe fed anything, his medication (which is like 0.9CCs total) takes nearly five minutes to make sure it all gets into him. I've been giving him a bit of critical care as well, since he hasn't been eating his pellets lately and there wasn't a huge volume of poop coming out of him. That gets spit back all over me.

I understand that he's not feeling great, but it's so disheartening to try and help him heal when he's just so angry about it. I have at least another 5 weeks of medication coming, and I would really like some tips on making him more comfortable for both of our sakes(so much pee, he's apparently extremely well hydrated).

To end this overly long story, I guess I'm just looking for some advice and/or stories about something similar happening. It would be nice to see some stories where things went well instead of all of the stories I've come across full of gloom.

In any case, Tuesday is when we head back to the vet for bandage change and penicillin shot number 2. Here's hoping there's more good news!
 

Thumperina

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I just wanted to express some sympathy to both of you. You sound like a strong brave mature owner of Quinn, and I am very glad he has you (but not me, as his owner:)
I can imagine how hard everything is for both of you. I hope he recovers well. This is really good news that they saved the leg.
I also have a bun who is sick, but I have to admit she at least tolerates rather well whatever I have to do with her (after I manage to catch her :)
 

majorv

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I'm sorry you're having such a rough time. Abscesses are difficult to deal with. Yes, getting a rabbit used to being picked up and handled become a plus when the rabbit needs meds/treatments. Is he getting metacam for pain? If he's still uncomfortable then maybe the dosage isn't high enough? Maybe you could start picking him up just to pet him sometimes, just so he doesn't associate being picked up with something he doesn't like? Also, you might check with the vet if any of the meds he's getting can be mixed with a small bit of plain yogurt or something he likes, to minimize how much you have to give.
 

Rayen

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He is on medication for pain, I'm not super familiar with medication names but this one is labelled as M-Eloxyn 1.5mg/ml and I'm giving him 0.3CCs twice a day. I have already talked to the vet about some of these issues (especially the spraying and the difficulty getting medication into him) and they've looked over his chart and didn't say anything about increasing it yet. I'll definitely ask again on Tuesday if he's still acting up, he'll be done with his pain medication by then anyway so if he's still not feeling great I'll need more anyway.

I think a majority of the problem is that I've been bothering him several times a day for nearly a full month now. He was really willing to sit calmly while I gave his initial medication, but it's gone downhill from there. He tried to nip at me earlier today too, I hope that was a one-time thing!

I've moved him back into a cage with his lady friend today. They've been side-by-side for the last four days, I've been afraid that she'd chew at his bandages (she eats everything) but so far she's ignored it! I'll probably still keep them separated at night just in case. I just hope him moving around a tiny bit more doesn't do any damage to his leg after we got good news yesterday!
 

Thumperina

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they need to invent pain tablets that would taste like Oxbow simple rewards veggie treat. I am surprised nobody taken care of it yet. We are in great need.
 

Rayen

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I trusted him!

Four days of good bunny behaviour and today he chewed a tiny hole in the first layer of his bandage. Looks like the cone is going to have to go on more often now. Which is no fun for anyone!

Thankfully he didn't do any real damage, the vet isn't open anymore today and they're closed tomorrow. Very irritating. Here's hoping that's all he does to it.
 

Rayen

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The vet visit went well! They said his leg is healing about as well as they could've hoped it would. It's looking so good that they want us to leave it alone for most of this week and bring him in on Monday for his next penicillin shot.

He did lose a tiny bit of weight this time though. From about 1.75kg down to 1.67kg. He's so stubborn, and it's so hard to get critical care into him! I'm going to have to sit down and really get some into him each day. He's eating vegetables pretty well and eats some hay, but he doesn't seem very interested in his pellets.

He's also stopped peeing on me, and I haven't been nipped too many more times (or to the point that he's broken skin). Things are looking up!
 

Rayen

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Ugh, I'm so mad.

I went to the vet today knowing that the regular vet that did the surgery was getting her wisdom teeth removed today, so I had to see a different vet from the same office. I know none of these vets, this is the first time I've used this particular vet office and I only went there because I got a recommendation from my regular small animal vet when they couldn't get me in.

The new vet brought him into the back for the better part of an hour (I'm not entirely sure, but it was at least 45 minutes) when normally it took about twenty minutes to clean, dry and rewrap his leg. The vet then went on a rant about how terrible his leg looked despite the fact she had never seen it before, I knew his leg looked awful, but I wanted to know if it had improved from the last visit. The regular vet was sent pictures and she told us that it looked roughly the same as last week, so hopefully it hasn't gotten any worse. I feel horrible now because of how long this new vet went on about how awful it looked. Has it gotten worse and the pictures just didn't show it well? Ugh.

Then she charged me about twice as much as my last visit for the exact same thing. I didn't quite notice at first because I got a refill on medication and more critical care, but when I looked over the bill closely it showed a nearly $50 charge just for cleaning his leg with water. On top of the $35 for rewrapping his leg and an additional $30 (that I've never been charged for a rewrap before) for a 'brief office visit'. My last visit for a rewrap and penicillin shot was $55.

I brought him home, he was a bit stressed which seemed normal at the time. What wasn't normal is that he's now extremely uncomfortable looking. He won't eat any of the vegetables he normally eats without fail. He's lying in one spot and hasn't moved for nearly two hours. I'm probably going to have to go back now. I just hope that this new vet didn't do any damage to his leg with how long she took to clean it.
 

JBun

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I would complain to the previous vet that did the surgery, about this vets lack of knowledge and treatment of your rabbit, as well as the overcharging. There is no reason this vet should be ranting at you, especially without consulting with the other vet about the situation. You can also file a complaint with the office manager.

I would also speak to the previous vet that did the surgery and tell them that your rabbit is now extremely uncomfortable after the treatment from this other vet, and isn't eating now, and that you are worried this vet may have been too rough or may have injured something. Also, if your bun isn't on pain medication, he probably needs to be, especially after this appointment, and as soon as possible to help get him eating again.

I probably would also make sure I wasn't scheduled with this vet again.
 

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My Lion Head female (Fuddy)was almost 3 years old when she developed an abscess underneath each front paw (last September 2014). I took her to the vet several times over a 2 week period, which included several puss-removing stints, dressings and my administering twice-daily liquid antibiotics (after meals). She seemed to have recovered, but in June this year, she had them back again - in the same places. Ditto treatment as above and she seemed to recover after 2 weeks; I actually gave her the antibiotic for a full 3 weeks this time. However, about 1 month later she developed a very nasty (large) abscess under her front left paw; I missed it for too long so admit my guilt this time. I had, in the meantime, been recommended an "animal hospital" so took her to the rabbit doctor there; contd.
 

mike158

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Contd. After a full examination, the doctor gave her recommendation that the leg had to be removed. (Going what I have already said, I actually feared this would be the case). I had actually read up a lot about this subject online, and the doctor also added that with a serious abscess it is possible that the bacteria may also be residing elsewhere in the rabbit's body, e.g. the jaw, skull or joints. Being as Fuddy had had a good (albeit short) life, mothered some kits, plus the fact that she unfortunately had developed polyps and had become incontinent I made the decision to have her put to sleep. The doctor administered a general anaesthetic via the top of her ear and 2 minutes later administered the final chemical mix; she passed away peacefully - without pain - with me holding her on the operating table.
 

mike158

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Contd. After a full examination, the doctor gave her recommendation that the leg had to be removed. (Going what I have already said, I actually feared this would be the case). I had actually read up a lot about this subject online, and the doctor also added that with a serious abscess it is possible that the bacteria may also be residing elsewhere in the rabbit's body, e.g. the jaw, skull or joints. Being as Fuddy had had a good (albeit short) life, mothered some kits, plus the fact that she unfortunately had developed polyps and had become incontinent I made the decision to have her put to sleep. The doctor administered a general anaesthetic via the top of her ear and 2 minutes later administered the final chemical mix; she passed away peacefully - without pain - with me holding her on the operating table.
 

mike158

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Just over 2 weeks ago, my male Mini-Rex ("Boy") developed multiple abscesses on under ALL FOUR PAWS. I took him to the "animal hospital" and the rabbit doctor examined him - his temp. was 105!, gave him 2 injections, cleaned and bandaged the legs and gave me antibiotic liquid to administer twice a day after meals. This time (as opposed to the "animal clinic" that I had previously used), she also gave me bandages, sticking plaster tape and cleaning solution for ME to clean the woulds daily.
She gave me an appointment for 7 days later, but I ended up going back after 5 days as the antibiotic had run out. This time, being as the "rabbit doctor" was performing surgery that day, I saw a normal "dog/cat" doctor. He proved to be very knowledgeable and totally expert at dressing the wounds. One abscess on a back leg required a major puss-removal job. I had an appointment for 7 days later. At home, I continued cleaning and dressing the legs as well as giving the antibiotics. I took Boy back after 5 days (again) and informed the doctor that he was refusing to take his antibiotic liquid. The doctor suggested he give it via a daily injection instead, and gave a pain killing injection as well. All seemed well, but about 1/2 an hour after I got Boy home, he unfortunately passed away. Yes, I felt terrible.
 

mike158

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Critical Care: When you get the (light brown) powder, this is the way to mix it:
1. Use 1:4 with hot (boiled but cooled) water; put it in the plastic container, apply the lid and shake like hell till it is a nice mixture.
2. Let it cool.
3. Mix some tinned condensed milk (a little) with some hot water.
4. Get a large plastic syringe - the size that you put ink into your printer.
5. Use 4: 1 Critical Care mixture and mixture in (3) above.
Good luck; it saved my male Lion Head last year; he was down to 1.7 kg, recovered and is now 2.7 kg!!!
 

Rayen

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Now I'm even angrier.

I decided to give him the night to see if he was just really stressed out from what was happening. I really tried to get critical care into him and he was really not having any of that. I managed to get him to eat a tiny bit of banana (I had to bring out the big guns!) and maybe a few mouthfuls of critical care (it's so hard to tell how much he ate when so much ended up all over me!).

This morning he had eaten pretty much nothing I had left him with. I left him with Cheerios, pellets, favourite vegetables, three kinds of hay (including alfalfa!) and he maybe ate a few tiny baby lettuce leaves. He's still not taking critical care (which these last few days he's really seemed to finally enjoy).

I called up the vet and they were really not super interested in what I was saying. They didn't bother to look up his information, told me to get some critical care (I just bought a bag yesterday) and force feed him. I tried to explain that he wasn't even accepting that and they just told me to get as much as I could into him. I pushed for some pain medication and they didn't even want me to come in, they just wanted me to go to a nearby vet to pick something up (this vet office is roughly an hour away from where I live, I guess they thought it would be easier? I don't have a small animal vet nearby me though, so).

Eventually I managed to get an appointment with the vet that did the surgery (they didn't want to give me one because she was coming in, but not seeing any clients). I just don't understand why it had to be so difficult. Normally discussing how uncomfortable a rabbit is, and how little they are eating is more than enough to get an appointment to see someone. I just hope they don't decide to charge me an arm and a leg for this visit after how much I was charged yesterday.

Very disappointing, they seemed like a decent vet (despite the super passive-aggressive stance on raw feeding, but whatever, I wasn't taking my cat/dog there). I don't think I'll be coming back again for anything like this.
 

Kipcha

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This all sounds very similar to our experience with our Belgian Hare, Peace. He had an abscess on his right hock and it was a nightmare to deal with. It was literally an entire month of almost no sleep as I had to watch him 24/7. Our vet opted to try putting antibiotic beads in his leg after removing the abscess to try and prevent infection from building up again, but the vet accidentally removed too much flesh during surgery which resulted in an open wound and the beads just barely staying in his leg. The best part was that the beads were okay in the wound but if her ingested them, they were toxic. And he was OBSESSED with trying to rip them out of his leg.

Cone was a no go as he completely flipped out with it on so we wrapped his leg and literally did not leave him alone. Someone was always watching him and when he started to go at it we would make him stop.

After about a month, a split second of looking away at something while on Peace duty resulted in Peace getting a bead in to his mouth (We forced it open with the end of a spoon and got it out before he swallowed it, thank god) and he opened the few stitches he had. The flesh was dying around the wound and things were looking really bad for him, we were worried that we would have to put him to sleep since the vet was worried at how big the wound was getting and how it was progressively getting worse. As a last ditch effort to get it to heal, some research was done and we learned that pure unpastuerized honey was often used for healing purposes.

And wouldn't you know it, after smearing honey on his wound every other day, within a week new flesh was closing it shut and it did absoloute wonders. I know it sounds like witch doctor kind of stuff but it truly did save Peace's life. We thought it was going to be a sticky, gooey mess but when we wrapped his leg and would open it after the 2 days, the honey would be completely absorbed and left the gauze around it clean and dry, it was crazy. I had no idea honey could do that.

If you're desperate to get your buns leg to heal, you could ask your vet about this. It seriously it something I would highly recommend trying especially since our cases sound rather similar.

I'm sorry you're having a hard time finding a good vet, that is incredibly frustrating.
 

JBun

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So sorry this vet office is being so problematic. Like I said, I would make a formal complaint. Any decent rabbit vet knows that pain control is essential. I'm shocked that they were giving you such a hard time about getting some for your bun.

Kipcha, actually manuka honey is often used to help heal abscess wounds in rabbits.
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Skin_diseases/Bacterial/Absc_treat/abscess_treat.htm
 

Rayen

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Kipcha, your case does sound pretty close to what I'm seeing (the dying skin especially). I'll definitely ask about it when I go and see the vet to see what they think. I'm not super hopeful they'll have anything good to say about it, but no harm in trying.

I really hope he gets better, it's only been two weeks since his surgery and he's still looking pretty active(or, I guess, was until whatever that vet did to him happened, this better not be what leads him to the point of no return). I'm still hopeful that he'll heal up! The vet estimated that we'd be dealing with this for at least six weeks, so we're still pretty early on.

Hopefully talking to the vet that did his surgery will help to lower some of my anxiety over this from yesterday. I just want this nightmare to be over with!
 

Rayen

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Alright, so I went to the vet. Apparently his leg is worse, by the looks of all of the comparison pictures it's quite a bit worse actually. The vet thinks it may have something to do with him not being on pain medication the last week (she seemed kind of judge-y when she said this, despite the fact that I reminded her several times how much she gave me and when it ran out and I would hope it would be in his file even though they still ask me what medication he's on each time I go there like maybe I'm slipping a few of my own in there?).

Anyway, he's on pain medication now. If that doesn't help get his appetite back in the next day or so they'll give me something for his stomach. I have a giant bottle of pain medication anyway, so I shouldn't run out anytime soon (or fingers crossed anyway, the bottle cost like $55).

He doesn't have an increased temperature, his gut felt good, his heart rate was good and he wasn't dehydrated. We're going back on Friday to see if his leg starts to improve and we're probably going to start doing more bandage changes at home (which sounds awful).
 

Akzholedent

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Poor fella! I really hope he surprises us with a magical turnaround! Come on, little buddy, we're all pulling for you!
 

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