Noisy breathing & weight loss - anyone dealt with this?

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by MameJenny, Aug 28, 2019.

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  1. Aug 28, 2019 #1

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

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    Hi folks,

    I have a 2 year old purebred lion head rabbit named Pika. I have had him since he was 5 weeks old. When he was 4 months old, we took him in to be neutered and discovered he had a heart murmur. We were offered an EKG, but since he was not experiencing any problems at the time, we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t immediately needed.

    For the last 6 months or so, I’ve noticed that he has been getting a stuffed nose when he gets overheated (usually when he’s being held). It makes a snotty/snore-like sound, and sometimes he will start mouth breathing. This usually resolves itself when he wipes his nose or sneezes. I assumed he just had a bit of allergy, like one of my old bunnies.

    For the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that he’s also been doing this when he runs too much. It’s not continuous, and it’s only for a few seconds at a time. He also seems to have lost a bit of weight. Not an alarming amount, but his bones are a bit more visible than they used to be.

    He is still eating well (shy eater, but the food is disappearing, lol), and he is very active. Eyes and coat look good.

    I have a vet appointment for Friday with a rabbit specialist to check, but I’m worried. Obviously I’m concerned it could be related to his heart, but I’m also really worried about chronic diseases or cancers. I had a very traumatic experience with 2 elderly rabbits dying from cancer/pneumonia and one from liver failure in a two month span a couple of years ago, and I don’t want to lose another so soon. One of the cancer bunnies also had weight loss and labored breathing, though it was much more severe.

    Does anyone have any encouragement? I’d just like to hear about any other bunnies having these issues and being OK afterwards.
     
  2. Aug 28, 2019 #2

    JBun

    JBun

    JBun

    Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    I had an older rabbit with similar problems due to a thymoma. Though with your rabbits possible history of a heart issue, that is the most likely thing going on. Thymoma and heart problems can sometimes present similarly. Labored breathing and weight loss can both be signs of heart problems. Mouth breathing in and of itself, is always a very concerning symptom as it usually only occurs due to some sort of respiratory distress. So it's good you are seeing your vet right away. There is a possibility that there is an underlying case of a bacterial respiratory disease worsening the preexisting heart problems, and once that is treated with the proper antibiotic, the symptoms you are seeing will subside.

    If it is a heart problem that ends up being the primary cause of symptoms, it doesn't mean that nothing can be done. If it is something like congestive heart disease, while it is very serious, there are medications that can be given to help alleviate symptoms and manage the disease. It's not going to be an easy thing to deal with, but you can certainly provide your bun with a good quality of life as you manage the symptoms of whatever heart problem is going on. Best of wishes with the vet visit and I hope your bun can get on a good treatment plan to help improve his current condition, whatever the cause ends up being.
    http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Cardiology/Failure/congestive.htm (contains medical related photos)
    http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Cardiology/Failure/Cong_heart_en.pdf
     
  3. Aug 28, 2019 #3

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

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    Thanks for the advice. I read the articles and that made me feel a bit better. Looks like it is possibly a tooth issue also, based on symptoms - I’ve read that dwarves are very prone to them. Good to hear that chronic heart problems are treatable though - I figure he’s in a good position since he’s young, and his symptoms aren’t really severe right now, if that turns out to be the diagnosis.

    I’ll update with what I hear at the vet on Friday. It looks like X-rays are mostly used to rule out lung issues and heart failure - would you recommend requesting one at the vet?

    Here’s a picture of the little feller. Spent some time with him on the floor last night and he was delightful. Binkying and running in circles around me :)
     

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  4. Sep 17, 2019 #4

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

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    Thought I’d update this thread for anyone interested:

    Pika has two defects in his heart. The first defect is a hole between the right and left ventricles, which causes non-oxygenated blood to flow to his left heart. This causes the issues with irregular noisy breathing. The weight loss is probably unrelated (likely from his chunky friend taking food). This defect is severe in his case, and likely would have caused heart failure/death early in life in most cases. However, the valve/blood vessel leading to his lungs are also constricted, which is likely his body’s response as he grew to the other defect. This basically compensates for the primary defect. These issues are congenital, and likely due to the fact that his parents were siblings.

    Moving forward, he has a normal life expectancy. He’ll need a follow-up EKG in a year to check for signs of an enlarged heart, or worsening of the hole. He will also need blood tests to check for abnormal blood volume (which is from the oxygenation issue).

    I know there isn’t much info online for rabbit cardiac issues, so I am happy to share any of his records if anyone comes upon this post later on.
     
  5. Sep 17, 2019 #5

    JenGibs

    JenGibs

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    Wow! I’m so glad you have some answers and things to look for in the future!
    Your bun is so stinking cute!!!!
     
  6. Sep 18, 2019 #6

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

    MameJenny

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    Thank you! He’s a very good boy. Feisty but gorgeous and well behaved! I need to post pictures of all my buns. I also have a very rounded big white Rex. Been keeping bunnies for most of my life. The tiny puffball bunnies are my soft spot. :)[/QUOTE]
     
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