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Rabbit heart attacks?

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lauren8165

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Do rabbits have heart attacks easily? I have heard about it since first getting my bunny and it worries me. Has anyone else had their rabbit have one?
 

Whiterabbitrage

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I've wondered about this too. I met a fellow house bunny owner once who told me their mini lop died of a heart attack because of the vacuum cleaner. Can rabbits really die of fright?
 

RavenousDragon

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It's not THAT common- but happens often after an animal attack. It takes a very scary event, basically. If anyone is curious, the catecholamines released when extremely afraid will lead to an extremely high heart rate and not a lot of time in diastole (when the heart relaxes). This reduces blood flow to the myocardium (muscle of the heart) and that ends up killing them 1-2 hours after the fearful event (up to 24 hours).
 

Preitler

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Two years ago my buck died some hours after a fox attack, I got between them before the fox could hurt him, but the stress was too much.

I still wonder if I could have done something, what I found on the internet was to give the rabbit rest, quiet and piece in his familiar hutch, but there he just slipped away. If something like this ever happens again I'll stay with the bunny and try to keep it from getting too quiet. Or put my senior doe with him. It may not change the outcome, but I'll have to try something.

Even a dog rattling the cage bars can scare them to death, that's one reason every of my hutches has hiding places.
 
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RavenousDragon

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Once the myocardium is starved for oxygen it can't be fixed unfortunately. :( That's what happens when humans have a heart attack, only this is the majority of the heart. So know that you did nothing wrong with your last rabbit and that you couldn't have done anything once the fox attack already happened. It was not your fault at all.
 

Preitler

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Ah, I do not think dying from shock, which rabbits are somewhat prone to and which at least here is more or less proverbial called "having a heart attack", is the same as a oxygen starved heart muscle, right? I mean, there's no reason for blood vessels to be blocked or ruptured. I would think it's more some kind of a neurological issue.

Today I think there was another attack, heard a rabbit scream and bolted down the stairs to the river where 4 young bucks had garden time, a neighbour said he saw a fox running away, didn't see it myself. All rabbits are ok, one apeared somewhat shaken but hadn't lost his appetite.
*sigh* It's again time to plant the wildlife camera, put a hand drill with a big allen key in it's jaws into a steel bucket and connect it to a motion detector, but the first fox was awfully mange ridden and had lost all caution, had to solve that problem in other ways.
 
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lauren8165

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That is awful. I am so sorry to hear that. Luckily my buck is inside (I try taking him outside in the backyard for exercise, but he get soooo scared for some reason). I have had to grab him and put him on his back, or "trans" him, so that I can clip his nails and he just breathes so fast and his little paws just shake so bad and it breaks my heart. Do you think that could cause him to have a heart attack? I try to be as quick as possible. Is there another way to clip his nails besides transing him?
 

RavenousDragon

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Prietlier, I'm so sorry for your wildlife struggles- that is not easy.

So the myocardium is starved because the heart is beating too fast- sorry if that wasn't clear! The heart itself fills with blood when it's not squeezing. So if it's beating to fast, it can't fill it's own muscle with blood and the heart is starved of oxygen and that part dies. When a human has just a heart attack it's because (usually) there is fat clogging the coronary arteries, and so regardless of the heart pumping, it's not getting blood because fat is in the way. It's the same result, but a slightly different cause. In rabbits, the coronary arteries are blocked by the beating of the heart itself, rather than fat. This kind CAN happen in humans and other animals too, it's just more rare for us large animals since our heart is so slow.
 

Preitler

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Ah, thanks, I learn something new every day.

(I try taking him outside in the backyard for exercise, but he get soooo scared for some reason)
Did you try to just open the door, grab a book and sit just outside the door where he can see you? Just seeing you being calm and relaxed can reassure him enough to try, don't comment much on anything he does, don't stare at him, keep reading. May not work the first time, but imho much better then meddling or activly encouraging.
 

lauren8165

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I do exactly that. Well, I play on my phone and sit out with him. I don't acknowledge him unless. He comes up to me. I leave the door cracked and he runs in and out, in and out. It's like he wants to be outside really bad, but he is scared the entire time he's out there. He jumps up on my back alot too.
 

Blue eyes

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That is awful. I am so sorry to hear that. Luckily my buck is inside (I try taking him outside in the backyard for exercise, but he get soooo scared for some reason). I have had to grab him and put him on his back, or "trans" him, so that I can clip his nails and he just breathes so fast and his little paws just shake so bad and it breaks my heart. Do you think that could cause him to have a heart attack? I try to be as quick as possible. Is there another way to clip his nails besides transing him?
Couple thoughts here.

One, is that it isn't necessary to take him outside for exercise. This can really frighten some rabbits. He can get all the exercise he needs indoors. I have found that my indoor rabbits do most of their exercise (running and binkying) while indoors. If I take them outdoors (in a limited area as in photo) they tend to do more exploring than exercising.

Two, is that trancing a rabbit is considered highly controversial. Some think it's fine, others say it is highly dangerous. It does put them into a panic state and, yes, can cause a heart attack. Some rabbits do better with it than others. Yours does not sound like he does well with it. Here is an article on that:
http://www.hopperhome.com/trancing_rabbits.htm

On another note, the way you describe your guy going out and back in after a very short time is not at all unusual for the more cautious rabbits. I have one rabbit that was like this indoors. His first ventures outside his cage inside the house were just like that. He'd frequently run back to the "protection" of his cage. This is how they gain confidence - some much more gradually than others.

100_8255.jpg
 

lauren8165

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I am VERY new to owning a rabbit so all this info is appreciated. He does do alot of exploring/playing indoors. I just give him the option to come out with me now instead of taking him outside. He comes out when he wants to.

I am very uncomfortable with transing him, but is there another way to clip his nails without having to pay for a vet to do it? I assume they would trans him or sedate him, which would probably be costly.

I am learning alot as I go, but still like to ask alot of questions since I am still so green. I can't say enough how much this forum has helped along the way.
 

RavenousDragon

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Is he ok with you just holding him? I'd start by giving him treats while you simply hold him and then slowly transition him (aka over weeks/months) to the point where you can turn him over for the nail trims. Asking questions is GREAT- keep it up!! The vet would probably (unintentionally) trance him. Have you tried towel wrapping and doing it upright but with him wrapped in a towel?
 

Blue eyes

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Some rabbits can be much more difficult to clip (nails) than others. I usually don't have a problem, but I have had 1 or 2 that were extremely difficult. I would take one to a rabbit rescue for her clippings. Even with their experience, it usually took two people to clip her nails - one to hold her, the other to clip. Rescues often clip for free (or very nominal charge) and give a visual "health check." Are there any rescues by you?

My current bunny is also quite shy. For him, I place him on a laminate floor (he doesn't like those since he can't get grip). I sit on the floor with my legs out in a "V" and place him facing out (my legs forming a barricade). He may try to scurry away, but he can't with the slick floor. I settle him by petting his head firmly. Then carefully clip one paw at a time. Often I only clip one or two paws and then give it a break for several days before getting to the other paws.

For other rabbits, I've used the "bunny burrito" (towel wrap). Just take one paw out of the snug wrap at a time. This may be easier with a second person to help.
 

lauren8165

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Is he ok with you just holding him? I'd start by giving him treats while you simply hold him and then slowly transition him (aka over weeks/months) to the point where you can turn him over for the nail trims. Asking questions is GREAT- keep it up!! The vet would probably (unintentionally) trance him. Have you tried towel wrapping and doing it upright but with him wrapped in a towel?
He is definitely not ok with me holding him. He will let me pick him up without trying to get away every once in a while. I'm going to try and see if he will let me clip them while I pet him. He let's me kiss and rub all over him when I pet him, so I will try and see if he will go for that. It breaks my heart when I trans him and I really don't want to do it anymore.
 

lauren8165

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He is definitely not ok with me holding him. He will let me pick him up without trying to get away every once in a while. I'm going to try and see if he will let me clip them while I pet him. He let's me kiss and rub all over him when I pet him, so I will try and see if he will go for that. It breaks my heart when I trans him and I really don't want to do it anymore.
 

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