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Rabbit Paralyzed at Vet Office - need help. - RIP

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DharmaBuns

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Age: ~ 7 Months
Weight: ~4lbs
Gender: Buck
Breed: Tan
Diet: Lots of Hay, Pellets and occasional veggies

I took my Tan buck in to a well-known rabbit friendly clinic on Tuesday for a minor issue. He had a small sore on his foot after a tussle with a rabbit in a neighboring cage and I just wanted to make sure that it was healing properly.

I got a call a few hours after dropping him off from the Vet saying that during his exam he had been able to get loose from the towel and kick out one of his back feet. The technician (who was holding him) told the vet (who didn't see this part) that he had a seizure for about 3 seconds then afterward could not use his back legs.

The vet clinic told me over and over that it wasn't their fault. They were trying to blame it on every possible thing other than their own technician allowing him to get loose from the towel and kick out his back feet. They've been a bit shady and while the vet was very apologetic that it happened, I haven't felt like they've been very forthcoming as to WHY/HOW it happened.

I don't have another vet in the area that I can take him to for a second opinion. The vet that I take my dogs/cats to said that (without having seen him or the x-rays) it does sound like an injury did occur rather than this 'seizure' business that the vet was talking about.

Right now we're trying 6 sessions of "laser" therapy to see if he can regain any function. At this point, he is totally unable to use his back legs. He does react a bit to pain in his toes, but only slightly. He also does not seem to be able to urinate on his own, but he can (and does) poop freely.

What can I do? I don't mind taking care of a disabled rabbit and had, in fact, been looking at getting him a bunny wheelchair. However, if he can't urinate on his own I'm afraid that it's going to be a lifetime of UTIs and such. I do work from home but I'm afraid about any time that I will need to travel and won't be able to express his bladder manually.

Does anyone have experience with this? I'm just so mad/frustrated/upset about this whole situation that I feel very lost.
 
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I can't offer much except my anger for your situation. I can't imagine how you feel about it all, especially when the vet clinic isn't taking the blame for something that was obviously their fault, regardless of whether or not it was an accident.
Hope your little guy pulls through!
 

LakeCondo

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I would be seeing if a lawyer would take your case, with them getting a portion of the settlement. That's why vets have malpractice insurance. He just doesn't want his rates to go up.

Surely you could go to another vet, even if it's a few hours away. I wouldn't let anyone there touch my rabbit again.
 

missyscove

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Were any radiographs (x-rays) done to assess the damage? It certainly sounds like it was an accident and it doesn't sound like they, say, dropped him. Perhaps he had a preexisting injury that was made worse by the stress of being at the vet and the action of him kicking out?
 

JBun

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Another RO member outside the US, had something similar happen at the vets. I don't recall though, what kind of progress the rabbit made after the injury. I have heard of some rabbits getting some sort of injury causing paralysis, and the rabbit responded positively to being given metacam as it brought down the inflammation. If there is swelling causing the paralysis for your rabbit, then maybe metacam could work for your rabbit as well.

I agree with Orlena, find a lawyer and take your rabbit to a different vet. It sounds a little ridiculous for them to be saying that he had a seizure. If it were me, I might be willing to be a little forgiving if they just fessed up to the accident, and took care of the treatment of my rabbit, but if they are just going to lie to your face, to avoid responsibility, I wouldn't hesitate to sue and make them take responsibility.

If you aren't already giving metacam then I would talk to the new vet about giving metacam. With your rabbit at least showing a little reaction to pain, makes me think that there may be hope of him regaining some function in his hind legs.

I'm really sorry this happened to you and your rabbit and hope that he is able to recover as much as possible.
 

Kipcha

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Personally, that sounds pretty fishy. I'm willing to bet something more is going on here, ESPECIALLY when the vet is insisting it's not their fault (Unless there were accusations).

I agree with the other two, get in contact with a lawyer and try to find another vet for a second opinion.

I am so sorry this happened to you and your rabbit. Hopefully something can be done for him.
 
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DharmaBuns

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He is currently on Metacam, 2x daily.

I am seriously considering legal action of some sort. I'll admit, I did let them bully me a bit at first. After working in the veterinary field myself and seeing people fly off the handle over silly things I tried to be calm and reasonable at first. After speaking with both the vet and the practice manager they only agreed to pay for HALF of the x-rays that were taken immediately after the injury and HALF of this laser treatment therapy that he is going through.

When I take him in for his next laser appointment (3rd out of 6) I'm going to ask that they pay for me to take him to a specialist. They consider themselves rabbit specialists but I want to take him to MSU (Michigan State University)'s hospital. I want to figure out once and for all what exactly happened.

Has anyone ever had a rabbit that is unable to relieve their bladder before? I'm currently doing it FOR him but I'm afraid that if he isn't able to do it on his own he's just not going to have much quality of life. Ugh!
 
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woahlookitsme

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:( I am so sorry this happened to you I know how bad tans can kick and many vets and techs aren't prepared for how strong they can be. I would bet that he kicked at just the right time to catch them off guard. This is why I always stay with my tans at the vet. I would definitely look into legal action especially if it's a prized tan. If anyone knows how strong a tan is, we surely do.

I really hope this works out. I have only expressed a bladder on a cat but I assume its the same. All we had to do was palpate the bladder and push down the body. It was fairly easy because that cat was also paralyzed in his hind end. I highly recommend doing xrays and keeping him confined.
 

DharmaBuns

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:( I am so sorry this happened to you I know how bad tans can kick and many vets and techs aren't prepared for how strong they can be. I would bet that he kicked at just the right time to catch them off guard. This is why I always stay with my tans at the vet. I would definitely look into legal action especially if it's a prized tan. If anyone knows how strong a tan is, we surely do.

I really hope this works out. I have only expressed a bladder on a cat but I assume its the same. All we had to do was palpate the bladder and push down the body. It was fairly easy because that cat was also paralyzed in his hind end. I highly recommend doing xrays and keeping him confined.

I wish I would have stayed with him. I had no idea that the one place that I thought would be the safest ended up being the place that hurt him. When I dropped him off I had even left a note with him noting that Tans were a bit "high strung" and that they would need to take special care with him. When I mentioned this (after the injury), she kinda tried to lump him in with other rabbits. I couldn't seem to make her understand that he wasn't like a Lop and would be a little trickier to handle than a "normal" pet rabbit.

Of course, he is my best black buck. Why not?

They did x-rays right after the injury but couldn't find anything. However, after prodding the vet over and over she FINALLY mentioned that an injury might not show up on an x-ray. I also spoke with someone who did research on spinal injuries in cats and rats and they mentioned that it might not show up on x-ray until even a few days later.

Right now he's in a small confined tub with soft bedding. I am a bit concerned that he's started attacking his own hind feet though. I found him picking at one of his back toenails. I hope that this isn't the case, otherwise I imagine I'll need to wrap his feet with something. I feel so badly for this little guy...
 

Bunnylova4eva

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That is not a good vet if they are willing to lie to clients like that. Its a total lack of integrity and I wouldn't keep going to the vet at all. However, I know you can't get to another one easily. A vet who won't be honest on that could jsut as easily lie about something else and you would never know. Legal action may be in order, however if I know right, you won't really come out ahead because the most I've heard they could be forced to pay you is the monetary value of the animal. It's more the principle of the thing and that the office won't be outright honest with you.

I'd definitly look into a wheel chair for him. Hopfully the Metacam he currently on will keep him comfy now. I'd keep him confined like you mention with alot of soft bedding is also very good. I'd defnitly try to find some sort of other rabbit savvy vet who can give you a second oppinion. It probably would be a good idea if you can take him to MSU for them to look at him. I bet someone there could really be a help figuring it out.
 

missyscove

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You should know that pursuing legal action won't get you much. You would essentially be entitled to the replacement cost of your pet because that's the value our pets are assigned by the legal system. If you believe there is malpractice, you can report your vet to your state's veterinary medical board who will then investigate your complaint.
 

woahlookitsme

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That is really bad that he is your herd buck :( I'm sure even the price of the animal would help a little. I price my herd bucks at 200 plus and would only sell them for that much if they are a big asset to my herd
 

tonyshuman

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Agreed with Christina. However, since he is not a generic mixed breed rabbit, you may be able to recover a couple hundred $ plus not having to pay for the medical treatment. For those of us with rescued non-breeding animals, the replacement cost in court is very low. I don't know exactly what the $ amount line is in MI, but this case might be small enough to be handled in small claims court, ie without a lawyer. I would definitely report them to the state vet board however. To bring a case forward, you probably would need an evaluation of the bunny by another vet.

As for the bunny, with metacam and potentially steroids to reduce swelling, he may recover. Spinal injuries can be recovered from in some cases. Steroids are always used with caution in rabbits because they impede the immune system and rabbits' immune system are already quite weak. They will only help if administered right after the injury. Metacam should definitely be used, however, since it is pain relieving and anti-inflammatory.
 

roxyllsk

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I understand that you are upset that your rabbit got hurt but it doesn't sound like it was anything necesarily negligent on their part. He may have kicked at the exact wrong time and it could be that the tech didn't have a great grip on him. It sounds like an accident. Sounds fishy that they kept denying doing anything wrong though. You can try to persue something legally but it may not go anywhere.

I am so sorry that this happened. Hopefully some anti-inflamatory treatment will reduce any swelling that may be causing the paralysis and he will start feeling better soon.
 

DharmaBuns

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I figured I'd better post an update.

I just don't know if things are going to work out for this little guy. Every once in awhile I (and the vet) feel like we may see the tiniest smidgeon of movement from one of his hind legs but it's always so quick you can't be 100% sure. However, he's still not able to urinate on his own and even with being very on top of washing him/keeping him clean and dry he is starting to develop really bad skin around his groin. The vet had been hopeful of recovery up until today when he came in and the skin 'down there' was quite smelly and on the verge of become necrotic.

I don't know. It breaks my heart but I have a feeling that I'm going to have to be making a difficult decision within the next few days. I've got some prescription shampoo to wash him with and some prescrip. ointment to put on the skin so we'll see if this helps.
 

JBun

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You're faced with a really hard situation, and a tough decision for your bunny. I hope he pulls through somehow, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. I think you'll know what the right decision is when the time comes.
 

DharmaBuns

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We put him down this evening. It's still pretty hard to imagine life without him (we'd had our little routine we'd go through every day) but I think that it was for the best. I'm going to miss his sweet face and personality, but I know he isn't suffering anymore.
 

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