Rabbit with broken leg. In a big dilemma.

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indervir

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Hello everyone, posting because unfortunately our rabbit, 10 yrs old, has broken his right rear femur. Vet has given us an ultimatum between surgery and amputation. I don't like either because surgery is very risky in the case if an old rabbit and amputation would take away his freedom of mobility. Have heard of people who have put the rabbit in tight confinement, or cage rest, and have seen the bones heal over time. I would like to try this, but the bone has broken in 3 different places, so I am worried that the middle part of the break will never heal, as it is completely disconnected from the other bones. Please let me know of any ways to take care of this, if any different options are available. Thank you.
 

John Wick

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I'm sorry to hear that you and your rabbit are going through this! If you are willing to try cage rest, you can always start with this and have x-rays taken in the weeks to come to see what the bone heal progress is like. If it looks promising, then continue, and if not, consider what long-term may look like for amputation. Home includes a lot of resources and information for owners with disabled rabbits, including tri-leg rabbits.

One of my rabbits recently completely broke a front paw finger. He was on cage rest for a month (with an x-ray in between to make sure bone healing was as expected). It did go very smoothly and he is back to free-roam indoors now.
 

indervir

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I really want to try the cage rest option, but I think his leg break might not allow it without a cast, as his leg bone was split in 3 places, meaning a midleg piece of the break is completely disconnected, just a piece of bone inside his leg. Another worry I have is that if this cage rest approach does not work, Is surgery still possible? Although I have had him for 10 years and know him very well, I have no knowledge of this kind of issue, and feel uncomfortable sealing his fate whilst a better option is available. Did your rabbit happen to use a cast whilst in cage rest? Any help is appreciated, thanks.
 

John Wick

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I really want to try the cage rest option, but I think his leg break might not allow it without a cast, as his leg bone was split in 3 places, meaning a midleg piece of the break is completely disconnected, just a piece of bone inside his leg. Another worry I have is that if this cage rest approach does not work, Is surgery still possible? Although I have had him for 10 years and know him very well, I have no knowledge of this kind of issue, and feel uncomfortable sealing his fate whilst a better option is available. Did your rabbit happen to use a cast whilst in cage rest? Any help is appreciated, thanks.
I think having a rabbit-savvy vet with a clear x-ray of the situation will best inform your decision. Since my rabbit only had a broken finger (1 complete bone break), we decided not to cast-- it was the middle finger, so it would have been very hard and likely more bothersome/impeding to cast it than let it heal on its own. It did heal, but it is crooked. This is pretty harmless for a middle finger for a front paw-- I imagine there are much different considerations for a hindleg though.

Re: your surgery question after trying bed rest, again, I think the vet is the best bet to ask. I can imagine a scenario where it doesn't matter because they are going to amputate and be losing/breaking bone regardless. I can also imagine a scenario where maybe it's harder if the bone/tissue have had time to maybe try and heal or something...? -- perhaps asking your vet what the surgery would entail in terms of what's expected to be kept and the ease if the bone is broken vs. partially healing?
 

indervir

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Thanks for the help, only problem is that no rabbit specialty vets are around where I live, a personal friend says he knows someone, but it will take time to get a response. In the meantime, do you know of anything that can help with his mobility/ comfort? Many thanks.
 

Watermelons

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At 10 you need to weigh the pros and cons of any type of surgery vs quality of life.
Rest is unlikely to fix a displaced fracture. Having it heal incorrectly will cause more pain in the long run.
A fracture like this cannot be compared to a toe.

The bone physically needs to be kept in alignment to ensure it doesnt slip. So assuming when you say surgery i would think this will be plated. This is an extensive surgery on frail bones.
Amputation will not reduce mobility but will put added strain on the other joints in an elderly animal.

If this was my rabbit I would personally opt to euthanize at this age. Quality of life needs to be the biggest consideration here.
Please make sure he is provided with plenty of pain control while you decide.
 

Janellek

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I think an amputation would be best... especially for an elderly bunny. The reason for my suggestion is that the surgery is risky either way... and if the first one fails he may need another on his leg which will take healing and comfort longer to occur. Of course this is however you are feeling will work best for you and your bunny! Good luck!
 

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You can confer with bun owners on Disabled Rabbits forum on Facebook, also, for their experiences.

Our 11-y.o. indoor dutchie mysteriously fx'd her femur one morning in 2019. I gave her strict cage rest. I knew she would not tolerate amputation or surgery well as she was extremely bonded to me 24/7. A callous formed with strict cage rest and she had appropriate pain meds during recovery.

One DVM said no way would she heal. The other choices were euth, surgery for plate/pins, amputation. She lived for another year and half, and I cherish the days we had in her less-than-perfect shape as the callous prevented 100% alignment yet gave her mobility.

It is a difficult decision keeping your buns comfort in mind. I send my support, my thoughts are with you.
 

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SirLawrence

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Here's my two cents.

Bottom line up front, I'd opt for the amputation. Yes, the rabbit is old, and surgery is risky, but I would try for the best quality of life option. Although it would be better if it were a front leg amputation, rabbits can live comfortable with three legs, regardless of which one is lost. Survival isn't an issue here; as long as he can hop for pets and move himself around, his golden years could be very comfortable and rewarding. And although it's still a surgery, the healing process is much less complex than surgery to repair the bone. The source of the pain is being removed, not fixed, which could lead to further complications.

<opinion>
Euthanasia is always an option. And although I don't believe we have the authority to make the decision that a quality of life is not good enough to choose to allow a life to be lived, is beside the point. This situation isn't that cut and dry, so I think you should go with the option that has the best chance of providing the best outcome. Euthanasia is your last option. If things go terribly wrong during or after you try to make him as better as you can, then we discuss this option.
</opinion>
 

MooMoo

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Was wondering if someone could please help me. My daughters rabbit broke his femur three weeks ago. The vet wanted to put her down but I just could not do that because she was eating and didn’t seem like she was in pain. But now we are three weeks out and she was doing great until yesterday. We are giving her pain meds once a day and like I said she was doing fine but now she refuses to eat. I am afraid we are losing her!!
 

JBun

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Did the vet splint the leg, recommend amputation or surgery, or give you any other options? A femur is a very serious break, but it doesn't necessarily mean a rabbit needs to be euthanized if surgical fixation of the bone or amputation is something the rabbit will be able to cope with.

If she's not eating now, either the leg was reinjured or something has happened to worsen your rabbits condition. I would get her back to the vet. If the vet you saw wasn't a knowledgeable rabbit vet, I would suggest finding one for a second opinion. If it's been more than 12-24 hours since your rabbit last ate or your rabbits condition is deteriorating, I would suggest getting your rabbit to a knowledgeable rabbit vet immediately.

 

MooMoo

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Did the vet splint the leg, recommend amputation or surgery, or give you any other options? A femur is a very serious break, but it doesn't necessarily mean a rabbit needs to be euthanized if surgical fixation of the bone or amputation is something the rabbit will be able to cope with.

If she's not eating now, either the leg was reinjured or something has happened to worsen your rabbits condition. I would get her back to the vet. If the vet you saw wasn't a knowledgeable rabbit vet, I would suggest finding one for a second opinion. If it's been more than 12-24 hours since your rabbit last ate or your rabbits condition is deteriorating, I would suggest getting your rabbit to a knowledgeable rabbit vet immediately.

It is really hard to find a knowledgeable vet that knows anything about rabbits, took me like 5-6 vets to find the one she saw. The vet just gave me pain meds and basically said that was my only option, he said that he didn’t even know of a surgeon in our area that would tackle the surgery. I am just so confused because it has been three weeks and she was doing so good. She is being kept in a pen so she is not using it that much so I cannot imagine she would have reinjured it. Just at a loss as trying to find a vet that will help me this time of night and on weekend is hard to find! But thank you for your response I greatly appreciate it as I am totally devastated!!
 

JBun

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This is an old list, but you may still be able to find a vet off of it. If you're able to travel a few hours to get to a good vet, that may be the best option for you if you can't find a really knowledgeable one nearer you.


If you aren't able to find a different vet to get her to this weekend, but can on Monday, it's important to keep food in them to keep that digestive tract going. Do you have a syringe feeding mix so you could syringe feed with her not eating on her own now? Also what pain meds are you giving?
 

TreasuredFriend

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Facebook has a wonderful network of parents called Disabled Rabbits and Elderbuns.

@JBun and all who gave lend input on individual fx'd bone experiences, your advice is going to lend comfort and assist. @MooMoo -- my thoughts are with you and your boy.

You might also reach out to a rescue in your area for recommended DVM suggestions.

Front Leg fracture in a rabbit

I'm very sad this has happened. My soulmate dutchie rec'd Tramadol and meloxicam 2 times a day, approx. 12 hours apart. -- Please make sure he continues to reingest his cecotropes.

Another friend's bun broke his leg, surgery for pins placed, he was kept in a pen, pins came loose, amputation surgery done, and he eventually developed sepsis.
 

TreasuredFriend

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@MooMoo , Is he tooth grinding in addition to refusing to eat? Are you providing oral sytinges of water and Critical Care to maintain hydration and GI function? Is he making marbles? When our kids go "off" it has helped to force feed hay strands thru their cheek opening encouraging consumption, along with pain meds and CC. If your boy is in severe pain this may not help until his pain subsides.

-- Xray, xray, xray by a rabbit-savvy Emergency Clinic DVM or recommended DVM thru rescue-group recommendations. -

In my soulmate dutch girl's specific situation, a splint was not advised. We choose soft bedding in a very small dog kennel crate with hay on towels that she could use as her potty area.

I relate to your emotions and how devastating this is.

 

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katlupe

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My rabbit broke his leg by being stepped on by a horse. It was just hanging there, like not connected, in the skin. He was a stray that I could never get a hold of and stayed in my barn. There was no way I could afford a vet so after some investigating online, I read about a bunny owner who kept her rabbit with a broken leg in a kitty carrier for 6 weeks and it healed.

I put him in a box with hay because at the time, I did know not a thing about house rabbits. I ordered a cage from Amazon and waited for it, He stayed quiet in the box and when I got the cage, he adapted to that well. One day, when I was cleaning the cage and he was on the floor, I noticed he was favoring the leg but didn't look like it was hanging anymore. I think of it as a miracle because I knew nothing about rabbits. I did not keep him contained for 6 weeks, maybe a week at the most.

He is now 7 years old and runs around my apartment like a youngster. I wrote about this in another post somewhere on here.
 

SirLawrence

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There is a wild rabbit around my house who broke his leg one day, I don't know how. It was a bad "flop around" kind of break, much like @katlupe described. For the protection of my buns, I let nature do nature's thing, and left him be. I thought he'd never make it. But I'd see him from time to time, hobbling around. Eventually he made a full recovery, and even though his leg didn't heal back straight, it did heal, and he can hop and run and all the things a rabbit should do.

I'm surprised he made it, but they can bounce back from awful injuries. I hate that they have to deal with the pain, though, and I would take it all from them if I could!
 

Flipgirl24

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Hello everyone, posting because unfortunately our rabbit, 10 yrs old, has broken his right rear femur. Vet has given us an ultimatum between surgery and amputation. I don't like either because surgery is very risky in the case if an old rabbit and amputation would take away his freedom of mobility. Have heard of people who have put the rabbit in tight confinement, or cage rest, and have seen the bones heal over time. I would like to try this, but the bone has broken in 3 different places, so I am worried that the middle part of the break will never heal, as it is completely disconnected from the other bones. Please let me know of any ways to take care of this, if any different options are available. Thank you.
Yes the bones will heal and create what vets call a "false joint". Hard to know if the middle one will. There really isn't any other way. My bun fractured his right hind leg -by the time I had him, the injury was already more than 6 weeks old (poor thing spent 6 weeks with no vet visit or pain meds) so the bones had healed. My bun can move around, his leg just sticks out a bit. His was only broken in one spot though. You could possibly ask your vet to send the x-rays to a board certified orthopedic surgeon (who specializes in small animals like bunnies of course) to get a second opinion. I am assuming the vet put him on a pain med (Meloxicam?) And you would have too keep him rested for a few weeks.
 
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