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Date:   29 April, 2011  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
 
The case of the bony Angora Rabbit
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date:   29 April, 2011  
Case written:  20 November, 2007
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What's wrong with the Angora rabbit?

1. FIRST CONSULTATION:
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"My rabbit has not been eating for the past 2 days," the first-time rabbit owner took leave to seek veterinary treatment. "She just sits around and will not greet me when I come home."

"Has she got diarrhoea?" I asked. "This Angorra has a beautiful coat which camouflages her lack of weight gain. She is as extremely thin and can die anytime due to lack of health." I taught her how to feel the spines of the thin rabbit. Sharp spinal process poked at her index finger as she felt the whole length of the spine. There was no fat layer.

The lady said, "My rabbit eats all day. At times he has loose stools. Why is he not putting on weight?"

"Much depends on the quality of food and the rabbit's lifestyle of gnawing at objects that may cause watery stools. Did you smell the rabbit pellets to get an impression whether they were of poor quality?". A smelly pellet or hay pieces may indicate something is wrong. You will need to know how to judge by the smell.

I tried to take the temperature. A few pellets of stools and some wet faeces matted the swollen anal area. The rabbit disliked this handling. So, I stopped taking the temperature from the rectum.

This is the type of case where the rabbit appeared healthy and alive. If the vet gave an injection and the rabbit dies due to pre-existing diseases, he gets the blame. The owner needs to be warned.

I gave the rabbit an antibiotic and dextrose saline injection and asked the owner to hand feed the rabbit with rabbit food pellets slowly as whole pieces or wet ones.

"Hand feed?" the career lady queried me. "I don't know how to do. In any case, my rabbit does not stay still."

"Put the rabbit on the table. Grip the upper jaw with your left hand. Push a small pellet inside his mouth." I said. "Do you have any pellets?"

"No," she said. I saw the teacher with her pet rabbit of around 4 months in the waiting room. She might have some. She took out a small plastic bag of pellets to help me out as I did not have any. That was kind of her.

I demonstrated to the Angorra rabbit owner by pushing a pellet into the mouth, close the jaws and tilt the head. The rabbit wrinkled her lips and swallowed it. Now, it was the lady's turn. The rabbit was held but she was wiser. She would have none of the nonsense of being force-fed. She just turned his head away and would have stomped her foot if she was well.

"Let her smell the pellet," I advised. The rabbit was not interested in food and just turned his head.

Now, will the rabbit die if she does not eat for another day? She would have a gut infection or intoxication. I gave her the injections of antibiotics and dextrose saline and advised the owner to tel me if the rabbit did not eat the next day. Hand feeding was out of question.

Angora rabbit is not eating.Why? toapayohvets, singaporeEarly the next day, she text messaged me "this morning she goes back to be an active hungry rabbit as usual. I will monitor her condition and will give her another 2 days antibiotics. Thank you very much."

That was good news. Seldom do I get feedback. Text messages are best and effective. As to the cause of the suspected fever, it would have to be something upsetting the rabbit's gut.





2. SUBSEQUENT CONSULTATIONS BY SMS, E-MAILS AND TELEPHONE

E-MAIL TO DR SING DATED NOV 21, 2007
Hi Dr Sing

> > > Here are a few of Rabbit's photographs for you.


E-MAIL FROM DR SING DATED NOV 21, 2007
> > --- Dr Sing KY wrote:
> > > Thanks for very beautiful pictures of the rabbit. Thanks for report on progress of Royal. Most owners have no time to do it. Stop medication now. She is fully recovered. Looks like she has all the good housing and food. Can't understand why she gets loose stools or get sick. Unless she gnaws at some toxic objects like plastic spoon (the other rabbit owner who gave you the rabbit food at the clinic) gave a plastic spoon for the rabbit to gnaw.

Thanks again.

3. E-MAIL TO DR SING DATED NOV 25, 2007

> > Hi Dr Sing
> >
> > Apologize for unable to reply earlier. Was quite
> > busy for my handover of work scope to my people
> > last week, as last Friday was my last day in that
> > Company, didn't have much time to login to my email.
> > Tomorrow will be starting in the new Company.
> >
> > Rabbit's cage is a 3ft(L) x 2ft(W) x 2ft(H), I
> > guess that's the largest size in the market so
> > far I see. Yah, I always have her cage clean
> > every once a week, I also don't understand why
> > this rabbit is having weak stomach. Very poor
> > thing. Yesterday till today, I notice Royal's
> > appetite seems starting to reduce again 3 days
> > after her injection, again heard some grinding
> > of teeth occasionally, hmm..my worry comes back.
> > Moreover, starting on my new job, I will not be
> > able to apply urgent leave to bring her to you
> > during daytime, and what timing I will be able
> > to leave work is still unknown...
> >
> > Rabbit don't have habit of chewing plastic, as I
> > don't see her biting her plastic house. There's
> > no other plastic items in the cage.
> > There's no way she can chew on any newspaper too.
> > I am also still thinking what had she took to
> > upset her stomach, hope its not due to more
> > complicated illness.
> >
> > I really appreciate you for helping to get
> > Rabbit well. It heart pain me to see her
> > suffer, keeping her & she's just like one
> > of my family member, if I don't love her, who will?
> >
> > Have a nice Sunday.
> >
> > Thanks & Regards
> > ...

E-MAIL FROM DR SING DATED NOV 25, 2007
>
> --- Dr Sing KY wrote:
>
> > 1. Quickly change the food as your food may be contaminated. Buy a fresh batch.
> > 2. Check the water quality.
> > 3. I don't see any water bottle in your pic.
> > 4. Give me an sms if he gets stomach upset again.


E-MAIL FROM DR SING DATED NOV 26, 2007

--- Dr Sing KY wrote:

Angora rabbit is not eating.Why? toapayohvets, singapore> As there are many factors involved and there are
> many questions not able to be covered in text
> messages, it was good that we spoke by phone.
> From your email I can suspect that the new hay of 3
> weeks old may be contaminated.
> As we spoke yesterday, stop all hay. Just feed
> pellet and let me know.






E-MAIL TO DR SING DATED NOV 28, 2007

Hi Dr Sing

Thank you so much for your attention on Rabbit's condition. She's mischievous and playful now when I reach home and play with her. Just appetite is not high.

I will continue to monitor her till this weekend and will update you on her condition.
Once again thank you.


Most likely, there may be something contaminated/toxic in the hay which was purchased 3 weeks ago. Since you stopped feeding hay for past 2 days, she seems to be more active. Toxins can make the rabbit inactive and pass loose stools. For 3 days after treatment, the rabbit ate and was active. After 3 days, she had good appetite because of the injections. After 3 days she was inactive. This led me to suspect that you had fed food of poor quality and I suggested no feeding of hay. Now, after another 3 days, there was some good news. Her appetite will return.

Thanks for your pictures of Royal zipped to me. I note that there is a lot of hay on top of one bowl, with the pellets below he hay. I presume she eats more hay than pellets for the past months. Pellets are important in nutrition. If she eats hay mainly, she cannot
Angora rabbit is not eating.Why? toapayohvets, singaporeput on weight. Therefore she is extremely thin when I examined her.

Separate pellets from hay in 2 different bowls to observe the rabbit's eating habits. Get rid of the blue litter tray so as to give the rabbit more space to exercise. I know you had told me you had done it as the rabbit does not use it as a toilet area. A good bed if the rabbit does not gnaw on it. Tel me if you can about any changes. Your generation loves thumbing text messages and they are great. Though detailed, a telephone call can answer more questions and give us a fuller picture of the management of your rabbit as a rabbit's life is at stake.

Best wishes.

> >

Rabbit presumed OK after the hay was not given to the rabbit. No news as at Nov 30, 2007 9 p.m.

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