Question Yesterday as I was leaving for work I went to refill Thumpers food dish and he was in the corner of the cage and I went to love on him like I always do before I leave and he started shaking a bit. I didn't think to much of it because he has done this before. Just a little shake here and there. When I got home from work he was worse. He was shaking badly, his ears were horribly hot, his head was hanging off to the side sort of like he was leaning. When he tried to hop he was loosing his balance and kept falling over. I grabbed him up and wrapped him in a towel and headed out the door to the vet and within a five minute period he started shaking violently and got stiff and was breathing hard. About 5 minutes after that he took his last breath. I returned home with him and gave him a proper but very sad and emotional burial. We were very attached to him. He was only a year old. Can you please give me some insight? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
Answer Dear Michelle,
I am sorry about the loss of your bunny.
Sadly, there is absolutely no way to confidently ascertain a cause of death without a post-mortem exam, preferably including histopathology of major organ tissues. The signs you describe are very vague, and could have been due to any of dozens of different things.
which might give some clues. The hot ears, shaking, and general malaise suggest a serious, systemic infection. But unless you can provide a lot more specific information, this is the best I can offer.
If a body has been kept very cold (not frozen), and it has been less than 24 hours since death, a necropsy is one option possible, as it can sometimes give closure and peace of mind. You can find an experienced rabbit vet here who may be able to help with this:
I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:
RULE #1: THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.
If your rabbits is LETHARGIC
If your rabbit is NOT EATING
If your rabbit is PHYSICALLY INJURED (including broken bones)
I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years.
I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM.
I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.
Organizations Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president
National House Rabbit Society (Board member)
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Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
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B.S. - Biology
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