You are here:

Rabbits/Lymphoma in rabbits


Hi Dana.
Im a danish vet with a question about my own bunny Mickey.
Hes been "off", eating less, not as active as usual and just a little "off".
I just got the bloodwork back and Im not sure how to interpret them.
The references from the lab is diferent than the ones I can find in the books and online.
My question more or less is:
What could I expect to find on blodworks from a bunny with lymphoma?

His results in short is:
Lymphocytes 71% with a ref of 30-85 and a note of "increased presence of reactive lymphocytes".

Do I need to worry??

Kind regards from a vet, who is more of a concerned bunny-owner at the time  ;-)
Henriette Munk

Dear Henriette,

I'm not an oncologist, so don't really have the expertise to address what signs you might expect to see in a bunny with lymphoma.  I will say that we rarely see this type of cancer in rabbits, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.  This is pretty close to my limit of expertise, and I'm not sure how useful my comments here will be.  But here goes.

I'm not sure what the units are when you say "71% lymphocytes with a ref of 30-85.  If that means that the normal range is between 30-85%, then his lymphocytes are still in the normal range.  The fact that there's an increased number of reactive lymphocytes suggests exposure to some type of antigen, perhaps viral.  Is there prevalence of myxomatosis or Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (calicivirus) in your area?

I'm not sure what I'd make of the anisocytosis and polychromasia.  There are various causes for each condition (though they might be related).

If the blood count was done with a counter set to values for a dog or cat, it might not be accurate, since rabbits have oddly shaped and sized blood cells as compared to other mammals.  

It's possible that your bunny's bone marrow is releasing immature red blood cells prematurely, which would not be a good thing.  (I probably don't need to tell you that neoplasia in the bone marrow could cause increased levels of erythropoeitin.)

Similarly, not sure what to make of the polychromasia diagnosis, unless it's more of the same as what is causing the anisocytosis.  Could it be an artifact of the blood draw?  

I hope your bunny is fine, and that these blood results are anomalous because of lab artifacts.  But to set your mind at ease, you might want to have another sample done, perhaps at a different veterinary clinic?

Wish I could be of more help.

Sending healing thoughts.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


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:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


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.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

©2016 All rights reserved.