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Rabbits/Possible arthritis



We have a 13 year old rabbit.  I believe that he has arthritis and possible hind leg weakness in one of his back legs.  I am taking him to the vets today but I have read that Cetyl-M can be used to help joint pain.  Could you tell me what form is safe for rabbits?  I know there is joint cream, tablets I think, and also a pellet form all for horses.  Which would I use for my bun?  


ANSWER: Dear Donna,

We've used the granular horse formula for rabbits, and some people have reported apparently very good results.  But don't rule out the possibility of E. cuniculi:

Though at 13, he'd probably already have shown other signs of the parasite, you might want to ask the vet about this, just to be safe.  
Metacam can help with pain, if his kidneys are okay.

Hope this helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Our vet took a culture and sensitivity test on some ear discharge  and found that he has 2 bacterias: Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Staphylococcus pseudintermedius - this was found NOT to be the MRSA kind. I have been searching for information on these but have had no luck.  Is there any antibiotics that can help for these?  Thanks you for any information you can provide.  Donna

Dear Donna,

Both species of bacteria found in the culture can be considered opportunistic pathogens.  They are relatively common in the environment (soil, water, etc.), and usually do not cause disease.  However, they can take up residence in suitable habitat in an immunocompromised animal and proliferate to pathogenic levels if the immune system is not able to effectively fight back.

A 13 year old rabbit is likely to be a bit immunocompromised simply due to age.  And if your bunny is a lop, then the abnormal anatomy of the floppy ears provides a perfect environment for bacterial pathogens.  (Also, older bunnies are a bit more creaky and not as able to reach their ears to clean them thoroughly.)

Since these bugs are not easy to treat with antibiotics, I would suggest that--if there is enough discharge to cause discomfort--doing regular ear flushes with topical antiseptics, such as Chlorhexidene (warm it up!).  We do ear flushes by warming the flush solution, introducing it into the ear with a pediatric ear syringe, squooshing it around by massaging the base of the ear, and then gently suctioning out the liquid.  (You must be careful not to create so much suction that the ear drum is damaged.)

If your vet has an ear flushing machine, that's another option.  But I think it might be pointless to throw antibiotics at this problem when mechanical cleaning and removal of the gunk will probably be just as effective, and not disrupt the rest of his flora.

I hope this helps.



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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

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