Question Hello my baby dwarf rabbit just died in a 3 hour car trip and this is strange because he has made this trip before just fine. For the first two hours he was in his cage and his water bottle kept making a rattling noise so we stopped to take it out but I saw my bunny was very scared and shaking then he was laying no one side and breathing very heavy, I decided to take him in my lap to calm him down he did stop shaking but did not stop breathing fast I put him my coat to make it dark maybe he would like that and not feel so scared but I noticed he was not moving his front legs when i tried putting him up against my chest his head would just fall back but i know he could move it because he would stick his head out from the jacket ( he was getting enough air i would leave it open andmove it back) and his mouth and eyes got wet and kept rubbing his mouth on his front legs. I tried to petting him but he didn't seem to like that so I left him alone. After 30 minutes he started shaking and running on his side like a seizure and pooped a lot while doing his it was wet and smelled very bad , then after this he yelled and stopped breathing . I am just heart broken by this I loved him very much and blame myself for this happening to him. I am thinking he had a heart attack but not sure please help me understand what I did wrong. Thank you
Answer Dear Jessica,
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. It is possible that the cause of death was stress from the car ride, but that is not a given.
If you noticed signs of unusual behavior before he died, then please read:
which might give some clues. But unless you can provide a lot more specific information, this is the best I can offer.
If the body has been kept very cold (not frozen), and it has been less than 24 hours since death, a necropsy may still be possible, if you feel that would give you closure and peace of mind. You can find an experienced rabbit vet here:
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)
Publications Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide
Education/Credentials Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English
Awards and Honors Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology