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Rabbits/runny eye, snotty nose and recurant stasis seeking 2nd oppinion

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Hello Dana!

First of all thank you so much for taking the time to help bunny mommas like me out, it is so greatly appreciated.  This will probably be somewhat long because there are several thing going on and I want to make sure you have as much information as possible.

I have a male house bunny who is at least 7 years old named Darth Vadar. (And while is an unaltered male he has never been anyones father, sorry had to do it!) I say at least 7 because that is how long my family has owned him. We found him abandoned in a park 7 (going on 8) years ago in late may at a family graduation party. Our best guess is he was part of the typical easter bunny dumpoff that happens every year.

This year last april he started sneezing. At the time we were fedding bermuda grass hay and since they are horse bales (I also have 2 horses so grass hay flows very freely at our house) I thought perhaps it was to dusty for him. So I switched him to orchard grass hay which I also feed the horses. The sneezing continued and I started to notice he had a runny nose as well. So I located a rabbit vet in my area and drilled the staff to make sure they knew more about rabbits then trimming nails. Satisfied with their answers off we went. We came home with a snuffles diagnosis, a course of baytril and nose drops, and a blood panel sent off to the lab. Please note we did not do a culture. The lab work came back normal with two exception. Slightly high blood calcium, and slightly elevated liver enzyms but just barely. The vet wasn't concerned because the infection could cause the enzyme elevation. The sneezing and discharge cleared up and everything seemed good. I finished every drop of the baytril and continued the drops for another week after that.

About a month later Vader went into stasis. It was the first time it had really hapened to him and I knew it was bad when he refused some offered alfalfa hay and wouldn't even take a raisin from me. We rushed back to the vet and fluids, more fluids, metacloprimide (appologies if that is spelled wrong) and bupronex for pain and he pulled out of it and was back to himself after a few days. Since that stasis to this day he has had semi regular gas episodes but usually a dose of simethicone and some tummy rubs have him fine in a few hours.

Not long therafter one eye started weeping profusly. Back to the vet, blocked tear duct. 3 flushes at one week intervals and opthamalic drops and it cleared up. Since then it flared up once and I thought I had iritated it by picking at a crusty 3 days of drops it was gone.

Fast foreward to last month. I seem to see some runny nose gunk but he isn't sneezing and I can't tell if its discharge or just discoloration from sticking his nose in his food ( I make pellet mush for him, I am paraniod about water intake I will detail his diet and environment for you in a moment) then a month ago we have another stasis episode. More fluid all the meds listed above. I continue to be lightly concerned about his nose but the vet doesn't see anything. It seems to come and go and isn't consistant.

Then a few days ago the eye started watering again I was doing warm compresses but had not taken him back in yet. Last night he had another stasis episode in we went and the same thing fluids etc etc (I should mention x rays have been taken at each episode and no blockage or physical object or abnormality has ever been detected. As of this morning he is looking better and eating a bit on his own though not back to normal yet. HOWEVER the watery eye was very goopy this morning and there were crusty's around his nose to the point that one nostil was partially crusted shut. Once I cleaned him off he didn't seem to be having any dificulty breathing otherwise.

Here is the thing, I feel there MUST be some underlying cause for all this and the recurrance of the same issues. I am personally leaning towards his teeth but my vet isn't so sure. She checks them as thoroughly as possible without sedation on every visit. Vader is pretty cooperative and will even stop chewing and hold his mouth still for her to look around with a scope. She says they slide and move well and he shows no signs of pain that we can find. I know tear ducts can become scarred and I am reading recently that snuffles can be a chronic condition so I am just not sure where to go from here. I am hoping you can give me some advice, something to explore, or any other treatment ideas. The thing with the teeth is I am nervous about putting him under for the trim and head x rays since I know that going under is more risky for bunnies then say dogs and cats.

Here is how he lives and eats. He has the largest cage I was able to find since he can't be free roaming due to a dog I don't quite trust with him. He spends night and while I am at work there. He is a little under 5lbs and the cage accomodates a litter box with enough room in the rest of the cage for him to fully stretch out on his side. He egts to run around in a puppy pen in the hallway or spare bedroom at least once a day while we are home and the dog is in her outdoor run. The cage is beeded in carefresh and the litter box has a layer of recycled newspaper cat litter pellets on the bottom then carefresh then hay. He has a haybox filled with orchard at all times next to the litterbox attached to the cage with an opening for him to pull hay through. He egts an extra handfull of timothy every day for variety. He gets veggies morning and night and I try and space out high calcium or oxilate greens. Recently we decreased his veggies because I though maybe we were giving to big of a bunch and he wasn't eating enough hay. His hay consumption dramatically increased but the stasis last night. He also gets pellets twice a day. No more then a tablespoon at each feeding. We were doing pellets once a day but he was having trouble maintaining weight and that's whebn we backed off on veggies and added a few more pellets. I have tried several brand, first he was on kaytee rainbow exact and he seemed to do well on them then I found out about calcium levels and alfalfa and switched to oxbow organic. He really did not seem to do well on this pellet his coat was shedding and dull and he wasn't as happy it seemed. So we just switched to sherwood pellets. I soak his pellets for 15 min before feeding so he gets more of a mash like I have read about people doing for bunnies with sludge. I am a bit paranoid about water intake since their naturald diet is not a bunch of dry stuff but wet living plants.

Ok, I think I have talked your ear off now if there is any other info you need please let me know and I hope you are able to make sense of this more then I can.

Jamie

Answer
Dear Jamie,

This is quite a common problem, especially as bunnies get older. The problem is not always the teeth you can see in the mouth, but rather the "roots" of the teeth that have intruded into the skull and are now blocking the maxillary sinus and tear ducts.  There is really not a great way to treat this short of a radical procedure called a rhinotomy.  But nasal flushes and ophthalmic drops can help keep the bunny more comfortable.  Wet, warm compresses will help keep the face comfortable, and face *washes* if the bunny is really gooey and messy.

I think you will find the following information helpful:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/sneezing.html

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/weepy.pdf


The ileus can be triggered by pain/stress, as you probably know.  So please see this for complete information on how to handle that:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/ileus.html

I hope this helps.

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

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.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet 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.

Experience

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
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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