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Rabbits/Nobu: Back injury at the vet


QUESTION: Dana, I took Nobe to the vet to have his nails clipped, i adopted him from a breeder and his nails were horrible, plus he had matting!  As they started to trim his nails he had a panic attack, and his back hind legs became paralyzed, Dr. prescribed meta cam, will it help in this matter or is all hope lost????

ANSWER: Dear Donna

What a horrible outcome!  Did the vet tech holding the bunny not know how to do this properly?  Not only should they not charge you, they owe you reparation for anything Nobe needs to recover.

Whether or not he will regain use of his legs remains to be seen.  It depends on the extent of his injury.  If something is broken, he may be permanently disabled.  This is not a death sentence, but it will require a bit of extra help from you.  You can read more here:

Metacam is a good idea to prevent inflammation and further nerve damage.  But Nobe needs to be kept as still as possible to prevent further injury.

Did the vet take any radiographs to determine the extent of the injury?  If it's just soft tissue, he has a better chance of recovery than if his spinal column has been damaged.  If you are not confident this vet and staff can handle Nobe safely (and I wouldn't be), then you may be able to find a different vet for this here:

Is Nobe able to defecate and urinate?  If so, his injury is not life-threatening, though it is very serious.  If he cannot defecate or urinate, then the prognosis is very grim.

I hope he will begin to recover soon with your loving care.


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

QUESTION: Dana, Nobu's back isn't broken, a radiograph was not taken, I did want any more stress that day on him, but I am returning to the vet on Monday for a check up.  He is able to defecate and urinate, and he is eating food and drinking water.  She said it was the soft tissue and did not feel any breaks in the back or pelvis area. I have him on the back of my couch in a soft blanket instead of a cold wired cage.  He sleeps all day, but I wake him to eat and drink.  I clean him up with a wet paper towel should he become messy. He is 4 years old, and just handsome!! I've already 2 bunnies to cancer, don't want to lose another to anything!!  FYI I have 3 more Holland lops that I love with all my heart, that's why I am so concerned with the Nobu!!! FYI the vet tech that handled him was a little inexperienced, had I known that I would have had the other tech handle or I would have done it myself, believe you me the whole office feels horrible about this!!!!!

Dear Donna,

I'm sending many healing thoughts for poor Nobu.  It's good that he's staying still and resting a lot.  This will help speed healing.

Just to let you know, though:  a hairline fracture of a vertebra will not be palpable. I hope the vet is right about there not being a break.  But time will tell.  If there was a subluxation of the spine, the nerve cord could have been damaged.  I hope the damage is not permanent.

Take care,



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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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