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Rabbits/URGENT ; E. Cuniculi : Indian bunny parent with no access to rabbit-savvy vet

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Doctor
I know you have instructed that internet is not the place when our rabbit is not eating well or is lethargic, but coming from India, where even the best of vets are not equipped with knowledge on rabbits, I have no option apart from going through content on web.

I did get my bunny (Moshu) checked by a vet (who is really good with dogs and cats) but I dont think he has really understood the core of Moshu's illness.

I will start with the basics :
Age : 5 months
Gender : Female
Weight : 1.2 kg
Spay/Neuter : Yet to be spayed.
Daily diet : Hay, 2-3 cups of green leafy vegetables, herbs like basil, coriander and oregano, 1/2 piece of carrot once a day, 2 tea spoons of Kiki Excellent dwarf rabbit food, 1 tea spoon of vitapol, fresh water, sometimes home grown wheat grass

History of illness :
Ear mites (3 months back ; successfully treated at home with sweet oil)
Fur mites (2 months back ; disappeared itself within a time period of 3 days before I could consult a vet ; she stopped scratching and excessive grooming herself after 3 days of noticing the symptoms)
1-2 instances of mild-moderate gut hypo motility.  

Present symptoms :

Urinary incontinence ; her litter habits have gone horrible since the last 2 weeks. Earlier I thought its due to her adolescence approaching. She is also dropping her poops all over the home. She was good in her litter habits before that.

Lethargy : She just change places every half hour or so and just lay down on the floor. I also see her yawning more often than earlier. Due to her lethargy, the gut motility has also decreased.
It is not GI stasis in itself, rather some illness is causing her fatigue and GI stasis is the outcome.

Hind limb weakness : These days she is generally just lying on the floor. When she tries to get up, her hind limb sort of fall back. This doesnt used to happen earlier. I noticed this symptom more often two weeks back, as for now, it has decreased.

Appetite : It is difficult to believe that a bunch of coriander leaves used to make her pounce all over my face earlier, but now food doesn't seem to interest her too much. She is still eating, but not with a lot of enthusiasm.

Our visit with the vet :

I took her to a vet who has a good respect among dog and cat owners. We mentioned him all the above symptoms, after which he prescribed a pelvic and abdomen radio graph. From the radio graph he made out that whatever  she is eating is accumulated in her gut.
He prescribed her the following medicines :

1) Digyton (Digestive stimulant, Anti flatulent, Bowel regulator)
2) Livjivan (Liver tonic)
3) Zymopet (Anti flatulence and Carminative drops )
4) Anima Strath (vitamin and yeast supplement)

7 drops, twice a day, for 3 months. All of these are herbal tonics. Its a pain giving her these tonics twice a day. She is one difficult bunny when it comes to giving her medication. 3 months would be a long, long time.

And lastly, he prescribed Zentel ( Albendazole ) for de-worming. 0.6 ml, once a day, for 3 days.

Based on my readings of various articles on the web and help from forum mates at Binkybunny.com, I am suspecting that she has an E.Cuniculi infection. I did suggest that vet for some internal infection, he ignored me.

* Her appetite and activity levels are fickle. Sometimes she seems to be getting better, sometimes she scares me for I see no improvement.
* We are still giving her the tonics since 4 days and tonight we will administer a dose of Albendazole.
* At present, she is still lethargic and her abdomen seems to be full. I give her abdomen massage everyday. She had some green leafy veggies, 4-5 alfa alfa pellets and hay today.

I have access to Albendazole drops, and I read that rabbits need to have a 28 day course of Albendazole/Fendbendazole for a successful treatment of E.Cuniculi.
I dont think Fenbendazole is available easily here.

I looked for some classic medications of GI Stasis : Metraclopramide, Simethicone and Meloxicam. None of these are available here.

I am writing to you here instead of taking her to the vet, because I know they wont give weightage to what I am trying to explain. They will just go by her x ray reports and ask me to be patient with the progress. Waiting wont help her, it will kill her.

If there were any rabbit savvy, reliable vets, I would have not to go through such amounts of reading every day, only so that I equip myself with better knowledge to help her.

I will try and ask some path labs if they will perform an E.Cuniculi test on a rabbit.

I want you to guide me on what steps should I take to take her out of her condition.

*I want to administer a dose of Albendazole for 28 days. Please tell me how much dose should I administer, considering her weight, age, symptoms and time duration.
* Since the core issue is not the GI Stasis but the infection, should I continue those for herbal tonics everyday ?

Please help me as soon as possible. I am very, very concerned about her.

Answer
Dear Avantika,

Albendazole:  DANGEROUS. I would not give this to my rabbit.

While it is not impossible for a rabbit so young to have E. cuniculi signs, it is not likely. This usually shows up later.  There are many possible reasons for hind limb weakness.  But my first questions are:

1.  Is she on a slippery floor?
2.  When she runs or hops, does she show any weakness?

If not, her hind end might be completely fine.  Most rabbits are a little wobbly when they first get up from a nap and being laid our completely.

As for the lack of appetite, please read this for instructions:

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

and this for information about GI slowdown/ileus:

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

A decrease in appetite could be due to stress (hormones driving her crazy?) or illness, and this can cause GI slowdown and ileus.

If the vet just prescribed albendazole as a wormer without doing a fecal exam...find another vet!  :(  Albendazole has been linked to acute rabbit deaths due to bone marrow damage.  Ivermectin or selamectin will treat for roundworms and are relatively safe.  I would not use albendazole.

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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