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Rabbits/anemia in 9yr male rabbit


what can be done for low white blood cell count. Geno already has low red cell count. Our vet Dr Ruderman gives iron and vit b injections. please advise.

Dear Kelly,

Low white blood cell counts can be caused by pretty much the same factors in any mammal, and some of the most common are enumerated here:

As you can see, there is a wide variety of possibilities.  To treat the problem, one must first determine the cause of the anemia.

Has your bunny ever been given a drug (e.g., albendazole) that can damage bone marrow, and thus cause anemia?  If so, one can only provide supportive care and hope for gradual regeneration.

Bone cancers are very rare in rabbits, but this is another possiblity.

Renal disease can cause a reduction in red blood cells due to a reduced level of erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys that is essential for red blood cell production.

A localized infection can cause anemia, and could also sequester white blood cells in a single location, rather than allowing them to circulate in the blood.  This could give the appearance of a low white count, simply because the cells are "occupied" and not being replenished quickly enough.

Finally, it is very possible (and not all that uncommon) for cell counts in rabbits to be "off" because the machines used are not calibrated for rabbits.  If they are calibrated for dogs and/or cats, then you can bet that the cell counts will be wrong.

I would suggest finding a rabbit-savvy veterinarian for a second opinion:

to be sure your bunny really is exhibiting the signs your current vet believes he is.

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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