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QUESTION: We recently lost our beloved house rabbit named Whisker Buscuit. I would like to ask you to possibly interpret some symptoms that we observed with her. We noticed that she was acting a little lethargic and began to have sagging skin around her bottom, stomach and front legs. We took her to our vet and he stated that she seemed ok and that the sagging skin could just be her age showing.(She was 7 years old) About a week following the vet visit we noticed that her breathing was becoming a little more labored. The following week we took her back to the vet and told him what we were observing with her. He thought that she possibly had a lung infection so he gave her a shot of antibiotics. The next day i took her to him again for another shot. That night she began getting worse with her breathing and died early the next morning before we could get her back to the vet. My question is this, shouldn't the vet have done more testing on her and what is your feeling on what took her life?? We had WB for 5 years and enjoyed her tremendously. We miss her!!

ANSWER: Todd,

I'm so sorry for your loss. Having a bun-panion cross the rainbow bridge is never easy.

It sounds like Whisker Biscuit was suffering from heart failure. The short answer is yes, your vet should have done more, however it's a little more complicated than that. Unless your vet was really rabbit-savvy, he probably wouldn't have tested for this.

In the end, it's best to focus on the 5 wonderful years you gave your bunny. She knew she was loved, and that's all that matters.

Best of luck,

Christine

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

QUESTION: Thank you for the answer above. We figured that she was suffering from a heart problem. Unfortunately we discovered too late. The next time we will have a more experienced vet to help us out. You are correct also that we need to focus on the five years that we had with her. She was definitely a queen in her castle!!! The last question i have is that both of our bunnies have died with a heart problem and an upper respiratory infection. Do you have any suggestions about keeping our next precious bunny healthier and longer. We kept WB indoors with us, kept her cage very clean and she had the run of the house when we were home. We fed her a med/small amount of pellets and always had timothy hay. We OCCASIONALLY gave her 2-3 raisins, green clover from a hayfield and an occasional small carrot. She was not overweight. Any suggestions would be nice. Thanks!!!

Answer
Todd,

A rabbit-savvy vet is always the way to go. I'd contact local rescues, sanctuaries, and shelters to see what vets they use and go from there. Keep in mind heart disease is difficult to detect in rabbits due to their naturally fast heart rate, so sometimes even the best vets might miss the really early warning signs. It's often found randomly - during a chest x-ray or a stethoscope in juuuuuuust the right spot to hear a strange sound in the lungs or heart.

As for how to prevent that, for the most part it's out of our control. As our animals live longer lives, we're seeing these sorts of diagnoses occurring. Add that to factors like genetics, other disease that might be present, and diet... it's like asking how you can prevent cancer. You can do the best you can with diet, exercise, etc., but sometimes it's still going to end up as the diagnosis no matter what you do.

Christine

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Christine Whetstone

Expertise

I am not an expert on wild rabbits, only domesticated rabbits. I can answer questions regarding habitats, behavior, diet, health, pairing/bonding - pretty much anything having to do with owning a rabbit.

Experience

I've owned indoor rabbits for the last 10 years. During that time I've gained experience in areas like bonding exercises, understanding behavior, warning signs of sick bunnies, how to handle more serious illnesses (GI stasis, abscesses, eye problems, etc.) and more. It's rare that I come across an inquiry that I do not already know the answer to.

Organizations
House Rabbit Society, supporter of local rabbit rescues

Publications
http://ilovemyhouserabbit.com/

Education/Credentials
Personal experience beats the pants off of a degree, in my opinion.

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