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Rabbits/*URGENT* - Bladder sludge


Dear Dana,

We have a lovely mini lop. She's 5 years old and was neutered as soon as she was old enough. She has an splayed leg and since her young age she hasnít a very clean butt.

We live in S„o Paulo, Brazil, and fortunately we have a reliable veterinarian who is an expert in rabbits. He is affiliated member to AEMV (USA).

About an year and a half ago she was with ďfungusĒ in the butt (we thought that was so). We started with topical medication, then, after 10 days, she had a GI Stasis and was diagnosed with calcium crystals in her bladder. She was put on medication and vitamin C. The crystals were gone. After that, the butt fur has never grown up again and she started having urine scald. Then, we had noticed a change in her bathroom habits and more urine scald. We started to give her butt baths regularly twice a week. As long as her butt never turned out to be clean again, we thought that her splayed could have contributed to this outcome.

Two months ago the situation worsened a bit and her bottom began to be wet and smelly. Then, we took her to the veterinarian, who diagnosed that her bladder was full of sludge. Her butt was completely shaved and she was put under subcutaneous fluids and pain relief for a week. Our vet didnít want to do a bladder flush with a catheter.

Now, 4 weeks later, she still has some sludge in her bladder. She has been treated with vitamin C and also with a homeopathic nosode (developed with her bladder sludge).

As a result, she is much better now. She isnít smelly, the urine scald is healing and the fur is growing up again. But, on the other hand, we have realized that she is not managing to empty her bladder completely when she urinates! Our impression is that she is holding the urine until the last moment. Her bladder is always full or semi-full. The bladder is completely empty only when the vet manually presses it. Otherwise, part of the urine remains in it. Nevertheless, her behavior can be classified as normal: she is walking, running, eating, pooping and drinking a lot (approx. 200 ml/day). The bad bathroom habits continue...

Our vet has recommended to eliminate the food pellets, but, as we stay out of home almost 12 hours a day, maybe this might not be a good choice. She has greens leaves twice a day and an unlimited quota of hay.

In spite of these improvements, we are still very concerned about her difficulty in turning the bladder empty. Our vet as well!

What is your opinion about this case? Is this something really serious? Can we learn how to press and empty her bladder? How many times can we do that during a week? Is it painful? Would you have further suggestions in order to solve her problem? Any tips or suggestions will be very welcome!

Thank you very much.

Cintia Fulador (mom) and Jeovan Penteado (dad)

Dear Cintia,

Sorry for the delay.  Lately, the Allexperts site has been down more than up, and every time I try to log in I get an error message!

What you describe is not uncommon for a bunny with bladder sludge.  Some of our vets find that using bethanichol, which can help strengthen the contractions of the bladder.  Tamsulosin might be added in combination, as it can relax the muscles of the bladder neck, allowing easier and more complete emptying of the bladder.  

If you use these drugs, their effects can be increased if you also give subcutaneous fluids to make sure the bladder has plenty of fluid to flush out the sludge.

I hope these might help.



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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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