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Rabbits/rabbit with UTI sits in urine


QUESTION: Hello Dr Krempels, Per your response 9/8/15 Holland Lop sitting in urine:  I also have a Holland lop who sits in his urine, although it seems to be due to incontinence  brought on by an injury to his leg years ago and a constant urinary tract infection (3rd time on Baytil in 6 months). Tilbert is 7.5 and otherwise in good health. We did try to take a kidney biopsy two years ago, but the kidneys were positioned in such a way that the vet deemed it too risky. His urine is pretty clear of sludge, and he does drink a lot of water. However his bonded mate, Violet, also drinks a lot of water (8-12oz/day between the two of them). They eats lot of 2nd cutting Timothy, fresh veggies, and a few treats.I read and thought the closest thing Rear limb/pelvic paresis. But his leg has only really started to get bad with the UTI. He ran around just fine before. Any idea of why he keeps getting this UTI. and any suggestions for making him more comfortable (I just ordered 2 yards of unreal sheepskin as he seems to enjoy sitting and walking on it.)
thank you very much.

ANSWER: Dear John,

First off...a kidney biopsy?!?  In a RABBIT?!?  FOR REAL??!?!

Okay, I have never EVER heard of a rabbit-savvy vet taking this kind of risk in a rabbit.  That just seems INSANE to me.  Is this vet really more of a dog/cat vet?  Because that's my suspicion from hearing that s/he would even *attempt* a kidney biopsy in a rabbit when there are so many other options to try first.  I really would be interested to know why this vet thought a kidney biopsy was necessary or a good idea.  

Was blood work done to assess renal function?  That's really all you need to know.  What on EARTH could possibly be gained from a kidney biopsy (except may be some nice $$ for that new boat).

Sorry.  That just made me go off.  I worry that this vet may not be the best option for your rabbits.  I'm glad that s/he at least had the sense to back off once s/he saw how inaccessible and delicate the kindeys are.

I do need a bit more information from you to give you an adequate answer:

1.  Was bloodwork ever done on these bunnies?
2.  Have radiographs been taken to determine whether there are uroliths or sludge in the bladder?
3.  Has the urine been examined under the microscope or sent for culture and sensivity?
4.  Have his molars ever been checked for spurs or other problems (very common in Holland Lops) to see if this could explain his excessive drinking?  (Some rabbits will drink to soothe the pain of those spurs digging into the cheek and/or tongue.)
5.  How much does each rabbit weigh?  (This will help me determine whether the water intake is excessive.)

You might want to check the vet listings here:

to find another vet in your area for a second opinion.

I hope I can help you get to the bottom of this.


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

Tilbert blood work
Tilbert blood work  
Blood work had been done 7/2/13, and the "blood levels" were so high that the vet thought it right at the time (see attached). Another vet was going to do the work. Both vets have excellent reputations for treating and not price-gouging. X-rays had been done, and there was no sludge, and his teeth are checked annually if not every few months. Her teeth are in excellent condition as well. She was xrayed in 2013 for bladder stones as her brother have all had problems.
In Jan 2014 he started having problems 1/4 he was falling, dizzy and tipping over. treated for ear infection and EC with baytril. 1/11 He was not drinking, just licking the bowl. 1/21 He was favoring one leg, but X-rays showed nothing--assumed it was sprain. he weighs 1.85 Kg, and has weighed as much as 2.12Kg. She weighs 2.49 kg.
The vet called yesterday, and there were white blood cells, so continuing with TMS for infection. Waiting still for EC results.

Dear John,

It sounds as if it might be wise to treat for E. cuniculi.  We have found that combining fenbendazole (20mg/kg Q 24 hours) with ponazuril (Marquis; 20mg/kg Q 24 hours) works very well.

But seriously...I have asked hundreds of rabbit expert people (vets and rescuers) about the kidney biopsy and they were all completely shocked.  The veterinarians, in particular, thought this was a terrible idea for a rabbit.

Please proceed with caution, and perhaps find another vet for a second opinion with the referral list here:

Just because someone doesn't price gouge it doesn't mean they know their way around a rabbit.  :(



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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:

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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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