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Rabbits/Stress Urine, Straining To Urinate-Help!

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Question
My rabbit is a male and approximately 6 years old. He is a medium/large rabbit, but is overweight at 10.1 pounds. I am currently trying to get him down to a more acceptable 8-9 pounds. His diet consists of pellets and timothy hay.

I was at the vet this week and of course she recommended greens replacing most of the pellets, however, whenever I try to improve the diet with greens, I notice he starts having great difficulty/straining to urinate and the urine is heavy and rust colored. I don't however see any sand or obvious calcium discharge. This usually occurs about 2 days after feeding him the greens.   

Ignoring my better judgment (based on the latest vet recommendation, I fed him dandelions and parsley this week and that issue is again happening worse than ever. Obviously, I stopped feeding him the greens again. Regardless of what his fed, his poop always seems fine.

I've taken him to multiple vets trying to determine what the issue is here (its happened before) and one said that he was "stressed out because we were moving", ridiculous, and others have said he has bladder sludge and needs to lose weight and have his diet improved...well I cant do that as every time I change his diet with greens, he cant urinate!

It only seems to occur when he is fed greens like dandelions, parsley or kale. Things like blueberries or bananas don't seem to make it hard for him to urinate. Any ideas or suggestions?

Thank You

Answer
Dear Jim,

It's very unusual for diet to cause so much urinary calcium salts that you'll see this type of relationship.  I would strongly recommend radiographs of your boy's bladder to be sure he doesn't have stones or sludge.  It's possible that the greens are increasing his fluid intake, and that you're seeing him strain to urinate because he's needing to urinate more often.

It's also possible he has a urinary tract infection.  Please see:

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

The foods you mention, kale, dandelion greens, etc. can be high in calcium, but it really depends on where and how they were grown.  Fresh foods are almost never a problem when it comes to calcium metabolism in rabbits.  The only fresh green I do studiously avoid is spinach.

First thing to do is discover whether your bun has sludge or stones.  If so, subQ fluid therapy and gentle bladder expression of a full bladder (after jiggling the bladder to suspend the sludge) can help pass sludge.  If there are stones, then the only truly viable remedy is surgical removal.  :(

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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