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Rabbits/rapid heart rate part 2.


Hello Dr. Krempels,

A couple of weeks ago I wrote you about my Florida White, 9 year old male named Eddie.

Today he saw his veterinarian and had 2 x-rays. He has perfect films. The only obvious issue was a full bladder.  

As you had recommend, a pulse-ox was attempted. Because his veins are so small, the results were inconclusive. Although his tissue is a healthy pink.

As I had mentioned in my previous letter, he has had urine sludge issues. Eddie's doctor expressed his bladder and a very gritty substance came out with his urine and a lot of it. There was not any of the chalky substance that I have seen before, only the brownish sandy looking sludge.

With the problem still being that his heart rate is about 200 beats per minute and his respiration is close to the same, could it be a discomfort issue from his bladder?

In addition to the diet changes I have made for him, should I also give him only filtered water? He has always had tap water. Should I learn it express his bladder too?

Thank you for your time.

Kimberly McWilliams

Dear Kimberly

Stress can cause a rabbit's heart rate to increase (normal is up to about 150 bpm), and since pain can cause stress, I think the bladder problem could be related to his heart rate.

In any case, the bladder sludge needs to be treated.  It's no fun, but decreasing the amount of sludge in his bladder will decrease discomfort and possibly his heart rate will return to normal.

In some cases, bladder sludge is associated with bacterial infection, though no one knows whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship (or which comes first).  It's hard to get an accurate urine culture if the culprits are anaerobes, but you might ask your vet about combining subQ fluid therapy, gentle bladder expression (which you can learn to do from your vet), and an appropriate antibiotic.

I hope that resolving his bladder problems will help with his heart rate.

Just some ideas.



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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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