Preventing heat stress – Temperatures over 85°F are uncomfortable to rabbits, and may result in overheating. Because of the climate in this region, we recommend that all rabbits be kept indoors. Signs of heat stress include increased respiratory rate/effort, fever, lethargy, etc. If you suspect heat stress in your rabbit, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Malocclusion of premolars and molars – This is very common in guinea pigs and can be genetically caused. Most commonly these pigs become picky about what they eat or stop eating and may drool or slobber. They may also have drool on their front paws from wiping their mouths. Weight loss is also common. Treatment includes sedation to trim the molars when it is determined they are stable for anesthesia; a veterinarian will discuss this if applicable to the patient. This is often a recurrent problem, but a long term plan is determined based on the individual.
Cecotrophs – These soft, mucus-covered bowel movements are also known as nighttime or first pass feces. Rabbits usually eat these soft pellets directly from their rear, allowing the digestive tract the opportunity to break down plant material more completely the second time through. Cecotrophs provide essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals, and replenish normal bacterial flora. Overweight or arthritic rabbits often cannot reach their rear in order to eat cecotrophs, which can result in matting/fecal pasting of the fur on their hindquarters. Other rabbits will neglect to eat their cecotrophs when they are ill. A physical exam is recommended in any rabbit with hygiene issues.
Urine – Normal rabbit urine contains a lot of sediment (mostly calcium), and the color often varies from white to light brown. Under certain circumstances, such as when stressed, sick, or receiving medications, the urine may appear orange or red-tinged (sometimes mistaken for blood) due to the excretion of a normal pigment. Because rabbits can develop urinary tract infections resulting in blood in the urine, it is recommended that you contact your veterinarian to perform a urinalysis in any situation in which blood is suspected.
Gastrointestinal Stasis (or GI stasis) – Reduced appetite/anorexia or reduced/no feces is usually considered a same day medical emergency in rabbits. There may be a primary GI tract problem or an underlying disease or issue, such as molar overgrowth or an infection. If not addressed in time, GI stasis can lead to hypothermia (low body temperature), severe dehydration, or even death.
Dental disease – Drooling, spitting out food, pickiness, and/or weight loss are signs that may indicate dental problems. Dental disease can lead to ulcers, infection/abscesses, or reduced appetite and GI stasis if not appropriately addressed. Molar overgrowth/malocclusion is often a recurrent issue requiring regular anesthetized dental trims.