Questions, rabbit appears failing after long decline

by Susan
(Washougal WA, Skamania)

Hi, we have a sweet part dwarf rabbit, 8 years old, we got him when he was 5. Used to be preschool bunny till they outlawed furry animals in school. Then went to several homes, ours was last.

He arrived with a condition where he got white ropey stuff in his eyes and no one was cleaning them, but we clean them whenever it appears. it is less frequent now than it was on his arrival.

Other symptoms, at first, all symptoms were very slight, but have increased. Salivation--became more and more excessive. Only thing it seems to be related directly to is eating wheat chex (no other ingredients except wheat) and crusts of bread toast. These are only treat foods, so he gets small amounts, but still has direct reaction--choking, salivating.

He used to eat a slice of banana, but after awhile, that caused choking, salivating, too. Most of this time, in spite of varied diet, poops were tiny round balls, and only every 2 days.

Then a few months ago, he quit eating timothy hay, although he used to love it. For awhile, ate only rolled oats and kale, broccoli, parsley, carrot tops, celery, etc. One by one, he quit eating those.

Losing weight, down to rolled oats, when we discovered he would eat alfalfa-based nutritional pellets. He gulped them down for 3 days, avoiding all other food. Then had huge diarrhea. Two days later, for the first time, normal poops. But, after gorging on the pellets, his appetite for them gradually diminished. Now eating only a few alfalfa pellets and a few oat flakes at a time.

Losing weight, drooling about the same, medium heavy. We clean cage daily, wash all cloths weekly, fresh water constantly. He drinks water quite a bit, but not excessive. Is still playful and responsive but weakening, wants more attention.

That is all I can think of--what info might you have?

***** Karen Sez *****
Can you feel any lumps under the skin around the jaw or under the jaw?

You're describing a rabbit with difficulty chewing. I suspect that his molars, or cheek teeth as they're called, are not wearing down properly, and this can lead to bone abscesses, malocclusion, infection, drooling and an inability to eat when the problems are advanced. Your rabbit-savvy vet is the one who can give you a definitive diagnosis and prognosis, as well as a treatment plan, if any. Sorry to say, my hopes are not very high.

I wonder if his diet has been low in Vitamin D? Just a hunch, but if it'll take them, try offering it whole oats or black oil sunflower seeds (for birds), at about a teaspoon or two per day. (It might be too late for this, if it cannot chew properly.) The higher levels of oil in these seeds will improve its absorption of fat-soluble vitamins in its diet, including Vitamin D. A sun-cured alfalfa-based rabbit pellet ration is a good source of vitamin D.

Just for the record, the old buck is old! 8 years is like 80 years old for a rabbit. It's drawing near to the end of its life. Hard to face, sometimes, but it happens to the best of them, including our pets.

Glad you've opened your heart to a rabbit that has served children admirably for years.

Best of luck, and hope when the time comes, you can obtain another excellent rabbit.

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