Rabbit won't move legs and when picked up urinates

My female bunny has suddenly developed a very disturbing condition. When I came home I found her in her box .. when she saw me she came out but she wasn't walking. She was dragging her back legs (as if they weren't working) When I reached in to pick her up she her legs just dangled and she was urinating.

I laid her back down and she eventually dragged herself back in to her box. Please tell me what this could be.

I have a wildlife camera on the hutch they were in and at about midnight on the 14th she remained in her box (not normal for her) until this morning (15th) she comes out but is dragging herself. I live in a very small community and there are no vets in this town. Please help me...

***** Karen Sez *****
On that wildlife cam, did you see ANYTHING that could have startled your rabbit? Rabbits can snap their backs with a swift kick caused by a startle reflex.

I strongly suspect a bruised or broken back. When you picked up the rabbit, you applied pressure to the bladder, and because she is (possibly) unable to pee on her own, that pressure helped her pee.

But, without an x-ray it is difficult to know for sure whether the back is broken or bruised. A severe bruise can cause temporary swelling that can paralyze the rabbit temporarily.

If the back is well and truly broken, then sadly your rabbit will be paralyzed for good. The bladder symptom is possibly indicative of a break.

But, the peeing could actually indicate a parasitic infection rather than a broken back. Nosema is a parasite that, if it gets into the brain, can temporarily cause various neurological symptoms, including paralysis. Read more at https://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-illnesses.html. If the immune system can bring the infection under control, the symptoms may abate, but unfortunately the rabbit will probably be infected for the rest of its life, even if not contagious.

I am not able to tell you which of these problems your rabbit has, since what you have described could be seen with either health problem.

At this point, you may simply wait it out to see how the rabbit's immune system responds. If in a month she is still paralyzed, I'm afraid I'd choose to euthanize the animal, were it mine.

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Jan 13, 2017
by: Frank

My rabbit had a broken leg and still lived 6 more years total 15 years LIFE. The vet wanted to put him down. Every morning I gave thumper a bath, put him on a table with wheels and the last 6 years thumper was the best family rabbit - he loved attention and being disabled he got more than any animal in history. Now velvet can't move her back feet after vet tomorrow if they want to put her down I'm going to get her a roller skate and velcro her to it saw it on the news working and my baby isn't going anywhere.

***** Karen Sez *****
Awesome about Thumper. And I hope it works out for Velvet! I'd love to see photos if she ends up navigating via roller skate.

To address others that might read this later: How one decides to respond to disability in an animal is entirely individual. Frank wants to extend Velvet's life. Joe down the street might decide to euthanize his newly paralyzed rabbit. In fact, Joe might think that people who put rabbits on roller skates when paralyzed are cruel to not put them down mercifully.

Unfortunately, the animal rights gang is trying to make a moral issue out of how we treat animals, and it's real tempting for folks to get really judgmental one with one another.

As a matter of law, animals are personal property (there is NO EQUALITY between animals and humans) and as long as we manage them kindly and humanely, the choices that we make for our animals, paralyzed or not, are completely individual.

Thanks for writing in, Frank.

Jul 19, 2014
by: Donna

My nobu has the same problem, I blame the vet tech that was handling him while he was getting his nails trimmed. He is eating well, and drinking plenty of water. He like all of yours drags he back legs in the cage and on the carpet. The vet said he probably sprained or bruise his back when he kicked to be let go. I refuse to euthanize nobu, I've had to with of two my Hollands due to cancer, not going to do it again.

**Nobu does seem happy, he has me to love him! There is an article to read at: www.disabledrabbits.com

Nov 05, 2013
Holland lop right leg drags
by: Anonymous

I have the same problem. My 2 year old rabbit couldn't move about 4 weeks ago. The first day I realized this I took him to an exotic animal vet who x-rayed him and stated there was no noticeable break in the leg but that there maybe a ruptured disk. My bunny still eats and drinks well and will pull himself across the floor. I took him back to the vet and he suggested cold laser therapy to see if this is related to a disk herniation. My rabbit has to have the bedding changed 2 times a day because he cannot control his urination. I am hoping we can resolve this as I do not want to euthanize. I cannot tell if he is in pain but have been giving him bunny analgesic. Hoping the cold laser therapy works.

Feb 18, 2013
My rabbit does the same!
by: Louise

My rabbit went through the same thing with weeing a lot when picked up, but he fell from his hutch ladder yesterday and his legs won't move much either. Hope your rabbit is ok!

May 08, 2012
Paralyzed Bunny
by: tracey

Hi how is your rabbit? I have the same problem with one of my bunnies. I went to feed her and she was moving her back legs very slow and not weight bearing on them.

I've put her in a hutch on her own hoping that minimal movement will help rest her legs. She is weeing and pooing and eating well. She allows me to move her legs for her and doesn't look uncomfortable.

When I put her on the floor even though her legs are dragging behind her she still does the movement with them but can't get them underneath her.

I'm hoping she will get better. Fingers crossed.

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