image of Rabbits
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This chapter provides the need-to-know information on rabbits:

  • Biology
  • Husbandry
  • Handling and restraint
  • Diagnostic approach
  • Common conditions
  • Supportive care
  • Anaesthesia and analgesia
  • Common surgical procedures
  • Euthanasia
  • Drug formulary.

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4.1 A Dwarf lop rabbit, a popular pet breed.
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4.4 Rabbits produce two types of faeces: caecotrophs which are small, soft, mucus-coated balls of caecal contents arranged in grape-like clusters (bottom); and hard faeces which are larger and dry (top).
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4.5 A rabbit in a run on grass, with bolt holes for for shelter. (Reproduced from the .)
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4.7 Examining rabbits on slippery surfaces should be avoided; covering the examination table with a towel makes the patient feel more secure, facilitating examination. Note that a paediatric stethoscope is being used to auscultate the thorax.
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4.8 Rabbits lack footpads and as a result the plantar surfaces of the hind feet are a common site for focal skin disease to develop. This rabbit is showing signs of early plantar pododermatitis with mild alopecia and erythema of the hock area.
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4.9 Perineal urine soiling has a variety of causes. Regardless of the underlying cause, it frequently leads to scalding of the perineal skin, resulting in pain and secondary bacterial dermatitis.
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4.10 Uneaten caecotrophs may accumulate at the anus and in the perineal region, predisposing the rabbit to myiasis, urine scalding and perineal dermatitis.
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4.11 Lateral skull radiograph of a rabbit with a facial mass. The mass proved to be a abscess that had developed at the apex of one of the mandibular premolars. Radiography was vital in this case to identify which tooth was involved. The tooth was subsequently extracted during surgery to debride the abscess.
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4.12 Dorsoventral abdominal radiograph of a rabbit revealing gaseous distension of the caecum suggestive of ileus. Aggressive medical therapy was instituted immediately and the rabbit made a full recovery.
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4.13 Lateral radiograph of a rabbit presented with non-specific signs of lethargy and inappetence. A large volume of radiopaque ‘sludge’ is present in the bladder warranting sedation, catheterization and lavage.
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4.14 MRI is an incredibly powerful tool for evaluating a variety of soft tissue structures. It is particularly useful for the investigation of neurological disease. This MRI brain scan of a rabbit presented with severe, sudden onset torticollis shows no gross lesions (e.g. neoplasms, abscesses).
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4.15 Venepuncture from the marginal ear vein. An assistant raises the marginal ear vein by applying pressure at the base of the ear. Intravenous catheterization of the marginal ear vein. (Reproduced from the )
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4.17 Cannulation of the nasolacrimal duct for flushing
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4.18 Deep nasal swab collection.
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4.20 Flushing the bladder of an anaesthetized rabbit suffering from sludgy bladder syndrome. Urinary sludge (a thick accumulation of calcium crystals) removed from the bladder of the rabbit by catheterization and lavage.
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4.24 Intraosseous catheterization. An intraosseous catheter (spinal needle) is placed in the proximal femur of a collapsed rabbit. Removing the stylet. (Reproduced from .)
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4.25 Nasogastric tube Note that the catheter has been secured to the rabbit’s head using tape.
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4.27 Castration of a buck using a closed technique. Following a scrotal incision, each testis is exteriorized without incising through the tunic. Double clamps have been applied to the cord prior to ligature placement.
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4.28 Stay sutures are placed in the exteriorized bladder of this rabbit undergoing cystotomy for removal of a urolith.
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4.29 Surgical debridement of a mandibular abscess of dental origin. Associated teeth and tooth fragments must be removed to limit the risk of recurrence.
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4.30 Transconjunctival approach to enucleation. This patient had a large retrobulbar abscess that had caused severe unilateral exophthalmos and subsequent refractory keratitis.
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4.31 The incisor teeth can be trimmed using a dental burr.
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4.32 Incisor extraction.
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