Could my rabbit have arthritis? That’s probably the last question you think about when it comes to rabbits. However, osteoarthritis is actually quite common in older rabbits, and it can affect rabbits as young as two.
How would you know? As rabbits are ‘prey animals’ they hide pain to avoid looking ‘weak’ to potential predators. Clent Hills Vets’ head vet Alun Edwards has come up with a fun test to help you learn about the signs & symptoms of arthritis to look out for in your rabbit.
What is arthritis?
Osteoarthritis, or arthritis for short, is a degenerative condition that causes inflammation of the joints. If your rabbit is over the age of 6 it’s likely they will have arthritis, which can be very painful and will affect their quality of life. Giant breeds tend to become arthritic at a relatively younger age than smaller breeds.
It’s not all bad news though, with the right combination of medication and veterinary care, arthritis in rabbits can be treated and managed to reduce the symptoms. Book a rabbit health check by calling 01527 889810.
What should I look out for?
The key to spotting the signs and symptoms of arthritis is to monitor your rabbit regularly to spot any changes or anything of concern. Keep a ‘rabbit diary’ and log your findings.
- After your rabbit has been laying still for a while, are their first few steps a bit wobbly? Do they appear stiff? Are they limping? These are all symptoms of arthritis, as well as other conditions so it’s important to get your rabbit checked out by a vet.
- Caecotrophs are soft pellets that rabbits excrete and then re-digest to absorb the nutrients they need. Can your rabbit reach to eat these directly from their bottom or are they scooting and then eating them off the floor?
- Is your rabbit’s bottom getting dirty or urine-soaked more often? Arthritis affects mobility and rabbits aren’t able to angle their pelvis properly to wee, which can lead to bladder sludge or stones from not emptying their bladder fully. Plus, they may struggle to reach when cleaning and grooming.
- Does the cold or damp weather affect your rabbit’s ability and willingness to move around? Arthritic rabbits generally want to stay warm and do less, and can become withdrawn around you and other people and pets.
- Has your rabbit’s appetite shrunk or have they stopped eating and you can’t figure out why?
If you’re concerned about your rabbit’s health, especially if their appetite has changed (this could be related to other health conditions and should be dealt with quickly), give us a call on 01527 889810 and book your furry pal in for a health check.