Monday, November 17, 2008

Question from the Audience: Change in Cleaning Habbits

A question from Alison C. in Chicago, IL:
Q: My English Lop is 4 years old and recently she has not been cleaning herself well. It is urine that she is not cleaning and it is on her fur, around her back legs. She did this last year and I brought her to the vet, and over $100 later I find out she had a tiny infection from a nail that probably got stuck on her cage or something and then became infected. So when I noticed this again (her not being very clean and the hair around her legs are dirty) I examined her and found nothing. Is there anything else you think could be going on? She is eating and drinking normally and also her bathroom habits are the same. I am just seeing if you may have any ideas. Thanks!

A: While it's hard to diagnose a problem from a distance, I have a few ideas for you to consider:
1) Overweight rabbits often have trouble cleaning themselves. Does she look very round? Does she get unlimited pellets? If so, it might be time to limit her daily pellet allowance and instead provide her with extra fresh veggies, and of course, unlimited hay. In fact, this is a good idea regardless of whether or not she is having weight problems. Good nutrition is essential for a happy rabbit.
2) What kind of litter do you use? If you are using only newspapers or hay, the urine may not be getting absorbed, and instead soaking into your rabbit's fur and skin. Try Yesterday's News, a highly absorbant cat and small animal litter.
3) Clean her litterbox more frequently, so the litter is fresh and dry.
4) Is she dribbling outside of her litterbox? This could explain how she is getting urine on her legs and fur. Dribbling could indicate a urinary tract infection, bladder stones or other medical ailments including uterine cancer.
5) Calcium buildup in the bladder might also cause her to dribble. Cutting out spinach, kale, collard greens or other calcium-rich foods might help; however, the buildup could be indicative of other medical problems.

Since this same behavior has previously occurred, at which time it indicated a significant medical problem, you should take it seriously and get her to the vet for a checkup. Perhaps there is another tiny infection that you are unable to see. She could also not be cleaning herself if she is in pain from an unrelated medical condition. Perpetually urine-soaked skin and fur could result in painful urine scalding on her lower belly and genital area. There could be something seriously wrong with your bunny, and waiting might worsen the problem. At least call your veterinarian and ask what he or she recommends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. Thanks! I do use that litter. I love it. I really appreciate your response. Lots of great information! Thanks a million!!!