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Rabbits USA: The Fatal 5

These medical ailments are the ones that most commonly result in rabbit deaths.

By Sharon Vanderlip, DVM

Even the most well-cared for rabbit may need emergency veterinary care at some time in its life. Rabbits can suffer from a number of unexpected, life-threatening medical emergencies. A rabbit’s chances for survival and recovery depend on three key factors: 1) The type of problem and its severity; 2) The owner’s ability to quickly recognize the condition and act on it; 3) Obtaining veterinary emergency care immediately.

Every rabbit owner needs to know how to prevent and recognize the top five killer medical emergencies in rabbits. Knowing what signs to look for and what to do can mean the difference between a rabbit’s life and death.

Preventing an emergency is easier than treating one. For some conditions, prevention is possible. For others, first aid may be helpful. For all of these medical emergencies, immediate veterinary care is essential to increase the chances of survival.

1) Gut Stasis
Gut stasis is one of the most common and deadly gastrointestinal (GI) disorders seen in rabbits. It is also known as “hairball” or “wool block.” Gut stasis means intestinal motility has stopped.

The key causes of gut stasis are gastric obstruction, such as a hairball, and changes in gastric motility leading to fluid loss from the stomach and dehydration of the stomach contents (ingesta).

**For the full article, pick up the 2008 issue of Rabbits USA or click here to buy the issue.**

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