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Weight loss can occur in rabbits, but when they lose 10 percent or more of their normal body weight it becomes a major concern -- no longer an issue of decrease in fluid weight. It is especially worrisome when the weight loss accompanies muscle atrophy (or the wasting away of muscle mass). This state of poor health is usually referred to as cachexia, and it requires immediate medical attention.
The symptoms the rabbit displays are dependent on the underlying cause of the condition. However, general signs will include thinness or a reduced size and appearance. Other signs and symptoms may include:
There are many different causes for cachexia (and weight loss) in rabbits. These can include increased metabolism. For example, the animal's body may start using lean muscle for energy in order to carry out its daily functions. Metabolic disorders such as organ failure or disorders associated with cancer can also bring this type of weight loss.
Some other common causes may include:
To make a proper diagnosis, the veterinarian will first determine the animal's diet. The veterinarian will also examine the animal's teeth, as dental disease is a common cause for weight loss. Finally, they will run various tests, including X-rays, to rule out any organ and neuromuscular problems, masses or cancers.
The area found between the muscles and the endings of the nerves
The group of processes that involve the use of nutrients by the body
A medical condition in which the body has lost fluid or water in excessive amounts
The wasting away of certain tissues; a medical condition that occurs when tissues fail to grow.