Partial or Complete Loss of Muscle Control in Rabbits



Your rabbit will be cared for as an inpatient if it presents with severe weakness or paralysis, or until bladder function can be ascertained (an indicator of the severity of the condition). If possible, the veterinarian will treat the underlying cause of the paresis or paralysis. For example, pain relieving medication as well as anesthetics and gastric protective agents may be provided. If paralysis is present, the bladder may be emptied by manual compression. Inability to urinate voluntarily can make the rabbit more susceptible to infection, so it will be important to monitor for signs of urinary infection and the spread of infection into the bladder.


For fractures and damaged nerves, your doctor may be able to surgically repair them. It must be kept in mind that some injuries are too traumatic for repair. The final outcome will be dependent on the diagnosis.


Living and Management


If your rabbit is having problems with urinary continence, you will need to make extra efforts to keep the bedding clean so that the rabbit is not in soiled bedding. Additionally, keep the fur clean and dry; check and clean your rabbit's genital and hind leg area frequently to prevent urine scalding.


You will need to restrict your rabbit's activity until spinal trauma and disk prolapse can be ruled out. If your rabbit has been placed on cage rest, you will need to make sure to move your rabbit at regular intervals in order to prevents lung congestion and pressure sore (bed sore) formation by turning it from one side to the other four to eight times daily. This is very important, as the rabbit will not be able to do this on its own. If your rabbit is unable to urinate on its own, you will need to perform manual expression of its bladder regularly enough tot prevent the possibility of bladder infection. Your veterinarian will go over the procedure with you so that you can perform this task at home.


If your rabbit is only affected in the hind legs, a cart -- the type that is made for small breed dogs -- may sometimes be fitted for larger rabbits, and may be tolerated for limited periods. Encourage oral fluid intake by offering fresh water, wetting leafy vegetables, or flavoring water with vegetable juice, and offer a large selection of fresh, moistened greens such as cilantro, romaine lettuce, parsley, carrot tops, dandelion greens, spinach, collard greens, etc., and good-quality grass hay. You should also continue to offer your rabbit it's usual pellet diet, as the initial goal is to get the rabbit to eat a full diet. If your rabbit cannot, or will not eat, you will need to syringe feed a gruel mixture. High-carbohydrate, high-fat nutritional supplements are contraindicated and should not be given with the approval of your doctor. Do not give your rabbit any foods or medicines that have not been preapproved by your veterinarian.