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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 15917
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My bunny started off with sneezing and nose bleeds. He then

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My bunny started off with sneezing and nose bleeds. He then became more lethargic. We have taken him to the vets on numerous occasions over the last 12 months and they have not been able to diagnose the problem, just giving him baytril. We then went a month ago and asked for culture and sensitivity tests and xrays, after our own research on the internet. The x ray came back clear and the C&S diagnosed a build up of the staphylococcus bacteria. He then went on to septrin and metacam. He has now developed a lump of the side of his nose, it has appeared in the last couple of days. We thought it was a bump as he had banged it on a table. As he lives in the house, and we are cleaning his nose and eyes several times per day we would not have missed it. He has therefore had another xray and the vet can see soft tissue damage and has said she can see bone damage/cancerous cells. I just wondered if there is any possibility it could actually be an abscess that the vet has misread as there is soft tissue damage or a lump from the bang. Also, could a cancerous lump the size of a 10p have grown in the space of a few weeks? If it is cancer, whilst I know all rabbits will be different, is there a likely length of time that he may survive? I may appear to be clutching at straws in the hope my beloved bunny will survive but I wonder if the vet could have misread the xray as it seems to have developed into a tumour so quickly when the first xray was clear. Thanks for any help
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about your bunny's swelling on his nose.
It is possible that he does have a tumor in his nose that has now gotten large enough to be apparent on the outside of his nose. That would explain his sneezing and nose bleeds as well as his lethargy too. It does seem unlikely however that a tumor would enlarge that quickly.
More commonly in a bunny that has a long history of sneezing and a mass that suddenly popped up is a bacterial infection called pasteurella (snuffles). It can cause upper respiratory, and eye infections too, as well as abscesses under the skin and in the respiratory tract in some rabbits. Pasteurella is very contagious and once it is introduced into a rabbitry it is almost impossible to get rid of. An infected bunny can sneeze and pass it on via droplets in the air to other rabbits in the colony. You can have inapparent carriers that look normal but carry the bacteria. Sometimes these bunnies never get sick or only get sick when stressed or they get old and the immune system weakens.
If you are interested here is a link to an article which will give you more information about pasteurella or "snuffles" in rabbits: http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articles/past.shtml
Unfortunately once a bunny has the bacteria it is almost impossible to get rid of it. We can send it into hiding sometimes with antibiotic therapy but it almost always comes back.
With a walled off abscess (which is likely what the mass on his nose is) surgical removal is often necessary, or at least surgical drainage. Sometimes we also need to prescribe injectable penicillin antibiotics in cases where several antibiotics have been tried with no improvement.
Either way without a biopsy and culture of the mass area I would not be comfortable calling this cancer.
Your bunny needs to see a veterinarian that is experienced with rabbits.
In the meantime make sure he continues to eat well and keep him as stress free as possible.
Best of luck with your fellow. Let me know if you have further questions
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 15917
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
Dr. Kara and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Dr Kara, thank you for your help. The C&S test said not pasturella. I will ask the vet about a biopsy though. Just hope it is not a tumour. Thanks again
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome.
Sometimes we may get results that don't accurately reflect what we are dealing with. Staph is a normal bacteria found all over the body and while it can create true abscesses and infections if it gets under the skin or nasal mucous membranes, it is not a common problem with bunnies. If they didn't get a sample from just the right area they may not have picked up the true agent of infection, but rather just normal commensal organisms.
Rabbits produce thick pus that is often walled off by inflammatory tissue so getting an accurate sample for culture might be difficult.
When they biopsy the area I do recommend also collecting a sample from that area for culturing.

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