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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22434
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My rabbit was unresponsive to anything this morning so I bought

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My rabbit was unresponsive to anything this morning so I bought him inside to try to get him to eat and drink - he did sip a little water. He would not move and when I tried to stand him up this afternoon, he couldn't do it. I then noticed his mouth area looked swollen, his breathing was shallow and fast and his head was tilting to one side. He stayed lying down the whole afternoon. We decided to take him to the vets and as we picked him up he convulsed twice and passed away. We are absolutely distraught and have no idea why a seemingly healthy bundle of love has died so suddenly.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your situation, and wanted to help.

Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner and that Chase has passed away so abruptly. Now as I am sure you can appreciate, rabbits are a prey species. This means that they will go to great lengths to pretend all is well, even when they are not (since advertising you are unwell would make him a target for predation). Therefore, it is not uncommon for rabbits to see healthy one moment but in the advanced stages of deterioration the next. And this hardwired instinct means that while we do have to consider toxin/poison exposure, we also have to consider issues that would have been lurking and progressing over time.

Now in regards ***** ***** question and based on his signs, we would have to be concerned about neurological based issues localized to his brain. With his seizures, lack of awareness and collapse, this could be either a focal or diffuse brain issue. This means that we'd have to also consider of disease processes like bacterial brain infection, diffuse protozoal infection (E.cuniculi, Toxoplasma, etc), viral infections, head trauma (where a brain bleed or swelling was putting severe pressure on the brain), or brain based mass (tumor or parasitic cyst). And all of these could cause a normal rabbit to have a sudden increase in the pressure on his brain that could then lead to progressive unresponsiveness, slowing of respiration, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

Again I am very sorry to hear that Chase has passed so abruptly. These would have been our concerns for his signs with only some being treatable. And while his loss will be devastating, please know that he would have been feeling progressively sleepy and sedate and likely would not have been aware when he suffered those final seizures.

Please take care,
Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your response.

I did feel that Chase may have suffered a sort of "stroke" if rabbits can have those. He seemed to have no body function ability at all and he was quite floppy.

He was in my arms when he died and apart from the convulsions he squeaked 3 times - does that mean he was in pain as that makes me feel so sad. He wasn't a pet, he was part of our family, a little human and if he suffered that would have been devastating.

You are welcome, Yvette.

Strokes are vascular events that are more common to people but we can see them with rabbits too. That said, we'd expect the sudden passing but not the initial collapse and unresponsiveness. Those precursor signs are what suggest a sudden progressive swelling in the brain. In regards ***** ***** squeaks, I would be more suspicious that they were involuntary and related to the muscle contractions forcing air from his lungs then conscious cries. Often with these situations, the seizure starts after the brain has passed out or stopped functioning from low oxygen. So, those in these situations (even in people) are not aware that they are having a seizure before they pass away. So, I truly do not think he was in pain nor even aware that he was having a seizure.

Please take care & please take comfort in the good times you had with him and not just this heart wrenching moment,
Dr. B.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much for your responses.

We have pictures and videos galore so will remember him always and take comfort that he didn't suffer.

There is no need to respond and I will rate you now.

Thank you so much again.


You are very welcome, Yvette.

Please take care, my thoughts are with you,
Dr. B.