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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18119
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My granddaughters elderly female house rabbit has started constantly

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My granddaughters elderly female house rabbit has started constantly eating and drinking and also passing out lots of urine and faeces. What is the cause and is it treatable?
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about Twinkle's sudden increase in appetite and water consumption and subsequent increase in urine and stool production.
Is Twinkle losing weight, or at least not gaining weight even with all of the extra food that she is taking in?
Animals that start eating more, yet don't gain weight or even lose weight are either having trouble digesting and absorbing the food that they are eating or have a disease process that is increasing their metabolic rate such that they cannot eat enough calories.
The most common cause of her symptoms is diabetes. Although diabetes is fairly rare in rabbits, it can develop. Treatment is feeding a diet very high in fiber and low in processed carbohydrates, which means a diet mostly consisting of high quality timothy or mixed grass hay, some fresh vegetables, and fewer pellets with no treats that are carbohydrate based.
Other possible causes are Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism) which is an overproduction of cortisone by her body, kidney or liver disease, or primary intestinal disease.
These are disease processes we attempt to manage, and cannot be cured.
If she isn't spayed an ovarian or uterine tumor can be the cause of her symptoms
Reproductive tract tract tumors are common in older, unspayed female rabbits. Unfortunately they tend to be very aggressive, infiltrative tumors that have often metastasized (spread to other sites in the body) by the time that they are diagnosed. We can take radiographs to look for metastases in the lungs, and an abdominal ultrasound will help us determine if the tumor has spread into other places in the abdomen.
Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system can also be the cause of her symptoms, but is less common in rabbits than other species. Rabbits don't tolerate traditional chemotherapy well, so steroids are often the only drug used and the response is often short lived.
Until we know what particular disease process she has it is difficult to know how to guide you in treatment. Ideally she would see a veterinarian very knowledgeable about bunnies.
Until then I recommend feeding a high fiber low carbohydrate diet, and feeding as much as she wants to eat. Make sure not to limit water either, so that she doesn't become dehydrated.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your reply. Twinkle has not put on any wait in fact she seems quite thin. I have only looked after for a few days on two occasion while my granddaughter was away. She has a sister living in a separate cage. The sister has grown a little larger, and prefers eating "herb hay" and not too many of the concentrated pellets they both have. And she drinks very little in comparison. Twinkle hardly touches the Hay but consumes an enormous number of pellets. Does this give you a further idea? Should my granddaughter feed her the hay and remove or restrict the pellets for a while to see if this helps? Do you recommend any particular hay? For how long should Amy try this with her before consulting a Vet please?

Thank you for the further information.
I am sorry to hear that she is losing weight. That makes me believe even more that getting her examined and getting her tested is important now, I wouldn't put this off.
Ideally she should eat more hay, but with her weight loss we don't want to restrict what she is eating as we don't want her to lose any more weight. If she eats hay better being hand fed then I would encourage your granddaughter to that for her.
The best hays for adult bunnies are fresh timothy and mixed grass hays.