Rupert Rabbit

Rabbit having nails clippedA 2 year old Netherland dwarf rabbit called Rupert was brought into Cedar Vets because his eye was runny and he seemed to be losing weight. Rupert was carefully examined by his vet including a detailed discussion about his diet, a weight check and a dental examination with a scope. Over grown tooth roots can obstruct Rabbit tear ducts and cause their eyes to weep. This was felt to be the case with Rupert. Rupert’s owners were concerned about a general anaesthetic required to perform a dental and rasp Rupert’s teeth. It is a difficult procedure but very necessary to allow Rupert to eat all the hay and grass he needs to keep healthy and stop painful ulcers forming in his mouth.

Rabbit Dental Examination

Because Rupert was losing weight, his vet decided to admit him to the hospital for nursing before his operation the following day. It is crucially important that Rupert’s intestines keep moving well, with food going through them continually. For this reason we monitor the amount of droppings carefully and use medications to stimulate the intestinal tract following anaesthesia.

The nursing staff created a warm and quiet home for Rupert in our isolation ward and made sure he had plenty of fresh grass. An intravenous catheter was placed in Rupert’s ear to keep him well hydrated. It was noted that Rupert couldn’t eat hay well and therefore our Nurses syringe fed him every couple of hours.

Unlike with dogs and cats, it is important that Rabbits like Rupert are not starved before their operation. Rupert’s food was only removed the next morning once he had been given his premedication and would be too sleepy to eat carefully.

When Rupert became relaxed he was wrapped in a fleece to keep him warm and given an oxygen mask as rabbits can be prone to holding their breath. Once oxygenated, Rupert was then anaesthetised with gas and a tube inserted to protect his airway. Once asleep, his vet carefully assessed his back teeth using special equipment and radiographs.

Closer look at Rupert the rabbit

Rupert’s teeth were indeed the problem. His teeth were not grinding enough due to an inappropriate muesli diet and therefore his continuously erupting molars have grown with spurs that jut out into his tongue and cheeks. Ulcers have formed where they rub and will have been putting him off his food. With careful rasping of these sharp edges followed by an appropriate diet change onto a pelleted feed and higher percentage of hay, Rupert should do well and his eye stop streaming. Teeth are a common problem with pet rabbits and some cases are sadly irreparable. Happily in Rupert’s case his vet can turn off his anaesthetic gas to allow Rupert to wake up. Rupert was snuggled on his heat mat and wrapped in fleeces to keep him warm and has oxygen supplementation until he was awake enough to swallow for himself. His nurse then took him back to isolation ward for a quiet recovery. Rupert was carefully monitored to make sure his hydration was optimum and that he was feeding for himself quickly.

Later in the afternoon Rupert had not passed many stools so his Vet decided to keep Rupert in the hospital overnight for continuing pain relief, intestinal treatment and feeding. Rupert’s Vet calls his Owner to report the findings, treatment and to reassure them regarding his recovery overnight. Keeping our rabbit patients in overnight following an operation is very common as the passage of faeces is a good indicator of intestinal movement which is a key concern.

In the morning Rupert’s nurse reported hundreds of stools and a good appetite so his owner was called to take him home. Rupert’s nurse was careful to go through appropriate diet and husbandry with Rupert’s owner and also to ask them to note his stool production and appetite over the coming week. Rupert will have to return regularly for dental checks to catch any further tooth problems quickly as this is often a recurrent condition.