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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

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Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE E. Cuniculi & Possible Aspiration

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    • Michaela
      Participant
      29 posts Send Private Message

      Hi everyone,

      First of all – apologies if this isn’t how the forum works (creating a new topic). I can move it / repost if necessary.

      My head feels like someone has been holding it under water for a week so I’m struggling to concentrate.
      My sweet boy had to cross over to the rainbow bridge on Saturday night after battling e. cuniculi since Tuesday. He had a head tilt, he was dizzy and he was falling over, etc. We had him in a box lined with pillows and soft blankets, and he had spent a lot of time snoozing, all bundled up in them. He was eating very small amounts so I syringe fed him with the SS syringe (15ml). I had never heard of aspiration (I’ve had rabbits for ~8 years and I do a lot of reading so I’m really surprised I’d never come across this before), otherwise I would have used a 1ml syringe or found some other way to feed him.

      I maybe gave him the whole 15ml once, but other than that it was smaller amounts. I gave him a little bit, then stopped, then a bit more, etc. The SS syringe didn’t get all blocked up (I got hold of this after using a 5ml that blogged and fired food into his mouth ><).

      He had been syringe fed at around 4pm on Saturday, then at about 7pm he ate half a stalk of cavolo nero and some pellets on his own, and had shown interest in some hay. We were over the moon, thinking he was starting to feel a little better. It all came crashing down within minutes though, when his breathing got a bit hitched and he was sort of quacking almost. We took him straight to an OOH vet and they said e. cuniculi can affect the lungs and it was either that or aspiration. I feel so guilty – my baby boy may have recovered from e. cuniculi but I potentially did more damage with the syringe feeding that I thought would help him. We had two options (because the only open “exotic vets” closest to us, which was still about an hours drive away aren’t taking exotic emergencies atm due to COVID) which were either let him stay overnight with strangers to see if he recovered, which the night vet assured us looked very slim and he was “struggling” or have him put to sleep there. It’s the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make, but the thought of him not passing on surrounded by strangers, or possibly even completely alone, in a strange environment, swayed us. I’m sure it’s totally natural to feel like we made the wrong choice, then the right choice, etc. but it’s our first experience having to do this, and I just miss him so much.

      He was a 3 year old dutch who was incredibly affectionate (he would lick us / let us cuddle him all day every day) and he followed us around the house (completely free-roam). He would wake us up in the morning by scratching on the bedroom door, and come to bed with us at night, jumping up on the bed for cuddles.

      Almost every room in the house reminds us of him and it’s awfully hard to stop thinking we did the wrong thing, or I played a hand in actually making him more sick.

      I’m hoping if it was aspiration that he would have showed signs immediately after I fed him, just to ease the guilt, but I’m not convinced that’s true.

      If anyone knows this to be true, pleaseplease let me know.

      My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a bun, at risk of sounding dramatic, I don’t think my life will ever properly return to normal and I don’t think I’ll stop reflexively going into his “room” (always with the door open) to check on him throughout the day. Gut-wrenching every time I realise.

      I have two more buns living in the house (one also has free roam, but never leaves the front room and SR, who this post is about, never came into the front room and one who is in a large enclosure in the front room and comes out to play). I’m picking up panacur for them today – going to give them a course each as a preventative measure for the e. cuniculi. Something advised by our vets.

      Thanks so much for reading,
      M


    • BujjiSimba
      Participant
      13 posts Send Private Message

      So sorry for your lose , I’m too still in the pain of losing a loving pet from past 1.5month . I’m also struggling to come out of this pain & trying to forgive myself, I can imagine what you’re through right now.

      Don’t take this guilt too long up on you, I know it isn’t easy but come out of this for those 2 lovely buns who need more care from you now . I’m doing the same right now, this loss is irreplaceable but trust me he will be watching you always and will stay in your heart forever . 

      I know it isn’t easy to come out of this but just think , will he be happy to see you like this ? No right . And he knows very well that whatever you did was to save  him & to make him normal . So please don’t be so hard upon you .

       


    • Bam
      Moderator
      14465 posts Send Private Message

      I am very sorry for your loss. Aspiration occurs when the bun swallows something and it goes down the wrong way (i e into the windpipe instead of the esophagus). In most other animals, aspiration can also happen due to regurgitation of food f ex during sleep, but not in rabbits, because they cant vomit. This is the reason why you can (and should) feed rabbits before surgery – they won’t vomit during anaesthesia.

      It seems very unlikely that he could have aspirated due to a feeding 3 hours earlier. The only chance of that would be if he still had had food in his esophagus, because once in the stomach, the food cant get up again due to very strong muscles at the very narrow passage into the stomach. Horses have that same anatomical quirk. If there was food in his esophagus from a feeding hours before  something was definitely wrong with his ability to swallow.

      He could have choked on the kale, perhaps, but its more likely for pellets to be “inhaled”. If he had access to pellets, that would be my guess. My bun Bam once choked on a pellet, and he made a quacking sound, very much like a duck. He was eventually fine though, I’m so sorry your boy wasn’t.

      E cuniculi can affect any organ in the body, even if we mostly think of it as something that causes head tilt and loss of balance. The nerves that control the swallowing muscles could have been affected. He was without a doubt generally weakened by the ec.

      A 15 ml syringe is excellent for syringe-feeding a bun. (And btw your post is in the right forum section). I think you did everything right.

       


    • Michaela
      Participant
      29 posts Send Private Message

      Thank you for the explanation, really appreciate the micro lesson!

      It helps to know it’s unlikely he would have been too negatively affected by the syringe feeding. As for the pellets – they were the first he had eaten in about 3 days (he had ~9.5) and we initially thought he was choking so we tried the bunny heimlich. The only thing that seemed to stop/slow the gravelly breathing noise he was making was calming him down, which we managed a bit thankfully. This is what led us to believe it was more his breathing, and therefore his lungs, than his throat. I’m really not convinced he would have made it all the way to the vets if he had something lodged in his throat, either.

      He had existing respiratory illnesses that were very much under control but with his immune system being kicked into overdrive and he was weaker due to the neurological symptoms of the e. cuniculi, it wouldn’t be too surprising if he was at a higher risk for severe respiratory issues. The vet said it’s very common for them to seem to be getting better (even a tiny bit) and for them to relapse, too.

      Very difficult to come to terms with. Thank you both for your kinds words.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      4010 posts Send Private Message

      I’m very sorry for your loss. 🙁

      I lost one of my bunnies very suddenly a few years ago after a months long battle with several dental issues (jaw absess, molars just rotting out of his mouth…). He was presenting as though he needed a dental, but then started crashing. In his last 8 hours or so, I started hearing a rattling or quacking with his breathing. I too got nervous that maybe he had aspirated on some food when I was syringe feeding him, but it got progressively louder as his condition worsened. He passed away before we could get him to the vets. Our vet was shocked, and did a necropsy, and didn’t find anything. It was very traumatizing for all of us, as he was only a year old. Our only hypothesis at this point is some genetic condition, or possible bone cancer (which can manifest in the jaw first). 🙁

      I mention this because I suspect in both of our cases, the sound was a symptom that the bun was starting to crash, rather than a cause of the crash. I have read reports of a “death rattle” that is sometimes heard with bunnies that are declining rapidly. I doubt that your syringe feeding caused it (especially as Bam said, with that long time delay and with eating on his own). It is very normal to feel guilty, but please try not to, as it sounds like you were doing all you could for your beloved bunny.

      I hope your other bunnies can help provide some comfort as you grieve together. <3

      (((Binky free little one)))

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

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Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE E. Cuniculi & Possible Aspiration