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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Should we put our 9 year old bun through surgery

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    • Ouisie
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      Hi all, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on this forum, have missed it. Life gets so busy though doesn’t it.

      We have a wee bun Daisy who we adopted in January 2014, we believe she was about 1 when we got her.
      We are really really close with her, she’s the sweetest most loving bun, she free roams our house and loves nothing more than sitting licking us and being stroked.
      A couple of weeks ago, my husband felt a wee lump on her cheek. She had a scan on Friday and some bloodwork and she has a dental abscess. The vet we took her to is an exotic specialist in the UK, there wouldn’t be a second opinion, they know what they’re doing.
      Treatment would involve surgical removal, scraping away of infected bone and possible removal of teeth. It would mean a lot of stress, and would require us to clean the wound, give antibiotics and painkillers, and most likely force feed to avoid gut stasis.
      We went through this with our 1 year old bun Zelda in 2013 and it completely destroyed our relationship with him and he eventually died, after a miserable last few weeks.
      We are agonising over this. We don’t want to lose her, she’s our little angel but we can’t stand the thought of putting her through that at her advanced age. I feel like she would lose her only friends (us) and feel betrayed (as much as a bun can).

      I know that no one else can make this decision, but what would you guys do? Would you put her through the op and everything that goes with it?


    • LBJ10
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      Is she showing signs of pain when she is eating? It may be possible to treat the abscess with antibiotics alone. It may or may not cure her. But if it isn’t causing her any pain then the antibiotics may (at the very least) help slow the progression. We have had a few people here on the forum with similar situations.

      This article might be helpful: http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/jawabscess.html

      It talks about successfully treating abscesses with PenG injections.


    • RetroSquid
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      The other bun that Ouisie is taking about is our boy Zelda, who we lost in 2013. He’s the bun in my profile picture and we were very active members of the forum back then. As well as with our other buns, Link (he lost an eye during his battles with E. Cuniculi, and Navi)

      Daisy isn’t showing any signs of pain while eating. Anything we offer her, she instantly devours. If she hears us open the pellets tub, she’s there in a flash, awaiting a handful, and she’s actively chewing hay and gnawing on things we get for her.

      But, we have noticed she seems lethargic. She’s resting a lot more between gnawing sessions and is spending less and less time in the main space with us, more time just behind the sofa in her quiet space.

      The idea of putting her through even a fraction of what Zelda went through all those years ago is absolutely heartbreaking.

      I still feel so broken over his loss, but also what he went though towards the end.

      But, I also feel like, even though Daisy is 9yo now, she’s had no health problems and is such a happy rabbit, we can’t just… Let her go.

      Hey, LBJ10, I notice that article is based in the US. Have you heard of similar treatments within the UK?


      • LBJ10
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        Oh yes, I remember Link and Zelda! 🙂

        I don’t know if it is a “common” practice in the UK. It isn’t terribly common in the US, but it seems more and more vets are willing to try such treatment when surgery isn’t a good option. Obviously, it is preferable to surgically remove the infection and any affected bone. But there are definitely cases when the risks outweigh the benefits. A more conservative approach would be the penicillin injections. Daisy would  still be getting injections, which can be stressful. However, I would think that would be less stressful than surgery + the aftermath (meds, syringe feeding, etc.).

        We’re not vets, so there is no way any of us would know if this treatment would work for Daisy. But if you are worried about surgery, I would definitely talk to your vet about non-surgical options. If they realize that aggressive treatment is not the route you want to go, they may be open to other ideas.


    • Bam
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      I remember you well, especially Link. I actually often think of him and how amazingly good aim he had with just one eye.

      From what I recall, one of your vets was Livia Benato, possibly also Richard Saunders?

      This is a very difficult decision. I had a bun with very bad teeth, luckily never any abscesses, but severe teeth decay. There was no curative treatment available for him. We did palliative care with painkillers and Critical Care twice daily for 1.5 years. We had decided to let him go if/when he took a turn for the worse, which he did in June this year. Until then I do believe his quality of life was quite good. He was social, cuddly, energetic, interested in everything around him, and what he could eat, he ate with gusto.

      How a rabbit copes with being medicated and syringe fed etc is very individual. Some buns never accept that much handling. Some buns, like mine, just take it in their stride and patiently wait for their after-med treat.

       

       


    • RetroSquid
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      Hey, Bam.

      Good memory!

      Yeah, Link was an absolute trooper.

      We lost him almost exactly two years ago. Link and Navi were incredibly close and Navi had to go in for surgery after eating crayons and developing an obstruction. Link didn’t cope with her going away, even temporarily and he just… Gave up, for lack of a better term.

      Even after him being in the hospital with Navi during her recovery, it was too much for him and he just stopped eating and faded. We ultimately had to have him PTS, he was 7yo. And honestly, he reached a greater age than we ever expected considering how troubled his earlier years were.

      As for Navi, she coped okay with the loss of Link. She was present while we said goodbye and was sitting with him, licking him and it felt like she was able to say goodbye, too.

      Something happened to Navi a couple of months later, though. She let out an awful scream/squeal, I ripped the top off her enclosure and held her and she just slipped away. I remember so vividly how the hair on her belly from her surgery hasn’t properly grown back yet.

      Navi had a post mortem done as we just needed to understand why. But we got no answers. It was inconclusive. She just… Stopped.

      It’s very bitter sweet, but after losing Link and Navi, Daisy seemed genuinely happier. As Link and Navi were inseparable, she was always bottom bun. So, without them, she wasn’t chased away or anything and relaxed a lot. We’ve gotten so close to Daisy in the years since, found out exactly who she is.

      This closeness we’ve discovered in her is absolutely making this current situation so, so, so much harder. She’s such a loving bun. Clearly loves the company of the humans and felines alike. She’s been so happy. I’m not ready for it to all go away…


    • DanaNM
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      What type of prognosis does the vet give? Is she generally in good health now aside from the abscess?  I had a younger bunny with a dental abscess that we treated aggressively and it didn’t return (he passed away of other causes though). He actually recovered really well from the abscess cleaning and molar removal, I think the teeth were really hurting him and he felt better once they were gone. I know sometimes they do put more frail rabbits on injections as a way to prevent the abscess from growing, but it won’t cure it.

      My oldest bun is currently almost 13, I got him when he was 9. If it were him when he was 9, and I was confident with the vet, I personally would do the treatment (at least the first try), but likely with the caveat that if they went in to do the procedure and found it to be much worse than anticipated, that they wouldn’t wake the bun up. If it were him now, I’m not sure, but he’s in really amazing health, and I think he would hate to be on daily shots indefinitely.

      It’s not an easy decision for sure, but the earlier you treat abscesses the better, and it sounds like you caught it early.

      . . . 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.  


    • jerseygirl
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      Im happy to hear you guys still have a bun in your life. Is your daughter into rabbits now too? 🙂

      Have the vets put Daisy on an antibiotic yet?

      I’d discuss with vet starting on penG injections for and see if helps with any discomfort she may be experiencing. And possibly shrink the abscess.

      It also gives you chance see how she’ll cope on antibiotic alone, while not also having deal with anaesthesia, surgery, post surgery healing & pain meds if you do decide to do the surgery.

      My vet mentioned that antibiotics can help change consistency of pus and also allow for clearer xrays to be taken- although, I do not recall if he was referring to most antibiotics or a specific one.

      {{{Daisy}}}


      • RetroSquid
        Participant
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        Two kids now. 6yo daughter Ava 3yo son.

        The buns and cats are just family. Part of their day-to-day lives. We did start the conversation yesterday how Daisy isn’t well and we’ve got decisions to make about her future and honestly, it seems to have just made our daughter very anxious. She adores our furry family.

        There hasn’t been any treatment yet. I discovered the lump while physically examining Daisy myself (as I do from time to time with all the furries, especially now they’re all older (the cats are between 11 and 16)). Meaning I found it very early and before Daisy has started to show any signs of discomfort.

        There have only been minor changes in her behaviour, like where she’s pooping and she seems a little quieter since having to go to the vets for CT scans and bloodwork towards the end of last week. She really doesn’t travel well.

        The lump it’s still very small, but it’s on her lower mandible, towards the back. So a very thin, delicate portion of bone.

        They’re still working almost entirely no contact with people, so most of our conversation have been via email and the odd phone call. Honestly, it’s so damn frustrating not being able to get face-to-face time with anyone, still.


      • jerseygirl
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        6yrs old already AND another?! Time goes too fast!

        Ah ok. I’m familiar with the lump on lower jaw. I had a bun get one out of the blue many years ago. I didn’t get procedure done to open it up and clean out more then once and then irrigate wound until it closed. I was surprised at how well the bun coped with it. He was about 1 and blind but he was just so easy.

        ive also dealt with abscess on upper part of face near ear. This was my lop bunny some years back also.

        its a bit of a shock as they shave half the face before opening the site. So you take home a rabbit with half their face fur gone and a hole where the abscess site has been stitched open. But my rabbits didn’t act miserable after this. It’s just so weird.

        Did they sedate Daisy to do x-ray? Did vet say if the mandible bone look healthy?

        I wonder if dental exam while she’s sedated would be worth while to check integrity of the suspect tooth? I have a friend whose vet pulled our a tooth while the bun was awake on the exam table! The infection around it just allowed it to come right out.

        I still think it worth talking with vet about injectable antibiotics now. Get their opinion if it could help reduce the infection or just hold the status quo.

         


    • jerseygirl
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      P.s where exactly is the lump? Does vet think it’s in relation to upper tooth? Is lump back near ear or more forward??


    • jerseygirl
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      Oh weird. My replies are out of sequence. I don’t think I’d used to “reply” to specific post before.

      Why you wrote about Navi’s passing, that scream/squeal… some rabbits do that when they die. My rabbit Aílis did. It’s is awful to hear, i know. I think it’s known as the agonal phase and there may be some muscle spasms/seizure-like movements, kicking etc, weird noises and laboured breathing.

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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Should we put our 9 year old bun through surgery