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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11544
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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My dwarf rabbit has one swollen testicle, and the ...

Customer Question

My dwarf rabbit has one swollen testicle (about the size and firmness of a large grape), and the other one went missing (possibly went ingrown?)! He''s still eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom normally. No discharge, no discoloration...I already took him to the vet where he got a shot and some antibiotics, but nothing has improved and nothing has gotten worse either. What could this be, and what can I do?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 9 years ago.

I'm sorry to hear that your rabbit is having this problem. Since the swelling hasn't responded to the shot to reduce swelling or to the antibiotics, you'll need to pursue this to get an accurate diagnosis. One possibility is that your rabbit has testicular cancer. This cancer isn't particularly common in rabbits, but it is more likely in those who have a retained (missing) testicle. So, that is a possible explanation for what's wrong. If this is cancer, it's important to get it diagnosed quickly. When caught early, castration cures the illness.

If the vet you saw wasn't particularly experienced with rabbits, I would try to find one who is for a second opinion and further testing. This link will take you to a directory of rabbit vets:

If you have additional questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your rabbit will be fine.


(If you find my answer helpful, please click on ACCEPT. Thank you.)
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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hi Anna - thank you so much for your advice so far - you've been great! I did consider that it might be some sort of tumor or cancer, it's just that the vet I saw also said this is very rare for bunnies.

It's important to note that both testicles were visible and healthy as of a month or so ago, his left one went "missing" only you know if the swelling of his right one can cause the left one to contract? Also, since his behavior and comfort level seem healthy and normal, is it possible that this growth is benign and harmless? As you mentioned, I also believe that castration might be the answer but the vet mentioned that with his recently "ingrown"/missing left testicle, this will not be a standard procedure and may be too complicated to bother? (PS: not a huge fan of this vet!) I'll be visiting another more specialized vet tomorrow...Thanks again!
Expert:  Anna replied 9 years ago.
You're welcome. I'm glad to hear that you'll be seeing a more specialized vet. Until that vet examines your rabbit, all we can do is speculate on the problem. So, keeping in mind that this is only speculation, it's possible that some kind of disorder in one testicle could cause the other one to contract. The rabbit's health and comfort doesn't really say anything about the possibility of cancer. Cancer seldom causes any pain until it's advanced. If it turns out that there is a growth there, a biopsy will probably have to be done to find out if it's cancerous. Of course, there may not be a growth at all. Your rabbit could have an infection that is resistant to the antibiotic the first vet gave him. Neutering with only one testicle visible wouldn't be the "standard" procedure, but an experienced rabbit surgeon would be able to do it, if it turns out to be necessary. Some vets who treat mostly dogs and cats, don't like to bother with rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. It sounds like that may be the attitude of the vet you already saw. Let me know what the second vet tells you. I hope all will go well for your rabbit.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hi Anna,

Thanks again for your advice!

I visited a different animal hospital today, and the specialty vet was great. He ruled out infection and recommended castration, just as you did. The only problem is that it's SUCH an expensive procedure (with all "recommended optional" steps, the surgery prep plus the surgery itself will cost almost $1000! that normal?). In any case, once I shave off the optional fees (which I'm not even sure I should do), the final ticket of about $300-$400 is still steep, but somewhat manageable. Any final tips before I dive into this?

Again, you've really been great - I'll be sure to accept your response!

Expert:  Anna replied 9 years ago.
Surgery for any animal is pretty expensive. An uncomplicated neuter, of course, wouldn't cost that much, but under these circumstances, the surgery is touchy and complicated. What are the optional steps that they're recommending?

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hi Anna - I apologize in advance for the lengthy write up, but it looks like you'd know what all of this means since you're the expert!

The vet divided the process up into two stages: pre-surgery procedures, and the surgery itself.

For the pre-surgery procedures, he wanted to do a full general wellness exam. The services would be "ova & parasite" testing (mandatory) for $52, "herbivore advance wellness + urine [14 chemistries, hcbc, una]" (recommended) for $244, and "administration of imidcloprid + moxidectin feline" (mandatory) for $41, plus the consultation fees of $80, totaling about $440.

For the surgery itself, the services would be "rabbit neuter package - including bloodwork, anesthesia, monitoring, materials, hospitalization and pain control" (mandatory of course) for $161, "Tobugesic and Cisapride medications for home" (mandatory) for $50, "Specimen Biopsy" (recommended) for $200, followed by a list of other recommended services to do while there with the bunny including testing for encephalitazoon (??) for $223, I.V. fluid administration for $88, pre-anesthetic profiling for $140, and even microchip implantation for $65, and cardio ECGs for $175...there's more, but you get the idea!

Let me know how this sounds to you - right now, me and my budget are (just barely) at a place where we can tolerate only the mandatory steps that I've summarized, but I'd hate to go through all of this only to have my little Jub Jub die anyways :(

Thanks Anna.
Expert:  Anna replied 9 years ago.
Hi Victoria,

No need to apologize for the length; that's exactly the information I wanted. Some of the recommended procedures won't increase the chances that your rabbit will have a successful surgery. I would skip the microchip and the test for Encephalitazoon Cuniculi. That is a protozoan that causes various problems - head tilt, paralysis - in rabbits, but I've never heard of it being related to swollen testicles. Even if it's found, there's no point in treating it when it isn't causing symptoms. Eliminating those two will take almost $300 off the total.

If it were my rabbit, I would also eliminate the specimen biopsy. That will tell the vet if cancer is present, and can also give him/her some other information, but it will have no bearing on how well Jub Jub comes through surgery. If you're short of money, that would be another place to economize. The herbivore advanced wellness and urinalysis would probably be a good idea if you can fit it into your budget. If you can't, that would be the next thing I'd eliminate. The ECG would also be in that category.

I wouldn't eliminate the IV fluids or the pre-anesthetic profiling. Both of those have direct benefits related to the surgery.

Hope this helps.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thanks for your thoroughness - you really know your stuff! I will do my best to gather up more funds to take care of some of the treatments you recommended, and in the meantime, it looks like I'll go ahead and book the surgery!

You've been simply amazing - thank you.
Expert:  Anna replied 9 years ago.
You're welcome! I admire the way you're going to great lengths for your rabbit - not too many rabbit owners will do that. I hope the surgery goes well.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Anna's Post: Hi Anna!

Just wanted to give you an update - I had the neuter surgery done yesterday (for around $450 including the IV we opted in for), and it went very well :) ...I just have to administer some pain meds and appetite stimulants at home. His incision has gone down in redness but the swelling is still there - do you know how long the swelling usually lasts so that I can keep an eye on it?

Thanks :D
Expert:  Anna replied 9 years ago.
Hi again,

I'm glad to hear the surgery went well. That has to be a relief for you. As for the swelling going down, that will vary from one animal to the next. The key things to watch for is that it isn't getting worse, and that redness isn't increasing. I would expect the swelling to remain for at least several days, but it should be decreasing by then. If you have any doubts at any time that things are improving, I would give the vet a call just to be safe. I hope your bunny's recovery goes smoothly.As always, if you have more concerns, just click REPLY.