My house rabbit was paralyzed this morning and died within 10 minutes. He had been having irregular bowel formation and

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Customer: My house rabbit was paralyzed this morning and died within 10 minutes. He had been having irregular bowel formation and color for several weeks, but saw the vet last week. He changed his diet to Timothy hay and dandelions greens and things were improving.
Answered by Dr. Jo in 10 mins 7 years ago
Dr. Jo
Pet Specialist

14,468 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Cat Veterinary, Bird Veterinary, Large Animal Veterinary, Small Animal Veterinary

Thank you


I'm Dr. Jo and I'm online to help you with your question about Peter. Please let me start by saying how very sorry I am for your loss. This has to be very devastating, and I imagine your heart is breaking.

I see a lot of rabbits in my veterinary practice, and - unfortunately - your story is not uncommon. Contrary to popular belief, rabbits are actually incredibly tough, and by the time they're sick at all, they're usually very, VERY ill. They do a great job of compensating for their illness and can even rally, but then all at once, they become overwhelmed and die very quickly.

Another possible scenario is that Peter suffered from a stroke or seizure or other sudden incident this morning. It could have been unrelated to his bowel changes last week.

Unfortunately, the only way to know for certain why he died (there are a multitude of possibilities) is to arrange to have a post-mortem done.

Again, I'm terribly sorry for your devastating loss. I understand the need to find answers.

Please tell me what your question is for me tonight and I will do my best to help. Just type in what you want to say then click REPLY or SEND. Then we can chat back and forth until you're satisfied with the information I've provided.

I can't afford a post mortem. I was just curious as why he seemed to be getting better and then died. I found him sitting in a corner, unresponsive to even a carrot under his nose. So I picked him up, and his legs barely moved, when I set him in his cage he could not stand up. But scooted to his food dish and took one last bite of dandelions greens, chewing them very slowly and then in a few minutes convulsed and died

Oh, my goodness. That had to be terrible to witness. Here are a couple of thoughts to help explain things...

Rather than being truly paralyzed, it sounds as if he was simply too weak to be able to move, especially since death was so near.

The instinct to survive is very strong in rabbits, and it is very typical for even a critically ill rabbit to try to eat absolutely as long as possible. As you observed, he was willing to eat until he was physically unable to (because death was imminent).

I can't imagine how awful it would have been to watch all of this.

In regards ***** ***** it seemed like he was getting better, I'm afraid I have to let you know that is also very typical for a critically ill rabbit. As I said above, it happens in so many cases simply because rabbits are so incredibly tough.

They can tolerate an amazingly high degree of illness and compensate for it. This is an instinct left over from being in the wild where it's too dangerous to show any signs of weakness at all from illness or injury. We all know it is the weak and sickly who are the first to be picked off by a predator. Because of that, a rabbit will hide his signs of illness (or injury) until he is absolutely physically unable to. In Peter's case, he was able to do this decent well for such a long time that he didn't show any signs at all until very close to the end.

Does this make sense the way I described it?

Thank you very much. All of this makes sense and easier to understand. You have been kind and helpful.

Thank you for your kind words. I really do wish there was more I could do to help. I know it's terrible dealing with a loss like this, and looking for answers is part of the healing process. I wish you peace in your grief, and a hope that your broken heart heals quickly.

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Dr. Jo
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Dr. Jo
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