Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rabbit Health Mysteries, Part 2

My rabbit is more stubborn than I thought.  Over the past two weeks, I started noticing little dribbles of liquid that Walter would leave behind as he hopped about the apartment.  We first noticed it on the sofa, which Walter turns into his own running track when we’re not occupying the seats (and sometimes, even if we are!).  I investigated the fluid – it seemed to be clear, colorless, and odorless.  It was just a few small drops, so Paul hypothesized that Walter had sat in his water bowl, or in one of the many tiny puddles of water made by Walter gallivanting in his cage. This idea made sense, and I brushed it off as a onetime thing.

But then it happened again later in the week.  I had just introduced pea pods into his diet, so I thought that this might be the culprit and immediately stopped incorporating them into his meals.

A few days later, Walter was in the middle of a particularly thorough grooming session: nothing out of the ordinary.  I checked on him ten minutes into his cleaning ritual and noticed that he was sitting in a fairly large puddle.  He was nowhere near his water bowl – or any other water source, for that matter – so the fluid presumably had to have come directly from him.  Again, I inspected the substance.  Again, it was clear, colorless, and odorless.

At this point, I began to worry, and sent an email to my veterinarian.  While waiting for a response, Paul discovered two new wet spots on the carpet.  Later in the evening, these wet spots turned from the carpet’s own color to the color of dried rabbit urine: not a good sign.  So I turned to my #1 rabbit resource: Rabbits for Dummies.

The book informed me that urine spots outside of the litter box, for rabbits that are well trained, can be a sign of a urinary tract infection.  I stopped there and picked up the phone to schedule an appointment with my vet.  Unable to squeeze him in on Saturday, we waited until Monday morning.  This is where Walter’s stubbornness kicked in.

My vet, who is great with rabbits from my personal experience, is very keen on not disrupting the sensitive nature of a rabbit’s body.  So, he said, instead of trying to use needles to get a urine sample, he would need to wait for Walter to produce a sample on his own.  I dropped Walter off in the early morning before I left for work.  By the time I left the office, Walter still had not peed.

So he had to stay overnight at the veterinarian clinic, which I’m sure he hated.  Hopefully that taught him a lesson about stubbornness! And hopefully he’s produced some urine this morning, so I can bring him home with me this afternoon.  I am still waiting to hear back from the doctor.

In the meantime, my vet let me know he did an X-ray on Walter’s belly.  He apparently found some non-food items in his stomach, which should easily pass, but asked me, “Has your rabbit been chewing anything strange lately?”  Well, would you consider the baseboard of our apartment strange?  Or maybe the buttons to our remote control?  Or how about a few pages from the phonebook? I could go on and on.

Anyways, I certainly hope my rabbit does not have a urinary tract infection, but I’ll be glad to know what has been causing him to go to the potty outside of the litter box!  Have you gone through this with your rabbit? I’d love to know what you learned to be the cause of this fluid, and whether it’s urine or something else.

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