Urinary disease in rabbits, including renal failure, is common. As a species they are sensitive to pain, stress, dehydration and anorexia, all of which can lead to a variety of secondary problems including reduced glomerular filtration and increased calcium secretion into the urine. Below we look at 4 of the more common urinary diseases that result.
Posted: 07 March 2018
This is relatively common in rabbits and is most likely to be seen in older animals. They tend to present with signs similar to those you’d expect in dogs and cats, including;
There are a number of common causes of renal disease, including infections, toxins, age related degeneration and neoplasia.
This is probably the most common complaint associated with the urinary system in rabbits. Rabbit urine tends to be cloudy, opaque and occasionally thick in nature. The colour varies from yellow-orange to red-brown, with the colour being caused by porphyrin pigments. This catches many owners out thinking their pet has suddenly started bleeding, when in fact the urine is completely normal. To rule out the presence of blood, a simple urine dipstick test can be performed.
True haematuria is caused by disease affecting the urogenital system. It can arise from renal calculi, renal tumours, cystitis, bladder wall damage or a uterine adenocarcinoma.
The approach to a diagnosis is similar to other mammals and will include all the diagnostic tools available in your practice.
Treatment may include;
Unlike other mammals, calcium absorption and blood calcium concentration are directly related to dietary calcium in rabbits. An excess of calcium in the diet will result in excretion of large amounts of calcium in the urine, resulting in precipitation and uroliths formation.
‘Sludge’, where calcium sediment accumulates in a thick paste in the bladder, is a frustrating urinary problem affecting rabbits of all breeds, ages, and both sexes. It can be difficult to treat, and despite intervention, frequently recurs.
The signs of ‘sludge’ can be variable, but usually include some or all of the following.
To help prevent calcium sediment in the bladder, it’s important to feed a diet that doesn’t contain an excess of calcium. Offer plenty of fresh leafy greens such as dandelion, parsley, beetroot tips and raspberry leaves. You can also point your clients to our fibrevore feeding guidelines
Urinary incontinence in rabbits can be caused by a number of conditions;
Sometimes the first signs are the owner complaining of a rabbit with a smelly wet back end. Check under the tail and you may notice;
Incontinence needs to be managed urgently, initially with daily cleaning of the perineum and treatment for any secondary pyoderma or ulcers. The primary cause of incontinence ultimately needs to be identified to solve the problem.