Poisoning in Rabbits

Poisoning in rabbits is the ingestion of substances that are toxic. If poisoning occurs immediate medical attention must be sought, this is serious and can result in organ failure and ultimately death.

Symptoms

  • Difficulties breathing/ laboured breathing.
  • Hunched posture/ teeth grinding (indication of pain).
  • High/ low body temperature.
  • Not eating or drinking.
  • Seizures.
  • Death.

Causes

  • Consumption of poisonous plants (The Veterinary Poisonous Information Service reported that the most common causes of poisoning in rabbits by plants are due to consumption of; ivy, rhubarb, foxglove, lily, clematis, rhododendron and lily of the valley).
  • Rat poisoning.
  • Herbicide or insecticide poisoning.
  • Overdose of prescribed medication.
  • Medication not suitable for use in rabbits.

Treatment

It is essential that treatment is started as soon as possible, before the organs become affected. This is an emergency and should be treated as such. Organ failure is a very real possibility.

The treatment will vary depending on the type of poisoning but can include any of the following;

  • Activated charcoal.
  • Gastric pump when appropriate (commonly known as stomach pumping).
  • Regulation of body temperature if needed.
  • Pain management.
  • Syringe feeding and hydration therapy if needed.

In extreme cases the following may be required:

  • Blood transfusions.
  • Artificial respiration.
  • Cardiac massage.

Prevention

  • Keep your rabbits away from any rat poisons etc.
  • Do not use pesticides and insecticides where your rabbit has access.
  • Make sure your rabbit can not access any poisonous plants in your garden or remove them entirely. Here is a list of rabbit friendly plants.
  • Only use products manufactured for rabbits, unless advised by a rabbit savvy vet. For example, some medications are not licensed for use in rabbits but are widely used like Metacam.
  • If prescribed medication for administration by a vet only give the stated doses at the stated times.

If you suspect poisoning take your rabbit to your vets immediately.

 

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