Spondylosis in Rabbits

Spondylosis in rabbits is a painful degenerative condition that affects the spine, by causing non cancerous growths on the spinal column.

Symptoms

  • In some cases no symptoms are present.
  • Obesity.
  • Aggression.

Neurological problems due to compression of the spinal column include;

  • Loss of control over body movements.
  • Muscular weakness caused by nerve damage.
  • Paralysis.
  • Incontinence.

Mobility issues caused by the condition itself can present the following symptoms:

  • Not walking or hopping well, reluctance to move around etc.
  • Urine scalds from an inability to position correctly.
  • Messy bottom from uneaten caecotrophs.
  • Ear wax build up.
  • Decrease in grooming resulting in; tear staining, matted fur and flaky skin.

Causes

  • Obesity (increased pressure on the joints).
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Trauma.
  • Giant rabbits are prone to spondylosis because of their weight and the pressure this causes on the joints.
  • Age.
  • Inactivity linked to small enclosures.
  • Low calcium diets.
  • Vitamin D deficiency.

Diagnosis

Other conditions will be ruled out by your vet, as symptoms for spondylosis can be attributed to other medical conditions.

An x-ray will identify the condition.

Treatment/ Care management

  • Pain and non steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
  • In some cases steroidal medication is used, although this is not common.
  • If obesity is the cause a healthy diet and increased activity is essential
  • Treating messy bottoms and urine scalds.
  • Regular grooming if required.
  • If mobility is an issue, keep the living area to one level. Low sided food and water bowls may be needed as well as low sided litter trays.
  • Cleaning out ear wax build up. Only when shown how to do this by a rabbit savvy vet.

Regular visits to a rabbit savvy vet will be important to assess progression of the illness as well as treating any associated secondary conditions.

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