LBAH Informational Articles

Macaw Cataract Surgery

With the significant help of our favorite veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Paul Jackson (deceased), along with our favorite human ophthalmologist, Dr Art Giebel, we removed a cataract from a Macaw.

This page has graphic surgical pictures.


Anesthesia

Birds tend to be more sensitive to anesthesia than most mammals, so special precautions are taken to minimize the risk. We always perform pre-anesthetic diagnostic tests prior to surgery to make sure there are no internal problems.

We use special monitoring equipment during the surgery in all our recent surgeries

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Equipment

In addition to the substantial surgical expertise of our surgeons, this surgery is not possible without special equipment, especially a dual surgical microscope.

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Our patient is anesthetized and ready for surgery

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Dr. Paul and Dr. Art work together as a team during the surgery

Surgery

A microscopic incision is literally made into the eye near the cornea. The cataract is emulsified just like in people. A new lens is not put in, unlike in people.

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The start of the procedure

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Removing the cataract

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Finishing the procedure and suturing the cornea

Our surgery team, from left to right-

Art Giebel, MD

Carl Palazzolo, DVM

Paul Jackson, DVM

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Our patient ready to go home

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A healed eye

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Fractured Bird Leg

Due to the fact that birds have small, and sometimes hollow bones, it is not unusual for them to break them due to trauma. Falling off a perch, being injured by another animal, or even being stepped on by its owner are some of the more common causes of a fracture. Sometimes there are underlying problems causing the bones to be weak and susceptible to fracture during normal activity. The tibiotarsal (shin bone) is the one most commonly fractured.

This page shows a tape splint on a simple fracture.  This splint is light and stable, perfect for a small bird like a budgie (parakeet) or a cockatiel. At the end of this page you will see fractures that need surgery, with a link to seeing the full surgical repair of a fractured femur (thigh bone) in a rabbit at our hospital.


Diagnosis

Most birds that have broken legs will not bear weight on the affected leg. Most fractures can be palpated by one of our doctors, although a bone can be fractured without any obvious evidence during examination. Taking a radiograph is one of the best methods to determine if a fracture is present.

Do you see the fracture in this view?

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The fracture is more apparent in this side view. This emphasizes the importance of taking two views. This fracture is classified as a mid shaft transverse fracture of the tibiotarsal bone.

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Splinting

Most tibiotarsal bones heal well when splinted with special tape. We usually keep the splint on for one month, although this varies. On occasion we need to perform surgery for proper stabilization. This is more common when there is a fracture of the femur (thigh bone).

The first step in splinting this cockatiel fracture is to remove all the feathers over the fracture site. Plucking them allows them to grow back faster compared to cutting them. You can see the bruising that is apparent on this birds leg directly over the fracture. Birds routinely show bruising of many colors, which is sometimes misinterpreted as gangrene by inexperienced people.

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The first layer of tape is applied directly to the skin. We use a type of tape that will cause minimal irritation to the sensitive skin during the healing process and when we remove it after the bone has healed.

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These tape strips are molded over the leg to provide the beginning stages of stability. Several pieces are used to cover above and below the fracture

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The next layer of tape is waterproof and much stronger. Several strips are used to provide the necessary stability.

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When all the layers of tape are applied a hemostat is used to gently mold all the layers tight up against the bone. Now the fracture site is stable and the bone can begin the healing process.

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One our doctor feels the bones are lined up properly and the fracture site is stable, the excess tape is trimmed.

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The splint is trimmed for easier mobility. With the fracture stable this bird will feel substantially better, and start bearing weight very soon. It needs to remain quiet and not climb or play excessively during the healing process. The foot should be checked daily for swelling and the splint should be kept clean and dry (of course it is OK to sign the splint). Weekly rechecks by one of our doctors will ensure the splint is secure and the foot is not swelling.

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This budgie also had a broken tibiotarsal bone that was repaired with a tape splint

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He was grateful we took away his pain and started playing with us right away

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For comparison purposes this is a cast put on a wiggly 6 year old boy named Mike. As you can see, one of his fans is signing the cast while he enjoys some R & R. Your bird needs the same kind of attention during its healing process. Make sure it gets plenty of rest and good nutrition, and remove perches initially so it can not climb around the cage. Putting something soft in the bottom of the cage is also needed.

Surgical Fractures

Some tibiotarsal fractures will not heal with a tape splint.

These are typical of  bird fractures that require surgery

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This is not a bird tibiotarsal fracture. It gives you an idea of how we might use pins on a bird

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We would like to use plates on birds fractures like other animals. Bird bones are too thin, and the plate is too heavy, to use in a bird.

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This is a rabbit femur fracture

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The appearance of the fracture after repair

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Click here if you want to see the full surgical repair of this rabbit fracture

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Worms (Internal Parasites)

The study of parasites is called parasitology. It is an important discipline because internal parasites cause death and disease worth billions of dollars in animals each year. These parasites have highly evolved life cycles that make their elimination impossible. In addition, many internal parasites affect people with the potential for serious consequences.

Dogs and cats (especially puppies and kittens) are routinely infected with internal parasites, sometimes without apparent evidence of the infestation until it is too late. This means that a pet can have internal parasites even though the fecal sample is negative. It is suspected that internal parasites predispose your pet to IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) later in life.

Fortunately, we have effective medications to treat most parasites. Many of the medications we use to treat internal parasites, called anthelmintics, treat more than one parasite. The advent of these broad spectrum anthelminitcs makes treatment much more effective. We recommend all dogs and cats get a treatment for internal parasites every 6 months.

This best method for treatment is to use flea products on a monthly basis that also kill internal parasites and prevent heart worms. We have several medications, some oral and some topical, to achieve this.

This section will discuss internal parasites that are commonly found in dogs and cats in our area. This includes:

  • Tapeworms
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Whipworms
  • Coccidia
  • Giardia

These internal parasites differ from external parasites, which usually affect the skin and ears of dogs and cats. Click here to learn more about external parasites.


Symptoms

Symptoms manifested by pets that are infected with internal parasites can vary, and depend on a pet’s age, nutritional status, parasite load, duration of infestation, etc. One of the most common symptoms of internal parasitism is diarrhea. Other symptoms include poor appetite, lethargy, coughing, and abdominal distention. Some pets don’t show any symptoms while others can die from their infestation. Internal parasites tend to infest older and younger animals most commonly. Internal parasites can also make a pet more susceptible to other diseases. It is not uncommon for a puppy with Parvo virus to have internal parasites simultaneously.

Due to the prevalence of internal parasites in dogs and cats, their lack of symptoms in some cases, and the potential for humans to become infested also, your pets feces should be checked for internal parasites twice a year. Dogs and cats that are outside and exposed to other animals should have their feces checked more often. Routine worming should be performed on all dogs and cats every 6 months, even if the stool check for parasites is negative.


Diagnosis

The majority of internal parasites are diagnosed by microscopic examination of the feces for eggs that are released by the adult female in your pet’s intestine. The number of eggs released in a given fecal sample can be variable, sometimes there aren’t any even though your pet has an adult female parasite in its intestines. This means that a negative fecal report does not guarantee that your pet is free from internal parasites. In many cases we need to run numerous samples to feel comfortable that your pet is free of internal parasites. In some cases our doctor’s will treat for a specific parasite, even on a negative fecal sample, when they feel there is a likelihood of infestation, because some internal parasites eggs are notoriously hard to detect.

In some parasites a diagnosis is made by observation of the mature parasite in your pet’s feces or during an autopsy in your pet’s intestines. This is especially true for Tapeworms. Tapeworm eggs are difficult to detect during microscopic fecal analysis, so observation of the actual worm is how they are routinely diagnosed.

The two primary methods of fecal analysis are direct observation and fecal flotation. In direct observation a smear is made of some fecal material on a microscope slide and the slide is analyzed by one of our nurses for parasite eggs. It is used to detect eggs that don’t show up well during the fecal flotation.

Fecal flotation is the most accurate way to detect most internal parasites. A sample of fresh feces is put into a special solution that causes any eggs that might be present to float to the top and adhere to a cover slip. The cover slip is put on a microscope slide for analysis. This concentration of eggs substantially increases the chance of finding any eggs that might be present. Some eggs, notably Tapeworm eggs, dissolve during this process and might be undetected. This is the reason you can see Tapeworms in your pets stool yet the fecal analysis came back negative.

We have sanitary containers for you to use to obtain a fecal sample from your pet. Once the sample is obtained it should be kept cool until we analyze it. Analysis should be within 12 hours to increase accuracy.

The flotation solution has been added to the fecal container and a cover slip has been placed on the top to collect any eggs that float to the surface after a 5 minute wait

The cover slip is put on a microscope slide and carefully scanned for the eggs of any parasite. High magnification is needed because the eggs are microscopic in size.


Treatment

Internal parasites have very sophisticated life cycles that can make treatment difficult. Some of these life cycles involve mandatory maturation processes in other animals, including insects. Specific treatment modalities are set up to address these life cycles and will be discussed for each individual parasite in the following sections. It is important to follow these treatment regimens precisely.

Some parasites can only be controlled, not eliminated. In these cases it is important to check your pet’s feces routinely and to use medication on a long term basis.

There are new treatments for internal parasites that are very broad spectrum. They kill a wide variety of parasites, and are the medications we use as a routine wormer.

Revolution, will kill fleas, heartwormsear mites, and even internal parasites. We recommend it for cats.

Trifexis kills internal parasites, heartworms, and fleas, and is recommended for dogs.

Please ask our receptionist for brochures on these products.


Tapeworms

By far the most common internal parasite we encounter is Tapeworms. The scientific name for the Tapeworm we encounter in our area is called Dipylidium.

Life cycle

The source of the infestation is a flea that has been swallowed by your pet or a cat that eats infected rodents. The flea gets the Tapeworm in its system by swallowing it during its larval stages, when the larvae eat the eggs that have been passed from pets that are already infested with Tapeworms.

The lifecycle of the Tapeworm is simple compared to other internal parasites

Symptoms

In spite of their prevalence Tapeworms are not a significant cause of disease in dogs and cats. Most pets do not have any symptoms, and if symptoms are present, are mild in nature. Some pets will itch at their anus or scoot on the ground when the worms cause irritation as they pass.

Diagnosis

Most Tapeworms are diagnosed by visualizing the worm in your pets feces, crawling around its anus, or in its bedding. Tapeworms segments crawling on your dog’s anus might cause scooting, although full anal sacs are a much more common cause of scooting. They come in long attachments that usually break off into individual pieces when they exit from your pet. They usually look like pieces of white rice and turn yellow after they have been out of the body for a while.

This is a packet of Tapeworm eggs as viewed under a microscope. It is rare for us to see them in this packet because the fecal flotation solution causes this packet to burst.

 Treatment

Several medications are available that are highly effective at ridding you pet of Tapeworms. The most common treatment is an oral medication that rids your pet of all Tapeworms within 24 hours. This medication also kills rounds, hooks, and whipworms. It does nothing to prevent your pet from re-infecting itself. Proper flea control does.

Prevention

Since fleas are directly responsible for this infestation their control is apparent. We recommend advantage and Program for safe, economical, convenient, and highly effective flea prevention. A new product, called Revolution, will kill fleas, heartworms, ear mites, and even internal parasites. Please ask our receptionist for a brochure.

Public Health Significance

Children can pick up Tapeworms from eating fleas, but it rarely causes any problem. Other species of Tapeworms exist that have significant potential to cause serious disease in people. Fortunately, we do not encounter them in our local area in dogs and cats.

 Roundworms

A common parasite of dogs and cats, especially puppies and kittens, is Roundworms. The scientific name for their group is called ascarids. We routinely treat puppies and kittens for this parasite for 2 reasons. The first is their prevalence, the second is their potential to infest humans. The larval form of this parasite has the potential to cause serious disease in children. Fortunately it is a rare problem, and can be prevented by worming all puppies and kittens early in life. It is all prevented by monthly use of flea and heart worm prevention products like Trifexis for dogs and Revolution for cats, since these products also kill roundworms.

Life cycle

The life cycle of this parasite almost ensures that a puppy or a kitten will be exposed. They can get it from their mother while they are in the uterus (dogs), during nursing, and through contamination with infected feces. Larval forms of this parasite migrate through internal organs, get coughed up and swallowed, and become mature parasites in the small intestines. Intermediate hosts like rodents can become infected by eating eggs, and can then infect a dog or cat when they are eaten. Some larvae migrate to the tissues of internal organs and remain dormant until pregnancy where they become active and infect the developing puppies in the uterus.

 Symptoms

Common symptoms are a distended abdomen and diarrhea. Some puppies and kittens will be vomiting, lethargic and not eating well, while others will not show any symptoms. On rare occasions the parasite load can be so heavy that the intestines become obstructed. Coughing, fever, nasal discharge and even pneumonia can occur in pups that have large numbers of larvae migrating through their respiratory tract.

Diagnosis

In some cases the Roundworm will be present in your pet’s feces, vomitus or crawling around its ansu. This is not a consistent finding, and worms that might be present one day might not be there the next.

It looks like a curled up piece of spaghetti

The vast majority of Roundworm infestations are diagnosed on fecal analysis for eggs. Young puppies can be infected before the eggs of the parasite appear in the feces.

This is one type of Roundworm egg when viewed under the microscope. The thick membrane around the eggs prevent them from drying out when they are laid in the environment.

 Treatment

There are several effective treatments for Roundworms. We can easily treat your pet with an oral version given during a routine office visit. It has to be retreated in 2 weeks due to the migrating larvae since the medication does not kill the larvae. Some pets require several more treatments for a full cure. If you keep your pet on Trifexis or Revolution year round you are treating for this problem monthly. This is the best way to go.

Prevention

Roundworm eggs can remain viable for a long time in the environment. Children will get this parasite by eating dirt contaminated with the eggs, therefore cleaning up your pet’s feces immediately, and eliminating exposure to the feces of other animals when your pet goes for a walk, are important treatment modalities. Litter pans should be changed frequently and washed thoroughly and then allowed to dry in the sun. Keeping cats indoors also eliminates exposure to the feces of infected pets and the eating of infected rodents.

Public Health Significance

Children are of particular vulnerability to infestation because of their propensity to put things in their mouths and their attractions towards puppies. areas that might be contaminated with dog or cat feces should be off limits to children. This might include public areas such as parks or playgrounds. Even though these infestations in children are relatively uncommon, if they occur there can be significant damage to the internal organs like the liver, heart, brain, lungs, and eyes. This reason alone is why all puppies and kittens should be routinely treated for Roundworms, whether or not their fecal exam indicates they have parasites. also, teach your children to wash their hands frequently after handling pets, and not to put anything unnecessary in thier mouths.

Hookworms

Hookworms are blood sucking parasites that live in the small intestine. The scientific name for the Hookworm we encounter in our area is called Ancylostoma. They can be very pathogenic and even cause death due to anemia and low protein level.

Life cycle

Hookworms are spread by eating infected larvae that are in the environment. These infective larvae can also penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream where they mature into adult Hookworms in the small intestine. Puppies can also get infected while nursing or in the uterus prior to birth. Some Hookworm larvae migrate to muscles where they serve as a source of future infections.

 Symptoms

Pets with Hookworms have the potential to be very ill,especially in dogs. Symptoms include lethargy, dark stools or diarrhea, weakness and vomiting. In severe cases they are anemic and debilitated, especially the older and younger pets. The larvae might even irritate the skin when they penetrate between the toes and pads.

Diagnosis

Adult Hookworms are small so they are usually not seen passed in the feces. This diagnosis is made primarily by finding the distinctive egg in your pet’s feces. Any pet that is anemic should have its feces checked for this parasite.

These eggs are more oval than Roundworms, and the membrane is thinner

 Treatment

Infected pets might require hospitalization and even a blood transfusion if their symptoms are severe. There are different types of worming medications used, some require retreatment several weeks after the initial treatment because of the larvae that migrate through the body. All require checking your pet’s feces to make sure the parasite has been eliminated. Long term treatment and surveillance in the form of fecal exams are necessary. Dogs with chronic problems are put on heartworm preventive medication on a monthly basis since this medication also kills Hookworms. Any dog put on heartworm preventive medication needs to be checked for heartworm disease before we start preventive medication.

If you keep your pet on Trifexis or Revolution year round you are treating for this problem monthly. This is the best way to go.

Prevention

Fecal exams should be performed frequently on pets that have a history of Hookworm infestation. Prompt removal of feces helps prevent contamination of the yard with larvae. Larvae are killed in cold climates when exposed to freezing temperatures.

Public Health Significance

Hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin of people and cause significant irritation. These larvae can migrate through the body and cause damage to internal organs. Just like in Roundworms discussed above, puppies should be routinely treated for this parasite at a young age.

Whipworms

Whipworms are blood sucking parasites that live in the large intestine, usually only in dogs. They are called Whipworms because they have a slender end and a thick end, hence the appearance of a whip. The scientific name for the Whipworm we encounter in our area is called Trichuris. They can be as pathogenic as Hookworms, and also cause death due to anemia and low protein level.

Life cycle

Female Whipworms lay eggs in the environment that eventually turn into larvae. Pets ingest these larvae when they ingest soil that is contaminated. These larvae take 3 months to develop into adults capable of causing disease.

 Symptoms

Symptoms of Whipworm infestation include chronic diarrhea, anemia, and weight loss.

Diagnosis

Like most internal parasites Whipworms are diagnosed by looking for the eggs in the feces. They are oval in shape and have a plug at each end that aids in identification. Their thick membrane gives them significant protection. The eggs are shed intermittently, so a negative fecal sample does not guarantee that your dog is free of Whipworms. Adult Whipworms can sometimes be visualized when an endoscope is passed into the rectum of a pet with chronic diarrhea.

 


Treatment

Various oral medication are also used to treat Whipworms. Treatment is commonly repeated in 3 weeks and 3 months due to the life cycle of this parasite. If you keep your pet on Trifexis or Revolution year round you are treating for this problem monthly. This is the best way to go.

Prevention

Control of reinfections is difficult because eggs that have been laid in the environment are very resistant. Feces need to be rechecked and a long term plan for surveillance and treatment needs to be initiated.

Public Health Significance

Human infections with this parasite might occur, although this controversial. Common sense dictates prompt removal of feces from your pet’s environment and washing your hands any time there is a potential exposure.

Coccidia

Coccidia are not technically a worm, but a protozoan parasite that infect dogs and cats primarily, but can be seen in other species.

Life cycle

Coccidia life cycles are complex and involve many stages of development. Coccidia produce cysts instead of larvae and eggs. Dogs and cats usually get the infection from ingesting the cysts in the environment or eating animals like mice that are already infected.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually occur in young animals and include diarrhea and abdominal pain. These young animals can become severely dehydrated and the infection can be life threatening. This is especially true in pets that are stressed or have other parasites. Many pets, especially the older ones, do not show any symptoms when infected.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Coccidia infection is made by identifying the very small eggs in a fecal sample. They can be very difficult to detect due to their small nature and variable shedding by a pet. This is why our doctors will occasionally treat a pet for Coccidia even though the fecal exam is negative for this parasite.

 Treatment

Sulfa type medications or sulfa and antibiotic combinations are used to affect a cure. They need to be given for up to 3 weeks.  There is also a medication that requires only 3 days of treatment. Kittens that are very ill require hospitalization and intravenous fluids to help them fight off the infection.

Prevention

Prompt removal of feces helps prevent continued environmental contamination.

Public Health Significance

A version of Coccidia, called Toxoplasmosis, is of particular significance to pregnant women since it can cause disease in unborn children. The most common source of infection for pregnant women is eating improperly cooked meat (especially pork, lamb, and venison), not necessarily from the feces of cats. In a cat that does have Toxoplasmosis, the eggs that are laid in the environment (litter pan) do not become infective until 24 hours have passed. If the litter pan is cleaned twice daily the eggs will not have time to become infective to pregnant women. Wear gloves when you change the litter pan. Better yet,have someone else clean the litter pan. When you garden you should also wear gloves since stray cats may use the soil as a litter pan. Keeping your cat indoors and not feeding it raw meat will prevent it from getting Toxoplasmosis and passing it on.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 60 million people in the United States are infected with the Toxoplasmosis parasite. Few have symptoms because a healthy immune systems keeps it in check. You may feel like you have the “flu,” swollen lymph glands, or muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to several weeks. However, most people who become infected with toxoplasmosis don’t know it. On the other hand, people with immune system problems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, or persons who have recently received an organ transplant, and infants, may develop severe toxoplasmosis, which results in damage to the eye or the brain. Infants who became infected before birth can be born retarded or with several other serious mental or physical problems.

Giardia

Giardia are also protozoal parasites that live in the small intestines. Giarida are found every where in the world, Infection rates are variable, with younger animals having a higher rate of infection. There are various strains that differ in their potential to cause disease. The strain called Giarda lamblis (also called intestinalis or duodenalis) is the primary strain of people, companion animals. and livestock.

This parasite can be found on fecal exams of healthy pets that don’t have any symptoms. It is probably under diagnosed due to the chronic nature of the problem it presents and the difficulty of coming up with a positive diagnosis.

Giardia exists in 2 forms; trophozoites and cysts. The active and motile form, called trophozoites, are the stage which lives in the intestines of an affected mammal. These trophozoites produce non-motile cysts which are shed into the environment. The cysts remain viable in the environment for months, especially in cool and moist areas. They thrive in clear and cool water, a good reason not to drink running water in the outdoors, no matter how pristine it looks. The cysts are killed by freezing, boiling, and extended contact with disinfectants.

It is theorized that giardia make pets prone to food allergies. By interfering with the intestinal lining they let in proteins that stimulate the immune system to cause an allergic reaction.

Life cycle

The cysts in a contaminated environment are transmitted to mammals or birds upon ingestion. Gastric acid and pancreatic enzymes work on these cysts in the stomach and intestines, causing them to release 2 trophozoites. These motile trophozoites attach to the lining of the small intestine where they interfere with digestion. Within 2 weeks they encyst and are passed in the feces to contaminate the environment and await another host.

 Symptoms

In many pets there aren’t any symptoms, while in others that do show symptoms, the problem might resolve by itself. The most susceptible pets are puppies and kittens, pets with other internal parasites, and debilitated pets. Diarrhea that occurs can be severe and can be accompanied by poor appetite and dehydration. Vomiting, weight loss and blood in the stool are occasional symptoms.

Diagnosis

Giardia can be hard to diagnose because the parasite cysts become shriveled in the routine fecal solution that is used to bring eggs to the surface and adhere to the cover slip. Special fecal flotation solutions (zinc sulfate) are a more accurate manner to make the diagnosis. Cysts can be shed intermittently, so several samples are sometimes needed to make this diagnosis.

Fresh fecal samples that are not put in the fecal solution can sometimes show the parasite. We sometimes send fecal solutions to our outside lab for special tests when we suspect the problem yet we don’t find the parasite. Just like Coccidia, our doctors might treat for this disease even on negative fecal samples.

 Treatment

Flagyl is the drug routinely used to treat Giardia, although it does not cure all Giardia infections. The usual course of therapy is for 5 days, although our doctors will vary this dose depending on specific circumstances. Other medications are sometimes used if the Flagyl is not effective. There is no drug that is 100% effective against Giardia.

We recommend treating pets that are positive for Giardia even if they don’t have any symptoms. This helps eliminate environmental contamination, and helps minimize spread to people. If one pet in a household has Giardia we recommend treating all pets.

Prevention

Giardia cysts in a kennel are relatively easy to destroy with routine disinfectants, and are susceptible to drying and heat. Once an environment like a lawn is contaminated though, it can be almost impossible to eliminate this parasite.

  1. Treat all in contact animals in the household.
  2. Recommend to bathe all pets every 7-14 days with mild hypoallergenic  shampoo like Hilyte or and oatmeal shampoo.  If unable to bathe then to wipe down with separate clean damp cloths/towels once a day or once every other day especially around the anal area (please save this area for last).
  3. Wipe feet and anal area  of affected pet at least once a day especially after going outside with a clean damp cloth/towel.  OK to use baby wipes around anal area.
  4. Prevent licking on surfaces outside, prevent from eating grass, and prevent from drinking water from communal water dishes at dog parks or from ponds or ditches as much as possible.
  5. Give bottle water or filtered water or water that has been boiled.  This filters should filter out up to Giardia and Cryptococcus organisms from tap water.  Boiling the water  will kill any organisms present in the tap water.
  6. Thoroughly clean food and water dishes daily with soap and hot water and sterilize the food and water dishes weekly.
  7. Pick up feces immediately or as soon as possible.  Recommend to thoroughly clean out litter boxes daily and to disinfect and sterilize the boxes at least once a week.
  8. Once done with medications bathe all pets or at least bathe both dogs and wipe down all feline pets in the house with separate clean damp cloths/towels. Also clean and vacuum entire house and clean all bedding.
  9. Once done with course of medications please bring a fecal sample the same day or the next day that the medications are finished.  If the fecal results are negative then do another fecal analysis in 30 days post-treatment.  If the fecal results are still  positive for Giardia then will recommend to proceed with other possible causes of this persistently high infestation with Giardia i.e. immune system problems that are preventing her from getting rid of this protozoal parasite.

Good nutrition, avoiding overcrowding, general parasite control, and proper sanitation procedures are all critical in prevention. Cleaning up feces on a daily basis goes a long way to preventing contamination.

A vaccine available for dogs is very helpful in persistent infections

Public Health Significance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Giardia is one of the most common causes of waterborne diseases in humans in the United States. Many people get Giardia from other people and and contaminated water. Symptoms in people include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea. They appear within 2 weeks of exposure to the parasite.

Exposure comes from many sources. They include swallowing water from swimming pools, lakes, rivers or streams that have been contaminated with animal or human feces. Fruits and vegetables that have not been washed (with Giardia free water!), along with accidental ingestion from hands contaminated by using toys, bathrooms, changing tables, etc., are also sources of infection. This emphasizes the importance of routine washing of hands. Boiling drinking water for one minute will kill this parasite.

We routinely treat pets with Giardia in their feces, even if they are not showing any symptoms, because of the potential for people to pick up this disease. Washing your hands frequently after touching your pet and bathing your pet frequently will help minimize exposure. We have a vaccine for dogs that do not respond to routine treatment. This will help prevent human exposure.

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Rabbit Spay

A common surgery performed on female rabbits is a spay. The medical term is an ovariohysterectomy (removal of ovaries and uterus), abbreviated as an OVH. Like many females, rabbits are prone to cancer of the uterus, so removal of the uterus at a young age will prevent this problem.

The following areas contain graphic pictures of an actual spay performed at the hospital. It may not be suitable for all ages.

Uterine Cancer

These two pictures give examples of why we spay rabbits.

The first picture of the uterus is a healthy one, the second one has cancer. The cancerous uterus was removed only when this rabbit became ill.

Preparation

Pre-surgical preparation is a big part of our surgery. Our patient has already had its pre-anesthetic physical exam by our surgeon, and it has been anesthetized. You can learn  more about anesthesia.

After we clip the hair, the first step in preparation is the initial cleansing of the skin with a special surgical grade disinfectant

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While our patient is being prepped our surgeon is doing the same thing

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Her head is at the top and she is laying on her back. The black arrow at lower left is pointing to an instrument we use to monitor the oxygen in the blood.

While all of this activity is going on our surgeon is busy getting ready for the surgery

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Time is of the essence any time a pet is under anesthesia, so our surgeon gets all instruments ready while our anesthetist is prepping our patient

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All of our surgeries are closely watched  using our surgical monitor. These instruments detect a problem before it becomes detrimental to our patient.

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Once our surgeon is comlfortable everything is in order our patient is draped and the procedure begins

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Surgery

After the skin incision is made a second incision is made in the abdominal muscles. There is a precise location for this incision, called the linea alba. Incisions here have minimal bleeding and sufficient strength to hold sutures when being closed at the end of the surgery.

Rabbits have minimal fat under the skin, so the skin incision is delicately made with a small scalpel blade

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Once the skin has been incised our landmark is a tendinous attachment of the abdominal muscles called the linea alba. It is seen here as the while diagonal line. It is important that we make our abdominal incision here because there is negligible bleeding and this area gives the sutures holding power to prevent a hernia.

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When our surgeon has this landmark properly exposed an incision is made into the abdomen

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This incision is continued with a scissors until it is just big enough to remove the ovaries and uterus

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Once the incision is large enough a special instrument is used to gently bring the ovaries out of the incision

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Of all the different species we spay rabbits have the most delicate tissue. If we are not careful in how we handle the uterine tissue it could tear in our hands, so we are very gentle in our tissue handling

Older rabbits have a significant amount of fat around the ovaries (black arrows) and along the uterus (white arrows). Both ovaries will be removed, and the body of the uterus will be removed at the point of the white horizontal line. The head of the rabbit is towards the top on this view.

Younger rabbits do not have as much fat, although their tissue is more delicate and can tear easily. The head of the rabbit is towards the bottom right in this view, opposite of the view above.

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The ovary is pulled out of the abdomen and clamped for removal. You can see the ovary as the small horizontal cream colored tissue in the center above the clamp. It is removed completely during the surgery.

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Special care is taken to make sure there is no bleeding after the ovary is removed. Several clamps are used, and several sutures (called ligatures) are put on the vessels that supply blood to the ovary. The next 3 views show our surgeon in the process of accomplishing this before the ovary is removed.

The unseen ovary is buried in the fat at the top, the surgeon is putting  ligatures on the blood supply to the ovary

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The first ligature has been placed

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The second one is in the process

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Once both ovaries and uterine body are ligated and removed the incision in the linea alba is suture. A special non-reactive and strong suture is used, that will slowly dissolve over several month.

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Our surgeon takes extra care to make sure they are put in properly. If not, we can get a hernia and intestinal organs can come out.

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The final row of sutures in the linea

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The final row of sutures in the skin. This will be removed at 10-14 days

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Before our patient wakes up we use the companion laser to minimize post operative swelling and enhance the healing process. Any natural thing we can do to aid the healing process is part of our approach of treating our patients like we want to be treated if we are in a similar situation. This includes the pain injection we give before our patient wakes up, and continues to the pain medication used at home. Far too often people have the attitude that pets don’t have pain because we just don’t see it. We prefer to err on the side of more pain medication than less pain medication.

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Our nursing staff closely monitors all patients post operatively

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Rabbit Skin Conditions

Rabbits are prone to skin infections that can be difficult to control. Their skin is very thin and prone to trauma. They harbor a bacteria called Pasteurella than can complicate any infection they pick up. This page shows the case of a rabbit named Roger that has a serious skin infection due to a maggot infestation. You won’t have to look at any maggots, but you will see a serious skin infection in the pictures that follow-these pictures are not suitable for all age groups.

Maggots are the larvae of flies that hatch when flies lay eggs on an open wound. In the warmer climates, especially in the summer, we see this condition. It occurs when rabbits soil their fur, sometimes from diarrhea, and set up a moist environment that attracts flies.

A way to prevent diarrhea in rabbits is to feed minimal amounts of rabbit pellets. The majority of their diet should consist of timothy hay and timothy hay pellets. The higher fiber content of these foods keeps their teeth worn down properly and aids in digestion, since they require a diet very high in fiber compared to other pets.

Presentation

This rabbit was referred to us from another veterinarian. They initially cleaned up the wound, put the rabbit on oral antibiotics, and put stainless steel staples in the skin to suture the open wound that was present. This is the way we typically handle most wounds. Unfortunately, some rabbits don’t respond to this suturing, especially if it is not done immediately. As a result the wound can fester under the sutures and become a serious infection. Rabbit pus is tenacious and does not easily drain from the body like other mammals. As a result, it is difficult to work on these infections in the normal manner.

The following sections contain graphic surgical pictures that may not be appropriate for all ages.

You can visualize the Y shaped staples that are holding the skin together at the top. They are not holding at the bottom. The white material at the bottom where the incision is open is the tenacious pus that rabbits get when there is an infection.

Treatment

We attempted to keep the sutures in place and treat the open wound at the bottom. We thoroughly flushed the wound under the staples and trimmed off diseased tissue. after one week of this therapy the infection got worse so we had to remove all the staples and treat this infection as an open wound.

This is the wound immediately after we removed the staples and removed the dead tissue along with infection. It is impossible to remove all the infection that is present due to the tenacious nature of rabbit pus.

A special wound healing agent containing collagen was used to aid the healing process. It draws infection out of the contaminated area and sets up an environment for healthy tissue to start covering the opening.

The wound is thoroughly covered with this collagen and allowed to stay on for several days initially. It was changed several times over the several weeks of therapy that was used in this case.

It is bandaged to keep it in place and to protect the healing tissue.

Outcome

This rabbit healed fine, which is not always the case with such a serious wound. From the time he was brought in to us until this picture was taken was 5 weeks.

Here is Roger’s read end on his last recheck. He feels a lot better now that his fanny is not so exposed.

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Neuter – Rabbit

Male rabbits are neutered for a variety of reasons. It helps minimize fighting behavior, makes it impossible to impregnate females, and prevents testicular cancer.

At the Long Beach Animal Hospital use of the laster is mandatory for all neuters. In this page we will first show you the surgery using the laser, then the traditional way this surgery is performed without the laser. The advantages of using the laser will be obvious. Our rabbit patients appreciate the fact that after surgery there is negligible pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Sometimes people get a jaded mindset when it comes to routine surgeries like neuters, that are performed by the thousands, especially at low cost spay and neuter clinics. It is a major surgery, and we treat it as such at the Long Beach Animal Hospital, which you will learn about in this page.

Several days prior to any surgery please bring in your pet for a preanesthetic exam and blood panel to confirm your pet is ready for anesthesia. At that time one of our doctors will go over any questions you have.

On the day of surgery we need your bunny in the hospital between 7:30 AM and 8 AM. Do not give your bunny anything to eat or drink the morning of surgery.

Our surgeon will call you after the surgery is complete and your bunny is awake. It can go home in the late afternoon the day of surgery unless instructed otherwise. Please call our office at 4 PM for pickup time, you will be given written post operative instructions then. We are open in the evening if you need to pick up later.

Graphic photos and videos on this page

The reason this male rabbit has one testicle substantially larger than the other is due to cancer. Removal of this testicle is needed for treatment. If this pet had been neutered at a young age this problem would not have occurred.

This area contains graphic pictures of an actual spay performed at the hospital. It may not be suitable for all ages

Preparation

When the rabbit’s pre-anesthetic blood panel and physical exam are completed, it is anesthetized and brought into surgery.

We keep a close tab on important physiologic parameters for all of our surgeries. Monitors like this give us an early warning of an impending problem.

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Once our surgeon has scrubbed up and is  in sterile gown, gloves, and mask, the surgery begins

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Surgery

These are the normal testicles of a rabbit about to undergo a neuter. The hair has been clipped on the abdomen and the surgical site has been cleaned. The arrowpoints towards the head.

We use the laser for all or our neuters. It has significant advatanges over the scalpel blade. In this picture our doctor is just starting the laser incision.

With the laser there is no bleeding and much less post-operative pain and swelling. You can see the testicle appearing on the left where the scrotum has been incised by the laser.

This short video shows this initial incision and lack of bleeding

After the testicle is gently pulled out of the scrotum it is ligated with 2 sutures before it is cut off. You can see the first suture at the bottom (arrow). Again, note the lack of bleeding.

Instead of sutures we seal the scrotum with a special adhesive. This minimizes surgical time, there is no post-operative discomfort or itchiness from sutures, and you do not need to return for suture removal.

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After every routine surgery in our hospital we use our companion laser to aid in the healing process and to make them more comfortable

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We have much more information about laser surgery.

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Pasteurella – Rabbit

Pasteurella (snuffles) is a common cause of respiratory disease in rabbits. Most rabbits are exposed to it and harbor the organism that causes it. In can become a chronic problem that is difficult to control.

This disease and GI stasis are some of the more common problems we encounter in rabbits. Please also read our GI Stasis page also for an understanding of this problem and for proper diet for a rabbit.

This page contains graphic pictures of rabbits with severe infections- it might not be appropriate viewing for all ages.

Cause

The bacteria that causes this disease is called Pasteurella multocida. This bacteria has several strains that differ in their ability to cause problems. Most rabbits are exposed to this bacteria at some time in their lives. Some of them will show symptoms only when stressed. These carriers can spread the problem to other rabbits without any symptoms of their own. This can make control difficult.

Pasteurella is spread by mating, through general contact (especially respiratory), or through wounds from fighting.

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the strength (virulence) of the specific Pasteurella strain involved, which body organ(s) are involved and how long the disease is present. One of the most common symptoms is respiratory, usually manifested as a nasal discharge. When a rabbit wipes its front paws on its nose to remove the discharge the hair on the legs becomes matted. These are the symptoms that lead to the laymen’s name for this disease, snuffles.

Sometimes the nasal discharge is so chronic that the fur is actually missing.

Other respiratory signs of Pasteurella include sneezing, congestion, and conjunctivitis. The tear ducts (lacrimal ducts) can become clogged with dried discharge, causing excess tearing and subsequent scalding of the skin around the eyes and face.

This is an example of how we flush the tear duct. They eye has been given a local anesthetic, and we are using a catheter to gently flush a saline solution into the tear duct.

In some cases Pasteurella can localize in the eye and cause complete loss of function. This eye has to be removed, since the rabbit cannot see, and it is painful. The white area in the center of the eye is the infection.

In addition to the respiratory tract, the bacteria can also infect the reproductive tract, the sinuses, the eyes, the ears, and the internal organs. It sometimes causes abscesses under the skin. These abscesses can become chronic and require surgery to correct. Severe cases can cause central nervous system symptoms like oscillations of the eyes (nystagmus), circling to one side, and severe tilting (wry neck or torticollis) of the head.

This rabbit has a neurologic problem from Pasteurella

Rabbits with ear infections might paw at the ears and those with internal organ infections might have poor appetites and lose weight. If the reproductive tract is infected discharge is commonly noted.

The following sections contain graphic surgical pictures, and may not be appropriate for everyone.

This is a healthy uterus during a routine spay (OVH). The healthy pink uterine horns are easily seen (white arrow).

The arrows point to the typical appearance of a uterus infected with Pasteurella. Cancer can also look like this.

Diagnosis

This problem is so prevalent, and the symptoms so characteristic, that Pasteurella is part of the tentative diagnosis anytime a rabbit shows the above symptoms.

During the physical exam a fever might be present along with an increase in the sounds heard in the lungs with the stethoscope. Cultures can be performed to confirm that Pasteurella Multocida is indeed present. Rabbits with a negative culture result could still be harboring Pasteurella. Blood samples are commonly used along with x-rays. X-rays might show changes in the chest or infection in the middle ear.

The arrows below mark the typical abscesses (the round white areas) that can be seen in the chest of a rabbit with Pasteurella.

This is what these lungs could look like on an autopsy. All the white spots correspond to the white spots on the radiograph above.

Treatment

Most cases are treated with antibiotics. They sometimes need to be given for weeks or months. The majority of cases brought for treatment are chronic in nature. In these situations the bacteria has had time to become well entrenched, and there is no guarantee that antibiotics will work. If they do work the problem can recur when the antibiotics are stopped. This emphasizes the need for routine exams in general (every 6-12 months), and a physical exam any time the above symptoms are noted.

Other medications are used if your pet is showing central nervous system or ocular symptoms. Pets that are circling or are wry necked might respond to oral medication to make them more comfortable. Plugged tear ducts are flushed and conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic drops.

Abscesses are treated surgically. Rabbits have a very thick and tenacious discharge when they form an abscess, and require more care than the abscesses of most other animals. Surgical removal can be difficult, especially in the chronic cases, because the abscessed area can become extensive in nature. Multiple surgeries might be needed, and wound care at home is necessary.

This is a severe abscess on the back of a rabbit that has been anesthetized and is undergoing surgery to correct its problem. The wound has just been opened by the scalpel blade at the top left of the screen (arrow).

The wound is filled with pus (the correct word is purulent) that must be completely removed. Any infection that is not removed will cause the abscess to return. It is very thick and does not lend itself to easy removal.

The underlying tissue that has been exposed to this infection has to be removed also. It is diseased and will be a source of further infection if it is not completely removed.

This is the final appearance of the wound after all the purulent material and diseased tissue has been removed after 30 minutes of surgery. The rubber tube (arrows) running from top to bottom is called a penrose drain tube. Its function is to allow further drainage of the infection. The tube will be removed in 5 days, the sutures will be removed in 10 days.

Some pasteurella abscesses are chronic in nature, and contain more dead tissue than purulent material. The following pictures show a case of a rabbit referred to us that had been treated with routine drainage and antibiotics for several weeks. The purulent material on the inside was diminished, but the tissue that remained was either dead or dying and had to be surgically removed.

This is the face of the rabbit that is laying on its left side. Its mouth is towards the right, the white arrow points to its right eye. The abscess is the large circlular area below and to the left of the eye.

The diseased tissue (black arrow) is gently dissected away from the healthy tissue. The healthy jaw muscle (white arrow) is apparent .

The dissection has been completed. All that remains is healthy tissue that will be sutured back together.

A large incision had to be made to remove all of this diseased tissue. It extends from the base of the ear all the way under the chin. These sutures will be removed in 10-14 days.

Prevention

Most rabbits are exposed to this bacteria early in life. Determining which rabbits will develop symptoms of this problem is difficult. Minimizing stress (heat, overcrowding), proper diet (high in timoth hay, minimal pellets), a clean environment, fresh drinking water at all times, along with early neutering can help in minimizing the chance of this infection.

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Rabbit Teeth Conditions

Rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Normal chewing action wears them down just to the point that they don’t overgrow. This is one of the reasons it is important to feed your rabbit a high fiber diet.

A rabbit that has a malocclusion does not have this normal wearing action and can suffer overgrown teeth. This problem can be serious enough to inhibit the ability to eat. Most rabbits do fine if their teeth are trimmed periodically. On select cases we will remove the problem teeth.

Before we begin click here to see an x-ray of a rabbits mouth to view incisors and molars. Come back here after you have reviewed rabbit tooth anatomy.

Treatment

In most rabbits trimming the teeth periodically works fine. They have sensitive teeth that can easily crack, so it’s not a good isea to do this at home unless you are very experienced.

This patient has overgrown lower incisors. They are definitely inhibiting its ability to chew. They need periodic trimming every 2-4 weeks to prevent recurrence.

They are trimmed with a special scissors that will not crack them. If needed, they are also filed to remove any sharp edges. This technique should not be tried by inexperienced people because teeth are brittle in nature, and in this case are weaker than normal due to the abnormality. They can easily fracture because of these two factors. In addition, rabbits can fracture their back if not properly restrained.

Even though the upper incisors are not as long as the lower, they also need trimming because they are growing into the lower jaw

Our friend feels much better, and can now get back to normal rabbit activity. He needs to return in 2-4 weeks to have his teeth checked.

This rabbit has an upper right incisor (arrow) that has been chronically infected. We decided to remove the incisors because trimming the teeth was not solving the problem.

The arrow points to the cracked and infected tooth

As you saw from the x-ray pictures the roots of these incisors are very deep and they curve significantly. Great care must be taken during their removal so they don’t crack at the root.

In this picture we are gently breaking down the attachment of the tooth to the gums.

This is the appearance immediately after surgery

The molar teeth can also be overgrown, and will get points on them. The points are painful, dig into the gums or tongue, and can prevent eating. Molar teeth are not easy to assess. Rabbits don’t like anything in their mouths, and the folds of skin of the cheeks interfere with visualization. These teeth are gently filed down under anesthesia. Feeding a high fiber diet might help prevent this problem.

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We use proper restraint, gas anesthesia, and a gentle speculum, to carefully visualize the molar teeth before filing

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You can see the point on this molar tooth

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After trimming. The rough edges will be smoothe off.

In some rabbits the problem is much more serious than overgrown and unsightly incisors. These rabbits have severe problems with their molar teeth, preventing them from eating properly. If untreated they can die. A large part of their problem is a diet that is too low in fiber. This causes improper wearing down of the molars, and even can lead to elongation of the roots of the incisors.

Rabbits with this problem are not eating well, losing weight, and are slobbering. Looking into a rabbits mouth is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Not only do they find it distasteful, but their skin folds make it near impossible to visualize the teeth without anesthesia and proper instruments.

When the molar teeth don’t wear down properly they develop points that pinch the gums and make chewing painful. These rabbits are treated by filing the molars down until they become smooth, and instituting a higher fiber diet. In some cases the chronic molar problem causes the roots to elongate. This is a serious problem, that can lead to abscesses, pain, inability to eat, and even death.

This is a picture of Mike. He has overgrown molar roots that we will be removing. His IV catheter is giving him fluids just prior to anesthesia.

Putting an IV catheter in a rabbit takes special skill from our nursing staff. You can learn more about catheters if you like by following the IV catheter link.

Before you attempt to treat one of these rabbits you need instruments enabling proper exposure of the teeth.

These rabbits need complete anesthesia for proper treatment. We use a very safe gas anesthesia and usually intubate for an additional margin of safety. The arrow points to the beginning of the breathing tube as it enters the mouth from the left. You can trace it as it courses down and to the right.

We diagnosed Mike’s problems partially by a history of weight loss and poor appetite, along with excessive salivation.You can see the chronic irritation the saliva has caused on his chin.

A radiograph was also helpful in the diagnosis. The arrow points to the elongation of the roots of the molar teeth. Compare it to the rabbit below with normal molar roots.

These roots are normal. The arrow on the left points to the incisors, the one below points to the molars. Can you see the difference in the molars from the abnormal rabbit above.

Now that Mike is finally anesthetized we can gain access to his molar teeth. The white arrow points to one of them deep in his oral cavity.

These are the teeth immediately after removal. The roots are on the bottom.

A closeup of one of them shows the infection around the root (on the right).

Unfortunately, Mike had more than teeth problems. He had abscesses in his eye and on his tongue caused by Pasteurella. The arrow points to the ulcer he has on the tip of his tongue.

Prevention

One of the most important things you can do to keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy is to feed a high fiber diet. This consists of mostly timothy hay or timothy hay pellets.

Regular exams by one of our doctors will also catch this problem before teeth get infected or your rabbit becomes ill.

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Rabbit Femur Fracture Surgery

Rabbits have powerful muscles to their hind legs. If they get stuck or trapped in something, they can kick out and cause a bone to break. In many cases a splint or heavy bandage will suffice. Sometimes surgery is needed, as in this case.

Graphic surgery photos to follow. Click on any photo to enlarge.


After a thorough physical exam and stabilization, radiographs were obtained.

This is called a traverse fracture of the distal femur (see arrow below). This is a serious fracture and requires surgery from a surgeon experienced with orthopedic surgery.

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Meticulous preparation is necessary in orthopedic surgery. If an infection gets started it tends to become deep seated and hard to control.

The technique of taping the leg up is the standard in how we clip and clean the leg prior to surgery

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Anesthetic monitoring is important is such a small animal, and an animal that has such a small lung capacity compared to other animals of comparable size

The heart and lungs (within the red circle) are tiny compared to the size of the abdomen

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Due to this unique anatomy constant monitoring is needed during anesthesia

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Our anesthetist works closely with our surgeon to make sure just enough anesthetic is given at the lowest possible dose

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Our surgeon feels the fracture through the skin to find the best place to make the initial incision. You can see the foot double wrapped in a special towel and also plastic wrap at the lower right of the photo. The foot is not a part of the surgery, and draped this way so there is no contamination.

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The initial skin incision exposes the muscle layer below. There is minimal fat under the rabbits skin so this initial skin incision has to be done carefully or else the scalpel will cut into the muscle.

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A layer of tissue over the muscle is cut with scissors

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Our surgeon carefully dissects through the muscle to get down to the bone

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After carefully dissecting through specific muscle planes a special instrument is used to spread the tissue for better access to the fracture

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With the bone exposed our surgeon now assess the damage. Even though the radiographs taken before surgery give us substantial information, decisions on how to repair the fracture are only decided at this point. You can see the tip of the fracture at the arrow.

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The fracture end from a different angle

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A stainless steel intramedullary (IM) pin is placed down the shaft of the bone. This is the first part of stability of the fracture site. You can see the pin entering the open end of the bone on the left.

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A special instrument is used to slowly rotate the pin through the shaft of the bone as it is placed completely into the bone

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Once the pin is in place a stainless steel bone plate is hand molded to the contour of the femur

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A hole is drilled into the bone

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A tap less screw is then inserted

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This is repeated at the other end of the bone. You can see our surgeon measuring how deep a hole has been drilled into the bone. This helps pick a screw that is just the right length.

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The correct size screw is now placed. This is the 2nd aspect of stability of the fracture site

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After putting in 3 screws our surgeon decided that more screws might damage the bone. Two cerclage wires are now used, which is the 3rd aspect of stability.

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The tissue over the muscle is sutured

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Finally, the skin is sutured

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Our post operative radiographs show what was done

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Can you see all 3 aspects of the stability?

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At this point our little friend is take off anesthesia, kept on 100 % oxygen, given a pain injection, kept on a heat blanket, and closely monitored until fully awake.

Before fully awake we use our Companion Laser to stimulate the healing process and decrease post operative swelling at the incision

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After surgery our rabbit patients are wrapped in a towel and closely watched by our staff

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Rabbit Skin Infection

Introduction

Rabbits are prone to skin infections that can be difficult to control. Their skin is very thin and prone to trauma. Rabbits harbor a bacteria called Pasteurella than can complicate any infection they pick up. This page shows the case of a rabbit named Roger that has a serious skin infection due to a maggot infestation. You won’t have to look at any maggots, but you will see a serious skin infection in the pictures that follow-these pictures are not suitable for all age groups.

Maggots are the larvae of flies that hatch when flies lay eggs on an open wound. In the warmer climates, especially in the summer, we see this condition. It occurs when rabbits soil their fur, sometimes from diarrhea, and set up a moist environment that attracts flies.

A way to prevent diarrhea in rabbits is to feed minimal amounts of rabbit pellets. The majority of their diet should consist of timothy hay and timothy hay pellets. The higher fiber content of these foods keeps their teeth worn down properly and aids in digestion, since they require a diet very high in fiber compared to other pets.

These are the molars of a normal rabbit that has been on a good diet of mostly hay.

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You can learn about the problems that rabbits get with an improper diet by following these two links-

G. I. Stasis

Overgrown Teeth

This page contains very graphic photos of a severe skin infection

 

Presentation

 

This rabbit was referred to us from another veterinarian. They initially cleaned up the wound, put the rabbit on oral antibiotics, and put stainless steel staples in the skin to suture the open wound that was present. This is the way we typically handle most wounds. Unfortunately, some rabbits don’t respond to this suturing, especially if it is not done immediately. As a result the wound can fester under the sutures and become a serious infection. Rabbit pus is tenacious and does not easily drain from the body like other mammals. As a result, it is difficult to work on these infections in the normal manner.

You can visualize the Y shaped staples that are holding the skin together at the top. They are not holding at the bottom. The white material at the bottom where the incision is open is the tenacious pus that rabbits get when there is an infection.

Treatment

 

We attempted to keep the sutures in place and treat the open wound at the bottom. We thoroughly flushed the wound under the staples and trimmed off diseased tissue. after one week of this therapy the infection got worse so we had to remove all the staples and treat this infection as an open wound.

This is the wound immediately after we removed the staples and removed the dead tissue along with infection. It is impossible to remove all the infection that is present due to the tenacious nature of rabbit pus.


A special wound healing agent containing collagen was used to aid the healing process. It draws infection out of the contaminated area and sets up an environment for healthy tissue to start covering the opening.

The wound is thoroughly covered with this collagen and allowed to stay on for several days initially. It was changed several times over the several weeks of therapy that was used in this case.


It is bandaged to keep it in place and to protect the healing tissue.

Outcome

 

This rabbit healed fine, which is not always the case with such a serious wound. From the time he was brought in to us until this picture was taken was 5 weeks.

Here is Roger’s read end on his last recheck. He feels a lot better now that his fanny is not so exposed.

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