What is Loss of Weight and Muscle?
The most common underlying conditions that cause weight loss are dental disease, respiratory infections and chronic age-related conditions such as renal failure and arthritis. Although not all the conditions that lead to weight loss can be cured, many are able to be effectively managed, improving life quality for your pet.
Loss of weight and muscle in rabbits is often a symptom of a chronic underlying disease or condition. Parasitic infestation, congestive heart failure, and environment are just a few of the causes for this condition.
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Symptoms of Loss of Weight and Muscle in Rabbits
In cases of weight loss, the first symptom is usually a noticeably lighter pet. As the reason for weight loss is usually pain associated with an underlying health condition you may notice other signs of pain such as tooth grinding, hunching, depression and a reluctance to be stroked. Other symptoms vary depending on the cause of weight loss.
There are many different conditions that may cause weight loss in your pet, these can be caused by:
Pseudo-anorexia – if your pet is suffering from weight loss due to this form of anorexia they may still have a drive to eat, however, due to an underlying condition are unable to
True anorexia – if your pet is suffering from this form of anorexia they may be losing weight due to loss of desire to eat; this is often due to underlying factors that cause pain or stress
Causes of Loss of Weight and Muscle in Rabbits
There are many causes of weight loss in rabbits, these include
- Chronic respiratory infections
- Chronic conditions such as arthritis or renal failure
- Dental disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Parasitic infection
- Skin infections such as pyoderma or pododermatitis
- Social problems such as loss of a companion or aggressive cage mate
- Environmental stressors such as predators or change of environment
- Ingestion of toxins
Diagnosis of Loss of Weight and Muscle in Rabbits
Your veterinarian will perform a full clinical examination on your pet and carefully examine them for signs of underlying conditions that may be causing weight loss. She may ask questions to determine a history for your pet; these questions may include the speed of weight loss, possible access to toxins, recent social changes, and other symptoms. When performing a clinical examination your veterinarian will pay close attention to the following:
- Abnormal amount of gas or abdominal masses on palpation
- Signs of respiratory infection on chest auscultation
- If your pet is female the vulva should be carefully examined for discharge which may suggest pyometra
- Signs of infection or dermatitis
- Excessive salivation or malocclusion which may suggest dental disease to be the cause
- Signs of parasitic infection
Your veterinarian may choose to do following diagnostic tests:
- Radiographs to investigate masses, osteoarthritis, spondylitis or other skeletal disorders
- Blood chemistry which can rule out renal and liver disease, anemia, chronic infection or neoplasia and provide a health baseline when prescribing analgesia
- Urinalysis to rule out urinary tract infections or hepatic lipidosis
- Fecal analysis if your pet has a history of diarrhea to rule out infection
Treatment of Loss of Weight and Muscle in Rabbits
Your rabbit’s treatment will depend on the underlying condition that is causing the weight loss. Your rabbit may be need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.
If your rabbit is suffering from dental disorders he may require corrective dental treatment under general anesthetic.
Fluid therapy may be given to prevent dehydration and rehydrate gastrointestinal contents. Your pet will be encouraged to have fluids orally but may also be given intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy.
As weight loss is often associated with pain your pet may be given NSAIDs or opioids for pain relief.
Your veterinarian may discuss a gradual change of diets to support weight gain and gastrointestinal health.
For chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure or renal disease on-going medication may be given to support these systems and improve your pet’s life quality.
Recovery of Loss of Weight and Muscle in Rabbits
The prognosis for a pet suffering from loss of weight can be good to guarded depending on how quickly treatment was sought and the underlying condition. If your veterinarian suspects that stress was the cause, it is important to adjust your pet’s environment to reduce or completely eliminate the stressor. As rabbits are social animals your pet may benefit from having another cage mate.
If your pet is suffering from disease such as skin infections or abscesses your pet may need further medication and treatment. For chronic health conditions it is important that you discuss a long-term pain management plan with your veterinarian to alleviate your pet’s discomfort and support nutrition.
Loss of Weight and Muscle Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have had piper for about 3 years now but recently he has not been eating all his food and I think his ribs are flared out and has a little bit of eye discharge but I haven't changed his diet or anything else and his mom died a while ago from being too skinny (at least that's what I think) and they weren't close.
thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!! I will call my vet! happy new year!!
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