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What are Weakness?

Hind leg weakness or paralysis is a common disorder that is seen in rabbits and can have many different causes. It is a particularly harsh disease for rabbits as it affects their ability to pass cecotropes through their system, which can severely inhibit their capacity to get enough nutrition if it is left unaddressed. Many rabbits live long lives without the ability to move their hind legs with just a few changes to their environment.

Hind leg paralysis is characterized by the inability to effectively use the back legs. This can have a number of origins which have a variety of symptoms.

Weakness Average Cost

From 322 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,600

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Weakness in Rabbits

Some symptoms specific to the paralysis include:

  • Lack of balance
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Pain along spine
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Shuffling
  • Trembling legs
  • Weakness of one or more limbs

Types

Degenerative Disease

Diseases like cancer and spinal osteoarthritis can wear down the components of the spinal cord over time and inhibit the ability of the rabbit to move its hind legs.

Infection

Parasitic, bacterial, and fungal infections can cause a number of disorders that can lead to weakness or paralysis in rabbits. One of the more notable parasitic infections is known as Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

Toxins

Paralysis can be caused by several toxins, both natural and man-made. Weakness and paralysis caused by toxins must be handled by a veterinary professional. Rabbits are not capable of vomiting, so to remove any toxins from the stomach, they have to be forcibly removed by activated charcoal and gastric lavage. 

Trauma

Trauma to the spine can cause sudden weakness or paralysis by damaging the nerves. Rabbits have been known to jump erratically when frightened and break their own back.

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Causes of Weakness in Rabbits

Many diseases and disorders can lead to hind leg weakness and paralysis in the hind legs.

  • Age-related weakness 
  • Arthritis
  • Bacterial infection
  • Cancer
  • Chronic illness
  • Parasitic infection
  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi (e. cuniculi)
  • Spinal trauma
  • Spondylosis
  • Stroke
  • Toxins
  • Vertebral disc disease
  • Vitamin deficiency
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Diagnosis of Weakness in Rabbits

When you bring your rabbit into the veterinarian, a physical examination will be completed, with particular attention being paid to the spinal column. Standard blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemistry profile can be used to determine if any infections or toxins are present in your rabbit's system. 

An x-ray will also be taken in order to get a better idea of the status of the spine, usually after an opaque dye is injected into the spinal column to help spot anatomical changes in the spine itself. This procedure is called a myelogram. In some cases, a computerized tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan will be able to spot changes that weren’t visible with the traditional x-ray imaging system. If any growths are found, samples will be taken for a biopsy so that the clinic can determine what kind of cancer it is if it is cancerous.

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Treatment of Weakness in Rabbits

If your animal is transported to the veterinary clinic in an emergency state, then supportive treatment will be started right away. This generally includes IV fluids to maintain hydration and to ensure that the proper balances of sugars and enzymes continue circulating, and can also include oxygen if respiration is threatened. Treatment beyond supportive measures will be dependent on the underlying condition that is causing the paralysis. 

In the case of infection, the appropriate antibiotic or antifungal medication will be prescribed and should be taken for as long as directed to prevent a reoccurrence of the infection. Rabbits who have broken their backs may be able to heal if only the bones are broken and the nerves are still intact, although a pin may be needed in some situations. If the paralysis is due to a toxin that was ingested recently, your veterinarian may administer vitamin E and activated charcoal as well as perform a gastric lavage, especially since rabbits are unable to vomit to expel the toxin themselves.

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Recovery of Weakness in Rabbits

The prognosis for rabbits with rear limb paralysis depends on the amount of damage that has occurred to the spinal cord itself as well as the underlying cause of the disorder. In some cases, it is kinder to euthanize the animal, and there are cases where the rabbit’s range of motion is fully restored. There are also situations in which the rabbit lives on, but remains paralyzed. A rabbit that has paralyzed back legs will need special bedding and a low entry litterbox in its enclosure, as well as assistance in cleaning their ears. Common disorders of paralyzed rabbits to be aware of are urine scald, sore hocks, and pressure sores. These disorders should be minimized or avoided with the appropriate preventative measures.

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Weakness Average Cost

From 322 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,600

Average Cost

$800

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Weakness Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Rabbit

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1.5 Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Cold

My rabbit has some mucus coming from her eyes and mouth and seems to be breathing raspy like a cold. We brought her inside for a couple of days because we noticed she hadn’t been drinking her water and seemed like she was dehydrated brought her in syringe feed her water. What could i get to give her to make her feel better because our vet isn’t taking new animals right now

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There isn't really anything that you can give her at home to help, but keeping her inside may help her as she isn't having to worry about being too hot or cold. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, and if you call your veterinarian and let them know that she is sick, they should be able to get her in, or refer you to someone that can. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Continental giant rabbit

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Four Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hind Leg Paralysis, Debris In Ears, Pain In Ears(?)

Can ear mites cause hind leg paralysis? If so, will it get better with treatment? We are treating with ivermectin, and olive oil tea tree oil drops in his ears.

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Rabbits can get parasites that are not susceptible to Ivermectin that can cause neurologic problems or paralysis. If your rabbit is not able to use his hind end, that is quite serious, and it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to look at him, see if parasites in his ears may be causing the problem, and get treatment so that he can get better. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 26, 2020

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Mini lop

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8 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Inflammation In The Right Eye, Dragging Rear Right Leg

At 4 months my rabbit started to hold her rear right leg out to the side, this has got progressively worse and she now barely uses it, drags it, often at a 90 degree angle. Our vet believed it to be due to a bone deformity, a recent xray confirmed the leg appears to have grown twisted. However, recently her eye became inflamed and she tested as highly as the scale goes for the e-cuniculi antibodies. She's on a 28 day panacur treatment and has eye drops but I wonder now if an e-cuniculi infection could have caused leg weakness during development. If so, is there a treatment that could help now?

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that happened to your rabbit. At this point, if the growth plates are closing and the leg has healed in a crooked way, it is unlikely that any medications are going to help if infection was the cause. If in a protected environment, rabbits do quite well with different lameness, and your rabbit may live a long and normal healthy life as long as she is safe from predators and disease. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 17, 2020

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Smudge

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Netherland Dwarf

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Weak Hind Legs And Loss Of Fur

We have noticed in the last week our 6-7 year old rabbit is very unsteady on his back legs, he is no longer cleaning himself and his weight has dropped even though he is eating as normal. He falls on his side but manages to get up again. He is still managing to get around the garden and seems happy to be let out of his hutch. He has also lost fur on his back legs

July 19, 2018

Smudge's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Many things can start to happen as rabbits age, and he may have a urinary or systemic problem. Since I can't see him, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian to see what might be going on, and get treatment for him.

July 19, 2018

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PJ

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Netherland Dwarf

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Hind Leg Weakness

my rabbit was fine a couple days ago but yesterday I found him covered in wee up to his belly so I had to give him a bath where the urine was which I know is stress full for them and I dried him up and cleaned his hutch and put him back but since then his hind legs have been weak and his toes drag. when he hops around his legs dont follow at first and he wobbles. he is usually a very active cheeky boy but has been quite lethargic for a couple days and wont eat his pellets or even oats which are his fav treat. ive syringe given him some water and he is eating dandelion leaves. any advice?

July 16, 2018

PJ's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It seems that PJ needs to see a veterinarian. He may have a systemic disease, or a back injury, as rabbits are very prone to those. A veterinarian will be able to examine him,m see what is going on, and recommend any treatment that PJ may need.

July 16, 2018

What if there is no veterinary shop near here in my place? What is the best natural way to do? My rabbit is so weak. And his legs are not able to stable. What will I do? Pls reply. Thanks in advance.

July 23, 2018

Djsalfar Y.

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Roger

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D’argeant

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3 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Dragging Hind Legs
Dragging Hind Legs, Sitting Hunched

My rabbit is 3 months old. He seemed to catch a cold as he kept sneezing and sneezing. No mucus from eyes or nose and no excessive drooling. He also seemed lathargic and not very energetic. I took him to the vet and they gave us antibiotics for him. He seemed to get a little better after 4 days on antibiotics but now he is dragging his hind legs and no longer hopping. He seems to be moving with difficulty and sits in a tightly hunched position. I don’t know what’s happening. We don’t have any exotic pet vets near us. Just regular vets with not much rabbit experience.

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Merlin

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Nordic

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hind Leg Weakness

My rabbit Merlin is 11 years old, he had been a house rabbit all this time, and while showing some signs of old age he’s still been happy to go out into the garden. The last month I’ve noticed his balance going, especially on the left side. He stills like to go out in the garden, but I pick him up to take him out/bring him in and I’ve put covers down inside to make it easier for him to walk around. He’s still eating and drinking well and looking after himself. But he’s 11 and I don’t want to prolong his pain if he has any. Nor do I want to put him to sleep if he’s still ok.

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Charley

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Rabbit

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss Over 3 Months

My rabbit is responsive and affectionate as always but when she hops around she flops over on her left side and can’t get back up. If she goes one hop at a time she seems ok, not as normal but ok. Eating and drinking well.

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Kevin

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Himalayan

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Incontinence
Back Leg Paralysis

Found my rabbit yesterday morning unable to use back legs, dragging himself around and has been incontinent. Took him the vets she said give him 5 days with pain relief and if there is no change, putting him to sleep would be best option. He doesn't seem to be in pain and he is trying to get to the litter tray to do wee's but hes not always making it. Any advice would be appreciated thank you.

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Bojo

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Indian Local Bread

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Don'T Know

My rabbit has suddenly stops jumping and walking. When we took him to the Vetenary Clinic Doctor checked that he have fever of 105° and prescribed him medicine. But still now no improvement. I am continuing medicine for 2 Weeks. And not I am seeing he first stops using his left hand leg. But from Yesterday he is using his left hind leg, but he have problem in his back left leg.

Weakness Average Cost

From 322 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,600

Average Cost

$800

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