In this section, Dr. Micah Kohles, Oxbow’s Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach, answers all of your animal health related questions. If you have a question for Dr. Kohles regarding the health or behavior of your small animal, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a 6-year-old lionhead rabbit who has bladder stones. She experiences flair-ups every 3-4 months. Our vet has suggested not to operate since she would continue to get them and would require additional surgeries. What can we do to limit these flair-ups? She drinks filtered water and eats plenty of fresh greens, unlimited hay, Oxbow’s Natural Science Digestive Support Supplements and 2 tbsp. of pellets a day. – Jody
I’m sorry to hear that you and your rabbit are having to deal with this issue. Bladder stones can be difficult. Rabbits and guinea pigs are unique since they excrete calcium through their bladder. With that in mind, it’s perfectly natural for them to have higher amounts of sludge in their bladder. When we bring our pets into captivity, they don’t have the opportunity to move around as much as they do in the wild. Inactivity can cause a consolidation of that sludge which can lead to bladder stones. While the veterinary community has conducted extensive research regarding what causes stones, we have yet to pinpoint what the cause is.
The easiest way to handle stones is to remove them. Of course there are risks associated with that, but there is no guarantee that your bunny will or will not need follow-up surgeries. If we decide not to do that, hydration is vital. Continue to give her fresh greens to eat and make sure that she has more than one water source. Keeping her cage clean will also encourage her to eliminate whenever she needs to. I also suggest trying to keep your bunny active. Remove her from her cage every day to help stimulate her bladder. I even recommend playing with her outside if you can. Vitamin D has an impact on calcium and the exercise is incredibly advantageous. Make sure that if you do take her outside that she’s under close supervision (See the Do’s and Don’ts of Taking Your Pet Outside). Best of luck to you and your rabbit! – Dr. Kohles
Dr. Micah Kohles, DVM, MPA
Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach
Oxbow Animal Health