Pet of the Month – May 2012 – Oscar the Rabbit

Oscar has been chosen as our pet of the month as she is a very tiny, Netherland dwarf rabbit who has a big personality that has helped her through a major operation.


Oscar (who is a female rabbit) was bought into Spring Lodge to see our veterinary surgeon Nicole Laws two weeks ago.  Her owner had noticed that she had urine staining on both of her back legs which was unusual as she is a house rabbit and she uses a litter tray.   Nicole could feel something abnormal in her abdomen and advised that we should perform an ultrasound scan to see if we could find out what the abnormality was.


Our vet, Portia Clayton, went ahead with Oscars ultrasound which was not easy as Oscar is extremely small rabbit and not much bigger that our ultrasound probe!  She is also very friendly and inquisitive and wriggled around which made it difficult to get a clear view of her abdomen.  Portia could see that Oscar had an abnormality within her uterus which could have indicated a tumour. It is common for female rabbits to suffer from uterine carcinomas, cancerous growths in their uterus .


Following the scan it was decided that an exploratory operation would be performed on Oscar and that she would be spayed during this operation.  As Oscar only weighed 1.3kg this would be an operation that carried a high risk with the general anaesthetic, the surgey and the recovery from the operation.


Oscar was given strong pain killers and pre-operative fluids.  She was given a general anaesthetic injection through a catheter in her tiny ears and a tube was placed into her trachea to help her breath and keep her asleep during the surgery.


Oscar did have an enlarged, nodular uterus and this was removed by performing an ovario-hysterectomy.  During the operation Nicole also discovered that Oscar had three hard, round ‘stones’ in her bladder.  These stones would have been the cause of the urine staining on her back legs as they were sitting in her bladder causing inflammation and a urine infection.  In an extremely difficult procedure, due to Oscars small size, Nicole opened the bladder and the removed the stones.

The stones were formed in her bladder due to the way rabbits expel excess calcium from their bodies.  Any excess calcium is excreted from the rabbits body through the kidneys in the urine in the form of calcium carbonate.  This is why there is a cloudy appearance to rabbits urine and why, when it dries it appears chalky.


It is not known exactly why some rabbits develop these stones but a combination of a diet high in calcium rich foods (Alfalfa, Carrot tops, Dandelion, Kale), decreased activity in domestic rabbits and mild dehydration is thought to be a possible cause.


We were all so worried about Oscar as she was so small and had undergone two major procedures during her operation.  Our nurses who specialise in nursing rabbits took over the care of Oscar when she returned to the wards and continued to monitor her closely and administer her painrelief.  A special liquid recovery diet was syringed into her mouth every couple of hours and she was given probiotics to help her start digesting her food following the surgey.


To everyones joy the next morning Oscar was hopping around her cage, eating and looking as if she wanted to go home.  She went home that day (as rabbits tend to recover best in their home environment) as we knew her owner would take great care of her.


Eight days after her operation Oscar came back in to visit us for a check up and to have some photos taken for this article.  She is back to her normal self, hopping up onto her back legs like a meerkat to see what is going on and posing for our camera.  It is amazing that a rabbit that is so small can come through so much and still be pleased to see us!