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soft stool/sneezing

22 9:50:59

Cooper & Marley
Cooper & Marley
Hello, I have 2 male neutered rabbits.. they live together in a large 2 story hutch, inside the home.  Here are their quick profiles:

Marley - 3.5 y/o dutch, 5lbs, no significant health problems other than recently (1-2 months ago) being treated with Baytril for upper resp problems.. not for sneezing a lot, but he sounded very congested.  and being treated with baytril/panacur about 2.5 years ago when the other rabbit was sick with E Cuniculi

Cooper - 3 year old lop (not sure what kind) 7 lbs (i think he's a bit overweight), he's my problem child.. shortly after I got him as a baby, he started developing what looked like a little scleral hemorrhage in his eye, which was spreading from inner canthus to pupil.  I brought him to a vet, they said it was likely a bump from hitting it.  A short time later, the eye was half clouded and bulging.  I brought him to a veterinary opthamologist and long story short, he had e cuniculi and had his left eye removed because of glaucoma and cataracts caused by it.  That was the point where both bunz were treated with baytril and panacur.  Surgery healed well, no issues with that.

Diet: Timothy hay Kaytee brand pellets, they split about 3/4 cup a day.  unlimited timothy hay, and avariety of veggies.. usually they split about 1/2 large head of lettuce - romaine or green leaf, a couple stalks of celery, broccoli and a few baby carrots are the usual daily veggies.  sometimes they get a mix with parsley cilantro dandelion, but not often.. depends if I pick it up or not. RARE treats, if any.  usually just a piece of watermelon or mango here and there, maybe once weekly if that.  

They are litter box trained, I use yesterdays news which is what was recommended to me.. they've been using that since I got them.  No other shavings etc in the hutch.  

So.. my current problems are Coopers stool.. he passes that mush stool, not diarrhea. He's been doing this for quite a few months now intermittently, so before the last round of antibiotics. Its all over his butt and fur.  I know this issue is diet related, but I can't figure out why.. I dont think I'm over feeding pellets for their weight, and oddly enough.. it seems to happen less with less veggies, which doesnt seem right.  Am I feeding them the wrong veggies? I got the list of veggies to feed them from  He does seem slightly overweight, but again, I dont know why.  Marley is perfect weight, and I"m afraid he'll be underweight if I cut Cooper back, but I dont know what I'm doing wrong with his diet.  They were both just at the vet about 1-2 months ago for sniffles and i brought this up with the vet and she didnt seem too concerned about it, but I know its not good. Should I try and cut out pellets all together and just do greens?  

The other issue is the sniffles.. Again, I had just treated them both with Baytril for a torturous 10 days. (marley got 5cc twice a day, Cooper 7.5cc twice a day)  Marley's breathing was very congested, Cooper sneezed all the time.  Both of their symptoms improved after the antibiotics, and they both officially hate me after shoving that crap down their throats.  Poor boys.  But now, its been a while, and for hte last week, Cooper has been sneezing again multiple times a day.  I dont see really any drainage, but he is def sneezing more frequently.  Marley is still asymptomatic. Was the 10 days not enough? Should I bring them both back to the vet? Do some rabbits just sneeze? Should I wait until I notice other symptoms like when Marley sounded junky? I have no problem taking them to the vet, I just know that they're going to make me give more meds and the rabbits just HATE it.. they start thumping at me when I go near the cage because they know what is coming and then its just a circus trying to get them their meds.  So, if I can avoid giving them, we'd all be much happier.  I'm not sure if there's something else I can try at home first.  And why does this keep happening???? Am I bringing this bacteria into the house somehow? Its just myself and a dog that live with them, and I'm a bit anal about cleaning the cage. Everything gets cleaned with vinegar every 3 days.. litter box, I wipe down the bowl. everything! So I dont think anything is growing on the cage anywhere.  The hutch is placed next to a slider, but I dont thinkthat is the issue as some rabbits live outdoors all the time. And I don't smoke.  
Thank you for your time and help, Jenn

Hi Jen,

Just from what I have read I can see a few problems and I may have a solution for you.  From many years of experience with my own rabbits and different exotic animal vets I personally feel the the veggies are your problem with the mushy poop.  I would cut back on the veggies and give them only high quality hay and high quality pellets.  Some vegetables can cause problems within the GI system and the there are pellets that contain everything the rabbit needs.  Rather than giving them a whole head of romaine and the other veggies just give them a small handful once a day.  This along with increasing the hay intake should take care of your problem.  We do not feed veggies everyday instead we give the bunnies 1 oz per pound of pellets and as much fresh hay as they want.  The HRS encourages the use of veggies which is great if the rabbit can handle it.  However there is no reason that the majority of their diet needs to be veggies.  If you feed to many veggies and to many pellets they usually wont eat their hay.  

As for the respiratory infection if he is still sneezing you don't want to stop the antibiotics.  The big issue I see is that Baytril is so over used that it just doesn't work anymore.  Recently we discovered that zithromax works much better on respiratory infections.  We had an outbreak in our shelter and it spread like crazy.  We treated all the affected bunnies with zithromax and within 5 days they were completely better.  Not a single one had any symptoms return.  If you can get a culture and sensitivity this would help but if there is no nasal discharge this could be difficult.  I strongly recommend that you ask your vet about using zithromax.  There is a chance of GI upset with this medication but frankly we saw very little problem and we treated over 50 rabbits.  The medication is no more expensive than the Baytril and I just feel it is far superior.  If your vet is not open to the use of zithromax let me know and I can see if I can get them in touch with the wildlife rehabilitator that told us about it.  He is not a vet but he works with vets on a regular basis and he has more experience than anyone I have met so far.

As for bringing the illness to your bunnies, you are not.  The problem with respiratory infections is that they are easy to treat but difficult to cure.  Even if the symptoms go away they are still carrying the virus.  During times of stress it will often flare up again.  Although your bunnies probably don't appear to be stressed even the little things can cause a flare up.  Molting and changes of seasons are when the symptoms appear more often.  It sounds like their cage is clean and they are taken care of properly.  Unfortunately it is probably something you are going to have to deal with throughout their lives.

Good luck to you and if you need anymore help please let me know.