The most common form of arthritis in rabbits, osteoarthritis is a type of inflammation that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. It’s usually caused by wear and tear on the joints, and is commonly seen in rabbits over six years old (although it can affect those as young as two).
It can be painful, and although it’s progressive and there isn’t a cure, your rabbit should still be able to live a full and active life with the right combination of treatments.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in rabbits include:
• Stiffness or wobbling when moving.
• Changes in where they are willing to go or jump on to.
• Not being able to eat soft morning stools directly from their bottom, and having to scoot around and eat them from the floor.
• A dirty or urine-soaked bottom.
• Not being able to angle their pelvis properly when they pee, meaning they can’t empty their bladder completely. This can also lead to bladder sludge or stones.
• Moving around less when it’s cold or damp.
• Reduced appetite.
• Unexplained aggression towards you or a bonded partner.
If you notice any of these signs or are concerned about your rabbit, please get in touch with the practice.
Your vet will be able to diagnose osteoarthritis and recommend some helpful methods for managing the condition, such as:
• Maintaining a healthy weight.
• Putting coverings on slippery floors and surfaces to aid movement.
• Providing a litter tray that is low at the front and has no sharp edges.
• Keeping your rabbit warm in cold and damp weather.
• Providing ramps or steps to get up to hutches.
• Ensuring they have plenty of space to do gentle exercise.
• Giving them things to play with and lots of environmental and feeding enrichment.
• Keeping a careful eye on your rabbit’s bottom, grooming them regularly and applying flystrike prevention treatments.