Mystery Diagnosis: Lavender

While I was out of town for work from Sunday, 10/14 through Friday, 10/19, Justus was home watching the animals. He does a GREAT job and I couldn’t have the farm without him, I am very appreciative. When I left on Sunday, all rabbits were behaving normally (eating/drinking on typical patterns). Justus said that he noticed on Thursday, 10/18 that Lavender hadn’t eaten her oats. I arrived home Friday morning, 10/19. I didn’t get around to checking rabbits until the afternoon, and I noticed that Lavender had peed on her resting board. I immediately took her inside and washed her bottom off, removed her resting board, and stuffed her cage with hay. I watched her nibble some hay and eat a tiny amount of feed, so I let her be but continued monitoring her. She was about the same all weekend, but she didn’t seem to be deteriorating so I continued checking on her.

Monday, 10/22, I noticed that her tail/bottom were wet again. She had somehow managed to become re-wet and matted (even without her resting board). I brought her inside, cleaned her again with an epsom salt bath, applied coconut oil to her genitals, anus, and the urine scalded areas, and fed probiotics. I put her in a cage in the garage stuffed with hay, with some feed, oats, and water with ACV. I watched her drink, so I remained hopeful even with the weight she had lost.

Yesterday, 10/23, I came home from work and checked on Lavender. I noticed labored, shallow breathing and it appeared that her back legs were not functioning properly. That is when I made the decision to dispatch. I performed a necropsy and found the following:
– large amount of hair in stomach
– digestive tract mostly empty
– enlarged gallbladder
– loads of internal fat
– pus-filled uterine horns
– all other major organs healthy

I posted to a rabbit necropsy group on Facebook, and through discussion and examination of the photos we came to a conclusion…

Back story: Lavender was a homebred doe from a father-daughter Rain x Powder breeding. She was a lilac doe, so particularly valuable for test breeding bucks in order to determine genetic genotypes (lilacs are all recessives bbdd). She was born February 14, 2018. I had bred her once in August, where she lifted but ended up not kindling. I bred her again once in September and she would have been due October 31.

…we decided that Lavender had aborted one of her failed litters (unsure if it was from the August or September breeding). However, after her abortion, she did not expel the kits, and became septic. Basically, she was rotting from the inside out.

I believe that the peeing on her resting board was a symptom of her sepsis, being so uncomfortable that she could not move to use the bathroom. It was not typical of her to use the bathroom on her resting board to the extent that she had when I found her. I also believe the hair in the stomach to be a symptom, I think she was probably starting to become uncomfortable so she began grooming to try and alleviate discomfort in the early stages. The enlarged gallbladder was likely due to the infection, and the pus in her uterus was the remnants of the unborn kits. I have included photos below for those interested, if you don’t enjoy looking at internal organs, please don’t scroll down.




Uterus intact immediately after opening her up – notice the pus ‘pockets’
Internal organs upon removal (L to R): heart/lungs, digestive tract, stomach, liver & gallbladder, uterus is far right
Internal fat deposit
Close up of enlarged gall bladder (finger for scale)
Stomach contents – mainly hair & bile (ignore the cat she was very curious)
Contents of large intestine (again mainly bile/digestive juices)
Uterus cut open to reveal composition of the pus pockets

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