Rabbits, much like humans, suffer from renal failure. This causes them to produce less urine and is infrequently due to cases of dehydration. There are two forms of renal failure: acute or chronic. Acute renal failure may occur suddenly because of an accumulation of toxins in the kidney(s), or as a result of an electrolyte imbalance. Chronic renal failure, on the other hand, progresses slowly in rabbits, sometimes over the course of several months.
- Inability to eat
- Lack of stool or inability to produce stool
- Heart complications (often in acute renal failure cases)
- Painful or tender kidneys (when palpitated)
The causes of chronic and acute renal failure in rabbits vary; acute renal failure (or ARF) may arise from shock, trauma, extreme stress, stroke, heart failure and blood infection.
Meanwhile, a urinary tract obstruction or a urinary tract infection which has spread to the pelvis can bring on either the chronic or acute form of renal failure in rabbits. Aging and diabetes are some other common causes for the condition.
To diagnose renal failure, a veterinarian will first want to rule out some other potential causes for the rabbit's symptoms, including lymphoma, abscesses, or other types of kidney infections. And although it is rare, cysts in the kidneys can also cause the symptoms listed above.
Laboratory tests on the rabbit may reveal high levels of electrolytes, including potassium or nutrients such as calcium. This may suggest the animal's kidneys are not properly excreting these substances. X-rays, CT scans or ultrasounds may also be performed on the rabbit to reveal potential kidney or bladder stones in the bladder, a common source of pain.