Heart disease in rabbits is VERY difficult to detect as the symptoms are quite generalised, and it’s often detected only in the late stages of the disease when symptoms may become more apparent.
Life expectancy varies between breeds. Larger breeds such as French Lops and Continental Giants have a shorter lifespan and are classed as senior as early as 3-4 years old. Smaller breeds such as Netherland Dwarf may not be classed as senior until 8!
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Many heart problems in rabbits are due to a diet too rich in fat or a lack of exercise. However, heart disease has also been observed in fit and active rabbits too.
So, how can you tell if your rabbit might have a problem? The more subtle signs might include loss of appetite and a refusal to eat, fatigue and intolerance to exercise. They may have an extended tummy, produce hard and dry faeces or have diarrhoea. Further along, they may develop a nasal discharge a deep cough or snore when they sleep. They may also breath more quickly or mouth breath (breathing with their mouth open).
You can find out more about rabbits and the care they need HERE and if you have any concerns about your rabbit’s health in general, call and book in to speak to a vet.