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Old 12-28-2010, 07:54 PM   #21
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I hope he's teaching her one other point too. As my wife and I were discussing the vet's concerns with our daughter, we became uncomfortably aware that in 40 or 50 years she might be having a similar conversation with our own cardiologists. "Well, doc, he's had a good life, but he's just not keeping up anymore when we're surfing the North Shore or sparring at taekwondo, and I hate to see him suffer. That catheter costs HOW much?!?"

Pretty bold words for a guy who hasn't even seen the vet bill yet, eh?
Wow Nords. Pets do teach us a lot about life. And death. Thanks for sharing this.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:26 PM   #22
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None of us, including bunnies, get out of here alive. I love my pets but what will these tests tell you about a 100 year-old bunny that is of any value?
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:37 PM   #23
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None of us, including bunnies, get out of here alive. I love my pets but what will these tests tell you about a 100 year-old bunny that is of any value?
Basically, the tests tell you whether the original diagnosis is correct. On two different occasions, I've had tests reveal that a problem in one of my cats which the vet originally thought was probably due to cancer was actually caused by, in one case an infection and in the other an allergic reaction to a medication. For those two cats it made the difference between immediate euthanasia and continuing, with a good quality of life. I'm glad I checked before deciding what to do.
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:49 PM   #24
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I love my pets but what will these tests tell you about a 100 year-old bunny that is of any value?
I guess they'll tell me whether I'm qualified to be a pet owner... and what kind of conscience with which I'm going to have to spend the rest of my life?

I'll be kicking myself if the vet figures out that his heart is fine but he's suddenly become allergic to banana or raisins or green tea or a "different" brand of timothy hay. I think we'll all be a lot happier too.

We've had to do this quality-of-life money math before. When spouse left active duty just shy of 18 years, and just over two years short of her active-duty pension, she gave up roughly $750K of salary and active-duty pension in exchange for a Reserve pension. By that time, after two years of "negotiating" with different assignment officers (and a few other seniors), her attitude was "It's only money". In retrospect it was a great decision.

We'll hopefully know more by next Monday afternoon, although the vet warned us that getting a bunny to sit still for an X-ray is not easy.
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:55 PM   #25
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although the vet warned us that getting a bunny to sit still for an X-ray is not easy.
They anesthetize our cats in order to do that. In any event, best wishes for the bunny.
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:06 PM   #26
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I'm sorry your bunny buddy is sick Nords. You know him better than anyone and will do the right thing I'm sure.
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:41 AM   #27
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A few years ago I had to ask the vet to put my cat to sleep. It was so painful I decided against having another pet - ever. Sorry Nords you may have to face similar decisions at the vet.

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Unfortunately, you'll likely end up having to make the same decision I did with my beloved cat earlier this year. If so, you'll know when the time has come to let him go.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:03 AM   #28
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Ob65, I hope the pain will fade enough that you will find it in your heart to adopt another pet again at some point. What life lessons and companionship they "pay" us is somehow worth the sadness in the end. It never gets easier to lose them, but hopefully the time in between is worth the trouble.
I just brought home a foster pup that is more than half-starved, a nervous wreck, and yet she still clings to me, a stranger, as if I am her best friend in the whole world. Their capacity for love and affection can seem limitless.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:16 AM   #29
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I just brought home a foster pup that is more than half-starved, a nervous wreck, and yet she still clings to me, a stranger, as if I am her best friend in the whole world. Their capacity for love and affection can seem limitless.
Right now, you are her best friend. Having worked with animals who've been abused and neglected, I've also found their capacity for forgiveness to be amazing.
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:44 PM   #30
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Nords,

Sorry to hear you are have problems with your Peter.

My brother (and several close friends) have had the drama of several dogs passing away that they had become strongly attached to.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:25 PM   #31
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Best wishes to all family members of the Nords family
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:57 PM   #32
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Nords,
Sorry to hear you are have problems with your Peter.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:48 AM   #33
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We spent $45 at the vet but we learned a lot and got some reassurance.

Peter is not socialized and tends to be pretty territorial in his ways. He tolerates me and our daughter, and he responds very well to spouse, but any affront to his dignity is quickly greeted with "Fangs of Fury". (We got him from the Humane Society, who picked him up on the streets, but we think he was raised alone in an outdoor hutch by a woman.) At his semiannual vet visits it's always a challenge to dig him out of his cardboard-box burrow behind the couch and get him into the pet carrier. He cuts the vet a bit more slack but she does not put up with bunny misbehavior, so perhaps he can sense that.

When he was on the exam table and she tried to listen to his heart, he was in his usual terrified "OMG it's the VET! FLEE!!!" mode with his pulse racing at 200 bpm and his respiration almost as fast. She cuddled an arm around him and moved her stethoscope all over but couldn't detect any problems out of the background noise. She said "Well, we could do more work with ultrasound and X-rays, but I don't think it's worth the money." (Refreshing diagnosis from a vet!) She offered us a couple weeks' worth of diuretics and said that if it's a heart murmur or early cardiac disease then the coughing would go away within 72 hours.

We're giving him evening doses of 3 mg of Lasix (furosemide) in plain 12mg pills. Each pill is nearly $2, or 50 cents/dose. They're not flavored so they're not yummy. That means I split tiny little pills into quarters that are about 2mm in diameter, stuff one inside a raisin incision, and bribe the bunny. He gobbles it right down, and I think raisins have their own special diuretic effect. He is definitely peeing, but measuring output or checking for dehydration is problematic so we're just keeping an eye on his behavior. This morning he didn't offer to play, which has occasionally happened before, so we'll have to see what tomorrow brings.

The vet immediately observed that he's been licking his hindquarters where his rear hip bones join his pelvis. We missed the significance of this. Bunnies groom themselves with their tongues all day like cats, but in the last year we've noticed that he's been devoting an exceptionally generous ration of saliva to those two areas. His coat gets spiky & matted and needs extra petting from us to smooth it out. She calls it "bilateral licking" and she says that it's a classic sign of trying to stop an irritation by grooming the area. Licking on one side would be an injury or infection or a tumor, but bilateral is a clear sign of pain on both sides. She verified that he has no mites (he's an indoor bunny!) and concluded that he has hip pain caused by arthritis. He lets us pet him there without flinching so it's not too bad, but the pain is enough for him to take notice.

When he gets up from his crouch for a snack or a drink, he stretches & yawns like a cat. He does a downward-dog pose with his front legs that's the envy of any yoga instructor, but when he moves forward and stretches back his rear legs there's a little hitch & tremble to them. His hopping is fine, he can accelerate with any young bunny, and his midair maneuvers are a pleasure to watch. But in the next 6-12 months it's going to get worse. I don't know if glucosamine/chondroiton works as well in bunnies as it does in dogs & horses, and there are painkillers, but doses and side effects are the complications.

Another issue is that they lose the mobility to hike up their little bunny butts off the litterbox before they pee, and the "backsplash" leads to irritation & even infections. The vet was petting Peter as she said this, and she offered to show us what she meant. Before we could react she'd flipped Peter over on his back and was cuddling him in her arms like a baby.

Peter is not affectionate, let alone a lap bunny, and we've never been brave (or foolish) enough to try that maneuver. My daughter and I instinctively threw up our hands, certain that he'd go for the vet's jugular, but he was too surprised to react and didn't exactly have a lot of leverage at that moment. However when she tried to touch his little belly around his urethra, he vigorously expressed a strong opinion about that intimacy. She immediately concluded there was no irritation or infection to the area. She quickly put him back on the table, he declared a diplomatic armistice instead of counter-attacking, and he promptly ignored her by grooming the areas she'd molested. A little later on he "let" her clip his claws toenails.

So not much has changed (aside from the exam trauma), he can take the diuretics indefinitely (especially the fruit-flavored variety), and we think he's worth spending an extra couple hundred bucks a year. When arthritis gets to the point of causing pain/mobility symptoms then we could step up to the joint meds and painkillers, but at that point it might be time to consider his quality of life. This could go downhill in a few months, or he could cope with advancing age for as long as 4-5 more years.

I think we're being treated great by the vet, but has anyone else had any problems or surprises in this area?
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:53 AM   #34
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Thanks for the update, Nords. Sounds like you have a great veterinarian.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:10 PM   #35
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Thanks for the update, Nords. Sounds like you have a great veterinarian.
+1

Your vet appears to have a very good understanding of rabbits. Many vets are practically useless with anything other than cats and dogs. It also sounds like your family and the vet are on the same page as far as how you want to proceed with his treatment.

I think you're doing a great job with Peter. I had to laugh at your description of his behavior during the vet visit. He's a fiesty little son of a gun
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:22 PM   #36
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+1

Your vet appears to have a very good understanding of rabbits. Many vets are practically useless with anything other than cats and dogs. It also sounds like your family and the vet are on the same page as far as how you want to proceed with his treatment.

I think you're doing a great job with Peter. I had to laugh at your description of his behavior during the vet visit. He's a fiesty little son of a gun
+1. An outstanding vet. You are very fortunate. And so is Peter.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:32 PM   #37
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Our cat has gone several years now with severe spinal arthritis. We give her transdermal Tramadol (rubbed into the pinnae part of her ear) for pain. She can no longer jump and she is slow to climb up and down the stairs, but other than that, she still appears to have a good quality of life. If Peter is otherwise fine, it might be worth trying to ameliorate the arthritis with drugs, at least for a while.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:55 PM   #38
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Our dog also has severe spinal arthritis and arthritis in one hip. She uses a ramp now to climb up to the couch. We have to watch that she doesn't over exert herself, which causes her a lot of pain. Otherwise, she does take an anti-inflammatory for flare ups but isn't on painkillers except when things are really bad.
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:03 PM   #39
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I've decided to come back in my next life as either Nords's kid or Nords's pet rabbit. What a great life there in aloha-land.
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:18 PM   #40
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Quite a week for Peter and the Nords family. I'm impressed with his vet. In humans, ACE inhibitors help heart failure quite a bit so it might be worth asking about next visit.

One tip (at least from people experience): pain is not the only kind of distress one can experience; shortness of breath (dyspnea) can be very distressing even if nothing hurts. Though we can't guess at what's on bunny's mind, as you work through how to do what's right down the inevitable road, if he seems noticeably short of breath with even minimal exertion it might be worth considering that as distress comparable to pain in your decisions.

Good luck with this.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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