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Companion Animal Practice
Common neurological and musculoskeletal problems in rabbits
  1. Emma Keeble

    Emma Keeble graduated from Bristol in 1994. After a period in mixed practice, she undertook an internship in wildlife medicine at the RSPCA wildlife hospital in Taunton. She subsequently moved to Edinburgh, where she is deputy head of the exotic animal service, and lectures in exotic animal and wildlife medicine. She is also a veterinary surgeon for Edinburgh Zoo. She holds the RCVS certificate in zoological medicine.


NEUROLOGICAL and musculoskeletal disease is often encountered in pet rabbits, with head tilt and hindlimb paresis/paralysis being the most common clinical presentations. Arthritis is also a frequent finding in older animals. The principal causes of neurological disease in rabbits include bacterial infections, such as pasteurellosis, encephalitozoonosis, trauma and toxaemia. Accurate case assessment and diagnosis of neurological and musculoskeletal problems in this species can be a challenge for the veterinary surgeon in practice. However, with the increased availability of advanced diagnostic imaging techniques, such as computed tomography, obtaining a final diagnosis is a realistic goal. This article discusses the diagnostic procedures that can be used to investigate neurological and musculoskeletal problems in rabbits, and outlines the causes and management options for the most common conditions seen.

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