Cardiovascular disease

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Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, is not unheard of in rabbits. Most cardiac diseases in rabbits relate to infectious, toxin-induced, or diet-related diseases. Unfortunately, heart disease often goes unnoticed until it is fairly advanced (see congestive heart failure below for more information).[1]:400

Some examples of heart disease in rabbits include congenital abnormalities such as ventricular septal defects and age-related cardiac problems such as valvular disease.[1]:400

Most cardiac disease is diagnosed in pet rabbits over the age of four years, and the larger breeds such as New Zealand whites and French lops are over-represented.[1]:401

Zooh Corner Rabbit Rescue. (2014). Common Rabbit Diseases & Illnesses - Heart Disease


Symptoms of cardiovascular disease in rabbits include the following:[1]:400

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (also referred to as “CHF”) is the end stage of many cardiac conditions. At this stage, the heart fails to properly pump and circulate blood throughout the body. Because of this, blood (also referred to as “fluid”) may pool within the lungs (pulmonary edema), around the lungs and chest (pleural effusion), within the abdomen (ascites), the liver may become abnormally enlarged (hepatomegaly), or all of these things may occur simultaneously.[1][2]

Treatment aims to support cardiac function in order to shift abnormal fluid accumulation(s) in the body appropriately. In early stages of congestive heart failure, providing oxygen support can be life-saving for the rabbit. Various medications can also aid in treatment of heart failure. Nevertheless, it is important to note that congestive heart failure is a chronic and dynamic condition that eventually will outrun attempted treatment.[1][2]


Further reading