Pignon Webinar Abstract

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The presenter, Charly Pignon, is getting ready to welcome you to this live interactive continuing education event

The webinar will begin at 1 pm EST (New York)

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Abstract

Intensive care in rabbits requires a thorough knowledge of rabbit anatomy and physiology along with an understanding of basic clinical procedures. Although there is extensive data available on the laboratory rabbit, studies focusing on companion rabbits in an intensive care setting are needed to optimize prognosis and improve quality of care.

When a rabbit is presented on an emergency basis, the first step is triage. As in other species, first observe the rabbit in his carrier and pay particular attention to the animal’s breathing, position, and the level of awareness. If the animal is in respiratory distress or not breathing at all, if the animal is not responding to manipulation, then the rabbit requires immediate stabilization or a resuscitation protocol should be initiated. In other cases, as rabbits hide clinical signs, a precise history should be obtained and a thorough physical examination should be performed.

In cardiopulmonary arrest, mechanical cardiac activity halts leading to hemodynamic collapse. As this is an absolute emergency, the clinic staff must to be prepared. As has been described in carnivores, the “ABCDEFG” sequence can be used, but is adapted to the anatomical and physiological particularities of rabbits.

As rabbits are very sensitive to pain and its consequences can be deadly, one of the first treatments to give to rabbit are painkillers. The analgesic potency of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is often insufficient and some of their side effects can be dangerous for in the debilitated patient. Opioids, such as buprenorphine, morphine, or fentanyl, can be safely used in most cases. More and more data are also available on co-analgesics like alpha-2 agonists, dissociative agents, and local anesthetics, which could be very interesting to use in critical care.

In many critical cases, clinical signs are often secondary to dehydration or alterations of the electrolytes equilibrium. Fluid therapy should be performed in three steps: deficit correction (hypertonic bolus in order to reach 90 mmHg of arterial blood pressure), rehydration (using isotonic crystalloids to reach normal hydration status), and maintenance (to cover the loss of fluid, electrolytes, and energy in a normally hydrated animal) with electrolytes supplementation as needed.