Emergency and Critical Care of Rabbits

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Save the date

Save the Date for a R.A.C.E.-approved continuing education webinar

Presenter:  Charly Pignon, DVM, DECZM (Small Mammal)

Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Time: 1 pm EST; What time is that in my time zone?

Registration opens October 23, 2018

Lecture outline

Lecture topics will include:

  • Emergency triage
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Analgesia
    • Opioids
    • Anti-inflammatories
    • Co-analgesics
  • Fluid therapy
    • Deficit correction
    • Rehydration
    • Maintenance
  • Critical care nutrition



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.


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About the presenter

Charly Pignon graduated in 2005 from Alfort National Veterinary School in Maisons-Alfort, France. He then worked at the wildlife rescue center in Alfort and the Paris Zoo (la Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes). In 2009, Charly completed an exotic animal medicine internship at Tufts University and when he returned to France he created the Exotic Medicine Service at Alfort National Veterinary School. Dr. Pignon is a Diplomate of the European College of Zoological Medicine (Small Mammals) and a Board member of Yaboumba, a French association for continuing education in exotic and wild animals. [MORE]



Frequently asked questions

When does registration open?

Registration opens Tuesday, October 23. Check back to this page for the link to the brief registration form at that time.


Will I need special equipment to view and listen to a webinar?

All you need is a computer or similar device with an internet connection (broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE). Provided your computer has speakers (can you listen to music?) you will be able to view and listen to the webinar.

Note: To enter the webinar “room”, you will be prompted to download webinar service software. This software can be downloaded immediately before the webinar or RIGHT NOW to ensure a pleasant experience.

Click here to download today.


What web browsers are recommended?

Recommended browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari5+, and Internet Explorer 7 or greater.


What if I’d like to view the course on a mobile device?

Apps for viewing the webinar are available for Apple devices, Android devices, and Blackberry.


Will I be able to ask questions?

If you attend the live webinar, you will be able to write questions and also see questions submitted by other attendees.

The speaker will answer as many questions as possible during the live session. Questions not addressed during the live session will be answered by email AND posted on this webinar page.

New Feature: It is not unusual for dozens and dozens of questions to be submitted during a LafeberVet webinar, but now questions can be “upvoted”. By selecting the “thumbs up” icon next to a question that has been submitted, upvoting will automatically sort this question higher in the queue.


What happens if I miss the live event?

All LafeberVet webinars are recorded, and the recording will be available for viewing within 3 business days of the live presentation.


Can I get a certificate of attendance?

A post-test will be made available after the live event. A continuing education certificate will be generated for download with a passing score of 70% or higher.


RACE approval

This program was reviewed and approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Continuing Education (R.A.C.E.) program for 1 hour of continuing education in jurisdictions that recognize AAVSB R.A.C.E. approval.

Please contact AAVSB R.A.C.E. program if you have any comments or concerns regarding this program’s validity or relevancy to the veterinary profession.