Anyone have any experience with degenerative disk disease in buns?

I have an elderly lop with was recently diagnosed with it. He's on metacam (split dose), but he's still awfully still much of the day. I have Dr. Sherwood's joint supplements on order, though I'm not sure it will help him. I'm also giving injectable adequan a whirl.

Is there anything else I could be doing to make him more comfortable? I'm wondering if he would be a good candidate for gabapentin.


  • snopanda wrote

    Get him a donut bed that gives him more support.Don't try too much all at once.
    Make sure you are working with the best exotic rabbit vet you can find. I have an older bun that now has heart problems, and his medicine is really helping. Plus he has a very young wife that keeps him and is always getting him in trouble. Take care and give him lots of love. Keeping you in our prayers. Sending love from Dibs and Bandit (his young wife).

  • Sara_Hettle_CVT wrote

     I'm so sorry your little guy is dealing with that, certainly painful. I think the joint supplements can help him feel better, they really have helped a lot of bunnies become much more mobile and I am very hopeful they will at least make him feel a little better. I have seen Gabapentin used in dogs, but not in rabbits. I did find this article that discusses some potentially serious side-effects in rabbits and am posting it here in case you want to check it out.

  • david_sherwood wrote

    With degenerative disk disease - one major contributor is a weakening of the muscles that normally hold the spine straight. For example, Humans with poor posture are constantly putting pressure on one side of the 'disk' instead of evenly distributing the pressure. This causes the disk to 'degenerate'. Correcting the posture and strengthening the muscles usually corrects the issues and allows the disk to heal if the disk isn't too degenerated.

    For your bunny that is suffering from it (it can easily become a horrible situation for any one (human or bunny) to suffer from) it is important to pay attention to his posture to make sure he isn't starting to get 'twisted'. This happens because it helps temporarily relieve pain but then it actually makes the problem worse (running from problems is never a good idea!). You'll need to massage his muscles and slowly help him straighten out. Gently feel around the muscles with your fingers and see if you can identify 'knots'. They usually show up when the muscle is being stressed because it is being pulled on improperly. The 'knot' can be worked out but it will continue to show up again because it isn't the actual problem! Rather the source of the problem usually comes from a 'criss-cross' across the other side of the body (muscles somewhere else are too tight causing opposing muscle to work too hard and form knots).
    This massaging and straightening of the body can take some time.... and proper exercise (coupled with massage) can really speed up recovery and make a huge difference in pain reduction. Its a lot more work than medications but the focus is fixing the core problem rather than coping with it.
    Proper nutrition is also key to reducing whole body inflammation and helping with recovery. For rabbits it is really important to cut out excess carbohydrates (no more treats or food with grain and no more greens because they are too sugary for rabbits). Feed only a more mature cut grass hay (1st or 2nd cut) and Sherwood grain-free pellets. The joint tablets will also greatly help to reduce inflammation and help with healing of the cartilage!

  • DianeK1969 wrote

    Another success story, Mocha is doing really well. I'm not sure which one is working, he is on the joint tablets, and I started Adequan injections about the same time. No other pain medications were added. Just like Jophiel, he's had an amazing boost in activity within about a week of starting both protocols. He's eating more, and drinking more and and his poops are beautiful - much bigger, much rounder and gobs of them. He's been in this weird pre-stasis limbo for months, I'm sure it had to do with pain. He's back to exploring his room (which is my office), and much to my surprise, he woke me up with bun-struction today on his cardboard hidey-box. He hasn't taken on any remodeling projects in months... it was joyful to hear! Thank you again!

  • Sara_Hettle_CVT wrote

    Wow, yay!!! What a happy update! You rock Mocha and mom!

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