Cancer in rabbits
Cancer: a malignant growth or tumor
*Small Bloody discharge or Blood in the Urine
*Small Lump around the genital areas
*Unusual lumps or bumps anywhere on the body (this could also be an absess)
*Not Spaying or Neutering your bunny
Although rabbits develop other cancers such as lymphoma and lung cancer, uterine, ovarian, and mammary cancers in female rabbits and testicular cancer in males are quite common in rabbits that have not been spayed or neutered.
A rabbit lives to approximately 8 to 12 years of age, but in an un-spayed female at 6 years old, the probability of uterine cancer is 50% and 85% for ovarian and mammary cancer according to the National House Rabbit Society. At the rabbit rescue, we have had two females where cancer started as a small lump and spread upward and outward along the mammary glands.
If your rabbit's urine is red or pink in color (not orange or yellow), you should make an appointment with your rabbit veterinarian to have their urine tested for blood.
Rabbits do tend to get other "growths" under their skin that are not cancer. They could be abscesses or non-cancer tumors.
These cancers can spread to the lungs as well causing labored breathing. However, if your bunny raises his or her head to breath and has labored breathing, it is not always a sign of lung cancer as rabbits are prone to upper respiratory problems if they have been in drafts or dusty areas. If your bunny does exhibit signs of labored breathing, have your rabbit veterinarian run tests and/or take X-rays to diagnose the problem.
Unfortunately, chemotherapy treatments have been designed for dogs and cats but not for rabbits. The toxic drugs could cause more pain and suffering than the cancer itself. If the cancer is detected early enough, it can be surgically removed. If your bunny has cancer that can not be surgically removed, the best thing you can do for him/her is:
* Provide regular pain treatment such as metacam (it is sometimes also mixed with tramadol but check with your vet)
* Keep them well hydrated
* Supplement their food with strong B-Complex Vitamins and maybe even antibiotics as the cancer will weaken their immune system.
Donít let your veterinarian convince you that the best thing you can do is euthanize your bunny. With decent pain medicines, your bunny can still enjoy life to some extent. Your bunny will know when it is time to go, just be with him or her, love them, cuddle them, and give them everything they love to make their remaining time with you happy.
Duchess at the rabbit rescue had advanced mammary cancer. She continued to be very active and happy for 22 months after the cancer was detected.
Of course, the best action is prevention when dealing with cancer in the reproductive parts. Spaying or neutering your rabbit could greatly reduce the risk of them ever having to deal with cancer.