Cardiomyopathy and Myocardial Fibrosis in Rabbits

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names Myocardial disease

See also:

Disease Agents
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description Commonly found at necropsy of older rabbits. (B601.10.w10, B602.21.w21, J29.10.w1, P3.2000b.w2)
Clinical signs
Pathological findings
  • Cardiac: In two rabbits following repeated ketamine/xylazine anaesthesia, in the ventricular septum and/or left ventricular wall, irregular pale/white streaks. (J495.49.w1)
  • Myocardial fibrosis. (B600.13.w13)
  • In five rabbits given detomidine and ketamine, myocardial necrosis and fibrosis were noted in the intraventricular septum and the left (3/5) ventricular free wall or right (1/5) free ventricular walls. (J495.44.w1)
  • In rabbits following repeated ketamine/xylazine anaesthesia, in four rabbits, "moderate to xtensive myocardial necrosis and fibrosis" and in one rabbit "mild multifocal myofiber hypertrophy with interstitial fibrosis." (J495.49.w1)
Further Information

Dilated cardiomyopathy may be most common; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and restrictive cardiomyopathy also occur. (B601.10.w10)

  • Giant breeds may be more susceptible. (B600.13.w13)
  • Also seen in other breeds, such as Rex and cross-bred rabbits. (V.w127)
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy:
    • Digoxin 0.005 - 0.02 mg/kg orally daily or every other day. (B601.10.w10); 0.003 - 0.03 mg/kg orally every 12-48 hours. (J15.27.w1)
    • Enalapril 0.25 - 0.5 mg/kg orally initially daily, later daily or on alternate days as required. (B601.10.w10)
    • Note: Monitor serum levels of digoxin, and monitor renal function and electrolyte levels. (B601.10.w10)
  • Use alpha2-agonists which have been associated with development of myocardial necrosis and fibrosis (detomidine and xylazine) with care. (V.w127)

To reduce stress and possible catecholamine-induced cardiomyopathy and sudden death in hospitalised rabbits:

  • Keep rabbits away from the sight and smell of predators. (B601.10.w10)
  • Reduce environmental noise. (B601.10.w10)
  • Avoid hurried activity around rabbits. (B601.10.w10)
  • Handle rabbits quietly and gently. (B601.10.w10)
  • Avoid and minimise the use of stressful devices such as Elizabethan collars on rabbits. (B601.10.w10)
  • Provide analgesia when required. (B601.10.w10)
  • Give rabbits familiar bedding in their hospital cage, and if possible also familiar accessories. (B601.10.w10)
  • If a hospitalised rabbit is bonded to a companion, consider hospitalising both individuals together. (B601.10.w10)
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species
Disease Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referees Brigitte Reusch BVet Med (Hons) CertZooMed MRCVS (V.w127)

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