Rabbits pose several challenges both as pets and patients related to the fact that they, perhaps more than any other commonly treated species, are a prey animal. This means they have behaviour patterns that makes it difficult for owners to recognise signs of distress in the home environment until matters have progressed so far that the animal doesn’t care if its vulnerability is recognised. In the veterinary clinic environment, it also means that recognition of pain and discomfort presents far more challenges.
In terms of treating these animals once pain is recognised, its causes and sequelae both need to be considered: rabbits are often more compromised than other, more familiar, species, meaning that the adverse effects of any drug administered may be magnified. Vets and nurses are in an ideal position to be able to assess both, pain levels and the success of treatments in these patients. This lecture will evaluate the methods of pain recognition, and address the methods of providing pain relief that are accessible to veterinary surgeons today.