Hi, this is my first post, although I have lurked for a while. I'd like some advice, or maybe encouragement, about my rabbit, Artemis, and his ongoing and worsening health problems. Perhaps most importantly I am looking for advise about his emotional health. He is eight and a half years old, and currently suffering from a tooth infection and possible jaw abscess. More recently he has also redeveloped bladder stones, probably due to his currently poor diet. He is refusing to eat anything except for pellets. We have been force feeding him critical care.
I'll try to keep this short, but his health issues are quite a saga. If you'd like to skip over his history, my real questions are at the end. He has had teeth problems throughout his life, with occasional need for trims, minor infections, root elongation, and a number of tooth removals, He has no whole teeth (although he has some deep fragments) left on his lower left jaw, and his upper teeth on his left side are dark colored, possibly dead, but still intact. Several years ago he also developed urinary problems, starting with a set of stones we had surgically removed, then several episodes of sludge. During this time we transitioned him to a low calcium diet, with limited pellets, which i know is not the best for teeth problems, but at that point the bladder problems were more severe than the his teeth.
When the stones came back again, we opted to try shrinking them instead of putting him through another surgery. Sodium citrate did the trick, and since that point he has been on a maintenance dose of sodium citrate every other day to keep his urine ph up. It had worked perfectly until he started refusing all greens and hay. He also had an episode of extreme, acute, undiagnosed liver failure a year or so ago that almost killed him, but he has recently fully recovered from that in the sense that his liver values are now completely normal.
So, over the summer, Artemis's teeth problems came back with a vengeance.Since then he has been on pen-g and baytril, and had a number of dental procedures done. During one of those procedures he had a hard time with the anesthetic, taking several days to fully wake up after we brought him home, so now he gets fluids and extra care while he is under. He seems to improve for a time, and then the infection comes back even stronger. A few weeks ago he had a regrown tooth and his lower left incisor removed, and a CT scan done, which showed a multichambered abscess around his lower left jaw, with bone remodeling. We scheduled him for a marsupialization surgery for his abscess for October 31st.
Once they masked him down and intubated him, things started to go wrong. The tube slipped into his esophagus and started filling his gut with gas. They did an x-ray, and removed the gas with a needle. His abscess surgery was cancelled and we brought him home. The vet who saw him that day was not one of his regular vets (this is a large vet hospital with several rotating exotics vets) and wasn't familair with his history. He said that he could not feel the abscess through palpation, and said that it was likely resolving due to the antibiotics. During his previous visit one of his regular vets, in consultation with a dentist, made it sound like marsupializing it was the only option, so we are pretty confused. We have a call in to the head exotics vet there to talk about it, but haven't heard from him yet.
Artie is so frustrated, so tired... he seems like he is starting to feel really bad, and i am worried that he is starting to give up. We've been injecting him, and shoving medicines in his mouth for months, and he is just getting worse. He still wants pets, still has an appetite, even though he can't really eat, but he obviously just feels really bad. He is used to getting sick, and us helping him get better, and he is really good about medicines, but this is starting to really drag on. Every time we go into his room now he obviously is worried we have come to stab him with a needle.
Any ideas for making medicine time easier? He gets a banana treat afterwards, but he is really anxious when he knows the time is approaching.
Any ideas for his emotional health through all this?
Any ideas for keeping him comfortable, or helping him eat? We've tried really soft baby lettuce, shredding greens, critical care in a dish, nothing has worked.He is on metacam, so his pain is at least tempered by that.
I'm really worried that if he doesn't start to have a more positive experience we are going to loose him, even if the infection doesn't get worse.
Thank you for reading through my novel. I really appreciate any advice you may have. Artemis is very special, and very loved.