Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pregnancy toxemia.

from rabbitgeek notes: March 2006
>Lorena Ferchaud was talking with me this weekend and she says it was
ketosis, the doe couldn't keep her electrolyte levels up.  She had the
same last year when her does were keeling over left and right. I'm
going to buy some vitamin/electrolyte powder to mix in the water as a
preventative now.
  Ketosis or pregnancy toxemia, I asked Franco if his rabbit just dumped her litter in a great glob, he said she did, then I knew exactly what had happened. It actually isn't an electrolyte (a solid that dissolves in water and can carry a charge) but her  glucose levels. I offer all pregnant does now hay and an electrolyte/vitamin solution (the kind marketed for calves, not people) during the last few days of their pregnancy to keep them eating. Going off feed late in pregnancy should never be chalked up to being pregnant and not feeling like eating.
    As Franco said,  this is what happened to me, I lost an untold # of  does and their litters, either born in the glob and then losing the doe, or the doe dieing with the litter still in her.  I am pasting a past report (below) I wrote for the Rhinelander Domestic Rabbits column that gives a bit of insight how this happens. I think it was 2004 or 5?
I have lost 5 does this breeding season due to Pregnancy Toxemia or Ketosis. I have heard of 1 doe in Oregon also being lost to this deadly and fast acting illness. Symptoms include loss of appetite,  lethargy, and either an aborted litter with the doe dying a day or two after, or the doe dying with the litter still in utero. My does have died both ways.
A doe’s body converts her food to glucose, which is carried by her bloodstream to her liver and other body cells.  The cells use all they need at that moment, and the excess is stored in the liver and the muscles as glycogen. Excess glucose (food) is stored as fat.
When a doe stops eating, her body begins to  run out of fuel for her and her kits survival, so her body starts to retrieve it’s stored glycogen for energy use. First, it takes all of the glycogen out of the liver stores, and if not replenished, it starts to take it from the muscles.  At this point, with no new food  being consumed to replace the glucose stores, the doe has depleted all the reserves in her body. In an effort to save the does life, her body will abort the litter, or if too advanced, she will die, taking the litter with her.
In humans, the liver can become depleted of glycogen within 4-6 hours, I am not sure what the time is in rabbits, but you can see how death in a rabbit can occur so rapidly within a few hours to a day.
In articles I have read about this in all cases they say it is caused by the does being too fat. In my case none of the does were overweight, but they were pregnant with litters of 10-12. I  noticed the eating slowdown a day or two prior to their deaths, but chalked it up to  being pregnant and uncomfortable. Now, I watch each pregnant doe very closely, provide a crock with electrolyte/vitamin water, I find they drink more out of a crock than the autos, in addition it is a novelty and something to be investigated. I provide quite a bit of oat hay,  parsley, and oak leaves, anything to keep them eating. Even with these precautions, I lost a brood doe this week, a very small 7 lb doe with an extremely large litter, but she had averaged 10 in each of her previous 3 litters. She had not had any trouble in the past.  She died within 6 hours of my noticing she had stopped eating.

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