Does Your Rabbit Have
Pasteurella, or just a cold?
If you don't know the answer, your vet should be able to tell you right away which is the likely culprit.
Over and over, I'm explaining to people why you can't just take your rabbit to just any veterinarian. In a sentence (the title of this little article, above), I've summed it up. If your veterinarian doesn't know what e. cuniculi or pasteurella are, and why they're so deadly to rabbits, and the latest treatments for them, then you shouldn't be going to that vet with your rabbit. You might as well just throw your money out the window. You don't take a Saab or an Audi to your local Shell station for repair do you? (If you had one, that is, I don't either but in a parallell universe, I'm wealthy and have great cars.) Well you have to take that Rabbit to an imported car specialist, too. The point I'm trying to make is, your rabbit veterinarian has to have had special training to treat rabbits.
I remember my very first adopter calling me to 'blame' me for his newly adopted rabbit having developed a jaw abscess. A jaw abscess is a terrible thing, but it is also not a predictable thing. There was no way I could have known that poor little rabbit would have developed an abscess. She needed immediate surgery and her prognosis would have been good. But the adopter, who could have easily afforded the treatment, refused to take the little bunny to a real rabbit vet even when I offered to pay for it! He said, "I'm comfortable with Dr. (Blah blah blah dum dum)." That is no qualification! He also relayed to me, "Dr. (Dum Dum) said it is major surgery and even minor surgery is very risky for rabbits and she doesn't feel comfortable doing it."
I shot him down immediately, "But Fluffy has already had major surgery! She's been spayed! And she recovered just fine!" Yea, Dr. So-and-So, that's pretty major surgery and if you don't feel comfortable doing elective surgery on rabbits, then you should refer your client to someone who does, or to a group like the rabbit rescue who pays for more surgeries on rabbits than you'll ever hope to perform on them, for a referral.
Remember, any vet will gladly take your money and break up their day from seeing cats and dogs, but if they're a responsible vet, they'll tell you the extent of their experience with exotics and whether they are really qualified to help a sick rabbit. Ask them, 'do you think it's e. cuniculi, pasteurella, or just a cold' and if they look taken aback, go somewhere else.
In conclusion, your rabbit's ace in the (rabbit) hole is going to be you carefully choosing a vet for them and trying to stay on top of rabbit medicine yourself as your vet. For more in-depth information on this topic, see my article, Selecting A Qualified House Rabbit Veterinarian. And I highly recommend the book Rabbit Health in the 21st Century by Kathy Smith.
-Thumper S. Thompson