is a 3 year old female and lives most of her time inside
a house she shares with her human companions. She enjoys
romps in the back yard, especially getting into the
flower garden and nibbling on the many varieties of
flowers growing there.
has had no health problems in her past, according to
Sharie, her primary caretaker who is — again,
according to Sharie — the one family member Poochie
you guess what type of creature Poochie might be? Would
it help if her name was Thumper or Harvey or Bugs Bunny?
That’s right, Poochie is a member of the lagomorph
group of mammals, specifically a rabbit.
is concerned about Poochie, and rightfully so, as the
rabbit has developed a swelling or mass on the left side
of her face toward the neck. Sharie says the area is
fairly firm to the touch and Poochie acts as if there is
pain when that touch occurs.
can hear all you loyal readers now, in unison, saying
that Poochie needs a veterinary visit and I could not
agree more. There is little doubt in my mind that
Poochie’s problem is not going to resolve itself and
frankly, depending on the cause, it may be difficult to
bring about resolution even with appropriate veterinary
couple of potential causes spring to mind from reading
Sharie’s description of Poochie’s facial swelling.
Both of them involve abscesses, but each is from a
different underlying disease process.
on the face of rabbits, more specifically along the jaw
line, can result from dental disease. Yes, rabbits get
dental disease, too. When molars in the mouth of a
rabbit are compromised by bacteria infecting the area
where the tooth or teeth attach to the bone, an abscess
or pus pocket can develop. Left unchecked, these
abscesses bulge out the side of the face with increasing
volumes of pus. These infections, as one might imagine,
are very uncomfortable and can lead to a decrease in
appetite, which in turn can progress to death. From
Sharie’s description, I am not able to pinpoint the
location of Poochie’s "mass" but it
certainly could be an abscess.
possibility causing Poochie’s problem, assuming it is
an abscess, is infection within the middle or inner ear
that causes an abscess to rupture out under the skin on
the side of the face. These usually start from a
bacteria getting into the middle ear through the
Eustachian tube. This tube runs from the throat to the
ear to allow for equalizing air pressure on both sides
of the ear drum.
of these two causes for an abscess on the side of a
rabbit’s face can be treatable but the treatments are
involved and sometimes difficult, with resolution at
times being elusive. The first step is a diagnosis to
determine what might be the underlying cause. This then
allows us to tailor the treatment protocol
are other possibilities causing Poochie’s facial
swelling. Though far less common, there can be tumors
that arise from areas on the face from underlying
tissue. A thorough evaluation and appropriate
diagnostics will give us the answer.
Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be
submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto
Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.