Administration of drugs:
the conformation of the rabbit body can be misleading...
Esther van Praag Ph.D.
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Breed rabbits have different body shapes, according to their breed. The same is observed in house or pet rabbits. Some rabbits may have a long, slender body that gives them a slim appearance. Others have a short and broad body, which may be confused with obesity. These rabbits are, however, not obese.
It is important to be aware of the different characteristics of breed-rabbit’s bodies, recognize the body shape of a pet rabbit and, when possible, associate it to a possible breed by observing its body type and its fur. If a veterinarian concludes that a rabbit with a short broad body is obese, he may increase the doses of drugs, e.g., of sedatives as these accumulate in the fat tissues, or of anesthetics. As a result, overdoses can lead to grave consequences for the rabbit, and can rarely be deadly. Indeed, too high doses of sedative can leave the rabbit hypothermic and apathetic after the surgical procedure, without appetite and wish to drink over the next 24 hours.
The definition of a rabbit type includes size, weight and general aspect as seen from the side, the front and from the top. This latter parameter includes an examination of all body regions: head, abdomen and limbs. All these parameters put together help define the body type of a rabbit. Six distinct types have been defined based on the various rabbit breeds: the slender type, the cylindrical type, the conical type, the ultra-convex type, le short or stocky and the long slim type. Pet rabbits, whose origins or who had mixed parents may present a mix of body types. It is important to recognize these, and not consider the rabbit as obese.
Long svelte type
This type is characterized by the Belgian hare. The body is slender. The spine line is arched and the curvature continues from the shoulders to the tail. When viewed from the side, there is no sagging of the ventral abdomen. The dorsal line is parallel to the ventral line, giving a spindly appearance to the body. The front limbs are straight and long. Bones are delicate. During palpation, it is possible to feel the ribs and the hips.
Rabbits with a commercial body type have a heavy and strong body, with a well-developed muscular mass. The body is short, hips are wide, but proportions between the length and the width of the body are harmonious. The regions of the body located on the side of the spine are filled and the hips are rounded.
Massive short type
These rabbits have a strong short body. The muscular mass is well developed et strong. The region ranging from the shoulders to the tail (saddle) is strong, thick with strong shoulders. The dorsal line is round. The front part of the body is often more developed than the hind part.
Rabbits that present this type of body are typically slender. Their length and width are, nevertheless sufficient to show the body shape. Their head is elongated and slender. Limbs are long and thin, with fine bones.
Further body types include conical body shape (shoulder region is narrower than the hip region), ultra-convex body shape or long, thin body shape.