Fatty liver disease is a rabbit disease. But a variety of other animals can be affected by it too, such as cats and dogs. Also known as hepatic lipidosis, the disease sees an excessive amount of fat becoming stored in the cells of the rabbit's liver. These can lead to several symptoms such as jaundice and anorexia. Vomiting is another possibility. Treatment will be partly aimed at alleviating these symptoms. Perhaps with the use of medication targeting a particular symptom. But also a change in diet will have to be introduced as well.
Liver cells normally contain some fat in the form of lipid. But when this appears in abundance it can lead to the impairment of liver function. The reasons why this might happen are not well understood at present, but it is thought that obesity may be part of the answer. The stress that is felt by obese rabbits may also be linked to the problem. The normal functioning of the liver is vital to systems all around the body of the rabbit. One important function is to remove toxins from the blood.
If these toxins start to appear at significant levels in the blood the brain can be affected, amongst other tissues. This can lead to depression in the rabbit. It could also become anorexic. Various excretions may appear such as vomiting and drooling,. The rabbit may also show no appetite. Muscle tissue may be broken down as well, and the animal may become jaundiced. Typically fatty liver disease affects older rabbits and it is potentially a fatal disease, even with treatment.
A medical examination, an account of the symptoms, and the medical history of the rabbit will all be considered in diagnosis. But tests can be performed on any of the excretions of the animal, such as the vomit, urine, and drool, as well as doing a blood test. An x-ray or an ultrasound scan of the abdomen could be helpful to see how the liver is doing. As could sampling the liver cells or doing a biopsy.
Treating fatty liver disease is typically aimed at getting the diet of the rabbit right. Force-feeding may be needed, such as introducing the food by way of a tube. There are various medications that may be prescribed for clearing up the various problems. This could include something to stimulate the appetite of the animal or a drug to suppress vomiting, for example.