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The value of clinical pathology in pet rabbit medicine
  1. Anna Meredith, MA, VetMB, PhD, CertLAS, DZooMed, DipECZM, MRCVS
  1. Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK
  1. e-mail: anna.meredith{at}

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AS rabbits become a more mainstream companion animal and are no longer considered merely a children's or ‘exotic’ pet, rabbit medicine is at last beginning to catch up with other areas of small animal veterinary practice. Rabbits now make up a significant part of many practice's caseload and clinical income, with owners expecting a high standard of veterinary care and diagnostic investigations for their pet. And yet, I suspect that in general practice the clinical pathology of this species is generally investigated and used to inform therapy less frequently than for canine and feline patients. The reasons for this may include financial constraints, but also unfamiliarity with sampling techniques and, perhaps more importantly, with interpretation of results and how best to act on them. As someone who delivers a large amount of continuing professional development in the field of rabbit medicine, I am still surprised by the number of practitioners I encounter who have never taken a blood sample from a rabbit, would not usually offer this as a diagnostic option, and would not feel comfortable interpreting the results of such tests. Yet, as for any other species, blood analysis can provide an invaluable insight into the health of rabbit patients and inform our therapeutic and prognostic decisions. This is perhaps all the more clinically relevant to rabbits as, being prey species, the signs and severity of disease can be well hidden and they are often presented in a critical state. It is somewhat ironic that, as a laboratory animal, the normal physiology and clinical pathology of the rabbit is …

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