Parathyroid hormone, haematological and biochemical parameters in relation to dental disease and husbandry in rabbits



During a two-year period between 1995 and 1997, over 80 blood samples were collected from pet rabbits in order to Investigate an apparent osteodystrophy affecting the skulls of rabbits with acquired dental disease. A series of haematological and biochemical analyses relating to calcium metabolism were performed and samples were taken for parathyroid hormone (PTH) assay. The rabbits were categorised according to the condition of their teeth and the manner in which the pets were kept. PTH concentrations were higher and calcium concentrations lower in hutch-kept rabbits with advanced dental disease in comparison with those kept in free-range conditions. No dental problems were detected in the free-range rabbits on radiological or clinical examination. During the course of the study, differences in haematological pictures and albumin values emerged among rabbits kept under the different husbandry regimes. Complete blood counts from free-range rabbits were comparable with laboratory reference ranges, whereas there were significantly lower red cell and lymphocyte counts in rabbits exhibiting advanced dental disease. Serum albumin values were significantly higher in rabbits kept in free-range conditions than in those with advanced dental disease or those unaffected by dental disease but kept in hutches. Rabbits kept in hutches showed trends towards anaemia and lymphopenia. Results indicated that acquired dental disease of pet rabbits is related to husbandry and is associated with alterations in calcium metabolism.