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Choking

This image shows the oral cavity of a rabbit that was presented salivating and dyspnoeic. There was a loud respiratory noise. He had a history of dental disease and most of the crowns in his teeth were missing.  The symptoms suggested a laryngeal foreign body so the rabbit was anaesthetised and a piece of hay that was lodged in his larynx was removed. There was significant sublingual oedema that subsided. The rabbit recovered from this incident but only because the owner presented the rabbit promptly.

Pieces of hay or lumps of food can become lodged in a rabbit’s larynx or pharynx so they choke. This is more frequent in rabbits with advanced dental disease with teeth that cannot reduce food into small pieces before it is swallowed. Rabbits seem incapable of coughing or ‘clearing their throat’.  The image shows  the oral cavity of a rabbit that survived a laryngeal foreign body but he would have died without prompt treatment and could have been a case of sudden or unexpected death. The trachea and oesophagus and pharynx can be examined easily during post-mortem examination