Rabbits that remain indoors may perhaps suffer from a lack of vitamin D, researchers report in a new study. In rabbits kept as pets or used in laboratory studies, the deficiency could lead to dental difficulties, undermine their cardiovascular overall health, weaken their immune systems and skew scientific findings.
The study discovered that typical exposure to artificial ultraviolet B light for two weeks doubled rabbits' serum vitamin D levels – an improve not seen in animals raised in artificial light lacking UVB radiation. Future studies will seek to ascertain optimal levels of UVB exposure and vitamin D levels in rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and other animals.
A report of the study appears in the American Journal of Veterinary Research.
"We know that vitamin D is vital to vertebrates in that it assists with calcium absorption, but it also has been shown to advantage cardiovascular health and immune function," stated Mark Mitchell, a University of Illinois veterinary clinical medicine professor, who led the investigation. "We know of quite a few forms of diseases that can develop with vitamin D deficiency. Some of the chronic issues we see are tooth-associated."
Other researchers have proposed that low vitamin D plays a role in dental disease in pet rabbits, Mitchell stated.
"We are performing tooth trims and managing dental illness in rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs on a common basis," Mitchell stated. "Weekly, we see these types of situations in our zoo medicine clinical service. It is some thing that also is seen across the nation and internationally. It really is a widespread challenge."
Most laboratory animals and a lot of pet rabbits are not permitted outdoors because of the dangers of exposure to predators, parasites and disease, Mitchell said. Windows block most UVB radiation. If the animals never get enough vitamin D from their eating plan and are by no means exposed to ultraviolet light, they may well develop into deficient, he said.
"As a clinician, I want to superior manage these animals, give them a longer, greater top quality of life," Mitchell mentioned.
Vitamin D deficiency also could undermine the validity of research using rabbits in study to strengthen animal and human health, he stated.
"In human medicine, they're beginning to measure vitamin D levels as part of our routine healthcare exams," he mentioned. "But if we're not carrying out this with animals that we're employing in analysis, we could possibly be missing a step."
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