Electrocardiographic reference values for healthy Netherland Dwarf rabbits and the influence of body position, age and gender

J. M. Chapel, C. Castillo, J. Hernández, M. Cipone, J. L. Benedito


The aim of this study was to provide reference values for a single, popular breed of pet rabbit. Moreover, additional objectives were to determine whether sex, body position or age alter Netherland Dwarf rabbit electrocardiographic variables and whether the use of electrocardiographic filters affects those variables. Forty Netherland Dwarf rabbits were examined clinically and standard six-lead electrocardiograms (ECGs) were recorded in sternal and then dorsal recumbency. At first power-line and anti-drift filters were used and then they were disabled. The following variables were measured in lead II: heart rate; P wave duration and amplitude; P-R interval; QRS duration; R wave amplitude (with and without filters); Q-T interval; T wave duration and amplitude; S-T segment; J-T duration; and mean electrical axis (MEA) (with and without filters). MEA was determined by 3 different methods. After statistical processing of the data, our results showed that there were no significant differences between both recumbencies, with the exception of the J-T duration, which was higher in dorsal recumbency. The R wave amplitude using electrocardiographic filters showed significant differences between males (0.083 mV) and females (0.115 mV; P<0.05); and between younger rabbits (0.108 mV) and older rabbits (0.097 mV; P<0.05). These differences were not shown between R waves with filters disabled. Moreover, the strongest correlation was between 2 MEA methods without filters. MEA was more leftward in the pet rabbit than in other species (dog or cats). In conclusion, electrocardiography recording without electrocardiographic filters should be assessed when it is possible, and the specific ECGs characteristics for Netherland Dwarf rabbit should be taken into account.


electrocardiography; heart; filters; mean electrical axis; rabbit

Full Text:



Bavegems V., Duchateau L., Ham L. Van, Rick A.D., Sys S.U. 2009. Electrocardiographic reference values in whippets. Vet. J., 182: 59-66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2008.05.003

Bidoggia H., Maciel J.P., Capalozza N., Mosca S., Blaksley E.J., Valverde E., Bertran G., Arini P., Biagetti M.O., Quinteiro R.A. 2000. Sex-dependent electrocardiographic pattern of cardiac repolarization. Am. Heart J. 140: 430–436. https://doi.org/10.1067/mhj.2000.108510

Chapel J., Benedito J.L., Hernández J., Pereira V., Domínguez R., Castillo C. 2015. Técnicas de manejo y sujeción del conejo doméstico. Rev. Difusión Vet., 221: 47-54.

Edwards N. 1987. Bolton’s handbook of canine and feline electrocardiography. Second edn. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, USA.

Farkas A., Batey A.J., Coker S.J. 2004. How to measure electrocardiographic QT interval in the anaesthetized rabbit. J. Pharmacol. Tox. Met., 50: 175-185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vascn.2004.05.002

Fraser M., Girling S. 2009. Rabbit medicine and surgery for veterinary nurses. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.

Hamm C., Willems S. 2010. Posiciones del corazón. In: Hamm C., Willems S. (ed) El electrtocardiograma. Su interpretación práctica, 3rd ed. Medica Panamericana, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 21-35.

Hanton G., Rabemampianina Y. 2006. The electrocardiogram of the Beagle dog: reference values and effect of sex, genetic strain, body position and heart rate. Lab. Anim., 40: 123-36. https://doi.org/10.1258/002367706776319088

Harkness J., Turner P. 2010. Biology and medicine of rabbits and rodents. Fifth ed. Blackwell Publishing, Iowa, USA.

Harvey A.M., Faena M., Darke P.G.G., Ferasin L. 2005. Effect of body position on feline electrocardiographic recordings. J. Vet. Intern. Med., 19: 533-536.


Lennox A.M. 2010. Care of the Geriatric Rabbit. Vet. Clin. North Am. - Exot. Anim. Pract., 13: 123-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cvex.2009.09.002

Lieberman J.S., Taylor A., Wright I. 1954. The effect of intravenous trypsin administration on the electrocardiogram of the rabbit. Circulation, 10: 338-342. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.CIR.10.3.338

Lord B., Boswood A., Petrie A. 2010. Electrocardiography of the normal domestic pet rabbit. Vet. Rec., 167: 961-965. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.c3212

Luo S., Johnston P. 2010. A review of electrocardiogram filtering. J. Electrocardiol., 43: 486-496. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jelectrocard.2010.07.007

Malley D. 2007. Safe handling and restraint of pet rabbits. In Pract., 29: 378-386. https://doi.org/10.1136/inpract.29.7.378

Martin M. 2001. ECG en pequeños animales. Una guía introductoria. Inter-Médica S.A.I.C.I, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meral İ., Çinar A., Bayiroğlu F., Aslan S. 1998. Effects of Different Concentrations of Monensin on the Electrocardiogram. Turkish J. Vet. Anim. Sci., 22: 421-426.

Novosel D., Noll G., Lüscher T.F. 1999. Corrected formula for the calculation of the electrical heart axis. Croat. Med. J., 40: 77-79.

Pariaut R. 2009. Cardiovascular physiology and diseases of the

rabbit. Vet. Clin. North Am. - Exot. Anim. Pract., 12: 135-144.


Rishniw M., Porciello F., Erb H.N., Fruganti G. 2002. Effect of body position on the 6-lead ECG of dogs. J. Vet. Intern. Med., 16: 69-73. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2002.tb01608.x

Saitanov A.O. 1960. The electrocardiogram of healthy rabbits in standard and chest leads and methods of recording it. Bull. Exp. Biol. Med., 49: 620-626. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00782120

Schrope D., Fox P., Hahn A., Bond B., Rosenthal S. 1995. Effects of electrocardiograph frequency filters on P-QRS-T amplitudes of the feline electrocardiogram. Am. J. Vet. Res. 11: 1534-1540.

Szabuniewicz M., Hightower D., Kyzar J.R. 1971. The Electrocardiogram, Vectorcardiogram and Spatiocardiogram in the Rabbit. Can. J. Comp. Med., 35: 107–114.

Tilley L. 1985. Essentials of canine and feline electrocardiography. Second ed. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, USA.

Turner Giannico A., Ayres Garcia D.A., Lima L., de Lara F.A., Corona Ponczek C.A., Shaw G.C., Montiani-Ferreira F., Rodrigues Froes T. 2015. Determination of normal echocardiographic, electrocardiographic, and radiographic cardiac parameters in the conscious New Zealand White Rabbit. J. Exot. Pet Med., 24: 223-234. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.jepm.2015.04.013

Varga M. 2014. Textbook of rabbit medicine. Second edn. Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier, London, UK.

Ward M.L. 2006. Physical examination and clinical techniques. In: Meredith A., Flecknell P. (ed) Manual of Rabbit Medicine and Surgery, 2nd ed. British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), Gloucester, UK, 18-36.

Abstract Views

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


Cited-By (articles included in Crossref)

This journal is a Crossref Cited-by Linking member. This list shows the references that citing the article automatically, if there are. For more information about the system please visit Crossref site

1. Electrocardiographic features of right bundle branch block in Netherland dwarf rabbits
J. M. Chapel, G. Romito, C. Castillo, N. G. Pelle, J. L. Benedito
Journal of Small Animal Practice  vol: 61  issue: 6  first page: 390  year: 2020  
doi: 10.1111/jsap.13140

 Universitat Politècnica de València

Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)

e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011  https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs