Thumper is one of Anna & Murray’s bunnies. He is a Dwarf Lop bunny that lives with his bossy sister, Lettice. They have a pretty good life – they spend most of their time in a hutch and a run but for a few days each week they have the run of the back yard and most of the vege garden! They have made an extensive burrow under the shed where they can shelter from the elements & us!
Last week, their daughter Olivia noticed that Thumper had a head tilt so caught him and brought him inside for us to check.
Head tilts are not good in rabbits. They are caused by a disturbance to their balance control in their brain, inner or middle ear. It is difficult to be certain where the problem is on clinical examination alone. So Thumper was taken to work and quite rapidly he deteriorated and was unable to stand. Blood tests were taken and he was started on a number of medications & xrays of his skull failed to show any signs of trauma or involvement of his middle ear. Thumper’s condition continued to deteriorate over the next few days despite intensive medical treatment and supportive care – he remained on his side unable to stand.
Balance issues in rabbits are common – they are also very frustrating to manage. To accurately treat these rabbits we need to know where the problem is – ie brain or inner ear and then that can help us know the cause ie bacteria infection versus a protozoan infection Encephalitozoon cuniculi.
So after 5 days of subcutaneous fluid administration, continued force feeding of Critical Care & medicating with antibiotics, pain relief, anti protozoan medication and medication to prevent gut stasis, Thumper was still not good and continued to be on his side unable to stand. We questioned his quality of life and his prognosis and decided it was time for a CT scan so we could make an educated, rather than emotion decision on what to do next……
You can imagine their delight after 5 days of intensive care Thumper sat up! He had a head tilt for a number of day but he continued to improved and really to a dislike to being force fed! He now is back living outside with Lettice – this was a gradual process – he would go outside for the day and come back inside at night until Anna & Murray were confident that he could get up and down the ramp in his hutch. He has been out and about in the backyard running through the grass and having a wonderful time – which made his whole family very emotional as they did not feel confident he would recover so well. Yeah!
If you want to read more about head tilts in Rabbit have a look here.