The rabbit’s head bowed: why and what to do? – Rabbit

The origin of the thrown back head in the dwarf rabbit is mainly bacterial or parasitic infections (encephalithozoonoses). As a result, the vestibular syndrome leads to a sideways turning of the head, as well as very impressive imbalances.

When you get up one morning, you notice that your dwarf rabbit’s head is tilted to one side: he is probably suffering from vestibular syndrome. This symptom, sometimes associated with a fall, spectacular, but often with our little friends.

Indeed, this damage to the inner ear or vestibular nuclei (area of ​​the brain) nervous pathology most common in rabbits. Care and early treatment is essential to ensure your little companion’s recovery.

Rabbit Vestibular Syndrome: head tilt and loss of balance

When the rabbit’s head tilts to the side, this is sometimes called torticollis. However, this term is incorrect because it is not a muscle attack, but rather a neurological one. This is auditory system the depth of the animal being touched.

The ear consists of an outer part and an inner part; in rabbits, the outer part includes a large pavilion (this is its whole charm), the ear canal and the tympanic membrane. In addition, it is aboutinner ear. The latter is connected to the brain through vestibular nerve. This area responsible for our balance. When it is damaged, specific symptoms appear; We are talking about vestibular syndrome.

In the case of a dwarf rabbit, these symptoms are:

  • BUT head tiltedeven folded to the side
  • From loss of balance leads to a fall on the affected side
  • From buns : the rabbit makes one or even several turns on itself
  • From jerky eye movements or nystagmus

These symptoms are often very impressive, especially if they come on suddenly in an animal in good health.

Causes of Head Tilt in Dwarf Rabbits

The causes of vestibular syndrome in rabbits are varied. However, there are two main ones:

  • Bacterial otitis media

This is a lesion caused by microbes (often Pasteurella multocida). The diagnosis is not easy because there is no flow through the ear canal. Sometimes with a large abscess, you can see a bump at the base of the ear.

The veterinarian often uses scan visualize otitis media. This examination can be carried out in some veterinary hospitals. It requires general anesthesia.

Medical treatment of otitis media includes antibioticsbut he often disappointing. BUT operation you can try. It consists of open and treat infected eardrum bulbs (bones of the inner ear). During this intervention the rabbit’s hearing is preserved.

It should be noted that lamb rabbits are prone to otitis due to the structure of their ears.

This is about parasitic infection due to microsporidia: Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

Rabbits become infected through feces, air, or contaminated food. many animals chronic parasite carriersthat is, they hide it in your body without getting sick. When stressed or overtired, the Encephalitozoon can “wake up”. It then runs the risk of hurting the inner ear, causing vestibular syndrome, as well as the eyes, kidneys, or lungs.

Diagnosis goes through blood test search for antibodies against the parasite. Treatment based on pest control (fenbendazole) should be taken for at least 1 month.

Other rarer causes can cause vestibular syndrome in pygmy rabbits. This is the case meningitis or more Stroke (Stroke). BUT fall on the skull should also be investigated, especially when young children must handle a rabbit.

What to do if the rabbit’s head is tilted?

Of course it will take go to the vet so that he can make a diagnosis and prescribe a specific treatment. At the same time, it is important protect your little rabbit’s environment so that he does not get hurt by falling or turning. Pay special attention to the fractures of the incisors when his head hits the ground. It is best to leave it in a cage with thick bedding and remove unnecessary accessories.

If he can’t feed himself, you can give him some orange juice from a syringe. And especially, put his cage in a quiet place, in the dark if possibleso as not to provoke a ball rolling crisis due to stress.

Many rabbits with bowed heads recover in a few days with appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, neurological consequences persist in some, such as a slightly tilted head to the side.

Isabelle Viksage
veterinarian

See also: Should dwarf rabbits be vaccinated?

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