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Rabbits/Head Tilt = Stumped vets


My 10 year old female un-spayed Netherland Dwarf rabbit presented with a head tilt and nystagmus suddenly about 1 month ago. I took her to the vet immediately and she was given Baytril. After 2 weeks on the Baytril and no improvement we started a course of Zenequin and Fenbendazole. She also takes Metacam. She has not improved and is now rolling constantly. She can only eat critical care that is syringe fed as well as take water through a syringe. She cannot stand up to drink water or eat on her own without crashing into her food. I got a second opinion from another vet who thought it was a severe inner ear infection that had caused an abscess. She had a CT scan yesterday that showed she had no abscess, no infection, no brain tumour. She blood test showed that her kidneys, liver and heart are all fine. The vet thinks it might be multiple mini strokes or a severe fast acting form of E. Cuniculi that the vets there have never seen before (this is at the largest and most well-regarded small animal clinic is Ontario, Canada). I'm wondering if you know of a course of treatment that is helpful in cases on EC, as she does not appear to be responding to the fenbendazole. My vet thinks we should continue treatment as is. I'm looking for a second (or now third) opinion as i don't think my rabbit will make it on the current meds.

Thank you,

Hello Diana!

I'm so sorry to hear your bun is having some health issues. First things first, make sure you rule out everything before EC because the symptoms are also similar to spinal trauma, a listeria infection, a toxoplasma infection, dental issues, and lead toxicity. Did the blood test confirm the EC - I can't really tell from your info here. If not, they can also do a urine test to confirm, but I'd want one or the other to show positive.
If it turns out she's positive, make sure to clean her enclosure frequently (disinfected at least once a week, even if it does make her unhappy). In addition, the book Rabbit Health in the 21C by Kathy Smith addresses some natural remedies you might try in conjunction with the medications. A few things I've heard being used - with varying degrees of success - are Albendazole, Oxibendazole, Pyrimethamine, Meloxicam, Ponazuril, and Lufenuron.
One thing I will caution you on, and please don't take this the wrong way - your bun may not recover from the tilt. While recovery is, I dare say, close to common, it's not guaranteed. It's possible this will be her life going forward.

Hope this helps, and best of luck!


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Christine Whetstone


I am not an expert on wild rabbits, only domesticated rabbits. I can answer questions regarding habitats, behavior, diet, health, pairing/bonding - pretty much anything having to do with owning a rabbit.


I've owned indoor rabbits for the last 10 years. During that time I've gained experience in areas like bonding exercises, understanding behavior, warning signs of sick bunnies, how to handle more serious illnesses (GI stasis, abscesses, eye problems, etc.) and more. It's rare that I come across an inquiry that I do not already know the answer to.

House Rabbit Society, supporter of local rabbit rescues


Personal experience beats the pants off of a degree, in my opinion.

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