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ill and Embarassed Rabbit

Q: ill and Embarassed Rabbit PetPlanet Vets PPAdmin pettalk@petplanet.co.uk I have a sick lop rabbit. He has head tilt. He is on strong antibiotics now and is not doing well. i give him water with an eye dropper and feed him by hand..sometimes he just rolls . he is pretty much miserable. i have tried everything. Now the vet has given him antibiotics that are causing him to have the runs..he has also lost him appetite completely. one vet said he would recover and the other says it is doubtful. I don't know if I should be cramming these strong antibiotics down his little throat anymore. they make him so sick at his stomach. But i want to help him.. the thing is , i could hold and comfort him but now with poop all over him he doesn't want me to... acts embarrassed (believe it or not) ... should i try to bathe him off gently or live the poop on him or what??? help me, please.

A:ill and Embarassed Rabbit PetPlanet Vets PPAdmin pettalk@petplanet.co.uk Dear Rabbit Owner,

I can really sympathise with you in your predicament; it is such a difficult situation to be in. Your rabbit sounds very seriously ill and you want to give him every chance to get better, but wonder if you are putting him through too much. I have been there myself and there are no easy answers. Often rabbits get ill and die very quickly before we can do a whole lot for them, but some, like your lop, will struggle on and on and make it harder for the owner to know what to do.
I will say that the condition you describe is a serious one affecting the balance centre in the middle ear. Some rabbits will recover well on antibiotics, with maybe only a slight head tilt left, if you can keep them going to give the drugs time to work. You did not say how long you have been treating him. It is unfortunate that the antibiotics are causing a new problem of diarrhoea, or it could be that he is not feeling up to eating his "night faeces" (oily, soft faeces that sticks to the fur around their anus that rabbits are supposed to eat to recycle the vitamins and oils in their diet - often mistaken for diarrhoea). They have to bend around to their bottom to eat it, and he may be too dizzy to do that. He would not like being dirty, so I would try to gently bathe it off with warm water and then dry him (possibly with a hair dryer on low heat)and give him a cuddle.
When you go back to the vet for his next check up, ask them to tell you honestly what they think now he has had the antibiotics, as I know that you would not want him to suffer if it is not working. If he is improving then it is worth carrying on, but if there is no marked improvement then you owe it to him to let him go before he loses all his dignity. I know what a hard decision it is, but if it comes to it, I am sure you will have the courage and kindness to do what is best as you obviously care a lot about him.

Good luck,

Maeve Moorcroft MVB MRCVS
(PetPlanet Vet)

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