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Head Tilt in Rabbits – Pipkin’s Big Adventure

For Pipkin, it all started like a snuffles episode however new symptoms arose. Pipkin would be fine if he was sitting, but when he would periscope he started to wobble a little, as if there was a problem with his hind legs.

The veterinarian did not know exactly what was wrong with him because it could have been anything such as: e. cunniculi or a severe pastuerella infection; I was leaning toward an ear infection that arises in bunnies who have a history of snuffles. Our vet put Pipkin on medication and if the medication did not work we would try Baytril, and if nothing worked, our vet noted that we would have to consider euthanasia if his quality of life was severely affected – something I wanted to avoid because I had hope that Pipkin would recover.

One day after being on the medication, Pipkin was hopping around in his playpen and was extremely wobbly to the point where he would just fall over and I would pick him up to right him and I could feel his legs straining to stabilize.

His appetite had improved and he was now eating, but his mobility worsened. Just one day after that, Pipkin fell over while hopping around and this time he couldn’t stand up with or without my help. I tried to stand him up but he would fall over and remain on his left side. So with this new development, our vet put him on Baytril, but there was no way I could leave him alone.

I had read of some people who had bunnies who stayed on their side, and when I tried to have Pipkin lie down on his side he was scared soI knew I would have to be there for him 24/7 until he recovered.

Luckily I had my family help out and except for when I needed to do things alone, Pipkin was always in my arms and when he wasn’t I had a family member hold him. I held Pipkin like a baby, cradled in my arms with the immobilized side against me, which was the only way he felt comfortable and secure. I learned to do a lot of daily activities with one arm, like make coffee, meals, change clothes, feed the other bunnies etc. While I held Pipkin I hand fed him his greens, syringe fed him his water and would feed him his pellets one by one throughout the day.

Pipkin obviously couldn’t use the litterbox so I placed a doggy training pad under him as a sort of blanket so any accidents would be absorbed onto the pad and not on me. That’s how I held him, all day, everyday. At night I would sleep sitting up on the couch, holding Pipkin. I did not sleep much because of the way I had to sleep and because I was very concerned about Pipkin, so, during the night I would feed him some pellets and water.

For four weeks, I survived on coffee and caught up on some late night talk shows.

For four weeks Pipkin had been ill, three of those weeks he was immobile and was on Baytril twice a day. Then on Friday the 11th of December, he finally stood up on his own! On the evening of the 11th, I decided to stand him up on my lap (as I occasionally did this to check his balance), and I could feel his back legs trying to stabilize. I placed him on the floor of the playpen and he didn’t fall over! Pipkin sat up on his own and finally took a few wobbly hops around the pen and was determined to keep hopping.

He showed he had more energy in the next coming days and weeks then his younger bunny friends combined! He was full of joy as he hopped, exploring everything he had missed for three weeks and it was wonderful to see him so happy after such a long illness. For the next week, I kept him in the playpen overnight so I could keep an eye on him to make sure he didn’t fall over. Once I was sure he could hop around without any problems, I made a pen for him beside the rabbit condo since I didn’t want him to fall off the ramp in the condo (he still had a tilt and could only walk on carpeted surfaces).

Pipkin will be on Baytril for the rest of his life because he is an elderly bunny and his illness was so severe, we do not want it to recur. The only thing that remains from Pipkin’s illness is a slight head tilt and a slightly sunken eye globe. It is a rare miracle he is alive. Even our veterinarians told us they have never seen a rabbit come back from such a debilitating and serious condition.

Despite all odds Pipkin recovered, because he knew he had so much more living to do, and he shows me that everyday. Supportive care is extremely important when you have a bunny with an illness, and it can make all the difference in the world. Pipkin will always be the strongest bunny I know, with an incomparable zest for life.


I have always been a bunny lover, and have been caring for bunnies
since 2001. All of my bunnies are rescues from local shelters, and
fill my life with so much joy.!/dinofightclub

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