Senior rabbit with suspected neuro issues/ ear infection

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midnightcookie

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Our 7 year old bunny has basically stopped eating hay around late august.

Our bunny-savvy vet filed his teeth early September and also neutered him - his back teeth were starting to develop spurs /sharp edges. After he woke up from GA, he seemed to slowly lost his ability to pick up food on his own (unable to locate and bite food) and we have been assist feeding him with critical care & emerald assist till now. He managed to eat a few pieces of hay / veggies / herbs but he was still having difficulty chewing.



Around early October he started developing head tilt & was eventually tested negative for E.C.

Our vet said that it could be brain infection/tumour growth but we wouldn’t know unless he undergo a CT scan. The vet also mentioned that even a diagnosis is confirmed, brain related tumor etc is likely not treatable.



She also referred us to a rabbit specialist.

The specialist gave us some options, at that point he was doing quite badly, with very bad head tilt and unable to stand on his own.

The specialist said it could be a bad ear infection that spread to his brain etc but we would never know unless a scan is done. We did not want to risk undergoing another GA.

He was prescribed some steroids and antibiotics for a few days. We saw some improvement- his head tilt was gone and he could hop around the house. But he was still unable to eat on his own. He also developed some abnormalities in the cecum causing mushy poops. A week plus or so later, he had a very bad diarrhoea/bloating/Gut stasis. He was hospitalised a few days and the steroids / antibiotics was stopped. We were really thankful that we manage to pull him back.



After his gut is back to normal, the specialist put him back on steroids and changed another antibiotics. Fast forward to today - he has basically stopped drinking and eating on his own - we inject subcutaneous fluid and force feed him everyday. We do try to mix some mushed pellets/ blended vegetable to give him some variety. His left eye is closed mostly (could be blind or neuro related issues ). He has given up trying to pick up food but will still get excited when we feed him occasional blended fruit juice as treat. His poops are still very small and sometimes mushy, but that is the best we can get. He can hop around on his own but his head is slightly tilting downwards and understandably he is no longer active and will hide / sleep in a corner with his sister bunny or let us pet him for a few hours.

The specialist is also running out of options and had honestly told us that we are probably going to maintain status quo until his body cannot take it anymore. We do foresee that his back teeth is going to cause him problems from not eating hay. He has went through another round of front teeth filing and we did try feeding him hay but he will take super long to chew a short piece /eventually let them slide out/get angry.

He hasn’t been a big hay eater but has been ok for the past 7 years. There were 2 GI incidents before but he has managed to pull through. At this point we are not expecting any miracles, it is just heartbreaking to see our energetic boy become so lethargic. We know that every new day with him is bonus for us - I’m just writing this to see if anyone has been in any similar situation? Or any advice / ways to make him more comfortable/ experiences from taking care of sick rabbits?
Thank you for reading this!
 

JBun

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What antibiotic is he currently on and for how long has he been taking it, and what other ones have been tried and for how long? What antibiotic and other medications was he on when he developed the diarrhea? Were any xrays taken of his head at all, to check his teeth and inner ear for signs of infection?
 

midnightcookie

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What antibiotic is he currently on and for how long has he been taking it, and what other ones have been tried and for how long? What antibiotic and other medications was he on when he developed the diarrhea? Were any xrays taken of his head at all, to check his teeth and inner ear for signs of infection?
Thank you for reading my post. He was injected with doxycycline a few days back and is due for review soon. His eye is opening slightly the past two days and he is starting to drink water on his own.
He switched a few courses of antibiotics within this period - Penicillin, Enrofloxacin, Metronidazole, Chloramphenicol(could be the one that triggered the diarrhea, but it is hard to pinpoint). He has taken x-rays but so far there is no conclusion, I will check again during our next follow up.
 

JBun

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If it is a tumor, as the vet said, there's not much that can be done for that. Really the only treatable option I can see is if this is an infection. If so, then it's a matter of the right antibiotic taking effect. With the chewing difficulty and the eye closed, and head tilt, these all could point to a possible infection. What I would suspect is a tooth infection that has spread to the inner ear, or just an inner ear infection. Both of these would account for the problems eating(painful to chew), the closed eye(also from pain), and the head tilt(inner ear infection).

Medirabbit: ear infection clinical signs and treatment


The most effective and quickest acting antibiotic I've found with very stubborn infections in my rabbits, is azithromycin. I saw improvement within a couple of days, and it cleared up infections that spread through my group of rabbits that started with one rabbits eye infection. It did take them being on a high dose for an extended period(50mg/kg/once a day for 30 days), but it definitely worked. So this may be an antibiotic to ask your vet about trying. I will mention though, that it's been known in rare instances to cause severe digestive upset in some rabbits. But it was pretty well tolerated by my rabbits. The most upset I saw was some stomach cramping with one rabbit, and only for a few hours following his dose. After that he was back to normal.

So that's what I would recommend talking to your vet about. The azithromycin, and also twice daily meloxicam dosed at the higher dosage(1mg/kg/day) if blood tests show no kidney problems. Steroids can't be given when meloxicam is, and giving steroids at all is risky to be giving a rabbit with a possible infection as it affects the rabbits immune system.

But I think that the azithromycin gives you the greatest chance of getting things turned around quickly, provided your rabbit tolerates it ok. Hopefully he will, and I hope this can give him a chance. Or you could just continue with the doxycycline since you have seen some improvement with that, and see if there is continued improvement on it.


 

midnightcookie

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If it is a tumor, as the vet said, there's not much that can be done for that. Really the only treatable option I can see is if this is an infection. If so, then it's a matter of the right antibiotic taking effect. With the chewing difficulty and the eye closed, and head tilt, these all could point to a possible infection. What I would suspect is a tooth infection that has spread to the inner ear, or just an inner ear infection. Both of these would account for the problems eating(painful to chew), the closed eye(also from pain), and the head tilt(inner ear infection).

Medirabbit: ear infection clinical signs and treatment


The most effective and quickest acting antibiotic I've found with very stubborn infections in my rabbits, is azithromycin. I saw improvement within a couple of days, and it cleared up infections that spread through my group of rabbits that started with one rabbits eye infection. It did take them being on a high dose for an extended period(50mg/kg/once a day for 30 days), but it definitely worked. So this may be an antibiotic to ask your vet about trying. I will mention though, that it's been known in rare instances to cause severe digestive upset in some rabbits. But it was pretty well tolerated by my rabbits. The most upset I saw was some stomach cramping with one rabbit, and only for a few hours following his dose. After that he was back to normal.

So that's what I would recommend talking to your vet about. The azithromycin, and also twice daily meloxicam dosed at the higher dosage(1mg/kg/day) if blood tests show no kidney problems. Steroids can't be given when meloxicam is, and giving steroids at all is risky to be giving a rabbit with a possible infection as it affects the rabbits immune system.

But I think that the azithromycin gives you the greatest chance of getting things turned around quickly, provided your rabbit tolerates it ok. Hopefully he will, and I hope this can give him a chance. Or you could just continue with the doxycycline since you have seen some improvement with that, and see if there is continued improvement on it.


Thank you for the detailed reply, really appreciate it. We will check with the vet again.
 

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