Sick Thin Rabbit with Ear Infection

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Playdoh52

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My husband has had 3 rabbits for about 2 years now( we got then in winter time) and this summer has had a 10 X 10 space to freely roam outside night and day with a dog house and dug many holes under my apple tree. Little did I know rabbits were not supposed to have a lot of apples and as apples fell from the tree if they wanted them they ate them. I also didn't realize how much hay they need. So once I moved them back to there small cages they all lost weight. Now I have 1 sick rabbit I am hand feeding pellets and water. Gave her the water bottle last time and she drank a lot very easily. The other 2 have been moved to the heated basement as well with a hay beding covering the floor of there make shift pin they will share temporarily but can eat and hop on there own. Although the one who is sick had become accustomed to me from my recent visit to there 10 foot by 10 foot pin to pick up fallen apples. So she likes me holding her to hand feed her. I have read the forums today although I recently found this site and have learned a lot about rabbit diets. Even made her "old Fashion oatmeal" from "old Fashion Oats" this morning to try and give her some extra nutrients which she did eat really fast with me holding her and the plate up to her face.
Today when my husband came home I took her to are large animal vet that see's horses and cows. He checked her ears and she has a very bad double ear infection. The vet cleaned all the infected stuff out of her ears giving ear drops to loosen up the gunk in her ears. But she cried terribly( I have never heard her cry before) and I know it was very painful because since she can't really hop around she was squirming on the table trying to get away.
He gave her a shot of antibiotics and a oral de-wormer incase she has worms. Plus gave me enough antibiotics to treat her and my other 2 rabbits if they needed it. When I got home and checked the others they have ear infections but no were as near as bad as the one that went to the vet.
I currently have the sickest one in my kitchen in a medium size pet taxi with a lot of hay in the back of the taxi, water in a water bowl, and a bowl of food pellets. Anything else that I should do for her?? My vet was kind of at a loss on what else to feed rabbits??? Any suggestions and info is appreciated.
 

majorv

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As long as she’s eating the hay and pellets that’s good. Antibiotics can affect their gut so you might want to keep some benebac (probiotics) on hand. You can get it at a pet store. As for gaining weight you can give a little bit of plain rolled oats a few times a week.
If your rabbits lived on the ground they might’ve picked up worms. That may be one reason the vet gave the de-wormer.
 

Playdoh52

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ok thanks for your response. She lost a lot of muscle so I keep checking on her every hour since she's in my kitchen in a pet taxi. That way i can make sure she's still eating and drinking plenty of water, pellets, and hay. I did give her Old Fashion Oatmeal because I don't have an sweet rolled oats.
 

JBun

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Sounds like you're on the right course. Feeding is mostly a good quality grass hay that is free fed, limited pellets, and if you want; veggies, leafy greens, forage, all gradually introduced. This link has a good list and info on feeding. Medirabbit and hrs are good resources for rabbit care and health info.
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/GI_diseases/Food/feeding_en.pdf
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/index_en.htm
https://rabbit.org/

Now that she has been wormed and the ear infection is being treated, she should gradually start putting on weight provided there isn't another underlying health issue.

For the future, if you need a different vet more experienced with rabbits, try this list.
https://rabbit.org/vet-listings/

Be cautious with the oats, as with some rabbits it can cause digestive issues that results in disrupting the microflora in the cecum and mushy poop as a result, which is not good.
 
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Playdoh52

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Thank you for all your great tips, especially about the oats. I looked at the rabbit houses website and found a page about treating paralyzed rabbits. Even though she hasn't been paralyzed she suffers from extreme muscle loss and can't stand on her own. So I have moved her to a laundry basket long enough to stretch her out in so I can easily move her position to try and prevent bed sores. But as of now she laying on her belly.
 

JBun

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This site is also a good resource for how to deal with disabled rabbits.
http://www.disabledrabbits.com/

With the type of extreme weight loss and muscle wastage you are describing, there could also be some other illness going on. The parasite e. cuniculi is a major consideration, as it can cause hind limb weakness and weight loss . Kidney and liver disease could also be a consideration, and can also be linked to e. cuniculi, as it can affect the rabbits organs. So just something to consider. EC treatment is a dewormer medication given for a month. If she isn't eating her food well, dental problems would be a consideration as the cause, especially if this isn't something the vet checked out.
http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/paresis.html
http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/education-resources/articles/rabbit-health-articles/weight-loss-in-rabbits/
 

Playdoh52

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My local vet in this small Illinois town of about 1,500 people usually see's cat's, dog's, horse's, cows, etc. and told me he only see's sick rabbits! So I asked him a basic question ( I learned the answers to from looking at your forum about rabbit nutrition and needed diet (aka food)..what type of foods or "diet" should a rabbit have to be healthy??
He said rabbit pellets, then stopped and kind of studdered. I said "I just went to Y******(don't want to invade is privacy) farm and got a bag full or first orchard grass / alfalpha/ grass hay clipping off of the clipping table. When I told this man I had 1 sick rabbit and 2 that had lost a lot of weight he gave me the left overs. Which looked amaging!! All 3 rabbits have been chowing down on the nice mixture but don't like what I call the stuble (stem)?? But love the green leafy parts that are mixed in. White Foot (sick one with muscular astroma??) is still eating and drinking on her own. Peeing and pooping on her own. She is just so week she cant even stand. Poor thing. So I try to pick her up (while I sit on the floor) and let her back legs rest on the floor some time so her muscles can stretch out with gravity and no work needed?? Trying to do what physical therapy thing I can for her to keep her going while we try to help her gain back some weight to turn to muscle..
 

Playdoh52

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Update to anyone who has commented or viewed this post. This is a link to my youtube video's showing what White Foot looked like after the first 4 days:

Here is my second video update after 10 days of care:

Yesterday and today she has started standing on her own and hoping around in her laundry basket. I am thinking she needs more space though. Going to the pet store today to see if I can find some better quality food pellets and maybe an x-pen??
 

JBun

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So looking at her, she definitely is looking spunkier, which is great! But she's got a lot more going on than muscle wastage. If this was a new rabbit to you I would say that she probably was born with or soon after acquired splay leg, which affects their joints and leg position. You can see in this link how it looks very similar to genetic splay leg.
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Bone_diseases/Genetic/splayleg.htm

But if she had normal limbs and hopping ability previous to this illness, some possible causes for her leg weakness that I can think of would be the parasite e. cuniculi, a back injury, possible toxin ingestion(saw hind leg paresis occur with an owners rabbits that consumed poisonous mushrooms in their yard), or I'm also wondering if it's not something similar to muscular dystrophy which can be caused by vitamin e/selenium deficiency. The ear infection will affect her balance, but it's not going to be a cause of that type of leg weakness and muscle issues.

E. cuniculi would be treated with fenbendazole(Safeguard liquid dewormer), but sometimes permanent damage has been done and treating for may not cause recovery of function, but only prevent further damage. Physical therapy may help if it was a back injury, and medication depending on how long ago this occurred. Poisoning from a toxin, physical therapy may be the only option at this point. Muscular dystrophy from a vitamin E deficiency, may possibly correct itself with the proper diet and a high quality pellet(like Oxbow), where you can trust the pellet has the proper nutrient content, good quality hay, and some good veggies/greens wouldn't hurt either(making sure to introduce slowly, one at a time, and giving the proper balance of them).

I'm not as trustful of feed store pellets or lower quality pet store pellets, as I know of issues that have happened in the past with peoples rabbits, and I don't feel those types of pellets have as tight of quality control as some of the more expensive brands like oxbow. I've seen it in particular with feed store pellets, so if you are feeding that to her now, I would suggest switching her to a high quality pellet right away. But with vit. E deficiency, I've only ever seen it affect the kits with muscular problems. I've never seen it affect an adult rabbit in this way, so not sure if it even can cause this sort of muscle disease, but I would get her on a good pellet right away just in case. Supplementing with vit. E may also be needed, but this is something you will need to discuss with your vet, preferably a knowledgeable rabbit vet.
http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/paresis.html
http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/00dis/PhysicalTraumatic/Spinal_InjuryLagomorphs.htm
http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/00dis/Micronutrient/VitaminE-Selenium_Deficiency.htm

If it is being caused by one of those illnesses, I'm not sure what chance she has of a full recovery, but you may be able to get her partway there with a good diet and with doing some physical therapy with her, to help her build up those leg muscles again. You can do this by helping support her body with a wide band of cloth under her belly, and holding it up enough that she can get her legs under her to practice using them again. By regularly doing this, she may be able to gain some amount of function with her legs again. If it's in your budget and could be helpful, there are even carts made for pets with hind limb problems.

With the specifics of what to do for physical therapy, it's always best to consult a knowledgeable rabbit vet. And for that you may need to travel to find one if there isn't one in your town. If you absolutely can't find one to go to, I would suggest googling physical therapy with rabbits, gather as much credible info as you can, then take it to the vet you have already seen and see what they say.
https://rabbit.org/rehabilitation-and-movement-therapy-for-your-rabbit/
https://rabbit.org/vet-listings/
 

Playdoh52

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Thanks so much for your reply, as to her age we have had her for 2 years and she never had splayed legs when she was healthy. She now has her right front leg working better and has been sitting up and turning in her new litter box most of the time. I did take a video though to show her progress today. She's hoping g around but dragging one back leg. Smelled around her new corner of the kitchen happily. ( I think) ...see next comment for video link sorry on my phone.
 

JBun

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She looks like she is slowly gaining strength and interest in her surroundings. She's making amazing progress. It would be wonderful if she can regain her mobility again. She seems like a sweet bunny.

With disabled rabbits they are very prone to getting sores from rubbing on the ground, so you're going to want to keep a really close eye on those legs, particularly the ones she's dragging the most, as they can easily develop sores. And if she does get sores, they will be very susceptible to possible infection. So I would suggest monitoring that very closely.

Providing a very cushioned surface can help prevent this from happening. One thing that was really helpful when I had my old bunny with hind leg weakness/paresis, was a very large littler box with a low side, that she could essentially hang out in, but with the low side she could also scoot in and out if she wanted. I just bought a mortar mixing tub at home depot, then cut the front side low for her to be able to get in and out of easily. There was a layer of wood pellet litter with a soft pet screen over it, then a soft layer of hay covering all that. Outside of that I had a foam puzzle mat, then disposable puppy pads as the base layer. At the one end she hung out on the most I had a couple layers of towels, and over that I had that faux shearling type fleece fabric that helped keep the urine drained away from the surface so she didn't get soaked fur and sores. It seemed to work pretty well for my bun and prevent any sores or urine soaked fur. Something like this might work for your bun too, until she builds up her muscle and mobility.

IMG_20151118_120930839.jpg
 

Bam Bam

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Definitely needs an x-pen and a rug to give her traction.
I have rescued a few rabbits with a splayed leg and they live a good normal life but I have never seen one with 2 splayed legs.
I haven’t read but has she seen a vet. Do you have a rabbit savy vet.
 

Playdoh52

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Definitely needs an x-pen and a rug to give her traction.
I have rescued a few rabbits with a splayed leg and they live a good normal life but I have never seen one with 2 splayed legs.
I haven’t read but has she seen a vet. Do you have a rabbit savy vet.
As of one right now, I have checked out all the local vets and none of them take rabbits. There is a clinic in Urbana about 2 hours away but my husband through a fit when I took her to my local vet and he de-wormed her and cleaned out her ears, gave me antibiotics, but couldn't tell me about her muscle loss or exactly what she should eat. So $110 later my husband is upset with me for that...
But I am trying to find a good reputably rabbit vet, the one at urbanna is experienced with rabbits and that clinic maybe cheaper than the state college. So that may be my choice but in the mean time we try to care for her as best as possible.
 

Playdoh52

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She looks like she is slowly gaining strength and interest in her surroundings. She's making amazing progress. It would be wonderful if she can regain her mobility again. She seems like a sweet bunny.

With disabled rabbits they are very prone to getting sores from rubbing on the ground, so you're going to want to keep a really close eye on those legs, particularly the ones she's dragging the most, as they can easily develop sores. And if she does get sores, they will be very susceptible to possible infection. So I would suggest monitoring that very closely.

Providing a very cushioned surface can help prevent this from happening. One thing that was really helpful when I had my old bunny with hind leg weakness/paresis, was a very large littler box with a low side, that she could essentially hang out in, but with the low side she could also scoot in and out if she wanted. I just bought a mortar mixing tub at home depot, then cut the front side low for her to be able to get in and out of easily. There was a layer of wood pellet litter with a soft pet screen over it, then a soft layer of hay covering all that. Outside of that I had a foam puzzle mat, then disposable puppy pads as the base layer. At the one end she hung out on the most I had a couple layers of towels, and over that I had that faux shearling type fleece fabric that helped keep the urine drained away from the surface so she didn't get soaked fur and sores. It seemed to work pretty well for my bun and prevent any sores or urine soaked fur. Something like this might work for your bun too, until she builds up her muscle and mobility.=QUOTE]

JBun, after watching some video's of rabbits with splay legs and rabbits with dislocated hips. To me I think her back left hip is dislocated. But this is just from me looking at the way her left leg is tilted under her belly. I am calling a local women I have found out was a "rabbit women" who used to raise rabbits and "doctors' up farm or domesticated animals for my aunt who lives on a farm. I will see tomorrow if she know how to put the special wrap sling I saw on youtube. One rabbit had his leg slinged and after a week his hip was back in place and he could stand properly. I also haven't had any follow up from my local vet that did see her. I hope he tested for EC like you mentioned above I believe. If you can take Cora B who is a member in Illinois. I would like to know what vet she ended up going to and what she did for her rabbit with a dislocated hip so I can have a good idea of a rabbit savy vet in the middle of the state. None near me in a 1 1/2 hour radius away from me.
 

Playdoh52

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Definitely needs an x-pen and a rug to give her traction.
I have rescued a few rabbits with a splayed leg and they live a good normal life but I have never seen one with 2 splayed legs.
I haven’t read but has she seen a vet. Do you have a rabbit savy vet.
Ok so here is an update on White Foot after a week or so. We took her to a rabbit savy vet yesterday ( that was a 3 hour trip there, 3 hour trip back home.) She said that White Foot's back leg must have broke and is now re-growing the wrong way? Because it took me 3 weeks to find a rabbit savy vet in Illinois. (Didn't want to take her to University of Illinois right of the bat because the emergency room visit is $200 and we won't get to see a rabbit vet.) So we took her to another vet in Urbana. She said her only options was to have surgery to correct the bone that was growing wrong, amputation, or put her to sleep. ( Which is my last and finnal option.) So on the way home we called every vet within 60 miles( no rabbit vets but our regular vet said he would try anything he could). He isn't especially trained in rabbits but has seen them occassionaly over his career. We asked him to X-ray her back legs so we could see what going on inside. Its strange because if you lay her on her good back leg she will stretch the bad one completely out straight. Like it's supposed to be. So my question is there anyway we could put a cast, brace, or something to keep her leg straight until it heals correctly? Would she still be able to use it normally?? I have attached pictures of her x-rays since I can't really tell what happened on the X-rays maybe on of the rabbit vet or vet tech's on your website will know exactly what happened and be able to advise me on what we should do next. She has gained a whole pound since she saw our local vet 3 weeks ago( not sure if thats good weight gain for a rabbit) but hey atleast she gained. She also had really bad urine scalding on her butt area so we have been giving her a bath everyother day. Today my mother helped me and she has actually cut of alot of the poopy knotted hair from her back end. When we got done and put her on her towel to rest she instantly started grooming her back legs and trying to groom her private area. Any more ideas would be greatly appreciated. I don't know what I would have done with out this very informative website!!
 

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