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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16919
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My daughter has a rabbit that is sick; RUNNY NOSE

Customer Question

my daughter has a rabbit that is sick;
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm very concerned about your daughter's little one and I'd like to help. If you look at her eyes are they moving back and forth or in a circular fashion in a rhythmic fashion?Is her head tilt seem to be consistently to one side?If she has a head tilt and her eyes are moving back and forth rhythmically, especially if you try and move her these symptom are a disturbance in her vestibular system, or the system that controls balance. It can signify a middle ear infection or a problem in her brain which "reads" signals from her middle ear.As you can imagine if you're dizzy you wouldn't feel like eating or drinking but it's very important that she continue to eat. If she doesn't her gut will shut down. If necessary force feed her ground pellets or vegetable baby food several times a day. Oxbow critical care is an excellent diet for force feeding sick bunnies if you are able to find it. And drinking when her balance is off will be difficult as well so you may need to help her with that as well.Her loose stools are likely an indication of abnormal gut bacteria and mobility because she isn't eating normally.There are two common reasons for a bunny to lose their balance. One is a middle ear infection with a bacteria called pasteurella, the other is a parasite in the brain called E. cuniculi.Bunnies often have the pasteurella bacteria in hiding and in times of stress (as little as change in weather) it comes out and causes problems. Because bunnies produce inspisated pus (thick, cheesy) she'll need oral antibiotics to hit the inner ear. In some cases they need surgery to clear out the infection.E. cuniculi is passed bunny to bunny in the urine. If this is her problem she probably had it when you got her and may have been shedding cysts then but it's unlikely she's contagious now. Still your daughter should not clean the cage and anyone who does so should be very careful and wash up well afterwards. She needs an examination by her veterinarian or a veterinarian that is comfortable treating rabbits. Most veterinarians will treat for both if there's any doubt which is present. I usually use Baytril in suspension for the bacteria and a "bendazole" worming medication to treat the parasite. It should be fairly straight forward and treatable if caught early. BUT some bunnies get secondary gut bacterial overgrowth when using oral antibiotics and some are left with a slight head tilt. And if the infection has been present for a while sometimes they are too sick to respond. So sometimes it's not as smooth as we hope. Make sure her cage is kept very clean. Don't use wood chips as bedding though they carry bacteria and fungal spores.If your veterinarian can see an external ear infection he or she will probably prescribe an ear drop too.The other possibility for her condition is a severe intestinal parasite infestation or gut stasis due to bacterial overgrowth. These will make her very weak and thus unable to stay upright as well.Ideally she would be seen by a veterinarian who is familiar with bunnies immediately. If she is very young then she doesn't have reserves to draw on. If you don't have a rabbit veterinarian yet here is a link to help you find a rabbit veterinarian in your area: of luck with your little one. Keep her warm and quiet until you can have her seen.