Wonky Bunny: Siouxsie
Bunny slave: Lisa (UK)
Just weeks after saying goodbye to Joon, another member of the Bunny Mad family, Siouxsie, fell ill. She hadn’t been herself for some time and we put it down to arthritis as she is now seven years old. Then one morning she came to greet me and her head was tilted. My heart sank as I knew instantly she had headtilt. After losing Benny to this just six months before I felt sick I couldn’t cope with losing another bunny friend. I knew I had to be strong and keep telling myself that many bunnies do survive this very distressing illness and that I was going to get her through this!
I worked with my vet and Siouxsie had many treatments over the following weeks including Baytril, Cephalaxin, Panacur, Metacam and steroids. Nothing seemed to be working and she was deteriorating. Her head tilt became more and more apparent and then her legs began to wobble. She started to bump into things and I began to worry she may hurt herself so I decided to bring her indoors. I made up a cage for her and padded the edges with towels so she couldn’t hurt herself and made her as comfortable as possible. It was much better having her indoors as I could keep a closer eye on her.
When she hit rock bottom it was heart breaking. She would curl up in a ball as this seemed easier than trying to stand. She would become so very dizzy and you could see her eyes roll as she tried to get her bearings and frequently roll and flip to try and right herself. I would calmly talk to her and give her a help in hand, she would then soon settle. It was so hard not to get panicky and emotional as it was so distressing seeing her like this. I knew that wouldn’t do either of us any good so I had to focus! Easier said than done! This was the hardest part of her illness as it was so hard to ever believe she would recover but I knew I had to try and stay positive. One thing I did discover was although Siouxsie looked so poorly she didn’t in fact seem to be in too much pain. I would often catch her rolled over on her back munching on a few herbs!
As her condition worsened I did extensive research on the Internet to try and find other treatments. I knew there was still hope for her as her appetite was still very good. It was at this point I was very fortunate to be put in touch with a lovely lady called Katy Hill. Having gone through this herself with her bunny Lara and come out the other side, she knew how hard it was. Katy had discovered that there just wasn’t enough information out there and is currently putting together a website about headtilt to try and help others. Katy was so helpful and gave me some new ideas to try, offered support and emailed me almost every day to find out how Siouxsie was doing. I realise now how much it helps to have the support of someone who understands what you are going through it, be it a friend or family member. Staying positive can be hard on your own!
I decided that I wanted to try something new as nothing was working so I talked to my vet about Penicillin. He was a bit hesitant at first as like most drugs it isn’t licensed for rabbits and can have side effects, but we agreed we needed to try something new. The Penicillin did help a little and brought Siouxsie out of her spinning phase and she began to stand again, although her progress was very very slow. Katy had told me about Zithromax (Azithromycin) an antibiotic which she had used for her bunny Lara with amazing results. I talked to my vet about this who was very understanding but did express concerns as she had been taught that this drug could be potentially fatal in rabbits. She agreed to consult with Katy’s vet who had used it on over one hundred rabbits with no ill effects. After talking to him she was much happier about giving it ago but it would still have to be my decision. Siouxsie had been ill now for five weeks and I felt that we had to try it.
After just two days on the Zithromax, Siouxsie began to improve dramatically, it was quite remarkable, it felt like a miracle! Each day she grew stronger and began to walk without falling over and her head slowly started to correct itself. Two weeks on and she was 99% better and was enjoying the garden again. When I saw Siouxsie do her first binky I knew she was better! It brought tears to my eyes as I never thought I would ever see her do that again! It has now been eight weeks since she fell ill and she is like a younger version of herself! A few months ago she was happy to just sit in one place but now she explores the garden with enthusiasm and leaps and bounds when the mood catches her. She is completely better and the only remnant of the headtilt is when she is resting and her head still slightly tilts but it is common for bunnies to be left with a partial tilt.
I hope this story gives hope to anyone else nursing their bunny. Never give up and always try to stay positive. For those of you, like myself, who have sadly lost bunnies through headtilt I would like to dedicate this story to you.
After saying goodbye to two of my bunnies within six months, when Siouxsie fell ill with headtilt, I was determined to save her!
Please note that I am not an expert and Zithromax may not work for all cases of headtilt. I wanted to share my information with you in the hope it may help other bunnies out there but am by no means prescribing it. Zithromax is not licenced for animal use and the decision to use it must be made by you and your vet.