This does depend a lot on the severity of your bunny’s headtilt, so please take the relevant pieces of information based on your bunny’s condition at the time of reading.
My rabbit is hiding in a dark corner
Rabbits do hide away when they feel ill, so it’s no surprise that your bunny is lurking in a dark corner. If they are ‘comfortable’ and you are able to keep a close eye on them where they are, then it might be best to leave them in their chosen spot. But if, say, they are in a hutch or enclosure outside and you cannot keep a careful watch on them, or if they are obviously uncomfortable then you might have to prepare a new area for them. If they are normally an outside bunny you might need to bring them in, especially if you have to wait until the following day to see a vet, as you will need to keep an eye on them regularly. Rabbits can sometimes deteriorate very quickly, so what could be mild headtilt now could become much more serious as time passes by.
My rabbit is leaning to the side
Whether you have to move your rabbit to another environment or not, provide them with leaning objects: rolled up towels, cushions, pillows, or cuddly toys. Don’t overwhelm them, but give them something that they can use for support on the side that they are leaning. Some bunnies like to lean on their mate (if they have one) – another good reason why you should keep bonded bunnies together during illness.
My rabbit won’t move
It is generally expected that a headtilt bunny won’t want to move around very much. This is because they feel dizzy, so every time they move their head the world spins around (to varying degrees depending on the severity of their headtilt). So just get them as comfortable as you can in a place where you can keep an eye on them, and make sure they are able to reach their litter tray, food and water. Particularly, remove any obstacles between them and the things they need, and make sure that they don’t have to go up or down any steps or jumps to get to the things they need (e.g. water, food bowl, hay, litter area and a comfy dozing spot). Although later they will need encouragement to move about to get better, this first night of being ill is not the time.
My vets are closed / I can’t get an appointment until tomorrow
If you cannot rely on a good rabbit-savvy emergency vet then it is essential that you keep a close eye on your bunny through the night. Rabbits can deteriorate quite quickly, so what could be mild headtilt now could become much more serious as time passes by. If you have a suddenly severe case of headtilt on your hands then you might have to call on that emergency vet, rabbit-savvy or not! If you have to see a non-rabbit-savvy emergency vet then read through the content on what to expect from your vet before you take your bunny in. You will need as much info at hand as possible. Or contact me for more help (see Contact page in left-hand menu).
My rabbit won’t eat
With headtilt comes dizziness, and with dizziness comes nausea. Some rabbits suffer with this more than others. It is most common for a headtilt bunny to go off their pellets and hay; they often tend to just want fresh food – veggies, herbs, grass and leaves/salad. Make sure that they have anything that they could want to eat at hand, even if they show no interest now – for example, keep fresh hay and a bowl of pellets in their enclosure at all times. It is very important that they keep eating, to avoid their gut slowing down and going into stasis so try to encourage them to eat something regularly. When healthy bunnies eat very regularly – nibbling on hay and grass into the early hours – so do try to encourage them to eat as often as you can.
My rabbit isn’t drinking
This could be because they are having trouble with angling their head to drink from either a bottle or a bowl. The key here is to experiment to find a position and method that suits your bunny. First make sure that your bunny can actually still get to their water. Check there are no obstacles in their way (a step/ramp or something they have to hop round). If your bunny usually uses a bottle, trying attaching it at different heights to find which position suits them best. If they usuallly use a bowl, try placing raising the bowl off the ground (e.g. placing it on a yellow pages, or stack of magazines) to suit the tilt of their head, or swap the bowl for a different type (e.g. one with lower sides – although this could lead to extra spillage!). If your bunny normally uses one method but you’re struggling to get them to drink then try the opposite. It’s best to give them both options – a bottle and a water bowl – so they can work out what’s easiest.
If you normally with placing the bottle at different angles and heights, but make sure your bunny is aware where the water is so that they can find it when they want to.
If all else fails then you can feed them water from the bottle – a drop at a time (gently so they don’t choke!)
They might be getting enough water from their veggies.
- How to make your headtilt bunny comfortable