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O2009-35

Dear Reba Rabbit

My rabbit, Nibbles, tilts her head to one side. What can I do to help her straighten up?

Reba Responds

Start by having your veterinarian examine her.

Head tilt, also called wry neck or torticollis, usually is caused by infection of the rabbit’s inner ear and sometimes the middle part of the ear.

The infection can arise from the external part of the ear, or from a respiratory infection that travels through the Eustachian tube to the ear, or even from the blood. If Nibbles has an ear infection, long-term antibiotic therapy probably will be needed.

Head tilt also can be caused by trauma, parasitic brain disease, stroke, cancer or exposure to a toxin, such as lead or zinc.

Rabbits with head tilt may move in circles, exhibit poor coordination and actually fall over.

Sometimes they won’t eat or drink. If Nibbles’ appetite is poor, hand feed her hay and greens.

The downward-facing eye occasionally won’t close and dries out. If Nibbles has that problem, buy an artificial tear ointment at the pharmacy and apply a small amount to keep her eye lubricated until you visit your veterinarian.

 

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