Rabbits are usually pretty agile and don’t need much help getting around. You may be frightened to find one day that your rabbit is losing his balance or can’t seem to stand up. This is usually a symptom of serious injury or disease that needs to be treated immediately.
Why is my rabbit losing his balance? Your rabbit may have one of a number of conditions that cause head tilt, the most common cause of unbalance. Your rabbit may also be injured.
What Does It Look Like When My Rabbit is Losing His Balance?
In mild cases, if your rabbit is losing his balance he may wobble while he walks or have difficulty walking in a straight line. He may seem to miss steps or swerve back and forth as he’s walking. In severe cases, your rabbit may not be able to stand up at all and may fall over while standing or trying to walk. Don’t confuse this with your rabbit laying down on his side, as rabbits will sometimes “flop” onto their sides suddenly if they are comfortable. Falling over will usually be recognizable, especially as your rabbit may also struggle to get back up.
What Injuries Cause Rabbits to Lose Their Balance?
Most injuries will make it difficult for your rabbit to walk if they are severe enough, but a few may make your rabbit completely lose his balance or not be able to walk at all. Usually these are the very bad injuries such as a broken back or broken legs. A broken or injured spine will make it very difficult for your rabbit to walk and may even paralyze him, which can cause him to lose his balance while walking. A broken leg will cause your rabbit to walk unevenly and may cause him to fall while walking. Your rabbit may also lose balance due to blood loss if he has an injury that has caused a lot of bleeding, or he may have difficulty walking and fall over as he goes into shock from the injury.
How Do I Know If My Rabbit Has Spinal Injuries?
If your rabbit has been dropped or has jumped from a great height recently, it’s important to get him checked for spinal problems as soon as possible even if he’s not showing any symptoms. If your rabbit has a broken or injured spine, he may have difficulty walking or not be able to walk at all. He will probably fall over and wobble if he is able to walk. Your rabbit may also stop eating and drinking if he is in severe pain due to the injuries. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your rabbit to the vet immediately and let your vet know if there is any reason your rabbit may have an injured back.
How Do I Know If My Rabbit Has Back Leg Injuries?
Your rabbit will usually limp or walk strangely if he has back leg injuries or paralysis caused by spinal injury. He will have difficulty walking and may fall over or lose his balance due to not being able to use his legs properly. If he is in pain, he may hide or stop eating due to the discomfort, and he will likely be a lot less active than normal. A rabbit’s back legs are very important to their movement, so it’s important to get any back leg injuries checked out by a vet. If you know of any reason why your rabbit would have injuries to his back legs, such as a recent fall, fight, or accident, make sure to let your vet know about it.
What Diseases Cause Rabbits to Lose Their Balance?
The most common type of disease that cause rabbits to lose their balance is ear infections. Ear infections will often cause imbalance and head tilt if they get into the middle or inner ear. Your rabbit may develop an inner ear infection without you knowing, as it’s only possible to see some infections with x-rays. Rabbits may also lose their balance due to more severe diseases like lesions on the brain or a brain infection. These types of diseases usually cause head shaking or head tilt first, which then leads to your rabbit losing his balance.
What is Head Tilt (Vestibular Disease)?
Head tilt, the common name for vestibular disease, is a symptom of many different types of infections in a rabbit’s head. Head tilt is the primary sign that something is seriously wrong when your rabbit has developed an untreated infection and is pretty much unmistakable. Head tilt is also called wry neck, as your rabbit’s head or neck will be twisted to the side and your rabbit will periodically shake his head before returning to the tilted position.
What Causes Head Tilt?
Head tilt is caused by many different diseases, so it’s important to find the underlying cause when treating it. The most common causes have to do with the ears or brain, usually an untreated ear infection that has reached the inner ear and is causing imbalance. Head tilt may also be caused by lesions on the brain or an infection in the brain, or by issues in the nervous system. However, these are rarer and an ear infection is most likely. Usually an ear infection has to go untreated for a long period of time before it reaches the inner ear and causes head tilt, so make sure you are checking your rabbit’s ears for infection frequently.
How is Head Tilt Treated?
Head tilt will be treated differently depending on the underlying cause of it. The most common cause, ear infections, will be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your vet. It’s important to go to a vet that is knowledgeable about rabbits and has rabbit-specific tools and products available, as dog and cat antibiotics (among other medications made for dogs and cats) are lethal to rabbits. Your vet may need to sedate your rabbit and take x-rays to determine the cause of the head tilt, so be prepared for this process to be long and expensive.
What Should I Do If My Rabbit Has Head Tilt?
The first thing you should do is always take your rabbit to the vet. Your vet will find the underlying cause of the head tilt and losing balance, which will lead to the correct treatment options. Some rabbits will never fully recover from head tilt, so it’s important to accommodate and help your rabbit if he is struggling. You may need to support him when he stands to eat or use the bathroom, or provide surfaces for him to lean on.
Why is my rabbit walking funny? Your rabbit may be injured, sick, or having digestive issues. Watch to see if your rabbit is limping, walking hunched over, or walking more slowly than usual. These can all be signs of sickness or injury.
What do I do if my rabbit has an ear infection? You should take your rabbit to your regular vet as soon as possible. Ear infections must be treated with antibiotics and can’t be treated by home remedies. You’ll need to see a vet to get prescribed rabbit-safe antibiotics, as dog and cat antibiotics don’t work.
When do I need to take my rabbit to the vet? Whenever you see unusual behavior or symptoms that last more than 8-12 hours, especially behaviors like hiding, refusing to eat or drink, and limping or moving strangely.