So this Monday was the last day of Benji’s 28 day course of treatment for a parasitic infection called E.cuniculi. Last week I went into some depth about what the condition is and how it affects rabbits. Link here. I apologies if this week’s blog seems a bit rambling, but I wanted to be as honest as possible about my particular experience. Now that Benji has made it to the end of the treatment, I wanted to share some of those experiences with you. Seeing that your rabbit has head tilt can be very unsettling, but it is by no means the end of the road. What this process has taught me is the importance of catching this illness early. The damage caused by the parasite can not be fixed but the quicker you can start treatment the less damage there will be and the fewer affects for your bunny to live with.
So, I do think it is worth getting to see a rabbit savvy vet as soon as possible and I really do mean as soon as possible, the same day, although that isn’t always possible. I didn’t notice that Benji had head tilt until late in the evening. It came on suddenly and I was able to get an emergency appointment the following afternoon.
Having said that you don’t need a prescription to get Panacur, which is the treatment used to treat this illness, so if your going to need a lot you don’t have to buy it all from the vet. I have since found it for sale online at about half the price at the vet. Luckily the medication isn’t expensive, it only cost £8.50 from the vet and in total I bought 4.
Your vet can do several other checks, as ours did to eliminate any other possible causes, such as ear infection and looking into the eyes, as well as accurately weighing them (you’ll need this to know how much medication to give). Your vet can listen to their heart and take their temperature. It could be very tempting, given that you can buy Panacure ‘over the counter’ so to speak to make your own diagnosis and start treatment; and no one will know your rabbit as well as you but I for one was very glad that we took Benji as soon as we did.
Luckily for us Benji is already living inside but unfortunately around the same time that he become sick our boiler gave up the ghost! The vet had advised us to keep him warm as his temperature was a little low. It’s important that poorly rabbits aren’t expending any unnecessary energy just to maintain their body temperature. Such would hamper their recovery. Benji has a medium sized dog crate that we leave open for him under the stairs with his litter tray at the back. we covered it with blankets and put an extra thick layer of newspaper under his mat. The old camping adage “one underneath is worth two on top” applies! If you have an outside rabbit who is poorly, I highly recommend that you bring them inside, regardless of the weather. It may not be suitable in the long term but having them in with you, not only keeps them warm and dry (away from draughts mind and not in front of a radiator) but means you are more likely to be aware of any changes and act quickly. We gave Benji a little hottie heat pack on a few of the nights though he didn’t seem too fussed.
Benji had also lost a little bit of weight, not much but we didn’t want him losing any more. I noticed that he seemed to favour the larger pellets that I gave him, usually as tip bits, although they are a complete nugget so I decided to start switching him to the science selective adult. I wouldn’t have normally thought changing food whilst a pet was poorly to be a good idea but he was far keener on them and has actually been eating an entire portion each day. The other addition I made to his diet was to add Alfalfa hay to his meadow hay. I have spoke about this product before and how it has really helped me with a severally poorly rabbit before.
Mostly Benji was easy to give his medication to. There were a few times when he kicked forward with his back legs and caught me on the arm. He also bit the syringe a couple times but that actually makes it easier to get it in his chops. One of the things I did find difficult was making sure I had put the right amount in, you need to make sure that you can see the marking on the tube as you are administering it. A couple of times he seemed to spit a lot out or it ended up on his face. On the face is ok as he’ll clean it off himself and eat it anyway.
It’s important that if you think your rabbit is not responding to the treatment or is getting worse that you get them back to your vet. I have noticed that Benji now doesn’t seem to bother going on his litter tray, he just seems to wee wherever he is. I don’t know if this will be permanent, so we may have to make some adjustments to his housing to help keep him clean.
I’ll keep you all updated as to how Benji is getting on post treatment.