Vestibular Syndrome In Rabbits: What Is It?

Rabbits, like any pet, have their specific ailments. In this space, we are going to talk about vestibular syndrome in rabbits.
Vestibular syndrome in rabbits: what is it?

Rabbits are adorable and fluffy fur balls. So it’s not surprising that more and more families want to have this pet in their homes. But we must know that they are living beings and, as such, can develop diseases that must be treated properly. Among these possible diseases, today we are going to talk about one that, frequently or in particular, deserves special emphasis. We are talking about vestibular syndrome in rabbits. 

This clinical picture, due to its complexity, sometimes presents itself to veterinarians as a real challenge to be diagnosed.

Vestibular syndrome in rabbits: what is it about?

vestibular syndrome in rabbits

It is one of the  most frequent and best studied neurological diseases in this species. Its clinical picture consists of a series of symptoms related mainly to the vestibular system. The vestibular system is a set of structures located in the ear, responsible for maintaining the balance of animals.

This disease also occurs in other species such as dogs and cats. However, although this syndrome has similarities in all affected animals, there are several peculiarities that make the vestibular syndrome in rabbits a pathological complex in itself.

vestibular syndrome symptoms

As mentioned, this syndrome affects the apparatus responsible for the balance and position of the body, so many of the symptoms will follow this line.

They can develop more or less gradually, depending on the causative agent of the pathology. Of multiple origin, the symptoms developed will depend largely on the etiology of the disease and its presentation. Let’s mention the most common symptoms  present in vestibular syndrome:

  • Torticollis: perhaps the most frequent symptom. There is a  tilt of the head, to the left or right side. This will depend on the affected region.
  • Loss of balance: as it affects the balance system, the animal has serious difficulties getting up, so it is expected that it will fall more often. In the advanced stages of the disease, there may be a complete inability to get up.
  • Movement disorders: the animal may not be able to walk in a straight line, something easily detectable due to unbalanced walking or even walking in circles.
  • Nystagmus: is a frequent symptom consisting of an involuntary and repetitive eye movement. We could say that it is like an eye “tick”.

vestibular syndrome symptoms

Causes of disease

As already mentioned, there are several agents that can cause this clinical picture in rabbits. So, let’s mention the most important and frequent ones:

  • Encephalitozoon cuniculi : common parasite among rabbits. It can cause problems with the kidneys, eyes or, as in this case, the nervous system. It produces encephalitis with a poor prognosis that presents symptoms of vestibular syndrome.
    • Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory and antiparasitic drugs.
  • Pasteurella multocida : is a bacterium involved in the development of respiratory diseases in rabbits. It is usually not serious, but  on occasion it can migrate to the ear, causing inflammation and altering the vestibular system.
    • For its treatment, powerful antibiotics are needed, although, in certain cases, surgery may also be considered.
  • Head trauma: rabbits are very delicate animals, especially when it comes to trauma. Therefore, it is frequent that after a bump or fall of no apparent importance, the animal suffers serious injuries. Depending on the degree and severity of the injury, the animal may develop vestibular symptoms as a consequence of traumatic brain injury.
  • Neoplasm: An abnormal tissue growth is one of the possible causes of this disease in rabbits. The discovery of these masses is carried out using imaging techniques such as X-ray, CT or MRI.

Causes of disease

As you read, there are several possible causes behind vestibular syndrome. And all share the need for an early diagnosis for better treatment. Therefore, after detecting any abnormality in the rabbit’s movement or posture, it is advisable to take the animal to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

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