Last night I received a call from one of our foster carers who had one of our rescue rabbits, Paul, staying with her.  She had just come in from doing her nightly check on Paul at around 9pm and found that he was not well at all!

I sped round to the foster carer’s home to see what I could do to help.  Paul looked in a pretty bad way.  He was all curled up in a ball on his side.  His head was severely twisted and his legs were askew.  His cheek was twitching rapidly and the poor guy looked very uncomfortable.  It looked at first glance to be stroke-like symptoms.

Not holding out much hope for the wee man, I rushed him to the Glasgow University Small Animal Hospital’s Emergency Out-Of-Hours service to see what could be done.

I did somewhat imagine the assessment would suggest he was too far gone and that a recommendation may be made for him to be put to sleep to save him from his misery.

However on assessment the vets concluded that it was as likely to be a sudden onset of a parasite infection affecting the brain as it was to be stroke symptoms.  The recommendation was to treat on the assumption it was parasitic and monitor closely for the next 24 – 48 hours.

The hope was that either way, be it through treatment for the parasite infection or the natural process of stroke symptoms settling, we should notice an improvement within the next 48 hours.

I was advised he would need some intensive care, particularly as we believed at the time he had also stopped eating.  The SAH very kindly offered to keep him in their care, but as we are well versed with the methods for syringe feeding and supportive care I was happy to bring him back to The Warren.

Arriving back at base around 11pm, Feona & I very quickly organised some Critical Care formula.  Paul lay on his side and quite literally lapped up the critical care and water from the syringes.  His mouth was desperately reaching for more so I tried simply hand feeding him some Fibafirst sticks which he thoroughly enjoyed.  I then moved on to some basil and parsley leaves followed by some romaine lettuce (dark greens!).  As he lay there I was shocked at just how well this ill bunny was chomping down his food.  He even managed to reach over and help himself to a little bit of hay that was next to his head on the counter.

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Having snuck him his dose of Panacur between water and critical care syringes we prepared his “sick bed”: a large indoor cage area that we set up with bare essentials inside only.  Blankets to help keep him warm which we then topped up with hay – that way if he managed to wriggle his way around the cage he should still manage to reach some hay to feed from at night.  A shallow water bowl in the hope he’d manage to drink himself.

Just before we set him in the cage, he tried to sit up on the counter.  He managed to hold himself well for about a minute before losing his balance again and settling, somewhat dizzy, back into his laid down position.  I gently picked him up and placed him in the cage.

This morning I woke up and headed up to The Warren to repeat the hand feeding for him.  I was expecting the worse as I recalled leaving him lying in the cage with an appearance akin to a dying rabbit.

I was surprised to be met by Paul sitting up in his cage.  His water bowl was close to empty and no signs of wet blankets around it, suggesting he’d managed to drink the water.  The food we’d left was still there, but had definitely been eaten a little.  I offered him some more hand-fed food and he wolfed it down.

His head though is severely tilted at the moment.  We suspect that whilst the Panacur has some hope of improving this, it is likely that he will be left with some permanent head tilt damage.

His fight to survive though is impressive, and we are delighted with his progress in just a short number of hours.  Hopefully he will continue to improve and we will return to our vet in the next day or two to discuss the next stages of appropriate treatment to try to get him fully back on track.

You can help towards Paul’s recovery.  A small donation towards his veterinary treatment would be very much appreciated, or simply share this article and help us spread awareness of Paul’s story and the work we’re doing at Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care.