One of the most common issues rabbits can face is ear infections, especially in particular breeds of rabbits. Over the past few weeks in the charity, one of our foster placements suffered from a slightly less common type of ear infection in his outer ear.
This is more likely to be seen in rabbits like lops who tend to trail their ears and can often pick up infection.
Captain Morgan has been with us at the charity for just under a year. He is what we would commonly associate to be a French Lop breed. Similar to breeds like the English lop, they have long trailing ears that fall down the side of their face and in Captain Morgan's case trailed by the side of his front paws. This we believe may be the cause of the issues he's been facing recently...
Captain Morgan's foster carer reported to us very early on that he had a slightly wet bottom and a small patch of fur missing but aside from this his health, in general, seemed good. He was eating and pooping as we would expect for a healthy rabbit and was showing no immediate concerns. As a precaution, our team checked on him regularly and kept in communication about his current state and all seemed to be ok.
However, rabbits will quite often hide any major signs of illness due to the fact they're a prey species. This may have resulted in Captain appearing to be in good health and showing next to no signs of an ear infection in the early stages of his illness.
Captain Morgan was due to come back to the Hoppy Hub within about a week of first initial signs that he wasn't of full health and quite quickly in that space of time we saw him decline. Over the course of a week, Captain lost a large amount of weight and developed a strong smell - of which we weren't sure why at this point.
On his arrival back to our Hoppy Hub, we provided an environment that encouraged his return to health - keeping him dry, clean and well fed. This allowed us to identify that there was a problem with his ears. One of our volunteers, who is also a registered vet nurse, temporarily bandaged his ears to prevent further damage and Captain was immediately referred to our vet partners who confirmed that he had unfortunately, like many lop rabbits, developed an ear infection that would require treatment.
Ear Amputation *WARNING - GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW*
Due to the spread of the infection and the rapid deterioration in his condition, we were advised by our vet that ear amputation should be considered at this stage to help stop the spread of infection, reduce his discomfort and to help improve his long-term quality of life.
As a charity, our main goal is to ensure that a rabbit always has the best quality of life ahead of them and we agreed with the vet that this would be the best next step. Captain bravely got through the amputation and came back to us once again with a full appetite and looking for lots of attention from our care assistants.
This was a high impact surgery and we knew recovery for this type of operation would take time and a lot of TLC to get him through. He was quite obviously in pain after
Specialist Rabbit Veterinary Treatment
As time went on through his recovery, we did notice that his pain continued and that there was a possibility of a new infection occurring from the way his wounds were healing. This meant that we were now at a stage where we had the difficult decision on whether or not it would be kinder and more humane to euthanise him or if we should seek further advice. A decision we often come up against within the charity (and it doesn't get any easier...).
With agreement from our current vet we decided to seek specialist advice from a rabbit specialist vet so we reached out to Madonna at Ark Vets who was keen to help us investigate the issues further and look into further surgical treatment to prevent the new infection from getting worse.
Madonna skilfully took the time to neaten up his ears further and give him a new course of medication to help aid his recovery.
It's been over 2 weeks now since Captain Morgan's last surgery and we're very pleased to announce that he is starting to make waves in his recovery. We've seen the state of his ears improve (we love his new look) and he's continuing to gain weight steadily and through a healthy, supervised program with his foster carers.
Madonna was so pleased with his post-op check that he was even cheered at in the surgery by other vets in the practise for what has been a truly miracle recovery from what was a very fast acting infection.
It's important to remind ourselves how quickly rabbit health can deteriorate when we think they're healthy. Regular rabbit health checks are absolutely recommended and we need to spend time with our rabbits daily to monitor their behaviours closely and take note of any changes however small. We're glad we were able to act quickly and seek amazing advice from our vet partners to help him through.
Cost of Treatment
The total cost of treatment for this kind of surgery would typically cost in the region of £1,200 - £1,600!
We are privileged and very grateful to have a number of vet partners who offer significant reductions and donated services to allow us to continue to give all the rabbits in our care the treatment they require, but even with such discounts in place we are facing bills exceeding £800 for Captain Morgan's treatment alone.
If you would like to contribute to these costs, or to support the costs of treatment for other rabbits within our care, we would greatly appreciate any donations that can be made to support our charity through this.