Head Tilt

By: Jennifer Habernal
Snowpea, a spayed female Florida White entered into foster care with the Missouri House Rabbit Society on a Sunday afternoon. The following Thursday, she went into head tilt. The information contained on this page is information that Snowpea’s caretaker has learned in the short time Snowpea has had head tilt. Thru lots of trials and errors, Snowpea’s caretaker has learned some very valuable information on caring for a head tilt rabbit. Like all our rabbit companions, head tilt rabbits have just as much love to give, and so much to teach us. With Snowpea’s assistance, that learning process has begun for one caregiver, we hope that you will learn from Snowpea as well.

*Please note that no medication names or dosages are given in this information, you and your veterinarian will need to decide together what medications and/or treatments your head tilt rabbit should be on

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Puppy Pad washable liner

During the first 5 days of Snowpea’s head tilt, she was rolling uncontrollably, so she lived in a laundry basket, which had a towel on the bottom, then on top of the towel was purchased a “Puppy Pad” which is a washable liner used for puppies as they are learning to be house trained. You can purchase these pads at Petsmart, the small size, shown here costs approx. $20 The dimension of this pad is approx. 2′ wide x 18″ deep. The puppy pad is used to help soak up urine and help keep Snowpea dry and comfortable. On top of the puppy pad, was put another towel, then towels rolled up and placed around the perimeter of the basket. This kept Snowpea safe in case she rolled, and also enough room for her caretaker to place some food in the basket with her.

Snowpea thrived with excellent medical care from a rabbit savy veterinarian (for a list of veterinarians in the Kansas City area, click here). Within 10 days of Snowpea being on the right medicine, both traditional medicine and herbal, Snowpea’s head tilt had almost completely gone away. Unfortunately, Snowpea relapsed back into head tilt and is currently still in need of constant care.

The pictures below show a step by step process for a safe environment for your head tilt rabbit.

The perimeter is a 2′ high dog pen. Three panels are used here, the forth side of the pen are two 14″ square grid panels, making it easier for the caretaker to reach in. Total pen dimension is 2′ x 2. The floor has a piece of a carpet remnant, then a 100%cotton rug is placed on top. The perimeter is lined with a bumper pad, which you can find these inexpensively at garage sales or children’s consignment shops.

A blanket was folded and placed on top of the cotton rug for additional padding.

The Petsmart puppy pad is placed on top of the blanket.

A clean cotton towel is placed on top of the puppy pad. Please note that the cotton towels should be changed once it has gotten soiled 2-3 times per day.

Snowpea back in her pen. Note that Snowpea’s food is always in close reach for her. There is also enough room for her to stretch out.

It never hurts to have a babysitter nearby to watch over Snowpea.

As Snowpea improved, it was clear that she needed more than a 2′ x 2′ pen, so using 14″ grid panels, her pen has been extended to 2’wide x 3′ long.

The nice thing about the grid panels (which can be purchased at places such as Target, Sam’s Club, Costco) is that it can be made longer or smaller. The grids are attached to the gold pen by plastic cable ties, which can be purchased at your local hardware store.

This is Snowpea as she is today. While she does have a definite disadvantage caused by her head tilt, this in no way stops her from having a wonderful life. When she is happy she does her own version of a happy hop, and when she is mad she thumps. She does not let her condition interfere with being happy… and a happy bunny she is. Note the happy feet!

Snowpea receives medicines twice a day, the information below is the way that Snowpea’s caretaker gives medicines.

Snowpea’s pen is to the left and bottom of this picture, keeping her close to her house is good as that it does not stress her when she has to be moved for medicines and when her pen is cleaned. Snowpea is put in a cat bed for medicines, the high sides of the bed offer her support in case she were to fall over or roll. In addition, pillows are stacked on both sides of her for additional protection. Snow pea tries to get out of the bed during medicines, so the pillows help to contain her while not supervised.

Snowpea’s caregiver was encouraged to take her to get acupuncture treatments. The pictures below were taken during her first session. For 10 weeks Snowpea went for acupuncture (every Saturday morning). Snowpea’s caregiver has noticed a dramatic improvement in Snowpea since the treatments began. While her head is still very tilted, her attitude has improved dramatically, she now has a zest for life and is a very happy bunny. Here, Dr. Pam Truman gives Snowpea her first acupuncture treatment 3 weeks after she went into head tilt.

Snowpea just after the acupuncture needles were put into place.

Not one minute after the previous picture was taken, that Snowpea did a big flop on her side and slept thru the rest of the session. This was the first time Snowpea had flopped on her side since her head tilt.

Exercise time is very important for both Snowpea’s physical and mental health. After Snowpea had progressed well enough to have playtime outside her pen, she was placed on the floor in her caretaker’s living room. For the first seven to ten days, Snowpea’s caretaker was always sitting next to her encouraging her and there in case Snowpea fell over or began to roll.

Understandibly, Snowpea was very unsure about not only herself, but of this new environment for the first few days. She would take a step, wobble, then right herself. This process lasted approximately ten days.

Now Snowpea runs the living room everynight and is up to five hours of playtime. She has her favorite places to rest, and loves to run under the coffee table and end tables. she also enjoys tearing and nibbling on paper!

Snowpea after her first week of playtime and exercise.

After the first month of playtime. Notice how much improved her tilt has become.
While at rest her head it more tilted, but when she is out playing it it much less noticeable.
Snowpea now has run of “her” living room and does not have to be supervised.

MOBUNHead Tilt

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