How to Treat Torticollis in Rabbits: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Treat Torticollis in Rabbits: 15 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Treat Torticollis in Rabbits: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

Torticollis, also known as a crooked neck, is common in pet rabbits. This condition can occur because of serious health problems, including bacterial infections of the inner ear, parasite infections and head trauma. Fortunately, torticollis is treatable. When you notice that your bunny's head is turned to the side, immediately take him to the veterinarian for the animal to receive treatment - the sooner the torticollis is detected, the better the chance of a good recovery.


Part 1 of 3: Diagnosing Torticollis in Rabbits

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 1

Step 1. Notice if the rabbit is turning its head

A crooked neck is an indicator of torticollis, with the animal bending its head to the affected side. Torticollis can start small or occur suddenly.

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 2

Step 2. Observe the animal's movements

Torticollis itself is not a disease - it is a symptom that can indicate balance problems. A rabbit with inflammation of the inner ear and brain has serious symptoms of balance, which is controlled by precisely these areas. If a rabbit's inner ear is inflamed or if it has brain damage (such as trauma or stroke), it loses its sense of balance. Therefore, you can lose coordination when walking or starting to walk in circles.

  • The rabbit can stagger a lot.
  • If the animal is unable to get up, it may start rolling on the ground.
  • If you hold him in your lap, he may start to twirl around in your arms.
Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 3

Step 3. Examine the rabbit's face

Since the brain is the organ that exerts the most control over balance, damage to the nerves that control facial movements can affect the face. For example, he may not be able to close his eyelids, making him unable to blink. Also, the pet's eyes may look sunken in, or it may drool and have a crooked mouth.

The pet's eyes may start moving sideways quickly. This movement is known as nystagmus and indicates nerve damage

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 4

Step 4. Observe changes in the amount of food and water ingested

With an altered sense of balance, the rabbit may feel nauseous and start eating and drinking less than normal. Anorexia can cause serious gastrointestinal problems, so pay attention to your pet's eating habits.

Even if he wants to eat, it can be difficult to bring something to his mouth with a crooked neck

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 5

Step 5. Take the animal to the veterinarian for examination

Don't wait around to take you to the vet - an early diagnosis is critical in treating torticollis. Torticollis can be easily noticed because of the animal's characteristic head tilt, but the veterinarian needs to identify the specific cause of the problem. The effectiveness of the treatment depends on it.

  • Take it to a professional experienced in treating rabbits. Look for experts in the region, on the internet and asking for referrals from friends.
  • As there are several possible causes, the veterinarian must carry out a series of diagnostic tests in addition to the physical exam to go through the options one by one.
  • Among the diagnostic tests are blood tests, urine tests and X-rays.

Part 2 of 3: Treating Torticollis

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 6

Step 1. Treat according to the underlying cause

After the veterinarian has identified the cause of the torticollis, he will devise a specific treatment for the condition. For example, if the rabbit has an inner ear infection, it is necessary to start a long and aggressive treatment with antibiotics. If it's trauma, steroids are used to help with recovery, in addition to other emergency treatments.

For torticollis caused by the E.cuniculi parasite, antiparasitic drugs such as fenbendazole and albendazole are indicated

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 7

Step 2. Follow the instructions carefully

The veterinarian can prescribe various remedies for the rabbit. Confirm that you understand the recommendations correctly and follow the treatment to the letter. If you're not sure how to administer medications, ask the vet to show you first.

Treatment for torticollis can take several months or even a lifetime. Administering the medication correctly, whether in the long or short term, helps the animal to recover

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 8

Step 3. Feed the bunny healthy food

Offer lots of fresh vegetables, including green leaves. With a crooked neck, he probably won't be able to eat much on his own. In addition to whatever foods he can ingest, you should supplement him using a syringe. The veterinarian can teach you how to proceed. Also try cutting food into smaller pieces and feeding it by hand.

  • Even if the feed is part of the rabbit's normal diet, do not offer it during the treatment.
  • The rabbit needs to eat cecotrophs, that is, fecal droppings that contain important nutrients. If he can't reach them on his own, put them in an easily accessible place. Wear gloves to catch the cecotrophs.
  • The veterinarian can show you how to feed the pet using a syringe.
Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 9

Step 4. Encourage him to drink water

Hydration during treatment is as important for the animal as healthy food. Buy a heavy, shallow bowl from which the rabbit can drink water without tipping over. If he is not able to drink himself, it is necessary to put water in the pet's mouth with a syringe.

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 10

Step 5. Exercise the rabbit

Exercise is an important component in the treatment of torticollis. Once he's stable, build a play area so he can exercise. Some examples of toys that can be placed in this location are cardboard boxes and shredded newspaper. Stay with the rabbit while he plays.

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 11

Step 6. Be patient with the animal

As it may be necessary to take care of him for a long time, you need to be patient until he recovers. In a few days, you can already notice some improvement. For example, he may start to eat and drink more, he may try to do his own hygiene and move around more.

Be aware that the rabbit can have a crooked neck even after the treatment is finished. Fortunately, he can have a happy life anyway, as long as the other symptoms pass and he returns to normal

Part 3 of 3: Taking care of a rabbit with stiff neck

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 12

Step 1. Make the place where the rabbit lives comfortable and safe

If he falls when he walks or rolls on the floor, he could get hurt by hitting the corners of the cage. Also, it can create sores and bruises from lying in the same position for too long. Place a fleece blanket lining in the cage to further cushion the floor.

  • Remove all items (water bottle with straw, for example) from inside the cage so he doesn't get hurt.
  • Consider putting it in a smaller location so there isn't a lot of room to stagger and roll. Place towels or blankets wrapped around the sides of the cage so it has something soft to lean against.
  • A rectangular plastic box is an ideal small cage. Line the bottom with some urine-absorbing pillows and a blanket, and cover the sides with rolled-up towels.
Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 13

Step 2. Protect the rabbit's eyes

If it can't blink, change the hygienic granules from the place used to make the necessities for an option without residues, thus preventing the powder from getting into the pet's eyes when it's there. To keep his eyes moisturized, your veterinarian may prescribe eye ointment or artificial tears. Trim your pet's nails or have your veterinarian cut them so he doesn't scratch his eyes.

Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 14

Step 3. Hygiene the pet

With a crooked neck, he may not be able to do his own cleaning, which can generate an accumulation of feces and urine in the anus region, leaving the area irritated and causing bacterial infections. Gently clean the anal area to keep it dry and remove stool.

  • Pet diapers are another good option for keeping your rabbit's fur clean. Look for the product in pet stores.
  • Brush the rabbit twice a week with a soft bristle brush.
  • If he's trying to clean up on his own, let him. This is a sign that he is getting better.
Treat Wry Neck in Rabbits Step 15

Step 4. Handle it as little as necessary

If you keep catching the rabbit too many times, it can make it feel shaky. If necessary, hold him firmly against your chest so that he feels more stable. Change its position slowly to prevent sores from forming on the pet's body.


  • Think about buying stuffed animals. This 'company' can reassure you during treatment.
  • Even if the rabbit has its head turned forever after treatment, it can still have a happy life. Do not euthanize the animal just for this reason.


  • Symptoms may get worse before there are signs of improvement. This is normal.
  • If your rabbit's symptoms don't improve after a long treatment and he seems depressed, talk to your veterinarian about the next step. Euthanasia can be an option if the animal does not have a good quality of life.

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