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Lameness in Rabbits

The common causes of lameness in rabbits are injury, dietary deficiency and infection.  Other causes include stroke, tumours and toxins.

Any injury that causes damage to the limbs or spine should be checked out by a vet.  These animals are prey species who experience a lessened ability to flee any potential predators as stressful.   Pain, often related to this type of injury, is also stressful for them.   Although a trip to the vet may be stressful for the animal in itself, it is important that an injured animal be properly assessed and any pain controlled.

Rescue Remedy may help and injured animal calm down (or it could be the brandy!) and the homoeopathic remedies Aconite, for shock, and Arnica for bruising/injury may also help.  If you give the animal any kind of over the counter pain killer such as baby paracetemol or a herbal painkiller such as meadowsweet, you must inform your vet so that they can take this into account when assessing your animal.

Diets deficient in calcium or with too little calcium in relationship to phosphorous, can cause bones to grow incorrectly or become brittle. There is a complex relationship between calcium, phosphorous, magnenium and other trace elements, vitamins D and C in the development of healthy bones.  Deficiency of these vitamins may also contribute towards poor bone structure.

Diets deficient in Vitamin E can lead to poor muscle development, this is particularly common in older animals where the supplementation with wheatgerm may be of benefit.

E Cuniculi in rabbits and Torticollis can cause bodily distortion and paralysis. E Cuniculi is short for Encaphalitozoon Cuniculi, a protozoan infection that attacks the central nervous system. Read more by clicking on the links below to the US House Rabbit Societies articles at


US HRS article on Torticollis

US HRS article E Cuniculi as a cause of paralysis in rabbits. by Dr Carollyn Harvey DVM & Cynthia Besch-Williford DVM, PhD

Hind Limb Paresis and Paralysis in Rabbits by  Dana M Krempels PhD, University of Miami  “Paralysis is defined as loss of the ability to move a body part. Paresis is defined as slight or partial paralysis. Unfortunately, companion rabbits sometimes suffer paresis of the hind limbs that makes them unable to stand with those legs, and to locomote normally.”

Torticollis (Head Tilt) in rabbits by Dana M Krempels PhD, University of Miami  “The condition medically known as torticollis (which is Latin for “twisted neck”) and sometimes as “wryneck” causes a rabbit’s head to twist over sideways. Often, torticollis is accompanied by a rapid side-to-side movement of the eyeballs (nystagmus), an indication that the bunny is suffering from dizziness/vertigo that should be treated along with the problem causing the head tilt.”

Rabbit Network’s report on treatments for E Cuniculi