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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sanctuary Rabbits: Glenna Goes to SEAVS' New Location!

 Glenna the Good
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Here are a few photos of the beautiful new hospital at SEAVS (Stahl's Exotic Animal Veterinary Services) new location in Fairfax, Virginia. It is just beautiful! Bamboo accents and a faux bamboo floor present a calm, soothing atmosphere. Earthy green and brown tones adorn the walls as do gorgeous primitive artwork from exotic locales.

Little Earless Glenna and I trekked down to SEAVS (Stahl's Exotic Animal Veterinary Services) new location in Fairfax, VA week before last so Glenna could get an exam and evaluation by Dr. Scott Stahl. Dr. Stahl is one of the top exotic vets in the mid-Atlantic and I have ended up going to him for help with some really tough cases dating back to 1997 when he was at Pender or that part of Pender now referred to as Eastern Exotics (which earned that name by virtue of the fact that he was the chief vet).

Glenna suddenly lost a lot of weight and I assumed it was because it was time for a molar trim, but it was more serious. Glenna went in to a different vet at first for a routine molar trim and came out, for the second time, with no molars trimmed and a report that they were unsuccessful in opening her mouth for the trim, apparently her jaw was frozen shut. Some recommendations were made to me which did not sound good to me and I took her to Stahl instead. He was able to open her mouth enough for a trim and Glenna was much relieved. He also palpated her entire jaw and said she has no tooth root abscesses. The pending diagnosis is an attack of e. cuniculi on the bone - or a type of osteomyelitis (bone infection) in the temporomandibular joint or TMJ.

Glenna's jaw joint is badly inflamed and she has trouble eating hay and pellets. In humans who have TMJ disorder, chewing can become painful and eventually the TMJ ceases to work and the person cannot open their mouth. At that point, the human can have the jaw joint flushed or more invasive surgery. So far, it appears Glenna is having a similar problem with her TMJ. This is most likely due to the fact that her upper and lower jaw are so misaligned. She has been chewing with a crooked mouth for a long time.

I attempted to start assist feeding Glenna with Oxbow Critical Care, the high nutrient formula exotic vets give to their clients to encourage a bunny (or other herbivore) to eat when they're not eating well or not eating at all. I used a 60cc syringe to feed her the Critical Care but she would just swish it around in her mouth and spit it out. I had to come up with some additional ideas to tempt her to eat. So I put some Gerber Organic baby food, carrots, in the Critical Care.

It worked but still she didn't want to be assist fed so I just put the Critical Care (CC) in a shallow bowl, a cat food bowl, for her. I wanted the bowl to be shallow so she didn't have to strain her neck and it would be easy for her. This idea worked and soon she started eating four bowlfuls a day of CC. This is a lot of CC! But that's all she's eating. However, I did catch her eating one leaf of hay this morning. We ran out of the carrot baby food and she wasn't interested in the bowlful of CC. When I spied her chewing on the hay, she froze. She didn't want me to think she's eating hay ok. I might stop giving her CC if that were the case.

So whether she can open her mouth or not at this point doesn't matter anymore. All she wants is CC and the carrot baby food. That's fine, she can eat CC for the rest of her life if she insists, but it is expensive! It will cost about $25 a week just for the Critical Care! And she gets it all over herself too so I have to pluck the dried clumps of CC off her chin and paws.

She's pretty happy though and with her metacam every day, her discomfort is reduced and so is the inflammation in her jaw. She is on two antibiotics, chloramphenicol and Bicillin (PenG) injections to combat what might be an e. cuniculi attack. Dr. Stahl took some blood and sent off for an e. cuniculi titer but the results aren't back yet. Earlier bloodwork she'd had looked pretty good and not indicative of a bacterial infection.

So stay tuned for more on Earless Glenna. If her e.c. titer is positive, then she will go on Panacur for 28 days which has been shown to be effective in combating this insidious blood parasite. E. cuniculi strikes many, many rabbits and can cause various kinds of paralysis but most often hind limb paralysis as well as other neuromuscular symptoms. Perhaps the most insidious attack of all results in head tilt. But head tilt is not untreatable. We've had bunnies get that and make complete recoveries so that you could never tell they had head tilt.

If Glenna's jaw paralysis is not caused by e. cuniculi but rather just plain old muscle tension from such a maligned joint, then eating the Critical Care should have given her TMJ a good rest. But we are also going to look into acupuncture for her as this was suggested by one bunny guru I consulted with as a possible source of relief. So was massage but I want to wait and make sure the cause is not infectious first because massage may help spread the infection within the body, and we don't want to risk that until she gets on the e.c. treatment first.

Stay tuned! I'll tell you one thing folks, Glenna loves life and she has a tremendous will to live. She has already been to hell and back and we're not giving up on her. This little gal is the poster child for why rabbits should live in the house! Frostbitten ears, warbles (fly strike), parasites and predators are all reasons to keep your bunnies in the house!

Glenna sure is glad to be here in this house! And we'll keep her happy and comfortable as long as we can and we won't listen to anybody who doesn't know her as well as we do. Glenna wants to live!

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