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Fuzzy's Dislocated Hips



Fuzzy hurt her leg on Saturday 8th November 2003 in the evening. She was running around indoors and the next thing we knew she was hopping around on three legs. She was obviously in pain. The vet was called and fortunately the rabbit vet was on call for the day. 15 minutes later we were at the vet.

The vet didn't find any broken bones and the hip joint did not feel dislocated. We thought it may be a muscle strain or a nerve pinch. Fuzzy was prescribed Metacam (pain relief medication) and sent home.

On Wednesday, Fuzzy was no better so X-rays were scheduled for the next day.

On Thursday the X-rays confirmed the worst. Fuzzy had a dislocated hip. Generally this can be fixed by gently placing the hip joint back into the socket. However, while one hip was being manipulated into place, the other hip dislocated. The X-rays showed an abnormal sacrum with sacralisation of the last lumbar vertebrae. Fuzzy's pelvic bones were fused together abnormally. This condition would have been present when she was born. Also her acetabulae (hip joints) were shallow on both sides, which meant that the femur kept falling out of the joints when they were put back into place. Click the images for a bigger picture.

Dislocated hip
The initial injury

Both hips dislocated Normal rabbit
The left image is both hips dislocated. The image on the right is a normal rabbit skeleton. Notice the fusing of the the last lumbar vertebrae of Fuzzy on the top picture.


The vet considered a Femoral head arthroplasty but hadn't tried it with a rabbit before and was skeptical about the success rate possibility.

Fuzzy went back home while the vet tried to find out what we could do to help her. At this point Fuzzy could not move around and was dragging her hind legs. We thought seriously about putting her down, as there did not seem to be any resolution for Fuzzy's problem. Some urgent research was done to try and save Fuzzy's life.

We found some websites with rabbits that used carts to get around.http://www.jollyrogersranch.com/scooter.html. We considered getting a cart for Fuzzy, but wondered how happy she would be.

After desperately searching for information, we found a website about a rabbit that had dislocated hips fixed. (site no longer online) The vet's phone number was tracked down and due to time differences, we waited until 1am to call. (Fuzzy-rabbit.com is based in Australia and the vet was in US). The vet, Dr. Christine Runnells of the Lititz Veterinary Clinic, was very helpful and mentioned that arthroplasty is very successful with rabbits. Fuzzy was booked in for surgery on Friday. Arthroplasty is a surgical procedure where the head of the femur is removed, so there is no ball and socket joint anymore. Muscle is stitched in to hold the hip in place.

Fuzzy was monitored throughout the night, with food and water fed by hand, and also to make sure she didn't tip over during the night.

Friday: Fuzzy went well in surgery and was happily pigging out on grass and drinking from the water bottle. Fuzzy's leg needed to be rotated and moved periodically to ensure that the muscle did not stay contracted and heal all bound up. This was quite difficult as Fuzzy tended to struggle. Fuzzy also needed injections of antibiotics for the next few days guard against infections.
Fuzzy right side
Fuzzy's right side

Fuzzys leg
Fuzzy's leg close up

Fuzzy's good sideThe good side :-)


Saturday
Fuzzy tried to eat her stitches. The vet nurse came made a house call last night to put an Elizabethan collar on Fuzzy. Fuzzy managed to get out of it. Fuzzy visited the vet today and had the collar modified. Fuzzy was out of the collar by the time she got home. We tried to adjust the collar again. It seemed to be ok. Within an hour, she gotten her nose and mouth under the collar, without getting it off. She managed to eat one stitch. Called the vet again and was told to bandaid the wound and try supergluing it. We weren't too sure about the super glue suggestion, as it may be toxic to rabbits (non surgical superglue that is). Fuzzy was monitored all night again.

Sleeping


Sunday
Thank goodness for bandaids. Fuzzy left the wound alone and we managed to get some sleep. We are having a terrible time trying to move Fuzzy's leg around. It must hurt her a lot. Fortunately she is trying to use the leg to hop on. This is very good. Fuzzy had a trip to the vet for a wound check and an injection of anti biotics. Fuzzy and Thumper have been separated as Fuzzy seems quite unsettled when Thumper comes close. Either Fuzzy may be worried that Thumper may knock into the wound/leg, or she is trying to defend herself from a potential attack. A rabbit's defence is to run, and Fuzzy has had that taken away from her, and this may be causing the upset.

Fuzzy wearing bandaids
Fuzzys bandaids



Monday
Fuzzy is still being monitored thoughout the night, but seems to be regaining her usual attitude.
Fuzzy bites the blanket. Anger management perhaps??
Biting the blanket

Tuesday

Some soft rubber backed mats were placed in Fuzzy's recuperation area. Towels were moving around too much.
New rugs
Fuzzy's new rugs

Wednesday - Friday
Fuzzy has been visting the vet and having some physio work done. Fuzzy has decided that she is feeling better and is making an effort to hop.

Saturday
Today Fuzzy and Thumper were fighting. We don't know what provoked the fight but Fuzzy was ripping fur out of Thumper. They have separated again.

Wednesday December 3rd
Fuzzy underwent surgery on her other hip yesterday. She has made a miraculous recovery and is bright and alert. She even hopped out of the carrier when brought home from the vet. Fuzzy seems quite happy and is using the leg to hop, but does seem to have pain when she puts weight on the leg. Fuzz is growing fuzzy fur back on her left leg, only its growing back grey, not brown. We have put bandaids over the stitches to stop her eating them, and its working well again. Fuzz is going to bunny day care at the vet each day, where very skilled nurses do physio on Fuzzy's legs. Apparently she behaves quite well for the physio sessions, but is an absolute wriggling terror when at home!!


Fuzzy relaxes on the couch


We have a video of Fuzzy running. She is rather quick, so the movie is replayed in slow motion. The movie is 2.29MB
Movie of Fuzzy running

January 6th 2004
Fuzzy has gained enough muscle control in her hind legs to wash her face with both front paws at once. Previously she was only able to use one paw at a time, otherwise she would wobble and become unbalanced. Fuzzy's fur is also growing back slowly. She has some black round patches of fur that grow faster than the other fur. Since surgery, Fuzzy has unbonded with Thumper. We can only attribute this to trauma as Thumper's attitude towards Fuzzy has not changed at all. Fuzzy has been quite aggressive and has physically fought with Thumper before being seperated. Fuzzy broke out of her pen this morning while Thumper was out for some exercise and as a result Fuzzy received a 2 inch gash on her tummy from Thumper. Mind you, it was totally Fuzzy's fault for instigating the fight. Fuzz now has stitches (again) and has 5 bandaids on to try and prevent her from eating her stitches. Never doubt the strength of an angry rabbit - Fuzzy failed to break out of her pen overnight, but managed to break out this morning.

January 19th
Since Fuzzy's surgery, she has decided that she is no longer toilet trained. We can only attribute this to trauma or side effects from medication. She also seems to prefer the company of people than other rabbits. We have decided not to try and rebond her with Thumper as she constantly displays behaviour that suggest that she does not want to be around Thumper. Fuzzy now has her own pen, and has an added second storey to encourage her to jump and build up her leg muscles again.

October 2004
Fuzzy is totally recovered. She runs around without a problem, and can climb up and down stairs easily and likes to jump in her condo. The only difference is that Fuzzy really doesn't like being held, as tends to shuffle her feet around to try and get comfortable.


Other rabbit care information:
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Looking after sick rabbits


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