Recently, we have noticed a spike in gastrointestinal (GI) stasis in our rabbits. Our poor Harvey was one of them but thanks to his attentive owner, Juliah, he was immediately rushed to the vet and was promptly treated. With our rabbit’s sensitive digestive tract, not eating or pooping is a very serious concern. Today, we hope to share some tips to help owners be more prepared when faced with this potentially fatal condition.
KNOW THE SIGNS
A rabbit with GI discomfort may show less enthusiasm in their usual meals. They may not clear as much hay and may not even want their favorite treats. Their poo and pee production maybe lesser than usual and instead of splooting on their bellies with their legs stretched out, they tucked their limbs under their belly and sort of ‘stone’ in a corner like a mother hen. All these are signs of GI discomfort and if persist for over 8 hours, should be seen by a rabbit-savvy vet for intervention.
UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE
As prey animals, our rabbits eat to survive and they will never refuse food unless there is a problem. Hence, it’s very important for owners to realize that GI stasis should be treated as a symptom and not a problem on its own. This is why a rabbit-savvy vet will often recommend diagnostic such as X-Ray, blood tests and a thorough physical check into their dental, limbs, organs etc to investigate the root cause. Based on our experience, GI stasis can be caused by anything from stress to fur ingestion to organ failure.
Most owners panic because they are not sure what to do. We recommend that you stock up on first aid supplies such as Rid Wind and Applelin to intervene within hours of noticing the discomfort. Feeding water and giving tummy massages can also stimulate the rabbit’s digestive tract. We do not encourage force-feeding critical care and/or medication without the vet’s advice. If the rabbit does not improve within hours of intervention, we recommend heading to a rabbit-savvy vet for professional advice.
PREVENTION IS KEY!
You can help your rabbit build a healthy digestive tract by feeding unlimited fibrous hay such as Timothy hay and orchard grass. Ensure he drinks at least 50ml of water/kg of his weight a day to stay hydrated. Groom him regularly to remove loose fur. If he has a weak digestion, consider adding supplements such as Protexin Fiberplex, Protexin pellets and Oxbow digestive support to his diet. Most importantly, regular wellness check (every 6-12 months) is a great way to monitor his health with the help of a veterinary professional.
GI stasis is a serious condition but it is highly treatable and preventable. At Bunny Wonderland, we have successfully managed hundreds of GI cases with first aid care as well as the help of the veterinary professionals. We have compiled a comprehensive list of information in our Rabbit Care Guide to assist owners in preventing, treating and managing such condition. You can click at our link here to learn more: https://bit.ly/2FdMFA6.
(Photo credit to Juliah and her BW rabbit, Harvey)