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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22823
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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i have a house rabbit whitch is constipated what can i do

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i have a house rabbit whitch is constipated what can i do

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.


First, I do want to warn you not to feed Milly milk. Adult rabbits do not have the right GI bacteria to digest milk. And if you give this, you can cause serious GI microflora upset and potentially severe diarrhea.

 

Now I am happy to discuss constipation with you but I must also warn you that rabbits don't tend to have constipation like other pet species. This is because they live on a very high fiber diet. Instead, we can see a decline in fecal production due to very serious issues like gut obstruction and GI stasis.

 

Therefore, to give me a better idea of Milly's situation, can you tell me:

When did she last produce feces?
What did they look like (ie bigger, smaller, harder, softer, liquid)?

Any decline in appetite?

How is she generally? Lethargic? Hiding? Behaving normally?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

milly was leaving smaller hard bits yes she has stopped eating also last night she running around the room and hiding in corners and under chairs now shes just sitting on her mat

Thank you for the further information about Milly.

I am sorry to hear that you are seeing small feces (a sign of GI slowing), behavior change (especially the hiding) and that she has gone off her food. These are all signs that she is starting with GI stasis and this is an emergency situation for rabbits.

The problem I am sure you will appreciate with rabbits is that they do a very good job of covering up when they are sick. This is because as a prey species, attention to your illness will make you a target for predation. (and this is partly the motivation for her hiding). So, we often don’t catch illness until it is quite advanced. And if we are seeing her showing smaller pellets and especially off her food, then this is quite serious and we need to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible.

The reason why we need to be so pro-active is because any decrease in appetite (especially if it leads to a drop in fecal output) is a very serious problem in rabbit medicine. This is because rabbits have a more complicated gastrointestinal tract then other domestic pets (similar to horses, actually) and if you imagine these guts behave like conveyor belts. They should always be moving, which is why access to slowly digestible foods like hays are fed ad lib.

When a rabbit goes off their food, for whatever reason (ie dental disease, bacterial infections, etc), this can cause their gut to slow or stop, which can lead to gastric stasis, a situation which it is one of the few true rabbit emergencies. So, with these signs, it would be prudent for her to be seen by her vet before this can progress any further.

Just to note, some of the other signs we can see with gastric stasis:

  • Decreasing or sudden lack of appetite for food +/- water)
  • Changes to fecal production (from soft stools, to strangely shaped fecal pellets to diarrhea or no fecal production at all)
  • Off color/lethargy/ hiding
  • No GI sounds or loud uncharacteristic grumbles/growl

 

Now in regards XXXXX XXXXX "why" she is showing a decreased appetite and GI slowing can be a little trickier. There are of course a range of primary issues we must consider, and this is something that a full physical exam by your vet will be able to shed light upon. The vet will be able to listen to her teeth, her guts, her temperature, and have a general evaluation of what underlying trigger might be ailing her. Depending on the vet's findings, they can address the underlying trigger and initiate treatment. Often these cases need pain relief, pro-motility drugs, +/- antibiotics. If her signs are severe, she may need to be hospitalized. Or if you are able to provide diligent supportive care at home, they may advise you on how to syringe feed her.

Typically, anorexic rabbits need to be hand or syringe fed (usually hourly) to continue nutrition input to meet her body's requirement and keep her guts moving to prevent/address stasis. To support her, it is worth getting a vet to dispense a critical care feeds that you can syringe feed the bunny. A very good product for this is Oxbow’s Critical Care feed (http://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/vets/products/critical_care) or Supreme Recovery Diet and most vets will be able to provide this to you. This is a highly nutritious herbivore feed that can be easily made into a slurry for syringe feeding. And it is much easier to use then trying to create a balanced critical care diet at home.

Now be warned that if you do undertake syringe feeding her, then this can be a challenge (we all end up with Recovery on us when we are syringe feeding rabbits). To administer it in as stress free means as possible, I would advise having a peek of this guide (HERE) since a video is worth at least a thousand words. If she is quite resistant to being fed, then do watch the end of the video for 'towel wrapping' her to keep her snug and secure while you are feeding her.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX this is something her vet can check for her. If she is severe dehydrated then the vet might give sterile fluids under her skin. Otherwise, you can try tempting her with pedialyte (fruity flavors are best tolerated), Lectaid (from her vet) or diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water) in a pinch. These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into her system. If she isn't keen on it, you can give pedialyte via dropper of syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking). This is her maintenance rate and it is a good starting place for supporting her against dehydration.

Overall, a depressed appetite with smaller feces is a very serious situation for a rabbit and this shouldn't be ignored. I would advise that she should see her vet immediately. They will be able to determine the underlying trigger, treat her for this and advise you on how to administer critical care diet and nurse her through this situation. Overall, prompt treatment and supportive care are the best things we can do to get this under control and give Milly the best chance of recovery and getting back to herself.

If you don’t already have a rabbit vet, and wish to find one near you, by checking here (http://www.rabbit.org/vets/vets.html) or using the RCVS register (LINK).

 

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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