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Dr. Barbara
Dr. Barbara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 1614
Experience:  Thirty years experience in small animal medicine and surgery.
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Rabbit: Loss Appetite – Yesterday afternoon my 2 year old

Customer Question

Rabbit: Loss Appetite

– Yesterday afternoon my 2 year old Netherland Dwarf 'house' rabbit had a few large, sticky clumpy stools stuck to bis behind and I had to put him in the bath for a wash. Afterwards he seamed happy/springy/normal enough apart from a slightly pink-er behind, which I presumed was just an expected level of skin irritation which would die down now cleaned; deciding to leave it alone and just monitor it, checking for signs the irritation was not clearning on its own etc. I also cleaned out his cage to monitor his stools.

As we had recently changed his food and suspected this to be the problem, we immediately went to the pet store to buy his usual stuff – removing any of the new type from his cage and replacing it with his usual food as soon as we got home (and adding extra hey).

Today I notice he does not appear to have gone to the bathroom at all, and has barely touched his bowl of food (although it is hard to tell with hey if he has had any of that instead), but I believe he his drinking normally. Concerned about his digestive system stopping and desperate to get him to eat, I went against my earlier judgement to keep things simple and clipped a treat stick into the cage - something which did work as he has taken a couple of nibbles, but I worry it may be insufficient.


1) How long before you need to see a vet? Could we monitor him and just take him in tomorrow or is that too risky and he ought to be seen tonight? (This happened before due to another cause and minutes after we handed over £150 the rabbit started recovering before having even taken any of the medicine, and, in light of our severely restricted finances, I do not want to spend money needlessly, but neither do I want to risk taking no action if it is putting my bunny at serious risk).

2) Are their any home remedies to help encourage rabbits to eat, ways to jump-start their digestive systems, or any thing else I can do at home? (I don't want to get to the vet and be given a 'Rescue Mix' paste as my rabbit just refused it last time and it was a complete waste).

Many thanks!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 4 years ago.

Dr. Barbara :

Hi, Welcome to JustAnswer. I am a licensed veterinarian and I'm here to help you. I'm sorry to hear about Binky's possibly decreased appetite. The sticky stool does sound like he had a bit of diarrhea, and it is "normal" to have no stool after the diarrhea. However, the fact that Binky's appetite is decreased may indicate that things have not resolved as you suspect.

Dr. Barbara :

How many hours actually has it been since he produced a stool?

Dr. Barbara :

It doesn't sound to me like Binky needs to be seen tonight if he is not in pain, and if his gum color is nice and pink.

Dr. Barbara :

The fact that he did nibble on the treat stick also indicates to me that he doesn't need to be seen tonight. Also, perhaps as you are home now or soon, you may be able to tell how much of the hay he is eating.

JACUSTOMER-3qt0tkg2- : Hello again. On Monday I gave him a bath as I was afraid he'd get an infection as he was so smelly. But then he started shaking so I worried I'd given him a chill so I blew-dried his fur, but he was stil shaking so I worried I'd given him heat stroke(!). In the end I tried to tempt him with the odd treat and slivers of banana (which he took sporadically) and force fed him some water with a syringe. By late last night he seemed to have come around and finally did some 'poo eating'.
JACUSTOMER-3qt0tkg2- : As the situation appears to have resolved itself so e of your previous answer is moot... However, I'd appreciate it if you let me know if you thought I handled the situation ok, or if there is anything I should have done differently.
JACUSTOMER-3qt0tkg2- : Many thanks.
Dr. Barbara :

Hi and thanks for your response. The shaking Binky experienced could have been from being chilled, but since it continued, more likely due to pain. However, what you did is absolutely correct. He needed to be cleaned, and as long as the bath was warm and you used gentle soap this was fine. I too would have then used a hair dryer when he started shaking, but of course would have it blow just room air or be on the lowest setting, checking his skin frequently.

Dr. Barbara :

The best news is that he is again eating his night stool, and hopefully even since you have written he is continuing to perk up and eat and drink normally.

Dr. Barbara :

I'd like to talk about feeding bunnies a bit. . .hope you don't mind. Rabbits are hind gut fermenters and need a high fiber diet. They also need to grind fiber to keep their teeth healthy. Their diet therefore should consist mostly of fresh grass hay and timothy and oak hay are the best here in California. Since rabbit pellets are usually alfalfa based, I recommend staying away from alfalfa hay because alfalfa is high in calcium which can lead to urine crystallization and bladder stones.

Dr. Barbara :

The daily amount of pellets should be 1-2 Tbs., and other veggie treats should be limited to about 1 Tbs. Of course Binky should always have fresh water available.

Dr. Barbara :

How is Binky doing by now?