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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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hi, ive had two rabbits for 5 years, they where 4 when I got

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hi, ive had two rabbits for 5 years, they where 4 when I got them, so been togerther 9 years, one died on Tuesday, now the other one has stopped eating, and sits or lies in same place, what can I do thanks Janice

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

I am very sorry for your recent loss, but I must say that I am quite worried about Lilo. It is quite possible that the loss of his bonded friend has hit him hard but this is not a species that can afford to be off his food. As well, we do have to consider whether his current state is related to what had affected the other bunny or whether the stress of the other's loss is causing such a spike in Lilo's stress hormones to dampen his immune system and put him at risk of opportunistic infections. So, we do have a few considerations here for him.

In any case, while we do need to address his loss with interaction and mental distraction (ie cuddles, play, toys, getting him out of their shared hutch and interacting with him, etc); we also need to be aggressive in getting him to eat and drink even if he isn't keen. The reason why we cannot let this slide is because a decrease in appetite 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.

Yet when a rabbit starts to go off their food, for whatever reason (even due to missing a life mate), 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, if Lilo cannot be tempted to eat/drink properly, then it would be prudent to have him seen by the 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
  • Stretching out and lethargy (associated with gut pain)

Whatever the precipitating cause, this situation is serious, I advise getting him seen as soon as possible. The vet will able to provide medications to restart the gut ((ie prokinetics, pain relief, +/- fluids, antibiotics). Care for these wee ones is often intensive, and he will likely need to be force fed a highly nutritious rabbit food (Oxbow’s Critical Care feed (LINK)) to keep his guts moving (or restart them if they have already stopped with his anorexia) until he is eating on his own. And if there is any delay in your getting him seen, I would note that in the short term, you can consider syringe feeding veggie baby food mixed with crushed pellets. This isn't as nutritionally balanced (or provide enough fiber) but it is a short term means of getting food and some fluids into him in this moment of urgency.

As well, if you are concerned that he might be becoming dehydrated, you can try and encourage him to drink by offering fresh water. If he is not amenable then you can also try pedialyte or diluted Gatorade (50% diluted with water). These will help replenish electrolytes and get some glucose into his system as well as get fluids in. You can also give pedialyte via dropper or syringe. A typical dose for animals is 4.8mls per 100 grams of body weight per day (obviously divided over all day drinking).

Overall, even if Lilo is depressed by the loss of his friend, we need to get him eating and drinking urgently. The risk of gastric stasis is high here and we just don't want to lose him so soon after your other bunny. Therefore, it would be ideal to get his vet involved immediately while providing supportive care until he is seen. If you don’t already have a rabbit vet, and wish to find one near you, by checking here the RCVS Register (HERE) or HERE).

Finally, since this is an emergency and it is already well into the evening here, I do want to note that most veterinary practices here do have contingency plans for emergency care for their patients even when they are not open. Therefore, it is worth ringing the practice. Even if they aren't open, they will likely have a message to direct you on how to contact their out of hours service. Again you can find your local vet via the RCVS Register (HERE) to find your local vets or Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends. In any case, if you wanted to get him checked out now to give him the best chance.

I hope this information is helpful.

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

All the best,

Dr. B.


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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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thank you I will get lilo to vet in the morning, stitch passed away of old age, he had a clean bill of heath and a good life, think lilo is just heart broken, thanks janice

You are very welcome, Janice.

I am glad that we don't have to be worried about anything communicable being to blame. It is likely the loss he surely feels is triggering his signs, but we just need to be strong for him and make sure he doesn't harm himself by going off his food.

Take care & my thoughts are with you both,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

hi lilo passed peaceful on my lap this morning. was waiting on taxi to vet. one week after stitch. janice

Dear Janice,

I am so sorry to hear that Lilo has passed away. You did all your could to keep him from suffering and at least now he is with Stitch.

Please take care,
Dr. B.