Keeping your bunny healthy and happy will be your number one priority and we are here to help you accomplish this goal! There are a few very important key points that we would like to highlight that will help you understand what your bunny needs in order to live a long and happy life :)
The most important message we can share is to remember to keep it simple! Bunnies are very low maintenance in terms of what they like to eat, where they like to live and how they like to interact with people! They don't like change (especially in diet or environment) and they thrive in quiet spaces. If their diet or environment have been recently changed or are going to be changed due to various circumstances (you are moving, the feed you normally give them is no longer available and you have to switch feed, you will be having visitors or are welcoming a new pet into your family or your bunny has recently suffered an injury) then you will want to proceed with caution as rabbits are very sensitive animals and sometimes don't take to change too eagerly.
Below we will discuss one of the most common issues that can affect a rabbit if they start to feel uneasy about a recent change. Please be sure to read through this carefully so that you will be able to detect early signs of this condition before it becomes too late.
One of the most common conditions that can negatively affect a rabbit is GI Stasis, or Gastrointestinal Stasis. This is a condition that causes your rabbit's digestive system to slow down or stop altogether. This condition is treatable but, if left untreated, can be fatal.
Below you will find information on the signs of GI Stasis as well as causes, treatments and prevention.
Signs of GI Stasis
If your rabbit is showing any of these symptoms of GI stasis, bring him/her to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately:
- Small and/or malformed fecal pellets
- No fecal pellets
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy / hunched posture
Causes of GI Stasis in Rabbits
The slowdown of the digestive system can be caused by:
- A high starch, low fiber diet (too many treats, not enough hay and pellets)
- Stress (from losing a bonded mate, a change in environment or diet, etc.)
- Pain from underlying issues (dental problems, infections, gas or a recent injury)
- Lack of exercise
Treatment of GI Stasis
When you bring your rabbit to the vet, he/she will try to determine the cause of the slowdown. If there is an underlying condition, it is imperative to address it. The vet may take x-rays to assess the blockage and the presence of gas. If the vet has determined that the best course of treatment is to stimulate motility in the gut, he/she may administer the following:
- Motility drugs which help stimulate movement in the digestive system
- IV fluids which help soften the mass in the intestines
- Pain medication to alleviate discomfort due to gas buildup
- Syringe feeding to ensure the rabbit continues to get essential nutrients
- Antibiotics to combat the overgrowth of harmful bacteria (used with caution because antibiotics can also disrupt the presence of good, essential bacteria in the digestive system)
It is also important to provide plenty of fresh hay and greens for the rabbit should he/she get the urge to eat. Providing particularly fragrant greens, like cilantro or parsley, may help entice a rabbit who is not overly eager to eat.
With these treatments, time, and patience, a rabbit suffering from GI stasis can make a full recovery. But it is important to recognize the symptoms early and take your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately for these treatments.
How to Prevent GI Stasis
There are several measures you can take to help prevent the occurrence of GI stasis. First, ensure your rabbit is getting a proper, hay-based diet. A hay-based diet is essential not only because it provides the fiber necessary to keep the digestive system moving, it also helps wear down a rabbit’s teeth which paves the way for better dental health.
Another way to prevent this condition is to bring your rabbit in for regular veterinary checkups. After examining your rabbit, a vet may may be able to detect underlying health issues that your rabbit has so far successfully hidden from you, such as infections or dental problems.
Third, evaluate your rabbit’s living space. Rabbits need plenty of room to exercise in a bunny-proofed or supervised area. They do best when they are included in family life, but they are prone to high stress levels when there are major changes to their environment and routine, such as the loss of a bonded partner or an influx of household visitors. So do your best to create a happy, healthy environment for your bunny.
If, at any time, you suspect that your bunny is suffering from GI Stasis it is imperative to seek veterinary attention immediately!
You are, of course, welcome to contact us anytime for tips and advice but your vet should ALWAYS be your number one source of medical related information.