Q:My two-year-old rabbit hasn’t been eating much for the past few days and his stool volume has decreased. He sits in a loafing position and doesn’t move much. I also occasionally hear some gurgling noises from his tummy. What should I do?

A: I hope that you have brought your rabbit to a vet by now. A rabbit with decreased appetite, and hence a decrease in stool volume, is a cause for concern. A decrease in appetite or stool volume may indicate various problems, but are not limited to overgrown molar tooth, gut stasis, intestinal obstruction, infection, inflammation, or fever. These conditions do cause discomfort to a rabbit, and hence it is lethargic, and very likely uncomfortable. Audible gut sounds may indicate a problem, but may not be significant in this instance. It’s important that you bring your bunny to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Gut or gastrointestinal stasis, in particular, is a potentially fatal condition whereby the digestive system slows down or stops completely. Bad bacteria then builds up in the intestines and releases gas into the system, causing painful and uncomfortable bloating, and further decreasing a rabbit’s appetite. This worsens the problem because the bunny will become more dehydrated and starved of roughage and essential nutrients.

As the contents of the digestive tract become more compact, the rabbit will have an even more difficult time passing it through. When the bacteria release toxins into the system, this will stress the liver, and may cause the organ to fail.

A diet that is high in starch and low in fibre, a lack of exercise, or pain from issues like molar spurs and urinary tract infections can all cause the digestive system to become sluggish. A balanced rabbit diet should comprise of mostly hay for roughage, some pellets, fresh fruits, and vegetables.A hay-based diet is essential because it provides fibre, which helps to keep the digestive system moving. Your rabbit should be given lots of exercise as well in terms of free mobility to hop everywhere as this stimulates gastrointestinal action and the passage of stool. 

Always weigh your rabbit weekly to monitor its weight—a change in body weight of over 10 percent is cause for concern.

 

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