What To Do When Your Rabbit Is Not Eating

What To Do When Your Rabbit Is Not Eating

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Pet rabbits usually appear to gnaw and chew anything that can get into their mouth. That is the reason why your pet may stop eating unexpectedly. It is a major concern that you should never take lightly. It might not be a huge deal if your cat, dog, or any other pet refuses to eat. However, when the problem involves a rabbit, it might become a very serious situation. 

What Are The Different Types of Rabbits?

While the case typically requires you to bring the animal to a veterinarian as soon as you can, there are things you can do to make your pet feel better. In this post, I will be giving you some tips and information about the possible reasons and treatments to consider if your bunny isn’t eating.

Why Does a Bunny Stop Eating?

The most typical reason for the loss of appetite in bunnies is the gastrointestinal issue known as ileus. It takes place when the normal peristalsis or contractions of the intestines which push the foods through the gut decreases or ceases. Ileus is very harmful in bunnies and may cause death when left untreated. 

  • Ileus is normally because of another issue, involving:
  • Abscesses within or all over the body
  • Dental disease
  • Overgrown teeth
  • Neurological diseases like E. cuniculi 
  • Hock sores and bumblefoot
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Osteoarthritis
  • External parasites such as fleas and lice
  • Environmental stress or changes
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Infectious diseases
  • Organ disease or failure
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Toxins and poisoning
  • Tumors

Observe your pet further for any serious symptoms of ileus:

  • Overgrown incisors or front teeth are so easy to detect. Just lift the lips of your rabbit and check. 
  • Abscesses or tumors can be identified by stroking the rabbit and looking for any lump. 
  • Eye or nasal drainage can be detected if it is not usually there. Likewise, your pet may spend more time wiping the face using its front feet that makes them dirty. 
  • Get a mirror and hold it to your pet’s nose to check if the nostrils are both clear or creating condensation. 

If your pet leaves the food untouched, it means the animal is dealing with the loss of appetite. In some instances, however, these changes can be subtler. If you are not sure of what the rabbit eats, look for the following symptoms:

  • Decreased or no fecal matter
  • Reduced fecal matter size
  • Changes in the texture of the feces (watery, hard, sticky, etc.)
  • Refusal to accept even its favorite treat
  • Reduced weight
  • More leftovers
  • Decreased activity level
  • Teeth grinding

Common Health Problems in Bunnies That Lead to Decreased or Loss of Appetite

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Like humans, rabbits may also lose their appetite when feeling sick. However, if they experienced a loss of appetite and stopped eating, then it may signify a severe health issue. Once you notice your pet stopped eating, be sure that you take it to a vet for proper diagnosis and immediate treatment. The following are 3 common health problems to watch out for in your pet:

Dental Issues

If your pet is not eating enough hay, it could mean it has a dental problem. Hay helps in wearing down their teeth, preventing them from growing too long while keeping them at the ideal length. If your pet is not eating hay daily, it becomes more susceptible to dental problems. Also, molar spurs may take place that makes eating painful for your pet. 

Molar spur is a medical issue that develops on the teeth of your bunny that may lead to getting their cheeks, tongue, and other oral soft tissues. So, start feeding your pet with more hay every day to prevent dental problems from occurring. You may offer 1st-cut timothy hay, 2nd-cut timothy hay, mountain grass, and coarse orchard grass. 

Feels Pain Somewhere Deeply Inside the Body

Oftentimes, bunnies refuse to eat when they deal with pain, especially if they underwent surgery. When your pet has been neutered or sprayed, and it doesn’t eat, try offering leafy greens as treats. Go for the ones you know your pet likes. It can be parsley, basil, mint, or any other fragrant herbs.

Since they are two common surgeries that nearly every domestic bunny will undergo, the veterinarian must know and consider it as a potential concern. Hand-feeding is recommended for products designed for recovery. Be sure you ask your pet regarding it. 

Pain does not show up most of the time. Your pet will feel it when it needs to pass gas. Some veggies and other kinds of food may lead to a worse case of bloating that can be more painful when your pet tries to pass the gas.

If the rabbit has been hunched over and seems to push its tummy to the ground, it can mean your pet is experiencing gas pain. Experiencing gas pain can also reduce your pet’s appetite. In this case, the vet may recommend some home remedies to help the animal pass the gas and experience a soothing relief. 

Gastrointestinal Stasis

GI can be serious and deadly for rabbits. This condition is the result of your pet’s digestive tract slowdown or failure to function. 

If your pet is not eating high-fiber hay, bad bacteria may accumulate within the intestines and produce the gas in the system. Keep in mind that gas causes pain that prevents them from wanting to consume anything. If your pet stops eating, it can even worsen the issue as it stops receiving the needed nutrients, which help in keeping its digestive tract healthy. 

Hence, its digestive tract starts to become smaller, which makes it more difficult to pass through anything. The bad bacteria now sit in the digestive system can produce a toxin that overworks its liver and causes failure. 

What to Do If Your Rabbit Stopped Eating

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In the absence of apparent symptoms of ileus, consider the environmental changes made, which may trigger stress in a rabbit. You may correct it by reversing the changes you previously made and see whether your pet eats some food or a treat. If your pet stopped eating, then you can try the following:

#1. Change the Feeding Habit of Your Pet

Begin with mixed-veggie baby food provided by using a syringe. Force-feed your pet to stimulate its GI. If your pet spends more than 24 hours without eating, the intestines of your pet will be full of gas as the normal peristalsis reduced or ceased. The gas can cause excruciating pain, and it’s the most difficult portion of ileus. 

#2. Let Your Pet Have Some Exercise and Do a Belly Massage

After force-feeding, you must encourage the animal to be active as a form of exercise. Also, you can massage the belly to promote gut motility or the movement of the GI tract muscles needed for elimination. 

#3. Increase Water Intake

Also, you should increase your pet’s water intake to keep it properly hydrated. Fill a clean and neat water bowl and give water to your pet by using a water bowl. An electrolyte solution or syringe water can be given until your pet defecates normally. 

When your rabbit still eats a bit, try to offer leafy greens that are high in water like celery and lettuce and more hay. Also, avoid feeding your rabbit with pellets. When your pet still refuses to eat, call your veterinarian right away. 


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