Diarrhea is a common problem that has most likely affected every single one of us. There are plenty of reasons why we get diarrhea, and a lot of those reasons tend to vary depending on the person and on the environment. The same can be said when it comes to diarrhea in animals as our dear beloved domesticated pets also suffer from this common problem. Rabbits, unfortunately, are not safe from this ordeal.
Diarrhea in rabbits is almost just as common as it is in humans and in other domesticated animals. However, because rabbits are different compared to our beloved pet dogs and us, the causes and effects of diarrhea may also be different. Moreover, you also have to consider the possibility or even the fact that you have to treat diarrhea in rabbits differently. As such, we have come up with a guide on how you should treat rabbit diarrhea.
What is rabbit diarrhea?
At this point, you probably already know what diarrhea is because there is a good chance that you have experienced it at some point in your life. Basically, diarrhea is the loose and watery stool that is unformed due to certain causes. Food is a common reason why humans experience diarrhea and will most likely cause you to defecate watery stool.
However, rabbit diarrhea is a bit more different compared to human diarrhea. Before you understand what rabbit diarrhea is, you have to know more about the type of feces that these animals have. Unlike a lot of other animals, rabbits have two different types of feces: the normal pellet-shaped feces and the cecotropes. The pellet feces are the normal feces that are similar to what other animals defecate. Meanwhile, cecotropes are different.
While cecotropes are described as feces, they actually are not. Instead, these are doses of nutrients that were left undigested the first time the rabbits ingested them. They are actually nutritious leftovers and special foods that the rabbits need to eat again so that they could actually get into the bunnies’ system. In other words, the rabbits need to digest their food twice by eating cecotropes. That is why you should not be surprised if you see your bunny eating what seems to be poop.
In some cases, if you see what might seem to be rabbit diarrhea, this may, in fact, be unformed cecotropes that look oddly similar to the watery stool we have when we are suffering from the usual type of diarrhea. In that regard, the actual rabbit diarrhea is actually a bit more different and far more extreme than unformed cecotropes. Rabbit diarrhea is, in fact, far more watery and is softer and looser than the unformed cecotropes that may also seem water and loose.
What causes rabbit diarrhea?
The causes of rabbit diarrhea are varied and different depending on the type of rabbit you have and on its environment. You can think of it as how diarrhea in humans can also vary depending on the person and where he is and on what he is used to eating. Nevertheless, there are still common causes of rabbit diarrhea. Here are some of them:
- Bacterial or viral infections – these are common culprits that can easily cause diarrhea or loose stools in your rabbits.
- Parasitic infections – if your rabbit is suffering from internal parasites, there is a chance that these parasites are messing up and affecting your pet’s bowel movement and will cause runny stool.
- Ingestion of toxins and other harmful substances – if your rabbit happens to ingest something that is toxic to its body, its digestive system will react differently and will cause it to have diarrhea.
While food is one of the reasons why some humans and even domesticated animals suffer from diarrhea, it is not always the case for rabbits. Instead, certain types of foods actually cause soft cecotropes in rabbits instead of causing diarrhea. In that sense, if your rabbit happens to be eating a diet that is composed of high levels of certain nutrients such as carbohydrates, there is a good chance for it to form soft cecotropes that may look like rabbit diarrhea.
Treating rabbit diarrhea
Once you have already determined that your rabbit is suffering from diarrhea and is not just simply defecating soft cecotropes, you have to follow these steps:
Check whether the rabbit is eating or not
A rabbit that has diarrhea but is still eating might give you a sigh of relief because you probably do not have to bring it to a vet. If your rabbit is still eating despite diarrhea, the best remedy you can go for is to a change in its diet. Try to decrease its carb intake while increasing fiber. Doing so will quickly show results as your rabbit’s condition will most probably improve within a day. If it is not eating or its condition has not improved despite the home remedy, take it to a vet.
Take a fecal sample of the rabbit’s diarrhea
Collecting a sample of the fecal matter is an important step in treating your rabbit’s diarrhea. That is because this is where the root cause may be determined. Your vet will be able to examine the fecal matter to check what could possibly be the reasons for your rabbit’s diarrhea. Accordingly, he will also prescribe any sort of treatment necessary to treat diarrhea.
Make sure that the rabbit is well-hydrated
One of the first steps to take when treating rabbit diarrhea is to make sure that the rabbit is well-hydrated. A lot of the water that your pet rabbit drank prior to having diarrhea will be excreted along with the watery stool. As such, you have to make sure that it replenishes and rehydrates by letting it drink plenty of water. You can even use hydrating solutions to your rabbit if the necessity arises.
Give it the proper medication
After your vet has examined the stool sample and your rabbit’s condition, he will prescribe the corresponding medication. Imodium will most probably be your vet’s prescribed medication. Make sure that you give it to your rabbit regularly until symptoms subside.
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to illnesses. A good way to prevent diarrhea in your rabbit is to ensure that it is given a proper and well-balanced diet. However, the best way of preventing diarrhea is to sanitize and clean its environment as much as possible because rabbit diarrhea is more likely caused by bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections than it is by poor diet. You can also improve your rabbit’s digestion by giving it probiotics such as BalancePro.
When it comes to illnesses in your pet rabbit, always remember that your rabbit is different compared to you and your other pets. As such, you should also treat its illness differently, even if it is something as common as diarrhea. You should always see to it that you do not underestimate the effects of diarrhea and that you should take your rabbit to a vet as soon as you determine that it is actually experiencing diarrhea. However, you can also prevent diarrhea by seeing to it that you give your pet rabbit the best kind of diet possible and the cleanest and most sanitized environment you can possibly provide.