Rabbits are different from other pets like dogs and cats. Their digestive systems are very complex and sensitive. The stress due to the sudden diet or housing changes can disrupt the digestion of your pets, making them very sick. If your pets seem not feeling or they don’t even taste their food, do something right away to be sure they get the right treatment.
How to Identify Digestive Issues in Rabbits?
First things first, when you suspect a digestive problem in your bunnies is to check their appetite. Loss of appetite is a typical symptom of digestive issues in rabbits. At first, a decreased appetite can be difficult to notice.
Your pets might be sick for days before you notice they are not eating much. Anorexia in bunnies can result in severe medical issues, so you should seek treatment for your pets right away.
Your bunnies might be eating less due to their inability to eat and not because they just don’t want to. For instance, dental disease can make it hard for rabbits to chew their food properly.
Second, you need to check frequently the fecal pellets of your pets. Healthy rabbits produce 2 kinds of fecal pellets. One type is the hard pellets made of indigestible fibers, and the other is the soft pellet or cecotrope. The rabbits will eat the soft pellet to get the remaining nutrients in them. If your pets are dealing with digestive problems like GI stasis, they will defecate less. Sometimes, they don’t defecate at all.
Digestive issues caused by a virus or bacteria can lead to diarrhea. Inflamed intestines may result in the production of pellets covered with mucus. You must consider taking photos of the feces to show the veterinarian what the stools of your pets look like.
Likewise, you should watch out for any changes that can take place in the behavior of your pets. With a reduced appetite, your pets’ behavior and demeanor will change due to their upset tummies. For instance, you may see them looking lethargic and want to be on their own. They may lie down awkwardly on their sides or stay in the sitting pose to reduce pressure on the belly.
Your pet may also have a hunched posture. They may also grind their teeth due to abdominal pain. It happens when their tummies are full of gas. To know if your pets have gas in their tummies, gently touch their bellies. Do it if they let you. Their bellies might feel as soft as dough, indicating gas buildup. Accumulated gas might also make their bellies feel too hard.
With digestive issues, harmful bacteria and GI stasis can outnumber good bacteria within the gut. These harmful bacteria produce gas. Listen to the sounds from the bellies of your rabbit. The digestive system may make sounds when processing foods and moving them through the intestinal system.
These gastric sounds can be completely absent or abnormal when your pets suffer from digestive issues. For instance, when your pets have gas, their bellies will make gurgling sounds. In GI stasis, these sounds are frequently apparent; then, they will reduce or stop for good as the disease worsens.
Seeking General Veterinary Treatments
If you notice all those common symptoms of digestive problems in your bunnies, your next move is bringing them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Digestive issues can cause worse scenarios. So, taking your pets to a veterinarian right away is very important.
When you get there, the specialist may perform a physical examination of the rabbits. After that, they will conduct diagnostic tests based on what they think is the culprit of the issue. If your pets have diarrhea, the veterinarian may do some tests to the feces to determine the specific microorganism.
Your specialist will take x-rays and carry out an abdominal ultrasound when they suspect GI obstruction or stasis. GI obstruction could be dangerous and requires emergency treatment. Visualizing the bellies of your pets will help the veterinarian in diagnosing and treating the disease correctly and effectively.
You should also talk about the treatment choices available for your pets with the veterinarian. Treating digestive issues in rabbits usually involves different general treatment techniques like rehydration, pain control, and restoring the gut movement. These treatments are better performed by veterinarians. You can take charge only when your pets are well enough for in-home care. The treatment choices may slightly differ depending on the digestive problem your pets might have.
Use medicines to stimulate the gut movement. When the digestive systems of your bunnies are not moving the food through quickly, the problem should be addressed immediately to get it back to normal. Aside from fluid therapy, the veterinarian may consider medicines like prokinetics to stimulate the gut to move properly. Prokinetics can help a lot in relieving GI stasis and diarrhea due to antibiotic overuse.
When your rabbits have GI obstruction, they should not be given with prokinetics. Prokinetics might take weeks to restore the normal gut movement in your pets.
Abdominal pain caused by digestive issues is also a major disturbance. Gas buildup and diarrhea could be extremely painful for the rabbit. When the pain is serious, the veterinarian may administer pain medicines to control and reduce the pain fast. When the veterinarian allows you to take your pets home, he may prescribe pain medicines to continue managing abdominal pain at home.
Also, don’t forget to encourage your pets to eat. A poor diet is the leading cause of the different digestive problems experienced by rabbits. The veterinarian will see first whether your pets can eat a well-balanced diet on their own. If they can’t, or they don’t, the specialist will try feeding them with high-fiber gruel.
Treating Certain Digestive Issues
You have to keep your pets warm. Based on the digestive issue, your pets might require specific veterinary care. When your rabbits have gas, their temperature might drop below the normal range that can lead to hypothermia. The veterinarian will give different options in keeping the animals warm. These include putting the bunnies on heating pads, keeping them surrounded with hot water bottles, or just holding them.
What about the gas? The veterinarian may administer a product that contains simethicone, the ingredient that can effectively relieve gas. Non-prescription products that contain simethicone are widely available, but nothing is better than bringing your pets to the veterinarian. Tummy massages can help in relieving the gas.
Also, you should deal with the hairball. When your pets have a hairball, the veterinarian may try a range of remedies to get rid of it. One of these is the fresh pineapple juice that contains digestive enzymes. Papaya is also a good remedy. It contains enzymes that can loosen the mucus when holding the hairballs together. Obstructive hairballs can cause the gas to accumulate. In this case, the veterinarian may treat them both.
You can also administer probiotics. Antibiotics overuse and hairballs will disrupt the correct balance between the bad and good bacteria in the gut. When your veterinarian recognizes more bad bacteria than the good ones, then he may administer probiotics to increase the number of good bacteria. You can also do the same after taking home your pets.