петак, 10. фебруар 2012.

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Gastrointestinal (GI) Stasis In Rabbits; Why Is My Rabbit In Pain?

Today's topic is GI stasis in rabbits. Do you have a playful rabbit, that suddenly stopped playing? Is your rabbit silent, depressed and does he reject to eat? Does everything indicate your bunny is in pain? "Why is my bunny in pain", you must be asking yourself.
One of the reasons could be gastrointestinal stasis in your rabbit.
Before I continue writing about on this topic, I suggest you to read previous posts about what kind of food to feed your bunny with or, to simple start reading from the beginning: bunnies as pets. And now, lets talk about GI stasis in rabbits, and why is your rabbit in pain.

Proper food is important in prevention of
GI stasis in rabbits.
Gastrointestinal anatomy of rabbits:
Rabbits GI tract is very similar to the one in humans. But there are some differences. Rabbits use coecum besides the stomach to process their food. In coecum, food rich in fiber, is kept for some time. There, the same food is being fermented by bacteria (resident flora of rabbits GI). 

Rabbits resident GI flora is different than in humans. They don't use Lactobacillus colonies to ferment the food, but other types of bacteria. 

It is important to keep the number of resident bacteria on same level. If bad bacteria outnumber the good ones, it can cause GI problems. Bad bacteria produce lots of gas, which bloats bunny's belly.

Main causes of GI stasis in rabbits:
  • wrong diet programme (lack of hay and other fiber rich food in bunny diet) to check what does bunny food pyramid look like check it here: bunny food pyramid.
  • Foreign body in the rabbits GI tract.
  • Other diseases (pain can trigger GI stasis).
Symptoms of GI stasis in rabbits:
Main symptom of GI stasis is lack of appetite. You will notice that, suddenly, your bunny is withdrawing into his corner (cage). He is loosing weight, and refuses to eat anything. This is mostly caused by bloat from the gas produced by growing bad bacteria in the intestines. Cause of this gas, your bunny feels like his stomach is full, and thus he is loosing appetite.
Of course, your rabbit is in pain too. Distended stomach can be very painful. With rabbits in pain, you can hear their pain (they grind their teeth loudly)
If you try to rub their belly, you will feel it is distended, and not soft as it was before. You bunny will react too. 
You will also see their poop is missing, or the droppings are very small. This is one of the most important signs. If there is stasis, it is obvious that droppings will be missing. 


In case of lack of fiber in bunny's diet programme, we are talking about GI flora dis balance. Hay is important to keep the number of good bacteria constant. If you are feeding your bunny to lots of pellets and giving him little or no hay or vegetables, in some time, GI stasis is imminent. GI motility is very important here too. It is known that rabbits fed on pellets and no hay have slow GI motility. When GI motility slows down enough to allow gas to accumulate, and to allow excess amounts of water to be absorbed, at that time problems start. 
Not only that gas is preventing food to go on, but also, the water resorption causes digested masses to go to dry and compact. This, with hair in the stomach can lead to forming hair balls, that can completely block the passage. Gas accumulating is causing bloat, and the pain coming from distension. Dry food and hair masses are blocking the passage, and the extended and full GI is telling bunny that he is not hungry. The water intake is also stopped, so dehydration is one of the signs. And it can lead to the death of the bunny.
Your bunny is in pain, and dehydrated and he is loosing weight.
For more info on bunny language, follow the link.

Pain can cause GI stasis too. The most common reason is pain from molar spurs growing into gums or tongue (see bunny teeth care). In this case pain and starving is leading ti GI stasis. You have to know that even 24hrs without food, can cause major health disorders in rabbits. The process is the same as when they don't eat fibers, just faster.

Treatment of GI stasis in rabbits:
Fifty percent of these conditions, can be treated only by putting rabbit back to fiber rich diet. Tummy massage is useful too. BUT YOU MUST TAKE YOUR RABBIT TO THE VET if your rabbit is in pain. No matter what the possible condition could be.
Metoclopramid and cisaprid are good procinetic drugs. They will improve peristaltic.Hydratation is key in recovering!

I hope this post about GI stasis in rabbits was helpful, and that you have found what you were looking for. And remember, if your bunny is in pain, GI stasis is only one of the possible reasons. Seeing vet is best choice to solve the problem. Every condition is treatable, if discovered in time. 

Feel free to ask anything you want, and to join the blog so you don't miss next posts.
Thank you for your time.


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