GASTROINTESTINAL STASIS: Gastrointestinal Stasis (G.I. Stasis) is a common but very serious and life threatening condition wherein the rabbit’s digestive system slows down or stops. Rabbits experiencing G.I. Stasis look more or less normal, therefore making it hard to notice right away. The first sign of stasis that is the most commonly noticed is when your rabbit suddenly refuses to eat (even his favorite treat!) and is not pooping for a period of time. You may also check your rabbit’s stomach to see if it feels bloated or if you can hear gurgling sounds, which are signs that there is already an overgrowth of gas. When you notice this, please take immediate action. Your rabbit might have a case of G.I. Stasis which can be caused by stress, dehydration, gas, intestinal blockage, or insufficient dietary fiber. If left untreated, your rabbit may experience extreme pain and his or her digestive system will shut down, which may lead to death.
As a first aid, our vet recommended to syringe feed around 1-10ml of water every hour or so to help get your rabbit’s gut to move. For us, we mix a small amount of pineapple juice with the water to make it more enticing. If you also have access to Bene-Bac, this is the time to give it to your rabbit to aid the recovery of his digestive system as the good bacteria will help greatly.
If your rabbit seems to suffer from gas, a vet recommended remedy is to give Simethicone for human babies. This can be bought from any drugstore. You can give 1ml every hour for a maximum of 3 doses. If no improvement is seen after the 3rd dose, it’s unlikely that it will help. Another remedy to help pass the gas is to gently massage the tummy area to help push the gas out. Knead as deeply as your bunny will allow, but stop immediately if he shows signs of pain.
During stasis, don’t stop trying to offer your rabbit’s favorite vegetables, fruits or treats to prevent his digestive system from shutting down. Constantly check on your rabbit and keep offering fresh vegetables and water.
If your rabbit does not eat anything in the first few hours, this is the time to syringe feed him with recovery formula like Oxbow Critical Care or MOMI Complete Care. Be sure to only give only little doses every 1 to 2 hours. Do not overdo it as it may cause pain and further bloating if you feed too much. We usually just give 2ml every hour until our rabbits finally eat on their own.
Try to also encourage your rabbit to move, as physical movement helps their gut to also move.
If no progress has been made after 12 hours, please bring your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately. Please be patient as it could take hours before your rabbit starts eating normally again. Just follow the doctor’s orders until he starts eating again.
Based on our experience, sometimes our rabbits would recover within 12 hours, but there are times that it takes more than that for them to eat on their own. Even after then, their appetite would not be back to normal yet – there are times that it happens gradually. During stasis, keep a watchful eye on your rabbit, but also remember to give his or her enough space so not to stress him out too much.
To prevent G.I. Stasis, hay and water must always be available to provide enough fiber and hydration to your rabbit. Being stressed can also lead to G.I. Stasis, so keep your rabbit happy and stress-free as possible. It’s also important to brush your rabbit to remove lose fur that may cause the blockage especially when they are molting.
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