When any bunny in our house shows disinterest in their salads or a treat (healthy kind only dispensed), mom issues a warning ~ “If you are still not eating when I have finished giving the others their salads, hay and water ~ I will be scooping you up and messing with you!”
This is what she means by “messing with you” ~
PALPATE THE STOMACH LIGHTLY ~ if it is distended and really hard, this signals Bloat and is a life threatening emergency.
TAKE THE RABBIT’S TEMPERATURE ~ use a rectal thermometer, which has been lubricated to decrease irritation and ease positioning
100 degrees F/38 degrees C and under is more of an emergency than a slight fever. At this temperature, a rabbit will begin to go into shock.
It is imperative that the rabbit be warmed up and a correct body temperature maintained (101 to 103 F/38 to 40 C).
To provide warmth, place the rabbit on an electric heating pad set on LOW, then cover with a towel or other material. If you do not have a heating pad, use hot water bottles.
Get the rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately if at all possible.
A temperature greater than 103 F/40 C is indicative of an infectious process and the bunny may require antibiotics.
Help the rabbit cool down by misting the ears with water and housing in a cool room. Monitor the temperature closely.
If the temperature continues to climb, get the bunny to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately; otherwise make an urgent appointment with your rabbit-savvy vet.
EXAMINE THE BUNNY ~ teeth, ears, butt, etc. for signs of anything abnormal or problematic
Anything severe ~ open wound, maggots from fly strike, pus, etc. ~ get the bunny to a vet immediately.
ADMINISTER SIMETHICONE/BABY GAS DROPS/OVOL ~ this will help break up the gas into small bubbles which can be passed.
Depending on the size of the rabbit, I administer 0.3 ml to 1.0 ml ~ hourly ~ for the first 3 hours; then every 3 to 8 hours after ~ depending upon how the bunny is responding
ADMINISTER PAIN MEDICATION ~ ideally you will have prescribed rabbit-safe pain medication on hand. This is extremely imporant because a rabbit in pain will not eat and may just give up and die rather than try to cope with it.
A list of safe analgesics (pain medicines) and dosage guidelines can be found here ~
FLUIDS, FLUIDS, FLUIDS ~ Subcutaneous (if you have it on hand) and oral.
Fluids are absolutely essential to hydrate any mass sitting in the stomach so it can be broken up into small pieces that can be passed.
Sub-q fluids take a period of time to be absorbed, but those given orally go immediately to the stomach to begin hydrating
To encourage a rabbit to swallow oral fluids, we brew some chamomille tea (calming and pain relieving properties) ~ then mix in a bit of baby food squash or sweet potatoes and/or 100% pure canned pumpkin.
Continue to administer until bunny says she/he is full and refuses to swallow any more.
GENTLE TUMMY MASSAGE ~ unless Bloat is suspected. In the case of Bloat, massage would make the situation even more dangerous.
REPEAT ~ REPEAT ~ REPEAT ~~ until you can get her/him to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
For your beloved bunny to survive this incident ~ you must remain near by at all times, continue to monitor body tempeature, and administer medications and fluids when the rabbit needs them. Since rabbits usually exhibit non-eating behavior around midnight, this often means a serious lack of sleep for at least one night. Doing so, however, can literally be the deciding factor between life and death.
DETERMINE ~ AND ADDRESS ~ THE CAUSE OF THE SLOWDOWN ~ GI Stasis is not a ‘disease’ in and of itself ~ it is a condition which has been brought on by some kind of stress incident ~ mouth issues, infectious process, injury, illness, fear, etc, etc.
EQUALLY IMPORTANT IS ~ WHAT NOT TO DO
Since our intention is to HELP our bunnies through a non-eating situation, we must ONLY take those steps which will ~ to the best of our ability ~ not do harm. The following measures DO NOT meet the criteria of “do no harm”.
NO PINEAPPLE, PINEAPPLE JUICE, OR PAPAYA (NOR ANYTHING SUGARY) ~
The enzymes responsible for the break down of hair only function at certain pH levels. The extremely acidic pH of a rabbit’s stomach immediately destroys these enzymes, rendering them completely ineffective.
These, and anything ‘sugary’ are not only ineffective but dangerous. With gut slowdown, bad bacteria are already proliferating ~ and putting sugar into the stomach only serves to feed the bacteria so they can proliferate even more rapidly. These bacteria are also releasing toxins which must be cleansed from the body by the liver and related systems ~ thus endangering and possibly depleting them.
NO LAXATIVES ~
Most of these products work by coating a dry, unmoving mass with a ‘greasy’ substance ~ the intention being to help it glide through the system with less resistance.
The problem is that this ‘greasy’ coating will impede ~ possibly even prevent ~ fluids from penetrating so that the dry, unmoving mass can be hydrated.
Without hydration, the mass will become more and more dry and unable to be broken up into passable segments ~ ultimately resulting in total obstruction and death.
NO GUT MOTILITY DRUGS ~ METACLOPRAMIDE/REGLAN, CISAPRIDE, etc.
Gut motility drugs operate by creating a ‘moving’ motion in the digestive tract.
To be on the safe side, one must assume that the rabbit has an unmoving mass in the stomach which cannot be passed in its present form.
If you get that increasingly drying, unpassable mass moving ~ it is going to end up at the very small opening of the intestines and create a complete obstruction.