Updated: Feb 26
Rabbits are known for eating hay, munching vegetables, and playing by hopping and binkying. It's alarming when you don't see these activities in rabbits, even for a short time. Animals can't talk, so your responsibility is to feel and observe them.
They are prey animals. They will act normally as if nothing is happening inside their digestive system.
In this blog, we will talk about GI Stasis in rabbits. What are the causes and symptoms of GI Stasis? And why is it known as the silent killer of rabbits?
What is GI Stasis?
GI Stasis, known as Gastrointestinal Stasis, is a serious condition that a rabbit may experience. It's when the digestive system of a rabbit slows down or stops. Rabbits don't eat when they're experiencing pain in their stomach. It's a severe problem. Some rabbits don't survive within 24 hours, so an immediate response to this issue is vital.
Causes of GI Stasis
Too much pellet (high in carbohydrates) and little amount of hay (fiber) can upset the gut causing a rabbit not to eat. Other reasons why a rabbit is not eating can be because of stress or dental disease. If a rabbit has lost its appetite for more extended hours (6-12 hours), it can lead to a more serious problem like gut stasis.
Rabbits need microbiota or gut bacteria to help them digest their food. If a rabbit stops eating, there will be no balance between gut bacteria and the gas-producing bacteria. In cases like this, the GI tract will favor the gas-producing bacteria causing GI Stasis in rabbits.
GI Stasis: Symptoms
Early signs that a rabbit might have GI Stasis are lethargy, changes in litter routine, and loss of appetite.
One simplest way to monitor a rabbit's health is by having litter boxes in the house to see whether they have normal poops. You should be cautious if your bunny is not eating for 6 hours. When there is no food, then rabbits have nothing to digest. Your bunny's poop can be very little or no poop at all. Sometimes it can also be soft feces.
Visit a veterinarian for a precise diagnosis. The earlier you visit the vet, the higher the chance to treat your rabbit in case it has GI Stasis.
Treatment for GI Stasis in Rabbits
If the vet has diagnosed your bunny with GI Stasis, you will be advised to:
Make sure your rabbit is well-hydrated.
Feed your rabbit with a syringe if it's not eating on its own.
Give your rabbit antibiotics and a pain reliever.
Motility-modifying drugs to improve the digestive system.
Prevention for GI Stasis in Rabbits
It's best to provide your rabbits with a hay-based diet and supplement it with fresh vegetables. Don't rely purely on pellets; give your rabbit a small amount only. Also, provide enough accessible water for your bunny for rehydration.
When you have rabbits out of the cage or 100% free-roaming rabbits, your supervision is essential as they might chew carpets or other clothing, which can lead to gut problems.
Disclaimer: We are not professional veterinarians or medical doctors. We created this blog based on our experiences with pet rabbits. We volunteered hours in the rabbit shelter, did extensive pet product research, and asked experienced peers. The purpose of this blog is to provide information about properly taking care of rabbits. Please know that it is still best to visit the vet regularly. For medical emergencies, contact a rabbit-savvy vet. Always observe your rabbits around new products or environmental changes.
Final Thoughts on GI Stasis
Loss of appetite and lack of activity are things we can't ignore as bunny owners because they can be severe. Some diseases affect our rabbits, but we cannot determine them through sight, an example of that is GI Stasis which is hard to determine in rabbits. That is why it's highly advised to have a regular check-up with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
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