Friday, 25 October 2013

When your rabbit stops eating

When your rabbit stops eating is vital to get to a vet asap. Blood tests (to establish if it is a blockage or if it is a stasis instead ) and x-rays can be vital in making a rapid diagnosis of the problem causing your rabbit to stop eating and passing faeces. Carried out early on, they may help to prevent your rabbit's condition deteriorating, and may save its life. Every case, every rabbit is different, and it is difficult to suggest strict guidelines for how to treat a rabbit who is not eating, in advance. Syringe feeding ( water or recovery food) a rabbit with a blockage will not help and could in fact worsen the problem, so although it is tempting to avoid the stress of a trip to the vet and start to syringe feeding and giving medications at home, it is not advised. The decision to syringe feed water or recovery diets depends on a number of factors. Generally speaking, if the rabbit takes them readily, then it is unlikely there is a gastrointestinal blockage. But if there is a blockage, adding anything to the stomach, and delaying veterinary diagnosis and treatment may be fatal. We would therefore advise anyone with a rabbit who stops eating, to contact their vets asap, and to take their advice. If a stasis has been diagnosed then pain relief and syringe feeding are vital. The cause of the stasis needs to be established also, as this is often a sign of a rabbit who requires dental treatment, or pain relief for another condition, for example. A good rule of thumb is 30 to 50 ml per kilogram bodyweight, over a 24 hour period. This total amount can be divided into any number of smaller feeds eg every 1-3 hours, with a break, for owner and rabbit, for some part of the night. If your rabbit is eating anything at all, this amount can be reduced accordingly. We often hear that owners have been advised to give their rabbits Infacol in the case of a statis. Although Infacol is unlikely to cause problems if used in rabbits we do not feel that it is useful. Rabbits can not burp, so although it may gather the gas together, it is still stuck.

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