It's an illness that most rabbit owners dread and that claims the lives of countless house rabbits every year: G.I. stasis. Essentially, G.I. stasis occurs when your rabbit's gastrointestinal tract becomes backed up because food and water cannot move through the stomach into the intestines properly. As a result, your rabbit will begin eliminating and eating less and, if not treated immediately, could die in a matter of hours.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Baby food
- Simethicone (20 mg infant gas drops)
- Fresh greens
- Fresh hay
Get your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet as soon as possible if you suspect G.I. stasis. Once your vet has diagnosed G.I. stasis, together you can determine the best course of treatment, which will likely include pain medication and medication to help your rabbit's gastrointestinal tract begin to work properly again.
If you cannot get your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately and you believe he's suffering from stasis, administer simethicone. Start with between one and two cc's of simethicone one time each hour for three hours then cut back to one cc of simethicone, which you can give every three to eight hours.
Gently massage your rabbit's stomach. If she's comfortable with you holding her, hold her on your lap and gently massage her stomach; however, if she's visibly in pain stop massaging her immediately.
Encourage your rabbit to eat by using fresh, wet greens, such as parsley, and running them under your rabbit's nose, coaxing and even annoying him into taking a bite. In addition to fresh greens, try to get your rabbit to eat hay as fibre is essential to helping get the gastrointestinal tract back on track.
If even after coaxing your rabbit to eat, she still refuses to eat and your vet has given you the go ahead, you're going to have to force feed her. Put some pellets in warm water, allow them to become soft, and mix with baby food then feed to your rabbit in a syringe.
Never give prescribed medications for G.I. stasis to your rabbit unless you have been specifically instructed to do so by your vet. Rather, if you think your rabbit has G.I. stasis, administer simethicone until you can get her to a rabbit-savvy vet.
It may take your rabbit several weeks to fully recover from a bout with G.I. stasis, so be patient with your rabbit. It's also essential that, even while you're giving medications and force feeding, you allow your rabbit to remain with his mate because separation will only cause more stress.
How to Care for a Rabbit with G.I. Stasis
Tips and warnings
- It's common for vets to administer subcutaneous fluids to ensure a rabbit with G.I. stasis remains hydrated. Have your vet show you how to administer subcutaneous fluids during a regular visit, so you know how to do it in case you have an emergency and there is no emergency vet available.
- Always keep simethicone in your home; you never know when you're going to need it.
- Ask your vet to show you how to effectively massage your rabbit's stomach.
- Rabbits are prey animals, which means they hide their illnesses, often until it is too late. You must always pay close attention to your rabbit, so you'll know when she doesn't feel well.
- Look for telltale signs: Your rabbit may have a gassy smell, indicating stasis, or his poop pellets may be much smaller than usual.
- G.I. stasis can kill a seemingly healthy rabbit overnight. If you suspect your rabbit is suffering from stasis, take her to a rabbit-savvy vet immediately.
- Find a rabbit-savvy vet and, if possible, a rabbit-savvy emergency vet who knows the urgency of G.I. stasis before you face an emergency.
- Never force feed your rabbit unless your rabbit-savvy vet has confirmed that it is OK to do so. If you force feed without the doctor's go-ahead and your rabbit has an intestinal blockage, you could cause even more serious problems, including death.
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