Rabbit diets and gut stasis

Diet for adult rabbits

Good – wide variety essential 
(Offer more than they can eat) 
Treat only 
(1 teaspoon of each at most)
Grass, dandelions, thistles 

Grass hay/meadow hay/oaten hay

Dark green fibrous mature leafy veggies

Kale, asian greens, mature silverbeet, spinach

Carrot tops (leaves), celery tops (leaves)

Seeds, grain (eg supermarket mixes) 

Carrots, Corn

Apples and any other fruit

Lettuce, celery flesh

In moderationNever feed
Cabbage and broccoli leaves in moderation 

Herbs - parsley, mint, sage etc.

Clover (small amounts)

Grass hay pellets (such as Oxbow maintenance)

Bread, biscuits, cereal 

Chocolate is toxic to them

Grapes, sultanas are toxic in some mammals

Diet for growing rabbits (<12mths) and pregnant does

Good Don’t feed
As above 

Lucerne hay

Lucerne hay based pellets

(Oxbow pellets for growth and pregnancy)

As above 

Grass hay and grass hay based pellets don’t have enough calcium or energy

Do not wean young rabbits onto muesli mixes

Good hay is still green coloured and isn’t dusty or full of grass seeds.

This list is not all inclusive and should be used as a guide only. Individual rabbits will vary in what their digestive system can tolerate and what they enjoy. However all rabbits are much healthier and hardier if more than 60-90% of their diet is hay and grass based, 10-38% green leafy vegetables, 2-3% oxbow rabbit pellets (adult or young rabbit).

What is gut stasis?

Gut stasis means lack of movement of the stomach and intestines. It has a range of different causes and presentations. Some of these are more serious than others. All are life threatening if not treated within 24 hours of reduced faecal output.

It can occur as a result of the stress of another illness, dental disease, poor diet, sudden change in diet, heat stress, loss of a loved companion, pain or fear. 
Obstructions from eating things that cannot pass through the gut can cause the same signs.

Signs of gut stasis in your pet rabbit:

  • Reduced number or size of droppings.
  • Small dry currant like droppings.
  • Loss of interest in food.
  • Change of preference in food or only wanting favourites.
  • Sitting still, hiding, reluctance to play, lack of interest in surroundings.
  • Grinding teeth.
  • Any one of the above signs can indicate gut stasis but the most important sign is reduced faecal production and this indicates the need for urgent action.

Is it very serious or can you treat it at home?

The physical examination allows us to collect general information on all body systems. Some issues may be able to be treated immediately either in hospital or at home. Others will need further investigation such as blood tests or advanced imaging. We will give you cost estimates for tests and treatments and advise you how urgently they are needed. Surgery is sometimes needed to relieve or remove an obstruction.

Treatment in hospital

Injectable opioid pain relief. Fluid therapy intravenously or subcutaneously. Gastric motility promoters. Syringe feeding critical care 2 – 4 hourly. Progress is monitored by frequent clinical examinations and sequential X-rays or sometimes ultrasound. 

Treatment at home

This occurs when the case is mild and non-obstructive, and also once a patient is discharged following surgical or medical treatment. Syringe feeding 2- 4 hourly and oral medications twice daily are usually required.

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