Why has Misty the dwarf bunny stopped eating?

Misty is a 1 year old dwarf bunny who came to see us at Essendon Vet Clinic as she had stopped eating that day. She was much quieter than usual at home, not getting up to her usual antics.

On examination she was quiet. Her abdomen was tender, with a soft mass being felt. Examination of her teeth did not reveal any abnormalities.

It was thought that Misty had a problem called gut stasis, which means the gut had stopped working to move food along properly.

Gut stasis is a relatively common problem in rabbits. The most common reason for this is a rabbit’s diet. Other causes can be stress, dental disease and pain.

Rabbits require a lot of fibre in their diet. This fibre is fermented by good bacteria in an area of the gut called the caecum. When the diet is lacking in fibre and high in other things such as sugars (eg molasses) or carbohydrates, fats and proteins (eg pellets and grains), bad bacteria is produced in the caecum which can cause increased gas formation and pain. The gut stops working and the bacteria can then cross into the blood stream and
cause severe illness.

A rabbit’s diet is the most basic thing to get right at home. The best diet for your rabbit is 80-90% grass hay and straw, with the rest being fresh vegetables and greens. Rabbits love carrot tops, coriander, and other green vegetables. The occasional piece of fruit as a treat is ok. Pellets and rabbit mixes are not recommended as they are often low in fibre, high in carbohydrates, sugar and fat - everything that is not good for your rabbit.

Misty was treated at our clinic with pain relief, fluids and medication to stimulate her gut to work. Her owners got busy at home syringe feeding Misty a special diet every hour.

Misty is making gradual improvements and we hope she is back to normal in no time.