What Do I Do When My Bunny Stops Eating!?

Your bunny most likely has developed Gastrointestinal Stasis. GI stasis occurs when a rabbit's intestinal tract becomes static for a variety of reasons, such as stress, dehydration, pain from an underlying disorder or illness, a blockage such as hair or food, or insufficient fiber.  Untreated GI Stasis can result in a painful death in a relatively short period of time. 

 

Common signs of GI Stasis include:

  • Not eating, drinking or pooping

  • Very small fecal pellets, sometimes stuck to the bunny.

  • Refusing treats

  • Not hopping around like they usually do

  • Sitting in a 'hunched' position

  • Grinding their teeth -- in pain

If this happens to your rabbit, quick action and treatment must begin immediately. Begin by taking their temperature, contacting your rabbit-savvy vet (or an emergency vet if yours is closed), and beginning treatment at home.

Take your rabbit's temperature

The first thing you should do if you suspect GI Stasis is to take your bunny's temperature. This is something every bunny owner should know how to do before it is an emergency!  

To help you interpret what your rabbit’s temperature means:

  • Your rabbit's normal temperature should be between 101°F and 103°F

  • Anything above 103°F is a fever

  • Anything below 101°F is hypothermia, which is more dangerous than a fever

  • There is danger of seizures and brain damage if your rabbit's temperature gets close to 106°F

If your rabbit's temperature is normal but your rabbit has not eaten or pooped for 12 hours, this is still an emergency -- contact your vet and begin treating your rabbit at home until you can take her to the vet.

Before you can take her temperature, get your supplies together: the thermometer, Vaseline or other lubricant, a box of tissues. For step-by-step instruction on taking her temperature, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=228mi-UqRX0

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Cooling a feverish rabbit:

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  • Get your pet carrier.

  • Take your 2 liter bottle filled with frozen water out of the freezer. (You can use frozen 16 oz water bottles instead.)

  • Wrap the 2 L bottle in a bath towel and put it into the pet carrier.

  • Place your rabbit into the pet carrier alongside the wrapped-up frozen bottle.  Call your veterinarian now!  You will need to take your rabbit's temperature about 20 minutes later and replace your rabbit into the pet carrier as needed until her temperature is within the normal range.

  • While your rabbit is cooling "on ice", prepare your Critical Care mixture and put it into a feeding syringe. If you don't have any Critical Care, you can use 100% canned pumpkin.

  • For instruction on preparing Critical Care and/or syringe feeding, there are several videos on YouTube that will show you how.


Warming a hypothermic rabbit:

  

  • Get your pet carrier.

  • Heat up a microwavable “bunny warmer” in the microwave and put it into the carrier. Place your rabbit into pet carrier.  You can use a regular electric heating pad instead, if you have one.  You will need to take your rabbit's temperature about 20 minutes later and replace your rabbit in the pet carrier as needed until it's temperature is within the normal range.  Call your veterinarian now!

  • Another option: If you don't have a bunny warmer or heating pad,  get 2 large bath towels. Heat up 1 bath towel in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time until it is very warm.  Wrap it around your rabbit and either place her in the pet carrier or cradle her against your body.   Call your veterinarian now!  When the first towel seems to be losing warmth, heat the 2nd towel in the microwave until it is very warm.  Wrap your rabbit in the second towel and place the first towel back into the microwave in case you need to use it again.  Take your rabbit's temperature every 15-20 minutes until it is within the normal range.

  • Another option:  Heat a few bottles of water and place them in the bottom of the pet carrier. Cover them with a bath towel. Place your rabbit alongside the bottles.  Call your veterinarian now!

  • If you have other people to help you, they can hold your bunny while she is warming up instead of placing her in the pet carrier.  BUT if you are alone, use the pet carrier as described.  You should keep your hands free to help with the microwaving and to take the temperature and to drive to your vet or other emergency vet clinic.

 

 

Call Your Veterinarian!

You should call your rabbit-savvy vet if you suspect GI stasis. If this happens outside of normal office hours, you should call an emergency vet clinic.  Some emergency clinics do not have vets trained to treat rabbits, but in this event, you simply have no choice. Perhaps at least they can give IV fluids, prescribe pain meds and possibly motility drugs, and this may be enough to get your rabbit through until you can see your regular vet.