As with any prey species, domestic rabbits have retained the need to hide signs of weakness, which makes them easy prey. That being said, if it does show noticeable signs of illness, they should be taken seriously. This could mean that your bunny is at the brink of desperation for medication. One obvious sign is a rabbit that’s not eating. Why is my rabbit not eating or moving? This post will help you address the problem by rooting out potential causes and what to do with them.
Most common reason
Do you have a depressed rabbit that refuses to eat? Or is your rabbit not eating but acting normal? One of the common health concerns found in rabbits is called gastrointestinal stasis. The said condition may also cause your rabbit’s loss of appetite.
What is gastrointestinal (GI) stasis?
It is the lack or slow movement throughout the digestive system. It is often referred to as the silent killer in rabbits because the signs are hard to spot. The following are various reasons that can lead to a rabbit’s stagnant intestine:
- Dental issues
- Improper diet (low-fibre diet, high-fat diet, and high-carbohydrate diet)
- Excessive hair ingestion
- Lack of exercise
- Heat stress
It takes one keen-eyed owner to notice early symptoms:
- A gradual decrease in appetite and water consumption
- A gradual reduction in the amount of faecal pellets
- Hunched posture
- Frequently grinding its teeth
What to do with early signs of GI stasis
It is important to execute immediate actions upon noticing any changes in your rabbit’s behaviour.
- Improve your rabbit’s diet.
If you have a rabbit that’s not eating pellets but eating hay, it should not be much of a problem. It is best to increase your rabbit’s fibre intake. Improve your rabbit’s food intake by providing a variety of fresh hays. However, if you are having problems with your rabbit not eating hay, you should be prepared for a syringe feeding. Furthermore, it is best to decrease pellet intake. Pellets can only be given for only a day or two with the right amount.Tip: To help stimulate feeding, provide it with dandelions, parsley, and freshly picked grass.
As stated above, dehydration is one of the aspects that cause GI. As such, there should be an increase in water consumption. ‘What if my rabbit is not eating or drinking and lethargic?’ Here are some things that may help to encourage your fluffy friend to drink more water:
- Provide water in a crock. Encourage your bunny by providing water in a more natural way.
- Add flavour to the water with sugar-free fruit juice. Remember to ask assistance from a vet as to which fruit is more suitable for your bunny’s condition.
- Provide enough exercise.
It is advisable to allow your rabbit to run around in a safe place for several hours in a day, most especially for caged rabbits. Exercise will help their stomach to function better.
- Do gentle massage.
Gently massage its stomach by moving forwards and backwards with your hand. Whilst at it, you should keep your bunny on the floor with your hand as support on its back. Another way is to gently and slowly lift its back end. Similar to the former, the head and back should be supported with hands. These will help your bunny relieve gas and have a better functional stomach.
Other possible reasons why your rabbit is not eating
Further observe your rabbit to see more obvious reasons as to why your rabbit has stopped eating. Below are possible reasons as to why your rabbit refuses to eat:
- Incisor teeth have overgrown. Examine your rabbit’s teeth by lifting up its lips.
- Presence of tumours and abscesses. This can be spotted through gentle stroking. If you can feel forms of lumps, you should immediately set an appointment with your vet for proper treatment.
- Check if there is nasal or eye drainage. Your rabbit is likely to use its front paws in wiping its face for any sign of discomfort. That being said, you may check its front paws if it has become dirty from wiping out discharge from nasal or eye drainage. Otherwise, use a mirror and place it under the rabbit’s nose to see if both nostrils are clear.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do provide your bunny with high-fibre pellets in sufficient amounts depending on its weight.
- Do provide fresh vegetables to sustain its nutritional requirement. Preferred vegetables are dark greens including grass and dandelions (both unsprayed). Provide vegetables that contain great amounts of water such as parsley, escarole, and carrot tops. This kind of diet is the best prevention of impaction.
- Don’t provide too much sugar, fats, and carbohydrates in any of its food as it can further develop toxic bacteria and decrease motility on its GI tract.
- Another important key in its diet is to provide fresh hay at all times.
- Be prepared for syringe feeding at any time. However, do not engage in syringe feeding without the knowledge of its detailed condition. It is best to ask consultation and prescription from the vet for important decisions such as this to ensure proper medication.
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