Intestinal blockage in the dwarf rabbit
When trying to understand if your rabbit is healthy, it’s important to remember that rabbits tend to hide their discomfort or suffering. This happens instinctively because they have always been prey in nature. In the wild, sick animals are the first to be targeted by predators. This natural instinct creates problems for rabbits that live indoors because even if you try to control their habits, the recognition of the disease is often not immediate.
One of the most common diseases that can affect a dwarf rabbit is intestinal blockage, also known as gastrointestinal stasis. This is a condition of slowing down or even blocking the digestion and assimilation of food. In more complex cases, it can lead to death, so it’s essential to understand the symptoms in time.
What happens in the rabbit intestine
The problem is mainly caused by bacteria that infiltrate the intestine, causing gas formation inside. This in turn causes painful swelling that leads the dwarf rabbit to stop eating or drinking. This increases the problem because the bunny will be dehydrated and will not assimilate the essential nutrients for its diet.
The content inside the intestine will become increasingly compact and block the passage, making evacuation difficult. Finally, the bacteria can also release toxins into the system that overload the liver and lead to body fatigue.
Causes of Intestinal Blockage in Dwarf Rabbit
The blockage or fatigue of the digestive system can be caused by:
- a diet low in fiber and high in starches;
- stress (loss of a companion or change of housing…);
- pain from other illnesses (dental diseases, urinary tract infections…);
- lack of physical exercise.
Symptoms of dwarf rabbit intestinal blockage
If your rabbit shows one or more of these symptoms, take them immediately to the vet:
- Formation of small or abnormally shaped feces
- No defecation
- Loss of appetite
- Apathy, laziness, abnormal sluggishness.
How to treat dwarf rabbit intestinal blockage
As soon as you bring your rabbit to a specialized veterinarian, they will be able to evaluate the condition and help you choose the most appropriate treatment, understanding the causes.
The first thing the vet may do is an X-ray to check for the presence of mass in the intestine or gas.
If the veterinarian believes that the best solution is to stimulate the liver, they may administer:
- medications to stimulate the digestive system
- fluids that help destroy the mass
- dressings that help eliminate gas and reduce pain caused by it
- syringes for feeding and assimilating nutrients necessary for survival and disease care
- antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria that caused the blockage (to be used with care and only with a prescription as they could also eliminate “good” bacteria necessary for proper digestion and intestinal balance).
In addition, it will be necessary to obtain fresh hay in abundance and vegetables that need to be eaten to rebalance the amount of fiber in the body. Of course, following the indications of your veterinarian.
With patience, time, and constant care, a rabbit suffering from this disease can completely recover. But it is essential to recognize the symptoms as soon as possible and immediately bring the dwarf rabbit to your trusted veterinarian to begin treatment.
How to prevent intestinal blockage in dwarf rabbits
There are several methods that you can implement to prevent the disease.
First of all, make sure that your rabbit is following a balanced diet, based on hay. You can take a look at my article on nutrition to find a list of the most suitable foods for your dwarf rabbit.
A hay-based diet is essential because it provides the right amount of fiber to keep the digestive system moving. It also prevents the growth of teeth and helps wear them down over time. If you want to learn more about the different types of hay, you can read my article dedicated to hay.
Another way to prevent the disease is to take your dwarf rabbit to the vet for regular check-ups. This will help to identify any problems that you cannot evaluate on your own, such as infections or problems related to teeth, which are closely linked to intestinal blockages.
Finally, to prevent gastrointestinal stasis, always make sure that your rabbit has enough space for movement. Ideally, you should let them run free in the house or in a dedicated room, but if that’s not possible, give them as much freedom as possible and exercise with them when you are at home.