Rabbits eat and drink frequently throughout the day. They are not the sort of pets that get fed once in the morning and once in the evening; generally they graze throughout the day. If you notice your pet rabbit has seemingly stopped eating and drinking for a period of four to six hours or more, something is definitely wrong.
The gastrointestinal tract is your rabbit's gut. When a rabbit experiences gastrointestinal stasis, the G.I. tract shuts down and your rabbit will stop eating and drinking. Eventually this can lead to starvation. Untreated gastrointestinal stasis is responsible for a lot of rabbit health problems and even deaths. Almost all of these cases can be prevented--a high-fiber, low-fat, low-protein diet can do the trick.
How to Detect the Problem
The first sign will be abnormal eating and drinking habits in your rabbit. This may be combined with odd droppings. Generally rabbit droppings are consistently shaped and uniformly sized. if you notice they are oddly shaped or just unusual, this can be a sign of problems in the gastrointestinal tract. No droppings at all is also a tell-tale sign that your bunny is not eating.
A nutritional requirement of rabbits is that they need to have access to oat or some other hay grass 24 hours a day, along with fresh water. You should notice them grazing on this all day. This fiber-filled long grass is good for the rabbit to chew and digest, helping the hair they ingest while self-grooming to pass through their system. You will also want to brush your bunny frequently as this will mean less loose hairs for them to ingest. Another tip for keeping a rabbit's gut functioning properly is to allow them three to five hours of exercise a day.
Coccidia is a parasite which can infect your bunny's small intestine. A symptom of this parasite is loss of appetite. Other symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and hair loss. Luckily once you detect these signs, a simple fecal float test done by your veterinarian can confirm coccidia and they can treat it.
Sometimes when rabbits are on medication, they can experience lack of appetite. This is cause for immediate alarm. If your bunny is on medication and stops eating or drinking, you will want to take it to the vet right away.
- Photo Credit Rabbit image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com
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