Some rabbits just don’t want to eat any hay. The primary author has a special interest in cecal function because of her rescued rabbits. Some owners observe that the soft droppings occur only at certain times of the day or night. Many rabbits will stop eating and drinking if they are suffering gastrointestinal upset.This can be caused by moldy hay or food pellets, contaminated water, viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Before the rabbit is dismissed from the hospital, sterile fluids are given subcutaneously to help soften the mass and get it moving. Cecal impaction does not mean a rabbit cannot recover. It is not known for sure, but there may also not be the normal “brain trigger” to tell the rabbit that the cecotropes are coming. An analgesic for pain will also be required. These organisms exist in small numbers in the normal cecum, but overgrow to large numbers when the environment of the cecum is abnormal. However, the most common cause of cecal motility disorders is food, especially a diet too rich in carbohydrates – including starchy vegetables, fruits, and grains – and lacking in fiber. Dr. Stahl mentioned that high-starch or refined carbohydrate foods (e.g., crackers, cereals, bananas) are highly fermentable. However, this messiness is not generally caused by fecal matter but is due to liquid or malformed cecotropes matting the fur. It does, however, require a commitment by you, the caregiver, to provide a healthy diet for your pet for the rest of the pet’s life. Rabbits that will only Eat Alfalfa Hay or Refuse any Hay. Fecal pellets are generally absent; instead, the rabbit produces and eliminates excessive amounts of mucus. Susan Brown, Tomáš Chlebeček, Bill Guerrera, Angela Lennox, and Scott Stahl. In contrast, when rabbits are allowed free access to commercial pellets (including those containing dried fruits, grains, and/or legumes) or simple carbohydrate snacks (such as crackers, toast, or cookies), the cecum often can no longer function properly. This may happen if the rabbit is fed too many pellets, treats or rich greens in his diet or if the rabbit is unable to reach down and consume them (ex. All rabbits have low levels of pathogenic [potentially harmful] bacteria in the cecum. In addition, our domestic rabbits retain the prey flight-response of their forebears and the stress of real or perceived danger can adversely affect digestion, cecotrope production, and gut motility. If you have a rabbit who refuses hay, query rabbit-savvy people about their successes in getting a rabbit to eat it. A rabbit may produce cecotropes at different times during the day, and this periodicity might differ from bunny to rabbit. Try pulverizing the pellets your are feeding in a blender or food processor, sprinkling some hay with some water and then dusting the pellets over the top to entice your bunny to try the hay. This article covers the following topics: How the cecum functions in a healthy rabbit, including indigestible fiber, digestible fiber, and cecotropes. Severe metabolic disease (such as kidney or liver disease). Home Care: The Rabbit with Cecal Hypomotility. A rabbit who has any signs of cecal motility disorder should be checked by a veterinarian experienced with rabbits to make sure there is no underlying disease. Pellets, carrots and fruit are the usual culprits. Another important benefit of feeding the grass hay to the exclusion of other foods initially is that your pet will experience a healthy weight loss. This diet is much too high in carbohydrates and often low in indigestible fiber. The differences in rabbit behavior (both when healthy and when ill) as well as the varying ways in which rabbits present signs of illness or injury emphasize the importance of familiarity with your own bunnies. Dr. Guerrera says that he’s had success emptying the cecum: Fluids are critical to the working of the cecum, so hydration is the key. This can be done by mixing the two types and gradually reducing, then removing, the alfalfa-based pellet. The plants that rabbits eat are high in fiber, which is indigestible to mammalian digestive enzymes. Proper nutrition is a must for these rabbits to decrease the probability of recurrence. There are additional articles and FAQ sheets on this website that pertain to diet and other aspects of rabbit health. Cecotropes are an important part of a healthy rabbit diet and are usually eaten directly from the anus as they are produced. As with the green foods, if you see any soft stools, remove the item from the diet. Some individuals feel Banamine® (flunixin meglumine) is superior for GI pain. Cabbage (red, green, Chinese) Bean or alfalfa sprouts More commonly a microscopic examination of the stool will reveal large numbers of yeast organisms, which reflect the abnormal flora in the cecum. The rabbit will start to become dehydrated. Acute dehydration may lead to additional problems. Excess amount of cecotrope-Too many cecotropes are a sign of an unhealthy diet. Seeds and nuts add a lot of extra calories and starches and can be part of the problem. Caregivers can become knowledgeable about drugs considered safe for rabbits by perusing articles on this website, including where to find additional medical information. Cecal hypomotility (slowdown), which can lead to serious problems, results in fewer cecotropes – something not easily observed by the caregiver. Some rabbits will have a gradual decline in appetite and develop smaller and smaller waste droppings, ending eventually with a complete cessation of food intake and a shutdown (ileus) of the intestinal tract and cecum. Offering a variety of grass hay (timothy, orchard, brome, oat) may create interest and is healthiest for most adult rabbits. Many of our clients comment that after the treatment for ISS their rabbit experienced a new “lease on life” and was as active as a young bunny again! severe arthritis or obesity). An irregular production or abnormal formation of cecotropes is often the result. Brussels sprouts Rabbits should be eating their cecotropes, but if they are unformed or there are too many, they will not eat them. Author (with collaborator Nancy LaRoche) of Rabbits: Gentle Hearts, Valiant Spirits – Inspirational Stories of Rescue, Triumph, and Joy, Marie has also written rabbit-related stories and articles for other publications. Caregivers may want to consider supplementing their rabbit’s care with alternative therapies, some of which are addressed in separate articles posted on this website. Look on the label and note if it is based on based on grass hay (most often it will say timothy hay, but it can be any grass hay). Cecal dysbiosis is poop that isn't completely formed and is doughy or pasty and is usually quite smelly. As already stated, not all rabbits with a cecal motility disorder will present with pudding-like cecotropes. Treatment and Prognosis for Recovery from Enterotoxemia. Good quality hay should be fed in long-fiber form (i.e., not cubed or chopped up) whenever possible. Dr. Susan Brown, who has been an exotic animal veterinarian for over thirty years, with a special interest in rabbits, explains: When cecal dysbiosis occurs, there is often a change in the pH of the cecal contents, thus changing the balance of cecal flora. I encourage the client to give the recovering rabbit gentle tummy massages and to allow him to be active. As noted previously by Dr. Chlebeček, all rabbits house low levels of pathogenic bacteria in their body. Dr. Brown offers this: My experience with several hundred rabbits who have had pudding-like cecotropes – but were otherwise active, alert, and medically normal – is that feeding a diet of only grass (not alfalfa) hay usually turns them around in a week. A stressed rabbit is less likely to eat or drink normally. Cecotropes also aid in the replenishment … Freshly pulled grass (not clippings) and some other native plants (e.g., dandelion greens) that are free of fecal and chemical contamination can also be fed; they have the added benefit of being more fibrous than store-purchased greens. Cow pile syndrome, named for its most visible characteristic, may result from a combination of factors, including genetic, environmental, and dietary. This shouldn't be confused with normal cecotropes that have been smooshed by your rabbit's feet or bottom. Your veterinarian may prescribe a vitamin supplement during the initial treatment for ISC, particularly if this has been a long-standing problem. Your veterinarian will provide the at-home treatment plan. However, if soft cecotropes are produced again within twelve to twenty-four hours of the introduction of any food into the diet, immediately discontinue that food. If the rabbit won’t eat large amounts of hay and holds out instead for the greens, Dr. Lennox advises caregivers to reduce the quantity of greens. Rabbits should always be allowed to eat their cecotropes. Susan Brown, Tomáš Chlebeček, Bill Guerrera, Angela Lennox, and Scott Stahl for sharing their expertise in this article and additionally to Dr. Brown for her overall review of the article. Very closely and asks the client to give the recovering rabbit gentle tummy massages and to have diarrhea,,! 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