Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis) is a serious condition seen in domestic rabbits in which the digestive system slows or stops completely. This is causes a build-up of bacteria in the intestines resulting in painful bloating. The discomfort can cause the rabbit to stop eating and drinking which adds to the condition as the pet becomes dehydrated and starved of nutrients. The contents of the digestive tract become more compact and become difficult to pass. In serious cases, toxins will release which can lead to liver failure if left untreated.
Loss of appetite
Smaller than usual or malformed faeces
Sensitivity or discomfort when abdomen is touched
GI stasis can be a life threatening condition. If you suspect your pet has this condition seek veterinary attention immediately.
What causes GI stasis?
There are a number of reasons rabbits experience GI Stasis. These can include:
- Health issues that can be underlying causes
- Poor diet or a low fibre diet
- Limited or no exercise
It is important to ensure your rabbit is receiving the proper diet. They need appropriate fibre to keep their digestive system working properly. Rabbits also need appropriate living space with plenty of room to exercise. A relaxing environment without the stress of wildlife or other pets is also recommended as rabbits are prone to high stress levels which can cause health issues.
Regular veterinary check-ups are also important to ensure health issues are detected early.
What to expect at the vet
The treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the GI Stasis and can include:
- Radiographs to assess the blockage
- Medications known as motility drugs to help movement in the digestive system
- Intravenous fluids to treat dehydration
- Pain relief your pet appears to be in pain
- Syringe feeding to ensure adequate nutrient levels
- Antibiotics are sometimes required
Read WENDY'S PVE STORY: a Dwarf Lop Rabbit who presented to Perth Vet Emergency in July 2016 with GI Stasis.
Written by Solange Newton & Dr Penny Seet
Photography by Kate Loveland
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