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Hello Dr. Krempels, In 20 years of rabbit adopting, I've never seen this.  Our 3 y.o. girl has been in the ICU for stasis 3 times in 6 months.  Every time, the xrays show huge gas bubbles distending her stomach.  IV electrolytes + baytril, and oral cisapride + reglan bring her back to life, but we need to find a way to prevent this trauma!  Her diet - timothy hay, bunny basics T, cilantro, italian parsley - is consistent and both she and her partner are big eaters usually.  BTW, her companion's GI system is as normal as can be.  

We did blood work and urinalysis but our vet (house rabbit approved Louis Schwartz in Los Angeles) didn't find anything unusual.  Dr. Schwartz' online vet network suggested that she might have some type of infection, so she's in the miidle of a course of oral baytril now.

One thing we notice is that she produces a lot of cecotropes and doesn't eat them all, also her usual feces are usually small.  For a week after returning from the hospital, her poops are gorgeous textbook size and texture, but eventually they go back to the small size.  We wondered if she might have some nutrient deficiency that causes the sub-optimal poops and cecotropes, or maybe some bacteria imbalance in her gut.  We wonder if these poops/cecotropes could be related to the gas that appears to cause her statis.  Can you think of a way to test for this or can you recommend any supplements (yogurt??)?

 The research we've done indicates yarrow, nettles, prozyme powder, papaya, pineapple and  caraway are recommended to alleviate gas in rabbits.  Do you have an opinion on any of these?  

Thank you so much for everything you do for our beloved rabbit childern!!!

Susan

Answer
Dear Susan,

A bunny with chronic ileus is usually suffering from some source of pain or stress.  Dental problems are probably the most common cryptic trigger of ileus:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/dental.html

Some rabbits are so sensitive to even small spurs that they spiral into ileus at the least little poke.  So I'd definitely ask the vet to check for spurs and file them smooth if there are any at all.  The upper arcade buccal spurs can be especially troubling, as they are sometimes hard to see and even harder to clip and file.  

When she does have an episode, there is no faster way to get her GI moving than with a careful enema, delivered with a pediatric ear syringe.  Just a bit of lukewarm water, lubricated tip, and about 30-35 cc into the rectum.  Don't insert the tip more than about 1/4-1/2 inch, and never force anything.  NO FRENCH CATHETERS!!  A shallow-delivery is safest and best, and you can control it better to allow the water to take the path of least resistant, thereby avoiding problems.

You can find more instructions for treating ileus here:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/ileus.html

but I've seriously found that I need nothing more than enema any more.  It is nothing short of miraculous:  a couple of minutes after administration, the GI is bubbling away, and the poops come out nice and hydrated.

I hope this helps.

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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