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Rabbits/Emergency Bunny recovering from Stasis still not eating though gastric problem seems resolved


My 13 year old bun Paulie has been treated for stasis over the last week, getting all appropriate drugs available for rabbits.  Our vets are all bunny experts, Dr. Potter having lived with house rabbits for many years.  His abdominal gas has dissipated and he should be eating but is merely picking. He is absolutely intolerant of syringe feeding and this only seems to stop him from eating on his own.   His bowel movements are mostly water with a small amount of solid matter.  His first bowel movement on Saturday morning was bloody diarrhea but this also has stopped.  All 4 vets involved do not seem to feel he is ready to be euthanized.  He is responsive and seems to be comfortable.  I have stopped all his drugs and this has not had an adverse effect.  As all seem to be at a loss as to what to try next I have found that slippery elm is supposed to be an excellent herbal remedy for this situation.  I would just like to know how to dose him and what can I expect.  Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.  
Thank You
Paula and Paulie (no I didn't name him :))

Dear Paula,

Believe it or not, barium (used for imaging) can be very soothing to an irritated digestive tract.  You might also ask the vet about giving him some Questran, which can adsorb irritants and toxins from bacterial overgrowth or other sources.  Probably can't hurt to try the slippery elm, either.

If his liver function is in doubt, then consider asking the vet about giving him B-complex in subQ fluids (diluted so it won't sting so much!), and ask about milk thistle extract, which can supposedly help support liver function.

If his GI tract remains static, then I recommend the ever-faithful enema, administered with an ear syringe.  Never insert more than 1/4" into the anus, use lukewarm water, lubricate the tip, and never force anything that won't squirt in easily. But once you've instilled that lukewarm water and given him a little massage, you will be amazed.  Very few static GI tracts fail to respond to the enema stimulation within a few minutes.  Once the GI tract is moving reliably, the bunny almost always is willing to eat shortly thereafter.

I hope this helps.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


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:

Find a rabbit vet at 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.


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.

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

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

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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