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Question
My 3 yo rabbit underwent removal of an abscess around its jaw on Tuesday 12/23. Since he got home it's been very difficult to feed him but we managed to get him to eat a bit (and force fed him some Critical Care mix). What is worrisome is he is almost not pooping.
We took him to the vet yesterday and they gave him subcutaneous fluids and an injectable form of cisapride to get his GI going.
Back home he's been eating better but still no poop. This morning as we saw no poop we decided to check his butt and indeed there was a clog. With warm water we removed the clog and we can visually "see" that there is more waiting to come out from the pipeline (whatever he's been eating is probably waiting for the exit right there). As we put him down after the cleanup procedure, he went straight to his litter box and we thought he'd be rewarding us with a good poop cluster, but unfortunately after 10 minutes in there he got out and there was nothing.
Is there a way to stimulate his poop or help loosen the poop near the anus? (warm bath? massages? medicine? enema?)
He is currently on Baytrin, Metacam and, since yesterday, Cisapride.
Thank you in advance.
Greg

Answer
Dear Greg,

A bunny suffering pain (and it will be pretty severe after a jaw abscess surgery) will often respond by shutting down the GI tract.  It's important to keep bun well hydrated with oral liquids, as rabbits tend to pull fluid from the GI tract to hydrate other tissues, at the obvious expense of the contents of the GI tract.

Ileus (cessation of normal peristalsis) compounds this problem, and I would not be surprised if your bunny is suffering from GI slowdown or even bouts of full-on ileus.  This will make him inappetent and miserable, and the only way to make him feel better is to get that gut moving again.

Here are some tips and tricks:

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

But I've found that the most effective method is a good, old-fashioned enema, as you mention above.  We recently made an instructional video that you can find here (featuring my hands and tie dye t-shirt; video link is at the bottom of the page).  

http://houserabbitga.com/bunny-enema-instructions/

I hope it will help you get your little guy feeling better and on the road to recovery.

Have a happy, healthy new year!

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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