Rabbits/Rabbit won't eat hay - abundance of poo necklaces
I have a Flemish Giant doe producing a lot of malformed necklace droppings. She's been doing this for the past 3 weeks. Although she is moulting, I really don't think this is the cause.
She's thought to be 2 - 3 years old and came from an animal shelter about 3 months ago. I brought her home because she looked depressed and "not quite right". So, it was no surprise when I took her to the vet to discover that she had dental disease; her teeth were duly burred and although she has eaten some hay since, she's still a long way from eating a healthy amount.
Since I've had her, her droppings have gone from soft dollops to vaguely normal with the occasional necklace and excess caecotrophes to the now of mostly malformed and strung droppings with some normal looking ones. I've attached a photo of her most recent creations ( the droppings are connected by hay).
I've tried the usual advice - mixing the things she will eat in with the hay and cutting the hay small; trying different bales of hay (in NZ we don't have the luxury of hay varieties - it's basically meadow hay); putting hay everywhere she goes; dipping strands of hay in banana (she just licked off the banana!); waving hay in front of her (she just gets mad and grunts or breaks it in half with her teeth); making grass biscuits, etc. Offerings of picked grass have also been spurned; however, I have recently discovered that she will eat grass if allowed to graze outside. Although this has raised my hopes, we don't currently have fantastic grass as we live by the beach and the summer has taken its toll.
I should also note that 2 weeks after the burring, she also had a dose of Ileus which I feel was related to the stress of the vet visit (the closest rabbit savvy vet is 1 hour away and required a day at the clinic), encouraged by her low fibre diet.
Her diet at the moment = constant access to fresh hay in hanging baskets, random boxes, scattered on the floor, in her toilet box, sleeping box and on a ledge where she likes to rest. In the morning, hay is also served mixed up with herbs, garden forage, grass and a high fibre pellet*. Her evening greens are served split - half as part of a hay mix and the other half wet.
At the moment I'm pinning my hopes on grass eating and to that end have just started to re-sow the lawns, but I also realise that she may not come up trumps with the grass gobbling and even if she does, I'm not sure if there'll be enough grass for her to gobble over the winter anyway.
Can you suggest a better interim diet, particularly in relation to pellet serving size, and/or other methods for getting hay into her? I don't want her to be hungry and therefore stressed, yet I'm also wary of giving her too many pellets or other foods, discouraging her from the much hoped for hay chomping.
Other than that, her weight is the same and she doesn't have any obvious lumps, bumps or wounds and is a happy, boisterous, well brushed rabbit who enjoys rummaging in the pot cupboard, doing mad sprints, getting into mischief and causing mayhem with her big feet and adventurous nature.
Your advice would be much appreciated.
Thank you, Dana
Wow. That's really *hay*?! Bun is not doing a very good job of chewing up the strands. Makes me wonder if she might have molar problems contributing to this. Rabbits with dental disease will often have picky eating habits, and if she's not able to chew up her hay any better than this, then it's no wonder she's not eating her hay.
Also, take a really good look at those strands. I hope she's not ingesting something synthetic that could cause a blockage. For now, I'd be sure she gets plenty of oral hydration, and maybe ask the vet about a dose or lactulose (an osmotic laxative) once or twice a week to be sure everything keeps moving smoothly.