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Rabbits/maybe megacolon? continued response to rabbit recurrently ill with misshapen poops

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Question
Freddie\'s poops 1
Freddie's poops 1  

Freddie\'s poops 2
Freddie's poops 2  
Dear Dr.Dana,
Here are the pictures you asked for. However, when he is not on metronidiazole, his poops are usually 3-4 times bigger than the ones shown and he will typically poop 3 or 4 of these huge poops. Freddie's poop will go back to the big ones if we take him off the antibiotics and he will not eat very much. I don't know if continuing with the Flagyl will hurt him or be of benefit. The pictures are attached. Your help is much appreciated. I have attached two pictures. I will send another question with two more pictures attached.
Kimberley
(The other email I wrote to you was under ; but please use  if you want to write back to me personally).

Answer
Dear Kimberly,

Unfortunately, these poops are typical of a bunny who has the "megacolon" syndrome.  Is your bunny a "Charlie"?   That's a white bun with dark eyes and pigmented spots (including a little "moustache" that gives them their name, after Charlie Chaplin).  That color is the most common one to manifest this condition.   The lack of pigment migration down the body reflects a concomitant lack of ectodermal stem cells migration from the dorsal area to the intestine, where they are supposed to develop into the neurons innervating the GI tract.  Bunnies with this condition have abnormal innervation of the GI tract, and this causes chronic problems that sometimes get worse as the bun gets older.  Rabbits with more white and less pigment are--not surprisingly--often more severely affected than those with more pigment.

This can be treated with palliative care, but there is no cure.  These might help:

- subcutaneous fluid therapy to keep the bunny and GI tract well hydrated
- plenty of wet food
- occasional lactulose (an osmotic laxative) to keep the abnormally large poops softer, which helps them move through the GI tract more easily and be less likely to cause blockages; your vet can advise you about how often this should be given
- simethicone when the GI tract seems sluggish, to prevent gas pain
- on the advice of a vet, GI motility drugs (though these may fail to work as the innervation degenerates as the bunny gets older)


I hope your bunny will be fine, and the tips above should help keep him happy and healthy and normal for as long as possible.  Sometimes, that can be many years!

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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