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Rabbits/Cecal Dysbiosis


Hi Dana,
Last Tuesday my family decided to adopt a 3 month old mini lop from a breeder. At first, we thought he was just adjusting to his new environment. On the first day, he appeared fine but by the end of the day he started to get some eye boogers and some runny stool. We believed that this was just stress related coming to a new home. On Wednesday, he did not want to come out of his cage and if he did, he would sit in a corner most of the day. We fed him some organic Romaine lettuce to see if this would perk him up. His stool was fine on Wednesday and relatively frequent. He did not eat or drink that much. On Thursday, his stool was very runny and we were afraid it was the lettuce so cut him off. He began grinding his teeth and would sit in his cage. On Friday, he did not eat anything. We got very concerned and brought him to the vet Saturday evening when we discovered that his GI tract was filled with gas and bacteria. Since he was our first rabbit, all of these symptoms we thought were just the rabbit adjusting to his new environment. It came as quite a shock to us and I was wondering what we possibly could have done to give this rabbit such a severe problem or if he was given to us with this illness. Hopefully this is enough information. Thank you for your time.

Dear Mandy,

Without knowing absolutely everything that happened to your bunny since he came home, it's impossible to pinpoint what might have been the cause of his cecal dysbiosis.  But I hope it's under control now.  Please read:

The most common cause of cecal dysbiosis is improper diet, or a change in diet that occurs too quickly for the normal intestinal flora to adjust.  The stress of a new environment can also contribute.  Do you have small children who are handling the rabbit very frequently?  This can be very upsetting to a young rabbit, as rabbits generally do NOT like to be handled a lot.  Please see:

Please also see:

to be sure you're feeding your bunny correctly.

What did the vet prescribe to control the problem?  In a young rabbit, this can be life-threatening.  Dehydration can lead to many other problems, creating a downward spiral.

Please also see:

since GI slowdown (which very often accompanies and can contribute to cecal dysbiosis) is often the first step towards full GI shutdown.

I hope some of this helps, and that your bunny will be well again soon.

In the future, note that *any* sign of runny stool--especially in a young rabbit--should be considered a reason for a trip to the vet ASAP.  Rabbits are far more sensitive to GI problems than dogs and cats, and paying close attention to clues from poop can help you keep your bunny safe and healthy.

Sending healing thoughts.



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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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