Rabbits/Exotic vet was unable to resolve chronic gas problem
Dear Dr. Krempels,
My rabbit has a chronic gas problem since he was 6 weeks old. He has had gas his whole life and is soon to be 3 years old. He gets gassy shortly after eating either pellets or vegetables. I do not feed him any gassy vegetables such as cabbage, kale, etc. I basically stick to spring mix, spinach etc. And anything beyond 1 cup of vegetables will send him into a gas episode. I have tried changing his pellets (Oxbow, Sherwood, Pet Food Select) and experimenting with different types of hay (orchard, oat, timothy), but nothing seems to relieve him.
He gets severe gas episodes 1-2 times per week. During these times, the gas in his tummy was so loud that I can hear it a few feet away. I’ve had to rush him to the vet 4-5 times over the past 3 years because I thought that it was GI Stasis. The exotic vet did a fecal test and the results were negative for parasites. She recommended Benebac and simethicone then sent him home. She recommended the same thing after each office visit. She said that my rabbit is “just a very gassy bunny.” I have gone though at least 20 bottles of simethicone but my rabbit is not improving. What should I do now? My gut feeling tells me that there must be some underlying problem causing the gas.
Thank you and I look forward to your reply!
A concerned parent
I know of other rabbits who suffer chronic bouts of gas, and it can be very dangerous if the pain is enough to cause the bunny's GI tract to slow down or even shut down completely. In that case, you can try this:
But in a case like this, I wonder if we might not take a page from human medicine, and consider a transplant of healthy biota from a healthy rabbit.
Do you have friends who have healthy rabbits who might be able to donate cecotropes? If you can get some, feed them to your bunny in a slurry of Critical Care without crushing them up. It's best of the bunny does minimal chewing to the rubbery protein coat of the cecotrope, so the bacteria inside have the best chance of making it through the stomach unharmed.
It might even be useful to try a fecal transplant via enema, though this will introduce them only to the lower GI tract. But who knows? Some might make it up higher into the tract. Since the cecum is located at the junction of the small and large intestines, it's not all that long a journey, especially if the gut is not moving much (which can happen when your bunny is gassy).
Has your bunny been checked for dental problems or other underlying health concerns? Sometimes a cryptic source of pain or illness can trigger enough stress to slow down the GI tract and cause gas to build up as the more harmful bacterial denizens remain in the gut and proliferate. So make sure there are no other disease conditions that might be a trigger. See:
This one is probably old news to you, but might have something to help:
and for emergencies,
I hope some of this will help.