Gastric Dilation (Bloat) in rabbits

Gastric dilation also known as bloat is a serious and life threatening condition, it is imperative that you seek veterinary care from a rabbit savvy vet immediately. If left untreated your rabbit will likely die within 4 to 24 hours.

Rabbit bloat x-ray, bloat in rabbits, gastric dilation rabbits


  • Refusing food or eating less than usual
  • Not producing pellets or smaller pellets
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal distension (stomach expands beyond its girth) resulting in the stomach feeling hard rather than doughy
  • Teeth grinding (sign of pain)
  • Hunched posture (sign of pain)
  • Irregular blood pressure and heart rate
  • Struggling to breath
  • Hypovolemic shock (severe blood and fluid loss preventing the heart from pumping enough blood round the body)


Commonly bloat occurs when a blockage in the digestive system prevents fluid from leaving the body. The fluid remains in the stomach which starts to ferment and produces gas.

In some cases bloat can occur from abdominal scar tissue and in rare cases the stomach can distend without a blockage being present.


Initially a physical examination will take place to assess if the stomach is distended. Your vet will then conduct an X-ray or Ultrasonography to examine the stomach. They will potentially take blood and urine samples.


The prognosis for this condition is poor, emergency treatment will be needed. If left untreated your rabbit will die within 4 to 24 hours.

  • Gastric decompression via intubation of the stomach through the oral cavity will likely be used, to remove the gas and fluid that has built up in the stomach.
  • Surgery is likely if the bloat was due to a blockage.
  • Blood pressure and fluid support
  • Pain management


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