Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis) is a very serious illness and often fatal if not detected early enough or left untreated. GI Stasis in rabbits is often referred to as the silent killer, many seemingly unexplained and sudden deaths can be attributed to rabbits developing GI Stasis.
What is it?
GI Stasis is a condition that causes the digestive system to slow down or stop completely. A lack of movement in the digestive tract causes bacteria to develop which leads to increased gas and bloating, this can cause extreme pain and discomfort for your rabbit. Rabbits become dehydrated and starve, due to not consuming water or food.
What are the signs?
- Decrease/ stopping eating
- Not interacting/ unusually quite
- Reduction/ not producing faecal matter
- Unusually shaped faecal pellets
- Faecal pellets covered in mucus
- Sitting in a hunched posture indicative of being in pain
- Loud teeth grinding indicative of pain
What causes GI Stasis?
- A diet low in fibre (lacking hay/ grass)
- Pain linked to other conditions e.g. urinary tract infections
- Blockages in intestines
If you suspect that your rabbit has GI Stasis or is displaying any symptoms take them to a rabbit savvy vet immediately. Failure to act can be fatal and veterinary treatment is essential for survival.
- Your vet will prescribe pain medication such as Metacam.
- Syringe feeding is essential to ensuring your rabbit does not starve. The added water will also increase their water intake and aid with hydration.
- Your vet should administer hydration fluid, particularly essential if your rabbit is not self hydrating.
- Gut motility fluids such as Metoclopramide will help kick start gut movement.
- Gut massage can also encourage movement. Only carry this out if you are confident in what you are doing, if in doubt ask a vet to perform the massage for you.
N.B Do not syringe feed your rabbit, give gut motility fluids or perform a gut massage if a blockage has not been ruled out. Your vet will be able to ascertain if there is a blockage through x-rays or an examination. If a blockage is present carrying out any of the aforementioned can cause the blockage to move to a smaller and more difficult to reach part of the intestinal tract.