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Gastrointestinal diseases in rabbits


It is quite easy to determine the presence of gastrointestinal disease in rabbits from the clinical picture. Catarrh of the gastrointestinal tract of rabbits is divided into three groups: acidic — the main cause of which is eating contaminated and large amounts of succulent food, alkaline - developing when eating large quantities of soft food, colds — resulting from hypothermia of the body.

Acidic catarrh - poor food intake, body temperature on the first day is normal, then low, increased peristalsis, frequent bowel movements, feces liquid, brownish-gray, mixed with mucus or gas bubbles, the duration of the disease is 1-3 days. In the presence of flatulence or tympanum, peristalsis is weakened or absent, defecation is rare, abdominal volume is increased, with percussion tympanic sound.

Alkaline catarrh-eatable food is absent, body temperature is lowered, feces are liquid, dark brown, with a putrefactive odor, rabbits usually die in the first day.

Cold catarrh-eatable food is weak, body temperature is increased, peristalsis is increased, bowel movements are frequent, feces are liquid, brown-yellow, sometimes with mucus, the duration of the disease is 3-5 days. Usually mucous discharge from the nose.

When gastrointestinal diseases appear, first of all, it is necessary to find out their cause, check the quality of the feed given to rabbits, the composition of the diet and exclude from it all poor-quality, difficult to digest and easily fermenting feeds. Then apply the treatment depending on the nature of the disease.
With diarrhea, rabbits are given 1-2 times a day oral synthomycin or disulfan 0.2-0.3 g. decoction of oak bark or 1% tannin solution, 1-2 teaspoons each, temporarily exclude succulent feed (except carrots) from the diet, slightly fry the oats, replace the water with hay infusion, in the summer, in addition, reduce the amount of grass and give a little hay High Quality. The total amount of feed given is reduced by a factor of 2.
With constipation, give the rabbit inside young growth 3-4g. Adults 5-6g. Glauber or Carlsbad salt or 1-1.5 teaspoons of castor oil, rub the stomach with a volatile limenta or 3-5% sodium chloride solution, put an enema out of warm slightly soapy water, after 15-20 minutes release the rabbit from the cage and make it move (do not drive!).
Feed the rabbit only after 8-12 hours after it weakens. First, feed a little, give oatmeal broth, carrots, good grass or hay.
With tympanum and flatulence, sick rabbits are given 5-8 ml inside. 10% solution of ichthyol or 3-5ml. 5% lactic acid solution, carefully massage the abdomen, periodically release it from the cell and force it to move (do not drive!).
The best therapeutic effect in acidic catarrhs ​​without flatulence is given by the use of 0.1 g of synthomycin inside. 2 times a day and 7-10 ml of whey. 2 times a day,

After the rabbits recover, they are gradually transferred to normal feeding over a period of 5-6 days.

Symptoms of the digestive system in rabbits

Digestive system diseases can kill a rabbit in just 2-3 days, so you should carefully consider the condition and mood of your pet. The matter is complicated by the fact that rabbits usually suffer in silence. In the wild, sloppy rabbits immediately become prey of predators, so they instinctively have to be inconspicuous, quiet and patient. Nevertheless, it is possible to track a sick animal by a number of signs - and the sooner this happens, the greater the chances of a successful outcome. The owner of the rabbit should have basic knowledge about the diseases of rodents, be able to distinguish between them and, if necessary, provide first aid. It is worth saying that any individual symptom may be a sign of various diseases, therefore, for an accurate diagnosis and determining a plan for further actions, it is necessary to evaluate the totality of the external manifestations of the pet’s disease state. It is necessary to carefully examine the rabbits about two to three times a month, as well as before any significant or stressful events for him, such as mating, okrol, jigging - and after them.

A healthy rabbit is always cheerful, agile, eats well, his coat looks smooth and shiny, his eyes and nose are clean. Normal rabbit body temperature: 38.5-39.5 ° C (measured by introducing a vaseline-treated thermometer into the rectum for approximately 5 minutes). Normal heart rate: 120-160 beats per minute.

You should start to worry if the rabbit's eyes grow dull and watery, there are watery or purulent discharge from the nose, sneezing, uneven breathing, the stool consistency changes, the hair becomes dull, disheveled. The rabbit grinds its teeth or even suffers from cramps. Disorders of the gastrointestinal tract are characterized by loose stools with impurities of mucus or blood, bloating, and increased gas formation in the intestines. Constipation may occur, followed by diarrhea. In this case, the back of the rabbit’s body is wet, traces of feces remain on the hind legs and tail, the animal becomes lethargic, lethargic, loses its appetite and weight. Flatulence is manifested by bloating of the abdominal cavity of the animal (when tapping, a characteristic “drum” sound arises).

With enteritis, inflammation of the intestinal mucosa is observed: the membrane of the thin section swells, becomes covered with mucus and pinpoint hemorrhages. Gastritis is characterized by a similar inflammation in the stomach, the mucous membrane of which turns red, swells, becomes covered with mucus, hemorrhages and ulcers, the walls of the stomach become thinner. Gastroenteritis is a combination of gastritis and enteritis, that is, inflammatory processes occur both in the stomach and in the intestine.

Treatment of diseases of the digestive system of rabbits

For successful treatment of diseases of the digestive system, it is necessary to ensure the rodent restoring a healthy balance of the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract, eliminate dysbiosis, eliminate pathogenic microflora, establish intestinal motility and increase the general immunity of the body. For this, first of all, it is necessary to get rid of poor-quality feed. Then the rabbits are prescribed a hungry diet for 12-20 hours, after which they carefully start to give fresh soft feed (as an option, steam the feed and mix it with boiled potatoes). Speaking of drugs, for livestock farms, chloramphenicol, biomycin, furazolidone, furagin, synthomycin will be appropriate. Preparations must be thoroughly mixed with the feed, evenly distributing it in portions.

For the treatment of dysbacteriosis, probiotics or fermented milk products containing an acidophilic bacillus are recommended: acidophilus, acidophilus milk, acidophilus yogurt or acidophilus paste. These products naturally normalize digestive activity, normalize metabolic processes, and restore immunity. If the rabbit has no appetite, forced feeding and drinking are indicated.

For those that contain rabbits as pets, the following remedies are suitable:

  • with diarrhea: a weak solution of tannin (1-2%) or a decoction of oak bark, a teaspoon to drink 1-2 times a day,
  • bloating: a solution of lactic acid 3-5% in combination with a massage of the abdomen,
  • for constipation: an incomplete teaspoon of glauber or Carlsbad salt, or a spoon of castor oil,
  • instead of water, you can offer a weak decoction of chamomile.

A sick pet is also shown active movement. It’s worth letting a home decorative rabbit run out of the cage or even go out with him for a walk in the park. And for owners of nurseries, it is recommended that animals be released from cages whenever possible. The movement activates the work of the abdominal muscles and, as a result, tones the intestines, helping it to perform its functions.

Thus, in the treatment of gastritis and gastroenteritis, it is necessary to focus on the normalization of the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract of the rabbit, check the quality of the feed, provide the ability to run, give the appropriate drugs. However, in order to avoid an unsuccessful outcome, you should still show the sick animal to the veterinarian.

Prevention of digestive problems in rabbits

The most important and essential thing you can do to prevent the occurrence of gastrointestinal diseases in your pet is to monitor the quality and composition of the feed. The feed mixture should be nutritious, vitamin, but at the same time easily digestible. There should not be an excess of proteins and carbohydrates in the feed. Dirty, rotten, moldy or frozen foods are strictly prohibited. You can not abruptly switch from one feed to another, the replacement occurs gradually. Care should be taken with the introduction of fresh herbs and succulent root crops into the diet, it is recommended to start with 100 grams per day. Rabbits need to be converted to coarse food gradually. When depositing from a rabbit, with special attention to monitor the health of the babies and the quality of the feed, try to avoid additional stressful situations. It is even advisable to do the following: leave the rabbits in the usual environment, and move the rabbit to another cage. Within a month after depositing, it is worth giving young animals preparations containing lactic acid microflora.

The second important component of the healthy state of rodents is cleanliness. Under unsanitary conditions, the risk of gastrointestinal upset rises sharply. And if for owners of a domestic rabbit it is enough to observe elementary rules of room hygiene, regularly do wet cleaning and monitor the cleanliness of the rabbit's cage, change the water in time - then for nurseries it is somewhat more complicated and serious. It is necessary to carry out cleaning and disinfection of the premises and cages that contain animals, about three times a month, plus without fail before scrolling and replanting rabbits. Disinfection is subject to including feeders, drinking bowls and other rabbit equipment. The procedure should be carried out carefully, treating all corners and crevices with a disinfectant solution. The usual cleaning of the premises and cells should be carried out daily. Drinking bowls and feeders should always be clean, feces cleaned in a timely manner.

Remember the golden rule: disease is always easier to prevent than to cure.


Rabbit is a popular farm animal, a source of valuable tasty meat and fur, and in recent years it is also a common companion animal. For all its virtues, rabbits remain the most vulnerable pets in relation to various diseases, both infectious and other nature. Especially frequent are gastrointestinal ailments.

The structure of the digestive system of the rabbit

The rabbit has an increased digestive tract compared to predators and omnivores, which allows for better digestion of fiber-rich plant foods. The digestive system begins with the oral cavity, in which the teeth and tongue are located. Powerful incisors and well-developed molars allow you to grind hard vegetables, grass, hay and plant seeds. The total number of teeth is 28, of which 22 are molars, or 6 painters are incisors (4 upper and 2 lower). The teeth are devoid of enamel, dentin is easy to grind on solid food. To compensate for dentine grinding, teeth grow throughout life.

The structure of the digestive system of the rabbit

Important! With a lack of solid food, teeth, especially incisors, can reach pathologically large sizes, and will prevent the animal from chewing. This will lead to gastrointestinal diseases.

Incisors and gums of a healthy individual.

The salivary glands are well developed, the tongue is powerful and has many taste buds. A healthy rabbit has a pink tongue and gums, but in case of illness their color may change. Saliva contains enzymes that break down maltose and starch. In the mouth, the food is crushed, moistened, and sent to the throat, followed by the esophagus. Through the esophagus, food is sent to the stomach, which has the shape of a bag curved in the shape of a horseshoe. Most of the stomach is located on the right side, from the axis of symmetry of the animal’s body. The stomach has a volume of up to 200 milliliters.

For normal operation of the stomach, food ingested in it must be crushed in the oral cavity to the state of gruel. The stomach has only one chamber, its walls secrete juice containing hydrochloric acid and enzymes that break down protein. Also in the stomach, the digestion of carbohydrates, which began in the oral cavity under the influence of saliva, continues. Digested food is in the stomach for 3 to 10 hours, after which, due to peristalsis and pushing with new masses of food, it enters the duodenum - the first section of the intestine. The intestines in rabbits are long, 10-12 times longer than the body.

The ducts of the liver and pancreas open into the duodenum, followed by a long small, then ileum. Rabbits have a long and well-developed cecum. Here the so-called cecotrophs are formed, which make up the night feces of rabbits. Cecotrophs are a collection of bacteria that are involved in the digestion of plant foods rich in cellulose. Cecotrophs are formed mainly at night and are excreted along with excrement. Lacking bacteria, rabbits sometimes eat them to make up for the deficiency. Cecotrophs also contain many useful substances, including vitamins and amino acids.

The appearance of cecotrophs

After digestion, the food turns into daytime feces in the form of dense crumbling grains that are excreted through the rectum (about 200 g per day).

An important feature of the rabbit intestine is the weakness of the muscles responsible for peristalsis. In order for the dense masses of digested food and feces to move forward, the rabbit is forced to constantly consume new food, otherwise stasis occurs (see below).

Causes and symptoms of bloating in rabbits

The cause of bloating can be a disease of almost any part of the digestive tract, starting from the oral cavity and ending with the rectum.

Digestive tract diseases in rabbits

Treatment of bloating in rabbits

Bloating is treated in the following ways:

  • massage. The rabbit is laid on its back. If the animal is manual, you can put it on your lap. Then the stomach is massaged, stroking from top to bottom with such force that the animal does not feel pain. The massage is repeated every two hours until the rabbit is relieved (until the stool is restored),

It is better to do a massage of the abdomen together so that the animal does not break out

  • enema. They make it warm (but not hot) with clean water. You can add a laxative (preferably in mineral oil) or magnesium sulfate (the so-called Epsom salt) - a tablespoon per liter,
  • Espumisan is a “human” medicine specifically for bloating. It is buried in the rabbit’s mouth once a day at the rate of 20 drops per kilogram of weight,
  • injections of painkillers are administered by a professional veterinarian.

Bloating diet option

There is an opinion that when bloating, you should put the rabbit on a diet, completely stopping food for up to 10-15 hours. At the same time, water can be given, but little by little. In the future, it is recommended to give cold chamomile tea instead of water, which has antiseptic properties, and begin to feed the animal with high-quality hay with a small addition of fresh mint and / or lemon balm. These herbs will reduce pain. Grated carrots and other vegetables can be given in 2-3 days, when the bloating passes. And only after a week the pet will be able to return to normal nutrition.

Isolation of an individual and cessation of feeding for a while

This diet option is controversial because the rabbit necessary consume new food for the normal promotion of chyme and stasis prevention, therefore, before restricting the animal to food, consult your veterinarian.

Gastrointestinal infections

Rabbits are very vulnerable to infectious diseases of a viral or bacterial nature, which can lead to symptoms similar to those of bloating. Often such diseases result in the death of the animal. The most common and dangerous of these infections is coccidiosis, and rotavirus damage is also found, and colibacteriosis caused by ordinary Escherichia coli is considered especially dangerous.

Table 1.Gastrointestinal diseases.

Tizzer's diseaseClostridium piliformeOxytetracycline
ColibacillosisE. coli E. coliFurazolidone, synthomycin, trisulfone
Rotavirus infectionRotavirusRotavirus infection in rabbits is not treated
CoccidiosisCoccidiaFurazolidone, Baycox, Phthalazole

Attention! With infections, diarrhea occurs, mucus from the anus, fever. Pay attention to this and in case of symptoms of intestinal infection, bring your pet to the veterinarian. Healthy animals have a body temperature of 38.3-39.5.

Gastrointestinal stasis

Stasis is a condition of the body in which the digested food (chyme) and feces do not move along the digestive tract. In this way, digestion of food stops, nutrients cease to enter the bloodstream, and various putrefactive bacteria multiply in the chyme, which can penetrate through the intestinal wall into the blood or abdominal cavity, causing sepsis. Therefore, stasis is a potentially dangerous condition for the life of the animal.

Stasis is usually caused by insufficient intake of food rich in cellulose in the digestive tract. Because rabbits have weak motility, only pushing the chyme with new portions of food with fiber can bring the animal out of this state.

Stasis symptoms

The symptoms of stasis are as follows:

  • apathy,
  • unnatural posture (hunched back),
  • loud rumbling in the stomach
  • cessation of stool or reduction of fecal balls in size,
  • the animal clangs its teeth (a sign of severe pain).

If an intestinal infection is added to the stasis (see above), mucus may be released from the anus.

Unnatural posture - a sign of pain or other unpleasant sensations arising from the disease

Stasis treatment

Stasis is treated by changing the diet, force-feeding. The rabbit really needs fresh vegetables, such as carrots. Cabbage can do harm, as promotes bloating. If the rabbit does not want vegetables, parsley and mint will help. Smelling grass stimulates the animal's appetite. If this is not enough, put a piece of grass in his mouth. The abundance of taste buds makes rabbit tongue very sensitive, and a familiar taste will quickly trigger digestive reflexes.

Other measures also help:

  • abdominal massage
  • enema,
  • plenty of drink
  • medicines (cerucal - 1 tablet per day, simethicone - 2 ml every hour), dry lactobacillus acidophilus,
  • healthy fellow cecotrophs.

Caution! Rabbits are fearful animals that do not tolerate stress. It is important that the animal does not experience shocks during massage or force-feeding, otherwise it will affect its health in the future.

Features of feeding with gastrointestinal stasis

With stasis, it is desirable to exclude:

  • soft vegetables and fruits,
  • any rotten food
  • beans
  • alfalfa
  • white cabbage.

On the contrary, you can and should give the rabbit:

Essential Diet for Rabbits Gastrointestinal Stasis

  • fragrant herbs
  • red cabbage,
  • carrot,
  • beets
  • cecotrophs
  • hay.

Be careful! Do not let the rabbit eat the cecotrophs of sick brethren, as this contributes to additional infection of the pet.

Prevention of stasis and bloating

The best prophylaxis for stasis and bloating is a moving lifestyle. Allow your little animal to run, frolic, do not lock in a tight cage without the possibility of movement.

Also, do not let them experience strong feelings and stress (for example, another animal, loud screams, fire, etc. can scare a rabbit).

Table 2. An approximate diet of female rabbits (grams / day).

FeedThe physiological condition of the female
Green feed80010001400
Protein feed100100150
Cereal grain50100150
Cabbage leaves400500600
Vegetable waste200250300
Mineral feed346

Keep an eye on the pet’s health status: teeth condition, mood, appetite, posture in which the animal is at rest. For signs of stasis or bloating, be sure to measure the temperature (fever is a sign of infection and a reason to visit a veterinarian).

Provide access to fiber-rich foods (hay and hard vegetables).

In the video below, experienced rabbit breeders will talk about the peculiarities of feeding their pets in winter and their own production of animal feed.


Thus, rabbits are animals susceptible to gastrointestinal diseases of various nature. Their peristaltic muscles are weak, and in the absence of a constant influx of a new chyme rich in cellulose, the movement in the digestive tract of animals stops, and stasis occurs.

Infectious diseases are no less common, the diagnosis and treatment of which requires a visit to the veterinarian.

To prevent bloating and stasis, the rabbit needs to move a lot and eat a lot of hay and / or hard vegetables. To prevent infections, isolation of the animal from the source of infection, feeding with washed food and boiled water will help. The sick rabbit's cage needs to be cleaned and disinfected, and its cecotrophs should be thrown away so that other rabbits or he doesn’t eat them.