With the weather warming up for the Summer our rabbits are moulting like crazy to lose their Winter fur coats. Of-course with the moulting comes an increased amount of grooming amd preening which can lead to a larger then normal ingestion of fur. All this hair ingestion can potentially lead to an obstruction.
Obstructive bloat is a very serious problem we see here at The Unusual Pet Vets. This is an emergency that must be treated straight away.
It occurs when there is a blockage within the small intestine of rabbits, which then stops anything from moving further along the intestinal tract. Because rabbits eat fermentable food and cannot vomit or burp, gas quickly builds up in their stomach and intestine. This puts pressure on the blood vessels and in very bad cases compresses them so much that blood cannot reach the stomach and intestine.
We often find that the offending blockage is from a build up of hair and food, often referred to as a trichobezoar. Rabbits are fastidious groomers and so when they are moulting they can ingest lots of hair. This often passes without problems, however when it blocks the intestine it can be life-threatening.
Therefore, when your bunny is going through a big moult it is important to regularly brush them so you can remove all the excess fur so that they won’t have to ingest so much hair! With our long haired breeds of rabbits like the Angora and Cashmere lops we suggest routine clips throughout the year.
Signs that your rabbit may have an obstruction include not eating or pooing and being lethargic. In most cases of obstruction a large bloated stomach can be felt. Then first step is to perform X-rays to confirm the obstruction and then its off to surgery!
If caught in the early stages of bloat we are happy to report that most rabbits do fantastically after surgery and recover very well.