Attention Rabbit owners! 🐰
The rabbit moulting season has been non stop this last few months, which means that your rabbit could be ingesting fur each time they groom themselves or their friends. The most common cause of a bloat (gastric dilation) in rabbits is due to a gastrointestinal obstruction such as a trichobezoar, also known as a pellet of compressed fur.
When a gastrointestinal blockage occurs, fermentation within the stomach keeps continuing leading to the stomach becoming enlarged/distended with a mix of stomach fluid and gas. If a blockage occurs in the intestines there is now nowhere for the stomach contents to go as rabbits cannot vomit or eructate (burp), which leads to the stomach becoming enlarged or bloated. If this occurs in your rabbit we recommend not to force feed any food, water or medications until a vet has examined and advised whether it is safe to do so.
To diagnose bloat in a rabbit requires abdominal palpation and often radiographs (x-rays) as well as a blood glucose measurement. It is important when your rabbit stops eating to always have a vet palpate the abdomen to rule out the possibility of bloat as symptoms can be quite similar to gut stasis, before treating with any medications.
If a gastrointestinal blockage is confirmed by your vet then there are two main treatment options that are generally available depending on the severity of the bloat – prompt surgery to relieve the obstruction or medical management with fluid therapy, decompression of the stomach with tubes as well as intensive pain relief (often delivered as a constant rate infusion into your bunnies vein via a catheter). We often utilise a combination of both methods depending on the individual case. We have posted a few of these cases on our facebook page if you would like to have a look.
If you would like further information on bloat in rabbits then please contact one of our clinics. You can also check out the following information sheets by clicking on the below links: