Also see: GI Stasis: What Everyone Should Know
What is it?
Bloat: From: http://www.bunnylu.org/bloat.html
Having cared for many rabbits through the years, I have witnessed GI Stasis and Bloat. There are subtle differences between the two conditions, but prompt recognition and treatment determine the outcome. Whereas GI Stasis has a prognosis of fair to good, the prognosis for bloat is poor to guarded. Unlike GI Stasis, bloat happens suddenly and without warning. One minute your bun is eating, drinking, eliminating, and playing normally, the next minute he is depressed, moribund, and stops eating, drinking, and playing. Just like that. A bunny rapidly decompensates with bloat, and immediate veterinary intervention is crucial to his survival.
FROM DANA KREMPELS, Yahoo Answers:
No one is really sure about the ultimate cause of bloat. It may be bacterial at first, with Clostridium species (possibly perfringens, which produces a lot of gas) producing gas. But because the rabbit intestine just posterior to the stomach takes a very sharp turn, it appears that if the stomach has even a slight blockage or gas buildup that pinches that turn just the wrong way, an irreversible bloat can occur. The only relief is gastric gavage (sticking a tube down the throat to suction out liquid and gas) or even puncturing the stomach with a needle through the body wall.
... Dana Krempels, Ph.D
Rabbits can - and do - suffer from gas. If ignored, painful gas can cause a rabbit to stop eating and go into gastrointestinal stasis, the slowing or complete cessation of normal intestinal movement. This can be fatal if not treated. Gas can also be the result of stasis.
Rabbits that have gas often exhibit one or more of the following symptoms: loud gurgling noises coming from the rabbit's stomach; hard, taut stomach; lethargy; and significant decrease in appetite. Often, this is the first sign of gas. When suffering from gas, some rabbits sit hunched up, with their eyes partially closed, some will sit with their stomachs pressed into the floor, or upright with an unnaturally straight posture.
Important: Gastric Dilation (Volvulus) or severe 'bloat' is not the same as a gas episode. With bloat, the stomach becomes extremely hard and grossly distended which can cause the blood supply to be cut off from the stomach or intestine. Bloat can quickly lead to shock and death. If you suspect bloat, do not massage the rabbit's abdomen, which could make the situation worse. Seek immediate veterinarian attention.
How To Treat ?
This protocol is not appropriate for a rabbit suffering from bloat
(very hard, distended stomach).
Bloat must be immediately
resolved by a veterinarian.
Do not attempt to treat bloat yourself.
Do not attempt to massage a bloated bunny:
can lead to lethal complications.
Basic At-Home Protocol for Rabbits with Gas
Baby gas meds. Required.
- Hydration, Hydration, Hydration:
If they will drink on their own, try spiking water with a bit of apple juice or vanilla extract.
If they aren't feeling cooperative
, syringe some water into their mouths.
If you have the knowledge to do sub-cutaneous injection, it is more efficient and faster than oral rehydration.
- Pedialyte (children's rehydration drink) is super for re-hydrating buns.
- Make with the Fibre
: Break out the canned pumpkin, and let them eat on their own. Again, uncooperative buns can be coerced with a syringe.
Bene-bac will help balance internal systems (gut flora).
- Get some exercise:
Let bunny out for a scamper, play an active game together to get the body moving both inside and out.
- Vibration therapy:
When a bun is gassy (stomach distended, but not
hard), a gentle tummy rub or massage with a vibrating toothbrush can make break up the gas quite a bit. Plop them on top of the washing machine or dryer for more vibration.
- Keep warm
!: Methods include towels warmed in the dryer, a Snuggle Safe, a pop bottle full of warm water, a hot water bottle, a rice sock (fill an old sock with rice and microwave a few minutes), or supervised use of a heating pad (to make sure bunny doesn't chew on it).
As always, be sure to consult with your veterinarian should the situation not improve significantly.
Remember, no gut motility drugs
(Propulsid [Cisapride]/Reglan [Metoclopramide]) should be given without an x-ray
for blockages. Such administration may have lethal consequences.
Read a more in-depth version of the protocol here: GI Stasis: What Everyone Should Know
Rabbit References: Gas, Ileus and Stasis, Bloat
Relieving Gas Episodes
When A Rabbit Stops Eating: Gas Remedy
HELP- Hunched Bunny
Need Advice ASAP
Pixie's Passing Gas!!!
Has Anyone Used Simethicone?
My Rabbit Hasn't Eaten Since Oct. 2!
Pictures and Videos
Normal rabbit abdomen x-ray
Rabbit with bloat abdomen x-ray (arrow points to distended stomach)
Side view of rabbit with bloat. K=kidney
Pics taken from: http://www.lbah.com/rabbits/rabbit_x-rays.htm