Cecotrope floor marking?

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Has your rabbit left Cecotrope marks before?

  • Yes, almost all the time (multiple times a week/daily)

  • Yes, on occasion (every other week/monthly)

  • No, never even once

  • Yes, varies by diet change


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Hi!

I recently adopted my rabbit Dr. Cheese from a shelter and absolutely adore him. However, he is my second rabbit and I was a bit concerned about his digestion within the first 2 weeks. I noticed that he seems to leave small circular brown "spots" on his mat in his playpen and my last rabbit never had these. Both were neutered, male, one Dutch and one Californian. The only difference in care between the two, is that I adopted Dr. Cheese and my last one came from a pet store. I discussed this with his vet out of concern and she said it was nothing to worry about and most likely soft cecotropes that he was not eating. She said it is especially a possibility because prior to being in his shelter he was found in an outdoor hutch which can cause "poor bathroom manners" Has anyone else experienced these cecotrope droppings?

I thought maybe his protein intake was too high and causing soft stool, but the vet said not to be concerned. Any thoughts?

Let me know if you have, as well as if you have any tips!
Thanks!

-Overly stressed bun mom
 

JBun

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Actually, it's not normal. It means the cecotropes aren't forming properly. Normally formed cecotropes won't be watery or cause staining at all, even if they are left uneaten on the floor. What is your rabbits exact diet(type and amount of hay, pellets, veg, treats), and how big is your rabbit? Is your rabbits fecal poop normal round, a good size and consistency(not too moist, dry and crumbles up when crushed)? And you're certain these aren't drops of urine?

 
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Actually, it's not normal. It means the cecotropes aren't forming properly. Normally formed cecotropes won't be watery or cause staining at all, even if they are left uneaten on the floor. What is your rabbits exact diet(type and amount of hay, pellets, veg, treats), and how big is your rabbit? Is your rabbits fecal poop normal round, a good size and consistency(not too moist, dry and crumbles up when crushed)? And you're certain these aren't drops of urine?

That's what I was thinking as well....hence my worry.. my last rabbit NEVER did this. I would not say they are watery though, it is almost as if there are perfect circles though left on his playpen mat? I feed him adult rabbit oxbow garden select, (amount recommended) he is 6lbs and 12 oz, he eats LOTS of hay (probably between 80-90% of his diet) and the last small portion I will give pellets or SMALL replacements of fruits/veggies (since I just got him I rarely give him a lot. I try to introduce new foods very slowly so I've only given him a few pieces of apple and 2 leaves of basil since I got him (this issue occurred before any food was introduced). And yes, his normal droppings appear completely normal! And honestly it is hard to tell if it is urine since his playpen is placed on a large absorbent gray pad. However they appear brown and I have seen one cecotrope on top of one so I am assuming it is stool related.

I don't understand though because the vet did a total physical, checked his rear, gut sounds, even took a stool sample to be sure he didn't have any sort of parasite. Every behavior is completely fine he just occasionally leaves these odd marks? She said she believes its from his history of poor housing and a new environment.
 

JBun

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What kind of hay, timothy or other grass hay? And this was happening before you started feeding apple pieces? Was this happening since you first got him? With pellets, is that 1/4 or 1/2 a cup a day?

Digestive issues won't necessarily show up on any tests, because a lot of the time it's a sensitivity to a certain food or a microbial gut imbalance which doesn't show up on standard diagnostics. The vet didn't happen to do a blood test as well?
 
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What kind of hay, timothy or other grass hay? And this was happening before you started feeding apple pieces? Was this happening since you first got him? With pellets, is that 1/4 or 1/2 a cup a day?

Digestive issues won't necessarily show up on any tests, because a lot of the time it's a sensitivity to a certain food or a microbial gut imbalance which doesn't show up on standard diagnostics. The vet didn't happen to do a blood test as well?

No she did not run a blood test. It is Oxbow Western Timothy Hay as his main source of hay--although I do also (on occasion) give him Kaytee Natural Timothy Blend Cubes as a treat (which I gave after the issue was already occuring). I also did not mention I give him the Oxbow Natural Science Digestive Support Treats (I started these after the issue thinking they may help, he has not been on them for probably more than a week. I do not think this occured before the apple, however, the apple slice (maybe 2?) was fed to him the first week I got him and since I noticed the issue I have not fed it to him since so it has been weeks and it is still occuring.
 

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This is what I would suggest trying. Stop the digestive support treats and don't feed any sugary foods, fruit, or treats/foods with grains/carbs. You didn't mention pellet amount, so I would suggest reducing it by half. And try this for a couple of weeks. The most common cause of mushy or improperly formed cecotropes, is too many carbs in the rabbits diet. If it's not too severe of a problem, the reduced carbs/sugars and increased hay consumption, will usually help get things back in balance.

The other alternative is if it's a more severe gut imbalance, going to a strict hay only diet(with salt lick) until the problem clears up, then gradually start adding things in, starting with leafy greens. With a majority of digestive issues in rabbits, I've found and seen, a good grass hay diet will help correct the imbalance that is causing the irregular poop issues.


There are some less common health problems that could cause this that aren't diet related, and those would be a damaged and improperly functioning cecum, and liver issues(why I asked about the blood test). So if you suspect this isn't dietary, or if diet changes don't improve things and you're concerned about it being a problem, the next step would be to ask your vet to do a blood test to check liver and kidney function,, and maybe an ultrasound or xray to check the cecum and gut. Then there is also still a possibility that parasites are the cause even with a negative fecal test. So that's just something to consider as well.

There's a good chance this is a correctable issue, but there is also a chance that if you end up having more tests done, the vet may still not find the cause, or may find it and it may not be treatable. Just things to be aware of when deciding how to go forward.
 
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This is what I would suggest trying. Stop the digestive support treats and don't feed any sugary foods, fruit, or treats/foods with grains/carbs. You didn't mention pellet amount, so I would suggest reducing it by half. And try this for a couple of weeks. The most common cause of mushy or improperly formed cecotropes, is too many carbs in the rabbits diet. If it's not too severe of a problem, the reduced carbs/sugars and increased hay consumption, will usually help get things back in balance.

The other alternative is if it's a more severe gut imbalance, going to a strict hay only diet(with salt lick) until the problem clears up, then gradually start adding things in, starting with leafy greens. With a majority of digestive issues in rabbits, I've found and seen, a good grass hay diet will help correct the imbalance that is causing the irregular poop issues.


There are some less common health problems that could cause this that aren't diet related, and those would be a damaged and improperly functioning cecum, and liver issues(why I asked about the blood test). So if you suspect this isn't dietary, or if diet changes don't improve things and you're concerned about it being a problem, the next step would be to ask your vet to do a blood test to check liver and kidney function,, and maybe an ultrasound or xray to check the cecum and gut. Then there is also still a possibility that parasites are the cause even with a negative fecal test. So that's just something to consider as well.

There's a good chance this is a correctable issue, but there is also a chance that if you end up having more tests done, the vet may still not find the cause, or may find it and it may not be treatable. Just things to be aware of when deciding how to go forward.
Thanks! I will try the diet change, hopefully that's all it is and not a more severe problem😖
 

Deludedbyreality

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I second the all hay diet, I'll drop mine down for a week or two and start supplementing other things back in slowly...
Dandelion greens are amazing for both us and the buns, (they have this milky sap that helps to rebalance their digestive systems and bolster their immune systems), if you can find them they're delicious too, I get mine @ a vegetable stand and can sometimes find them at the grocery store when in season. Now is a perfect time for that. Also if you live in an area that is pesticide free you can harvest them outside if they're growing just be sure to wash them thoroughly. I also cut mine down depending on how large they are. Once you bring them home clean them and you can store them prepped in the fridge wrapped in a towel or paper towel inside of a zip lock or container for a week or two. I give my bunnies about a 1/2 cup each when I do give them. You can also feed them the flowers and stalks, if you're picking them from outside, which is even better. Mix them in with about a cup of romaine or other low oxalate leafy greens and 1/4c of cilantro and watch them go to town.

If you're making them for you try tossing in some sliced garlic, onion, ginger, and chiles, some oil or butter if that's your preference and toss a bit of balsamic or red wine vinegar at the end with some salt and pepper. Both you and your buns will be super happy you bought them. ☺
 

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I second the all hay diet, I'll drop mine down for a week or two and start supplementing other things back in slowly...
Dandelion greens are amazing for both us and the buns, (they have this milky sap that helps to rebalance their digestive systems and bolster their immune systems), if you can find them they're delicious too, I get mine @ a vegetable stand and can sometimes find them at the grocery store when in season. Now is a perfect time for that. Also if you live in an area that is pesticide free you can harvest them outside if they're growing just be sure to wash them thoroughly. I also cut mine down depending on how large they are. Once you bring them home clean them and you can store them prepped in the fridge wrapped in a towel or paper towel inside of a zip lock or container for a week or two. I give my bunnies about a 1/2 cup each when I do give them. You can also feed them the flowers and stalks, if you're picking them from outside, which is even better. Mix them in with about a cup of romaine or other low oxalate leafy greens and 1/4c of cilantro and watch them go to town.

If you're making them for you try tossing in some sliced garlic, onion, ginger, and chiles, some oil or butter if that's your preference and toss a bit of balsamic or red wine vinegar at the end with some salt and pepper. Both you and your buns will be super happy you bought them. ☺
Thanks for the tip for both me and Dr. Cheese! I have cut him down to 1/8th cup a day of pellets opposed to 1/4 cup and have been really pushing the hay, if it does not improve then I will attempt removing the pellets all together and moving him to an all hay diet. Luckily most of his cecotropes are forming properly and he is eating them which makes me feel better that he is still getting most of the nutrients, there's just one every now and then that seems problematic. It's not a daily occurrence either so hopefully I caught it in time to prevent any long term problems! :) I'll keep you posted on how he is doing.
 

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It could very well just be the stress and adjusting as the vet said as well. If the problem persists bloodtests for elevated liver enzymes as Jbun said above. Some rabbits manage better than others during rehoming. If you don't have any Bene-bac Plus on hand I'd suggest that as well (If ya don't already have it). I always include enough doses for a week in my care packages when I rehome a bunny with their adoptive parent(s). I'd also make sure to be careful about the apple slices if you're still doing that. Pumpkin is a good alternative and can be mixed with hay and baked for treats. If you do try the Dandelion no more than 2x a week and drop pellets by half on that day as it is high in protein.
 
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It could very well just be the stress and adjusting as the vet said as well. If the problem persists bloodtests for elevated liver enzymes as Jbun said above. Some rabbits manage better than others during rehoming. If you don't have any Bene-bac Plus on hand I'd suggest that as well (If ya don't already have it). I always include enough doses for a week in my care packages when I rehome a bunny with their adoptive parent(s). I'd also make sure to be careful about the apple slices if you're still doing that. Pumpkin is a good alternative and can be mixed with hay and baked for treats. If you do try the Dandelion no more than 2x a week and drop pellets by half on that day as it is high in protein.
Currently I have restricted his diet to only hay and 1/8th cup of pellets to see if that helps. No treats/supplements/additives/fruits. Apple was also only given to him once or twice so I do not think that is the problem. Also what is Bene-bac Plus? Again my first bunny had an iron stomach and I could basically fill his bowl with pellets and he'd graze on them over the course of a few days, and I was able to offer him pretty much any rabbit-safe fruit or vegetable and his stool would remain the same. Dr. Cheese is very different and would definitely eat the entire bowl if I didn't restrict him. I can also tell his bowels are much more sensitive given his current issue as well as how much more he eats/drinks (he is also much larger than my first bun). Also, I think you may be right about the adjustment. I know it's not common for rabbits to have severe bowel changes from stress, but his do not seem very severe. If anything it is once every now and then that i experience his issue. Regardless, you can never be too careful so I will be taking all the steps to make sure he's healthy! Thank you so much for your input! It means a lot!
 
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This is what I would suggest trying. Stop the digestive support treats and don't feed any sugary foods, fruit, or treats/foods with grains/carbs. You didn't mention pellet amount, so I would suggest reducing it by half. And try this for a couple of weeks. The most common cause of mushy or improperly formed cecotropes, is too many carbs in the rabbits diet. If it's not too severe of a problem, the reduced carbs/sugars and increased hay consumption, will usually help get things back in balance.

The other alternative is if it's a more severe gut imbalance, going to a strict hay only diet(with salt lick) until the problem clears up, then gradually start adding things in, starting with leafy greens. With a majority of digestive issues in rabbits, I've found and seen, a good grass hay diet will help correct the imbalance that is causing the irregular poop issues.


There are some less common health problems that could cause this that aren't diet related, and those would be a damaged and improperly functioning cecum, and liver issues(why I asked about the blood test). So if you suspect this isn't dietary, or if diet changes don't improve things and you're concerned about it being a problem, the next step would be to ask your vet to do a blood test to check liver and kidney function,, and maybe an ultrasound or xray to check the cecum and gut. Then there is also still a possibility that parasites are the cause even with a negative fecal test. So that's just something to consider as well.

There's a good chance this is a correctable issue, but there is also a chance that if you end up having more tests done, the vet may still not find the cause, or may find it and it may not be treatable. Just things to be aware of when deciding how to go forward.

Hi again, quick question. You mentioned a salt lick as well as grass hay. Do you think I should change his hay from the western timothy hay to something like an orchard grass hay? I've always used western timothy hay and never had issues, but every rabbit is different. I also know that his foster mom fed him western timothy hay and had no issue so I worry about changing his diet all together.
Additionally, what is the purpose of the salt lick to help his digestion? I will get it if it will help his cecotrope formation but would be interested in the science behind it as a rabbit owner. I purchased one once for my previous rabbit and it might as well have been a rock to him and couldn't care less about it.

Appreciate any tips!!
Thanks!

-Overly Stressed Bunmom
 

Deludedbyreality

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Currently I have restricted his diet to only hay and 1/8th cup of pellets to see if that helps. No treats/supplements/additives/fruits. Apple was also only given to him once or twice so I do not think that is the problem. Also what is Bene-bac Plus? Again my first bunny had an iron stomach and I could basically fill his bowl with pellets and he'd graze on them over the course of a few days, and I was able to offer him pretty much any rabbit-safe fruit or vegetable and his stool would remain the same. Dr. Cheese is very different and would definitely eat the entire bowl if I didn't restrict him. I can also tell his bowels are much more sensitive given his current issue as well as how much more he eats/drinks (he is also much larger than my first bun). Also, I think you may be right about the adjustment. I know it's not common for rabbits to have severe bowel changes from stress, but his do not seem very severe. If anything it is once every now and then that i experience his issue. Regardless, you can never be too careful so I will be taking all the steps to make sure he's healthy! Thank you so much for your input! It means a lot!
PETAG Bene-Bac Plus Pet Powder, 16-oz - Chewy.com
A probiotic supplement, it's beneficial for rebalancing their gut microbiome, good for times of stress when imbalances can occur. Also great for giving Does after giving birth. It could also have some to do with the feed change if you didn't transition him slowly off the pellets they had him on.
Truthfully, like I said previously, it's probably stress related especially if he's a gorger. Being transferred around to different locations and people is a lot of shock for some of them it's all on an individual basis though. The gorging is either a learned response due to being neglected in his previous home or housed with too many siblings for too long. You can try to split his pellets in half as well; some in the morning and some at night. I have one buck that has issues with that he acts like he's gunna die all the time when it comes to feedings. If he seems to be getting more into his groove I'd just keep an eye out and give him time to adjust. Routine will keep him reassured and happy bonding time with your new lil guy. I wanna def see those first binky's! 😁
 

Deludedbyreality

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Hi again, quick question. You mentioned a salt lick as well as grass hay. Do you think I should change his hay from the western timothy hay to something like an orchard grass hay? I've always used western timothy hay and never had issues, but every rabbit is different. I also know that his foster mom fed him western timothy hay and had no issue so I worry about changing his diet all together.
Additionally, what is the purpose of the salt lick to help his digestion? I will get it if it will help his cecotrope formation but would be interested in the science behind it as a rabbit owner. I purchased one once for my previous rabbit and it might as well have been a rock to him and couldn't care less about it.

Appreciate any tips!!
Thanks!

-Overly Stressed Bunmom
Salt lick is for electrolyte balance. Used when there is an absence of pellets. Pellets have added minerals for balancing those. It's not supremely necessary in my opinion, for short term pellet restrictions, but some buns like them. The Timothy Hay should be perfectly fine especially if thats what he's already accustomed to.
 

JBun

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You don't need to change the hay unless you want to. Or you could try a little orchard with the timothy just for variety. And orchard may be a better hay for the prevention of dental issues, and some rabbits like it better than timothy. But if you don't want to make any changes right now, it's not necessary.

Like mentioned above, the salt lick is for when rabbits are not getting their daily sodium from pellets because they're on a pellet free diet. Otherwise, when they have pellets in their diet, the pellets already contain the needed dietary sodium. Just like we need sodium in our diet, just like other animals need sodium, rabbits do too.
 

Deludedbyreality

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Oh I've found the easiest way to do the Bene-bac Plus, if you do decide to get some that is: use the recommended amount, toss it on their pellets, spritz with a bit of water and toss with clean fingers. It'll stick to the casing on the pellets.
 
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PETAG Bene-Bac Plus Pet Powder, 16-oz - Chewy.com
A probiotic supplement, it's beneficial for rebalancing their gut microbiome, good for times of stress when imbalances can occur. Also great for giving Does after giving birth. It could also have some to do with the feed change if you didn't transition him slowly off the pellets they had him on.
Truthfully, like I said previously, it's probably stress related especially if he's a gorger. Being transferred around to different locations and people is a lot of shock for some of them it's all on an individual basis though. The gorging is either a learned response due to being neglected in his previous home or housed with too many siblings for too long. You can try to split his pellets in half as well; some in the morning and some at night. I have one buck that has issues with that he acts like he's gunna die all the time when it comes to feedings. If he seems to be getting more into his groove I'd just keep an eye out and give him time to adjust. Routine will keep him reassured and happy bonding time with your new lil guy. I wanna def see those first binky's! 😁
I have noticed he does seem to slam down his pellets so I usually will put them in a dispenser toy where he has to work for it more and it helps keep him from eating them all in big bites or I will use the pellets for training and hand feed them in small amounts. :) It would make sense that he eats them so fast since he did originally come from poor living conditions at his initial home. He's definitely been binkying like crazy since I got him! He's super active and playful and LOVES his free roam time in my room and leaps all over the place 🤪. So far I have not noticed any of those marks!! I'm going to keep my eye on it for a while though since it wasn't a daily occurrence and I'm sure takes longer for his digestion to adjust, but I am hoping it stays this way! That would be a huge relief probably for the both of us! Thanks again for all your tips and suggestions! Here's some pictures of him zonked next to my bed after hopping around😴💚
unnamed-2.jpgunnamed.jpg
 
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UPDATE ON DR. CHEESE:

So I did end up calling my vet because the reduction in pellets hasn't changed a ton with his ISC so she recommended I switch him to an all hay diet. However she mentioned that she is not concerned at this point due to the fact that majority of his cecotropes are being eaten and the marks being left are not every day. She sent me some articles to help with what other foods to avoid, most being obviously fruits which I have already not been giving him but she said to just keep an eye on him and if the situation worsens or I notice he is no longer able to eat more and more of his cecotropes is when there may be a bigger issue and to bring him back in for bloodwork. He is definitely not going to be happy with me for cutting the pellets but I'll just have to spoil him with toys in the meantime 🙃
 
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