Excess Cecotropes When Fed Fresh Veggies!

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by NetherlandBuns, Mar 27, 2019.

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  1. Mar 27, 2019 #1

    NetherlandBuns

    NetherlandBuns

    NetherlandBuns

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    Hi Everyone, this is my first post on the forum. I tried to find relavent information elsewhere but was not able to find something for my cecotropes issue! My bunny is a 12 week old Netherland dwarf and I got her 3 weeks ago. She is currently on alfalfa hay and oxbow alfalfa based pellets. However when I got her the breeder mentioned she’s been fed fresh vegetables the whole time since the mom gets fresh vegetables as well. So when I got her I was feeding her bits of romaine along with her pellets and hay. A few days in I noticed she has a lot of cecotropes that she isn’t eating so I eventually reduced and tried giving her romaine like a new introduction (little by little and gradually increasing amount). Unfortunately the cecotropes issue remained. So I completely cut it out until we didn’t notice excess cecotropes lying around and healthy looking poops. Once okay we tried giving her green lettuce instead thinking maybe she just doesn’t do well with romaine, but the cecotropes issue got worse so we cut that out immediately. I’m thinking about going back on romaine but I wanted to check if this is normal? Since she is not diarrheaing, just has excess cecotropes, is this something that will reduce overtime once she gets used to the vegetables?
     
  2. Mar 27, 2019 #2

    Augustus&HazelGrace

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    How much hay are you giving her every day? What "Green" lettuce are you referring to Iceberg? Iceberg should not be fed as it has no nutritional value, and it can be toxic in large amounts. She is still young so she may not yet get that she is supposed to eat them.
     
  3. Mar 27, 2019 #3

    NetherlandBuns

    NetherlandBuns

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    She has unlimited jay, way more than she can finish normally and I’ve been limiting her pellets to 1/3 cup. I know for babies some suggest unlimited pellets, but there are concerns whether she’ll eat enough hay so I still do limit her pellets. Although for Netherlands many suggest only 1/4 cup since they are much smaller rabbits but considering the whole unlimited pellets for babies thing, I ended up deciding on 1/3 as a compromise haha.

    The green leaf lettuce is not iceberg, I’m not sure if there is another name for them? But there are green and red leaf lettuce that are suggested as “safe” for bunnies and supposedly has a bit more nutrients compared to romaine. I’ve been in search of a safe every day veggie since many including my vet has mentioned romaine also does not have much nutritional value. But it seems the green leaf lettuce doesn’t agree with her either... if the excess cecotropes is indeed a sign of upset stomach?

    We had a mini scare a week ago where she suddenly lost balance and kept tipping over to her left. At one point she could barely walk without falling over. We ended up taking her to the vet and no fever, no discharge, no visible signs of ear infection so we took her home for the wait it out approach. Which she did end up getting better. So then we were wondering if it was result of something she ate? Which is why I’m hesitant about introducing her to veggies again.

    However she does LOVE veggies and will gobble up whatever you give her. I just don’t know if the excess cecotropes is a normal thing during the introduction period, since normally people mention diarrhea as indication of upset stomach not cecotropes.
     
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  4. Mar 27, 2019 #4

    Augustus&HazelGrace

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    Normally excess cecotropes are a sign of not enough hay. When I have a bun producing excess cecotropes I reduce or take pellets completely away and give more hay and that usually makes them go away then I keep the pellets to the reduced amounts or if I switched to none then I do less than what they originally had.
     
  5. Mar 27, 2019 #5

    NetherlandBuns

    NetherlandBuns

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    Thanks for the info! I originally thought that as well so started limiting the pellets. Once I stopped seeing excess cecotropes I tried the green lettuce in small amounts. Once I did, within 24 hours I started seeing excess cecotropes again =(
     
  6. Mar 27, 2019 #6

    JBun

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    You need to determine if it is excess cecals or unformed cecals that you are seeing.

    Excess cecals would come out normally formed looking like a blackberry cluster(though they can later get stepped on and squished by the rabbit) and are usually occurring because the rabbit has too rich of a diet(too much protein, nutrients), is distracted(baby bun, in a new home, being frightened by something in the environment), or has a medical issue like dental problems, obesity, or arthritis. When it's a dietary issue, it doesn't necessarily have to do with not getting enough hay but having too much rich food in the diet(pellets, high protein supplements, alfalfa hay, occasionally carbs/sugars/veggies). Feeding alfalfa hay(as opposed to a grass hay) can actually sometimes worsen the issue because alfalfa hay is high in protein and nutrients.
    http://wabbitwiki.com/wiki/Cecotropes

    If it's excess cecals that's occurring and if you think the trigger is veggies then I would wait til the rabbit is older before trying them again. It's also possible that it could be the alfalfa hay, as that in addition to alfalfa based pellets, makes for a very rich diet and is usually not be necessary to feed both an alfalfa based pellet and alfalfa hay. I usually prefer to feed baby rabbits only slightly limited alfalfa based pellets and free fed grass hay. I don't like using alfalfa hay(except for nursing does, baby rabbits that can't have pellets, or older rabbits that are losing weight) as it's unnecessary in addition to an alfalfa based pellet that is either free fed or close to being free fed. Feeding alfalfa hay can make for a very picky rabbit as well, due to their high preference for wanting to eat it over other foods. When rabbits fully mature and need to be taken off of alfalfa hay, and you want to switch them to a grass hay like timothy, it can be very difficult to make the switch because of how much they prefer the alfalfa. It's just better and much less complicated to feed young rabbits an alfalfa based pellet along with free fed grass hay.

    Unformed/semiformed cecals is also called cecal dysbiosis, which is different from excess cecals. Mushy cecotropes or cecal dysbiosis, usually happens because of there being an improper balance of microflora in the rabbits cecum, leading to the cecals not forming properly, and when they come out they come out mushy and don't smell right so the rabbit leaves them and doesn't consume them like they normally would. This is often due to too many sugars/carbs in the diet(pellets, fruit, or treats) and not enough dietary fiber from hay. Other foods like veggies, greens, and sometimes particular types of hay can cause it as well, it's just not as common. There are other possible causes for cecal dysbiosis such as excessive stress, antibiotics, ingesting toxins, kidney/liver problems, and other underlying health problems.
    https://rabbit.org/intermittent-soft-cecotropes-in-rabbits/

    To correct a dietary cause, usually it requires removing sugary/high carb foods from the diet and may also require reducing pellet amounts. This also results in more hay being consumed which further helps correct the problem. Or if you think it's the veggies that are causing the upset, I would wait til your rabbit is older before trying them again. When veggies/greens are reintroduced, they should be started off one at a time and starting with a very small amount for 1-2 days. If no signs of digestive upset occur(mushy poop, lack of appetite, hunched posture, lethargy, belly pressing, eye squinting, etc) then it's usually safe to start increasing the amount.
    http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/GI_diseases/Food/Veg/Veg_en.htm
    http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Food/Food_main.htm

    I would also still start to gradually make the switch to a grass hay like timothy, orchard, etc. I would feed enough pellets to last most the day(feeding twice a day) then have free fed grass hay available at all times. As long as the rabbit is eating about a pile of hay the size of it's body per day, then the pellet amount is usually at a good level. It usually ends up being that the pellets last about 8 hours, then the young rabbit eats grass hay for the next 4 hours before being fed pellets again. At least that's what worked best for my baby rabbits, so they got the needed fiber from the hay to keep their digestive systems functioning well, while getting the necessary nutrients for growth.
     
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  7. Mar 27, 2019 #7

    NetherlandBuns

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    Thank you for all that info! I was considering reducing the pellets a bit since she usually has enough pellets to last her most of the day before feeding her at night again, but she seems very skinny. I can feel her back bone, legs and ribs when I pet her so I was worried about reducing the pellets. Or should it be fine as long as she has hay available?

    I currently feed her 50/50 alfalfa/Timothy mix but I will reduce the amount of alfalfa in the mixture to see if that helps.

    I mostly find small .. maybe unformed cecals? And only once in awhile I find the full blackberry clusters. Is this something I should be concerned about? She seems to eat a lot of hay and finishes her pellets as well, however she does sleep most of the day. I leave her cage open almost all day but she never comes out, doesn’t leave the cage for more than 5 minutes a day.
     
  8. Mar 27, 2019 #8

    JBun

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    If she is eating her hay really well and has pellets that last her most of the day(twice a day), she shouldn't be feeling skinny and bony at all, which means there may be an underlying health problem going on like a parasite(pinworms, hepatic coccidiosis, tapeworm-rarely). Does she seem to have a pot belly at all? It is normal to feel the backbone and ribs, but they should feel fleshy and rounded and not feel like the bones are protruding and sharp.
    https://wagwalking.com/rabbit/condition/loss-of-weight-and-muscle
    https://www.pfma.org.uk/rabbit-size-o-meter

    If she is in fact bony along her back and hindquarters, it would be a good idea to have her checked by an experienced rabbit vet right away. Make sure they check her teeth, and also do a fecal float to check for parasites. Though sometimes the fecal test can come out negative, but the rabbit could still have a parasite problem, so treatment based on symptoms(unexplained weight loss) would be appropriate. It could be whatever underlying issue is causing the weight loss is also causing the reaction to the lettuce, so once it's treated and cleared up you should no longer have issues introducing veggies to your bun.
    https://rabbit.org/vet-listings/

    I think I would not mess with her hay for now until you get the weight issue sorted. Reducing her alfalfa hay could also cause further weight loss.

    When a baby rabbit leaves an occasional fully formed cecal, that's not a cause of concern. Baby rabbits are easily distracted and so it's not uncommon for them to forget to eat their cecotropes once in a while.

    It's normal for rabbits to sleep most of the day. They are usually most active in the early morning and late evening as rabbits are crepuscular. Though if your rabbit seems unusually lethargic at times she normally would be active, then yes there could be a problem there, likely linked to the weight loss issue.

    If you want to try any veggies, I would try herbs first, like cilantro, parsley, etc. They usually are well tolerated and have the least chance of causing digestive upset. Also make sure they are rinsed thoroughly. Chemicals on the veggies could also be a cause of causing digestive upset.
     
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  9. Mar 27, 2019 #9

    VioletRose

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    Such great info above! Also, you could weigh her and check that against the approx weight she should be for her age.
     
  10. Mar 28, 2019 #10

    NetherlandBuns

    NetherlandBuns

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    Thank you all so much for the inflrmation. I am definitely going to try weighing her the next few days to see if she is indeed losing weight, or am I just being too paranoid. She definitely is growing and getting bigger, but she just seems so bone-y to me! During our vet visit the doctor did mention she seems a bit on the skinny side but suggested it’s not abnormal for baby bunnies because of their high metabolism?

    Are aromatic herbs like cilantro okay for everyday consumption? I keep seeing contradicting things. When on forums it seems many feed their bunnies cilantro or basil daily, but then on information sites they say aromatic herbs should be limited (some even say max 3x a week) since they could upset their stomachs? Because of these contradicting things I’ve been too nervous to try anything but romaine. =(
     
  11. Mar 28, 2019 #11

    JBun

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    I never found my baby bunnies felt bony at all as they grew. The only one that ever did was a new one when I first got her. She had wasting along the back and hindquarters(bony, poor muscle mass) and had a pot belly, all signs of a hepatic coccidiosis infection. By the time I realized what she had, it had already cleared up with a diet change, the pot belly went away and she started putting on weight and muscle mass. So I would say a baby bunny feeling bony isn't normal and either indicates it's not getting sufficient amounts of food or has an underlying health condition.

    Most herbs are ok to give every day. Cilantro, parsley, basil would all be fine. The ones I might limit would be really strong ones such as oregano, sage, etc. Those I wouldn't give too much of. For adult rabbits you might need to limit the high calcium ones such as parsley, carrot tops, etc., but cilantro is low calcium and I've given it every day before. If it upsets their stomach you'll know, and then of course you would either limit the amount or eliminate it from the diet.
     
  12. Mar 30, 2019 #12

    NetherlandBuns

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    Thank you everyone! I readjusted her pellets amount and waited till I didn’t see extra cecotropes. The day before yesterday I tried feeding her a tiny amount of romaine again but yesterday noticed she even had a small amount of diarrhea so I didn’t feed her anymore. If all is normal again tonight I’m going to give cilantro a try.

    Could it be she’s just not ready for fresh veggies? She’s about 3.5 months now though. I’ve read about so many others feeding fresh vegggies much earlier. Not to mention the people I got her from were initially feeding her tons of romaine.
     
  13. Mar 30, 2019 #13

    Imbrium

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    It sounds like you've followed all the guidelines for veggie introduction and diet stuff in general - you're doing everything right. Sometimes even with the right diet, though, babies can abandon cecal poops simply due to a short attention span. However, the fact that the cecals are mostly unformed combined with the other symptoms you've mentioned makes me really think another vet trip is in order. Since you've already taken her once, the vet will be able to compare the two weights to see if she's not gaining enough (which is akin to unexplained weight loss in an adult). The vet will probably also notice if she's gotten bonier, as it can be harder to realize how much something has changed when you're seeing it happen gradually each day vs not having seen the rabbit since her last visit.

    Also, if you can find one (like BeneBac), it sounds like a small animal probiotic is definitely in order. Pet stores usually sell them and feed stores often do as well. Oh, and as for cilantro, every bunny I've ever had except for Nala (hates it!!) has loved cilantro and they've never had a problem with it. Cilantro is pretty gentle on the tummy and appeals to most rabbits.
     

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