Rabbit won't eat kale

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serabeth

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Hi everyone,

I'm worried about my rabbit because he won't eat kale, which is his favorite food. He also is not playing at this hour like he normally does; he's mostly just laying down. I thought maybe he is having GI issues, but when I google it, the rabbit would not be hopping around much with GI stasis. My rabbit is hopping from spot to spot -- inside his house, on top of the footrest, and inside the litter box. He keeps rotating between the three and stopping in each location to rest for a few minutes. He seems to not be in too much distress, though...he even just flopped over on his back inside his litter box.

I decided to try and feed him from the nutri rescue syringe anyways, but he won't eat it. I don't know how to make him eat it -- I've never been able to get him to take anything before that he does not want, and he's already refused his favorite veggie. I think it's only been an hour or two since I noticed him acting weird -- he was definitely fine 3 hours ago. I have no idea what he could've eaten to make himself sick. It was 3 hours ago that I gave him his pellets, so maybe those, but I only give him about 1/4 cup (he is ~5.5 lbs).

Is it too early to panic, or should I grab a towel, wrap him up, and try to force feed him? We don't really have vets in our area that take rabbits. The one we go to only works at the vet clinic once or twice a week, so I don't know if we would be able to get a hold of him tomorrow morning. I just don't think I've ever seen him act this way before; he is always super thrilled with any food we give him, especially his favorites.
 

Blue eyes

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If you suspect he has some gas pain ( a rabbit in pain will refuse to eat), then give him some simethicone (baby gas drops). That's a good, first go-to. It is not recommended to ever force feed a rabbit unless you have confirmed that there is not a gut blockage. Feeding a rabbit in full GI stasis can make things much worse.

Simethicone is safe. You can syringe feed (in the cheek area) 1-2cc per hour for 3 hours, then 1cc every 3-8 hours as needed. Even if he doesn't have gas pain, the simethicone won't hurt.
 

serabeth

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If you suspect he has some gas pain ( a rabbit in pain will refuse to eat), then give him some simethicone (baby gas drops). That's a good, first go-to. It is not recommended to ever force feed a rabbit unless you have confirmed that there is not a gut blockage. Feeding a rabbit in full GI stasis can make things much worse.

Simethicone is safe. You can syringe feed (in the cheek area) 1-2cc per hour for 3 hours, then 1cc every 3-8 hours as needed. Even if he doesn't have gas pain, the simethicone won't hurt.

Thanks, I will try that. I don't have baby simethicone but I googled it and some people have just crushed the chewable tablets and disolved in water, so I'll do that instead since the pharmacy is closed now. It says there is 20mg per 0.3mL in baby simethicone, so that's approx. 133mg in 2cc. So I think my 125mg tablet in water should be okay.
 

serabeth

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Update...I could not get him to eat a frozen blueberry, but for some odd reason, he ate up the herbs I gave him. Is it okay to give him more? I normally only give him maybe 1-2 pinches of herbs as a treat during the day.

I did try to get him to eat some hay by putting a handful beside him and sprinkling it with the herbs. But he made an annoyed (flicking) gesture with his back feet at me and then started digging at the hay, just trying to get to the herbs without eating the hay.

I've given him two doses of simethicone now. I'm pretty sure he at least got some of both doses, but it is so hard to stick the syringe in his mouth :(. Some of the last one accidentally squirted onto his fur, but he licked it off at least.

Also, when I posted this thread, I emptied his litter box so I could monitor if he was pooping. He finally did -- it looked like he was trying a few times with nothing coming out. Only these few pellets, though. Is that a good sign still though? I have a pic if you want to see it lol. The bedding looks sparse in some places because he keeps digging for some reason.

I have been trying to massage his sides as much as I can too, to help get things moving. He's so squirmy though, and I don't want to upset/agitate him too much. He's already kinda mad at me with all of this handling, but still seems to want to be close to me as long as I'm not doing things to him.

It seems like he might be getting some of his appetite back too. He picked up a piece of kale in his mouth, but then he ended up putting it back down :(. So maybe he wants to eat now but his stomach still hurts?

I did put a bowl of water next to him too and he drank a couple of sips, but not as much as I would've liked. I just really want him to get better before I can go to sleep. It's super late now but I'm afraid if I sleep he might get worse.
 

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serabeth

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Update again -- I think he is better now :)! It must have been the second dose of simethicone or something. He's now much more lively, hopping around, coming over for pets, etc. He's now hopping around the room and finding all of the kale leaves we scattered everywhere for him and he is eating them. His nose is wiggling, he's perking up, and his body language is much happier.

Just to be safe, I'll not feed him any pellets for a couple of days, though. Mostly just hay and water for now. I'm very relieved though that he seems to be feeling better now.
 
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I'm so glad he's doing better!

In case it helps you down the road... My bunny had a few bouts similar to that and my vet recommended a change of diet: no carrots or other sweet treats, only 1/4 cup of pellets per day, and only two cups of fresh greens per day.

They also had me eliminate kale and spinach from her diet (see link below).

She's never had a bout of stasis again. Such a relief! And she's a much more avid hay eater than ever before.

 

Blue eyes

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Eating again is a great sign! Herbs and leafy greens are great for a rabbit. They can work up to having a couple cups of herbs/greens every day.

Here is further info which should help you see what can be fed daily and what should be limited (kale & spinach, for example).

Seeing some poos is also a good sign. The ones in the photo are rather small...shows something amiss... but better than none at all. You'll know he's in the clear once you see normal size poos again.

For future, you'll want to get some simethicone gas drops to have on hand as part of your health kit for bunny. That way you'll have it whenever it may be needed.

And for future also, the following video may help in showing how to get a difficult bunny to get that medicine via oral syringe:
 

serabeth

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I think I spoke too quickly — he was doing better for a bit, but seems like his stomach still hurts today. He has pooped more, but not much more and nowhere near as much as usual. Pic below.

No one knows anything about rabbits around here :(. My husband called the only 3 vets that said they treat rabbits, and one had no idea what to do, one advised us to call a vet the next state over (!), and the third said they didn’t know but they can get him in for an appt tomorrow afternoon.

So for now, as long as he is still pooping and moving around some, we’ll take him to the appt tomorrow. If he starts doing worse, we might have to try the emergency vet but they might not even take rabbits.

I’ll remove the rest of the scattered kale leaves since it looks like from what some of you referenced that may not be good for his digestive system. I have been giving him some belly massage per a YouTube video I watched, as well. He seemed to react to it pretty well. He normally hates being handled and runs from me if I look like I’m going to pick him up. But I stood over him and did the belly massage from both sides at once and he did not run away the entire time. When I was done, he even went up on his hind legs a couple of times and wiggled his nose like he was happy.

He’s sleeping now and he has his belly on the ground. Earlier today, he was mostly just sitting up. He looks very sleepy. I don’t know if I should just let him sleep or keep trying different things.
 

Blue eyes

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In the meantime, I'd continue with the simethicone. Encourage hay eating by refreshing it throughout the day and even pestering him with it by holding some right in front of his face. If he can start eating again with the help of doing these things (and the belly massages), that would be better than having to take him to the vet which will stress him more. Of course a vet may be necessary if he does not improve. It'll just be easier for him if the massages and simethicone get him eating again.

(I think you forgot the pic you meant to include.)
 

serabeth

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In the meantime, I'd continue with the simethicone. Encourage hay eating by refreshing it throughout the day and even pestering him with it by holding some right in front of his face. If he can start eating again with the help of doing these things (and the belly massages), that would be better than having to take him to the vet which will stress him more. Of course a vet may be necessary if he does not improve. It'll just be easier for him if the massages and simethicone get him eating again.

(I think you forgot the pic you meant to include.)

Thanks! Here is the pic. Not much change in his status yet. Going to try to play (or at least interact) with him in a bit during the time he is usually more active. He actually reached for the hay and put it in his mouth for a bit, not sure if he swallowed though. But he had been completely refusing before, so maybe that’s a good sign.

C25579F0-C08C-4976-B71B-6C39D63E47A4.jpeg
 

serabeth

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My poor little bunny baby :(. We ended up taking him to an animal hospital an hour away that took rabbits. He got admitted for GI stasis. He looked so sleepy and drained and wasn't even wiggling his nose. They said they expect he will have to be there for 12-24 hours.

I hate leaving him because he perks up when there’s no vet in the room and it’s just my husband and me. He doesn’t like the vet and there was a dog making scary growl/snarl noises in one of the rooms. They did say they think he will be okay though and that they are going to give him something for the pain, fluids, and antibiotics and feed him critical care and that he can go home when he is eating and pooping regularly.

I don’t know how this happened. He’s only 2 years and 2 months old; I didn’t think he would have serious health issues until he was older. We haven’t given him anything new recently and he mostly just has hay and water with 1/4 cup pellets and a pinch or two of herbs. We give greens regularly too, but a decent variety, not just kale.
 

serabeth

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My bunny ended up having to stay an extra night, but he's good now :). He seems completely back to normal, too. They said if his appetite seems less than it was to give him critical care, but I don't think we need to because he is eating, drinking, hopping around, cuddling, and playing just like normal.

They did give us 5 days each of bactrim and metoclopramide. I just cannot give him meds by syringe, though. I did the first day and I felt so badly because he was freaking out and I had to force him. I know you guys told me kale isn't very good for rabbits, but they were the only greens I had on hand and I ended up measuring out his medications and soaking the kale leaves in them :X. He ate them right up.

I plan on grocery shopping this weekend though, and will look for greens other than kale and spinach, since both of those greens you said can be gas producing are the ones we gave them the most often. Hopefully it's okay to just dip the leaves in the medication and feed it to him, because I just cannot get the syringe into his mouth.

@littlebluejay The greens we've been giving most often are kale and spinach. There were some links posted above saying that they may be gas producting and not good for rabbits over time. Do you think that's why he developed GI stasis? I wouldn't say we have greens to give him every single day, but most days we give him some. I don't measure it out so I'm not sure how much, but we get bunches of kale from walmart and I wash it and rip it up into 3 parts. I give my bonded pair 2 of the parts and Thumper 1 part. It's not that much, maybe 1/2 a cup?

As to the other things we give him, his pellets and hay are from small pet select, and they are the timothy hay based pellets and orchard grass hay. We also keep a bag of their timothy hay cubes around to use as "treats". The only ingredient in those is timothy hay. The herbs are Rosewood Naturals Nature's salad.

The hay we just refill halfway when it's close to (but not yet) empty. Only halfway because if it's full, he starts pulling it all out of the feeder and making a big mess lol.

I was thinking about it though and I think there are a couple of things I can do better....reduce the amount of pellets I was giving him. I wasn't measuring it or anything and I guess it ended up being more than I thought. Another is to encourage him to play more and be more active. A lot of times, he ends up just sprawling out on the floor between my husband and me as if he's a dog lol and he doesn't really get super active unless we play with him and get him in the mood to exercise.
 

serabeth

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^ Uh, so. I could’ve sworn our vet told us the diet above was good. But from what I’m reading, it seems like I should be giving the veggies every single day, and 1-2 cups. I’m going to buy a bunch tomorrow and see what they like. Hopefully my other rabbits are okay and don’t get GI stasis :(. I thought they just ate hay and water mostly with supplemental nutrients from pellets, herbs, and veggies.
 

serabeth

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Oh, never mind. My husband said he was giving them greens too, so I think we were giving an adequate amount. Just need to switch over to ones other than kale and spinach then, I guess.
 

Blue eyes

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Please be sure to properly introduce any new greens so as not to cause tummy upset. And only offer one new type at a time (over a course of several days). Here is a link that explains how to safely introduce greens. It also includes lists for what is safe for daily feeding and what is not.
Fresh herbs count as greens too -- basil, dill, cilantro, mint.

Once the buns are used to a variety of healthy greens and are getting a couple cups of greens per day, then their pellet amount can be severely limited. An average size rabbit is fine with 1/4 cup per day (or less).

As for gauging their hay amount, figure that a rabbit should eat its body size in hay each day.
 
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serabeth

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Please be sure to properly introduce any new greens so as not to cause tummy upset. And only offer one new type at a time (over a course of several days). Here is a link that explains how to safely introduce greens. It also includes lists for what is safe for daily feeding and what is not.
Fresh herbs count as greens too -- basil, dill, cilantro, mint.

Once the buns are used to a variety of healthy greens and are getting a couple cups of greens per day, then their pellet amount can be severely limited. An average size rabbit is fine with 1/4 cup per day (or less).

As for gauging their hay amount, figure that a rabbit should eat its body size in hay each day.

Thanks! We made a schedule for all 3 rabbits just so we know what all of them are eating. My husband works 3rd shift, so we’re often with the bunnies at different times and weren’t always coordinating.

Thumper loves playing with his little spinny toy where food comes out, so I’ve been giving him his herbs and pellets in there so he has to be more active when eating. I also reduced the amount of pellets. This is a video from several months ago when I was giving him more. He loves playing with that thing lol. I wish I could put more things in it that he can eat a lot of so he plays with it more, but if I’m reducing his pellets and treats, not sure what else would work.
View attachment FullSizeRender.MOV
 

serabeth

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Cool toy. That does look stimulating. I wonder if there's a similar toy that dispenses hay. If so, my bunny would love that.

Same! And yeah, the rabbit loves it. Although I will say that he gets impatient with spinning it lol, so he has taken to just grabbing the seal and smacking it around on the wall and other objects to get food to pop out XD. We actually had to buy him a new one because he had warped the seal so much with his teeth that when we put it down, he was able to just instantly pull the seal out.
 

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