Tiny poops but eating well, steady weight

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Kellyann

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Following a routine molar trim, Alfie made a normal good recovery. About three days. Five days later he went into a g.I.stasis. When his temperature dropped I took him to vet emerg- his regular vet.
-They hydrated him and started him on his usual meds, metoclopramide, Cisapride and Metacam for pain.
-They warmed him up and fed him overnight.
-They did an X-ray which was normal.
-They did bloodwrk also normal.
I was sorry this happened again (3rd time) but also we are going on a much needed vacation in two weeks. He is going to be boarded. I brought him home next day, Sunday and took over his care. After 7 days he began to improve and we continued the g.I. meds but stopped critical care and pain med. His poops were normal, what we call large size. Green pea size.
Right away the size and number of his poops reverted to tiny even though he is still on gut meds.
- We starts force feeding again Even though he is eating pellets voraciously, happily but not eating any hay.
- His energy level is normal
I took him back to his vet for a recheck. She checked his teeth. They appeared normal, they had just been done 3 weeks ago. She is very confused.
-We put him back on metacam in case of root pain.
His poops continue to be tiny?
ANY IDEAS OR THOUGHTS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. THX,
 

JBun

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Do you feed a limited amount of daily pellets?
 

JBun

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Also, does he normally eat hay well? Would he eat a pile the size of his body per day, before the molar trim and before this all started? Was he eating any hay following his molar trim, and if yes, just a little or a pile each day? Is there anything different about the hay, like a different type, brand, or a new bag/bale?

Are you currently force feeding as much critical care as you were before when he had stasis and when his poops started looking more normal again? Have you been feeding anything else to make up for the lack of hay eating, besides resuming the critical care feeds?
 

Kellyann

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We’ve been feeding critical care for about a week and no change. We don’t force feed after molar trim, he doesn’t need it. He goes back to eating pellets right away hay after a few days. I’ve asked the vet but asking here too. If he’s eating pellets, why the critical care? It’s the same formula but, of course he’s getting the water with the c.c. but we do see him drinking. No change to hay. He goes on and off hay. Sometimes he eats non stop. Other times he will not eat it at all. That’s when we suspect teeth, though he gets them done regularly, every eight weeks. He never ate his body size in hay. He gets 2 tbsp oxbow pellets a day usually. The vet said feed double while he’s on the meds.

Is it the meds? I’m afraid to stop them.
 

JBun

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So because he's not really eating hay and is on limited pellets each day, if you don't substitute with something to take the place of the hay, then the overall food comsumption for the day is decreased. Thus causing decreased food amounts in the gut, slowing down gut motility, and causing reduced poop amounts and size. This is likely what caused your rabbits stasis originally, and why you continue to keep having issues after the dental. Because he's still not eating hay and is on limited pellets, he's not consuming enough food to keep his gut moving normally.

Even though he's eating pellets fine, it's only a limited amount, and not enough for normal gut function without enough hay being consumed. Pellets being doubled will help, but he may need a bit more than that to keep his digestive tract moving more normally. For a rabbit not eating hay, the amount of food needed to sustain a normal weight and normal gut function, is approximately 1 oz of dry food(with enough protein, plus fiber) per lb of body weight.

Your bun is about 2.5lb right? If he's getting 4 tbsp per day now, that's 1/4 cup. Depending on the pellet, that will be around 2 oz, maybe a little under. He probably needs around 2.5-3oz of dry food per day, the amount depending on the protein content of the food. So if 1/4 cup pellets per day is less than 2oz in weight, he'll need a bit more food to get the digestive tract closer to normal, whether that's another 2 tbsps of pellets per day on top of the 1/4 cup he's already getting, or by supplementing with another food. Once your bun is getting enough food to replace the amount of hay he would normally eat, that should get his gut function and poop looking more normal

Feeding enough critical care mix is one way. If extra pellets don't cause digestive upset for your rabbit, increasing pellet amounts even more might work, though suddenly increasing pellets could also possibly cause mushy poop and gut upset because of the grains and sugars in pellets. Ideally you want to increase food amounts with more fiber(balanced with protein) instead of with pellets that contain grains and carbs, as excess carbs can lead to mushy cecotropes for many rabbits and also some gut slowdown and slightly smaller poops. More fiber will lead to better gut motility and larger fecal balls.

If your rabbit will eat these, there are plain grass hay pellets made for large livestock, that might be an option, and would actually be a better one than feeding more rabbit food pellets, until your bun starts eating loose hay again. This way he's getting the extra food he needs, the extra fiber, and not the extra carbs that are in the rabbit pellets. The plain hay pellets are a larger size pellet, but I've used them in the past and my rabbits didn't have any problems chewing them. So that might be something you can do until your vet figures out what's going on with your bun. I used these timothy pellets. They also have orchard grass pellets. Some feed stores carry them. Or you may be able to buy online.


The most likely reason your bun still won't eat hay, is that there's an underlying dental problem that the vet hasn't found yet. Another RO member was having a similar issue with their rabbit last month. Their rabbit had a dental history, but the vet checked and didn't find the teeth were a problem yet. But their bun was still not eating some of it's normal foods, was drooling and having odd chewing behavior. The vet tried meds and other things to see if it helped. The problem continued and the bunny went back to the vet and the vet finally found the problem. It was another molar spur digging into the tongue. So with your bun, it's likely something similar could be going on. Like a missed molar spur, maybe an infected tooth, or even just that the bite is off causing pain while chewing in a certain way(eg. like with hay) after having the teeth ground down for the dental. So you may need to ask your vet to do another thorough dental exam to see if something was missed.

 

White Rabbit

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Very detailed response above. Only thing I can think to add to the above post is try to add some watermelon juice straight from the fruit(not a bottle of it haha), smear banana, berries or similar to the hay to make it sweeter so your bun may try to eat it as it's now coated in something sweet. You can also look for 3rd cut timothy hay which is sweeter then 1st or 2nd cut, but not as good for keeping their teeth groomed as it's softer and doesnt have as many "sticks" of hay for lack of a better word. You can also try to mix the pellets into the hay and see if your bun goes for it this way. Hope it all works out :)
 

Kellyann

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Thankyou for such great information. We have been supplementing Critical-care for a week. Not fully because Alf eats all the pellets we put in. We do add pellet dust to his hay to encourage eating. He must be getting correct nutrition as he is not losing but gaining weight from all the supplemental feeding. 1 tbsP of critical care is equal in weight to 2 tablespoons of oxbow pellets. We had X-rays of his teeth done a year ago and he had “root issues” on the bottom. They didn’t affect him at that time but were seen on the dental . I’m going to talk to the vet tomrrow and discuss if this may be the issue of not eating hay. It doesn’t explain however, if he is eating twice as much food in the form of pellets and critical care, where are the feces? Like I said he has gained weight. My vet has strictly forbidden any fruit or fruit juice which can cause sugar bacterial gas in the gut. There’s no drooling at all and fairly normal energy. He fought the syringe feeding today, scratching and biting so force feeding is out. I wont put a delicate animal through that. I’m going to ask for repeat X-rays of the teeth and gut tomorrow, then we’ll decide from there. If his poops keep decreasing he will be in g.I.stasis by tomorrow morning. Thanks for your detailed response.
 

JBun

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The motion to chew pellets is different than how they chew hay. Eating pellets uses an up and down crushing motion. Hay is kind of a figure 8 side to side chewing motion. So if a rabbits mouth is bothering them in a particular way, though it may hurt to chew only certain foods like hay, it might not hurt as much to chew foods like pellets, because of the different chewing motion used. That's why rabbits with dental problems selectively eat, because some foods hurt more than others to chew, depending on the nature of the dental issue.

Usually a molar spur poking into the tongue or cheek, or a bite occlusion that is off due to the teeth being burred down unevenly and changing the rabbits bite incorrectly resulting in jaw pain, will cause it to hurt more to eat hay(side to side motion). Tooth root pain, such as from a tooth infection, teeth that are overgrown upwards, or root overgrowth, will usually cause more pain from eating pellets(up/down pressure on the molars).

The seemingly reduced feces can be that if a rabbit has had a day or more of reduced eating previously, it can take a few days for the increased food intake to catch the digestive system back up to normal. It's usually like this with any GI stasis episode. The digestive tract has reduced content due to the reduced food intake, and once the rabbit is eating more normally again, it can take a few days for the digestive tract and poop size to get back to normal.

The other explanation for reduced fecal ball amount and size, is what I mentioned in my previous post. That the grains and sugars in the pellets and critical care, and reduced fiber(as opposed to eating an equal amount of hay), can slow down digestion making the fecal balls smaller and more compact. It's also due to the reduced fiber intake because hay isn't being eaten. Hay consumption means lots of fiber, and lots of fiber in the digestive tract causes there to be more fecal output and fecal balls that are larger. It's all dependent on the amount of indigestible fiber a rabbit consumes, not just the amount of food that's consumed. This fiber is what drives a rabbits digestive function, affecting poop size and amount.

So a rabbit can gain weight on pellets and critical care, and in fact is more likely to than hay, because pellets and critical care are condensed food that is higher in calories from the higher protein and carb content. A rabbit is less likely to gain weight from an equal(or even increased) consumption of hay that is the same weight. It would be like us eating a hamburger as opposed to a salad that is equal in weight, or even a salad that is larger. The salad may weigh the same or even more, but a hamburger has a lot more calories from fat, carbs, and protein, so is going to cause more weight gain than the salad.

I can't say if he'll develop GI stasis again or not, but decreasing fecal output and size is an early indication that GI stasis could be developing. If it continues to decrease in amount and size, and he also starts eating less pellets, then certainly he's at risk of stasis again. If he's sensitive to the increased carb/sugar intake from eating more pellets, that will put him at risk. It just depends on how well he's tolerating and digesting the increased pellet amounts. It's kind of a tricky situation, because he needs more food in his digestive tract to prevent GI stasis, but increasing pellets can also be a cause for GI stasis developing, in rabbits that are sensitive to the increased carbs and sugars in them. That's why hay is so necessary, especially in carb sensitive rabbits.

What he needs is more fiber from just hay. If you can get some of those grass hay pellets from a feed store, that would be the best temporary solution, if he'll eat them. It would be a temporary replacement for the loose hay he's not eating right now. I would suggest trying some if possible. But they do have to be horse quality, with absolutely no signs of mold. If you can't get hay pellets but can find timothy hay cubes, those could be used too, but you would probably need to break them up, or soak in warm water and make a mush from them(made fresh, not left out too long).

If you don't want to buy a 40 lb bag of hay pellets, if you have a coffee grinder, you can try grinding up some of his hay and feeding that. But you have to make sure it still has bits of hay and isn't too fine of a grind, as hay ground too fine into a powder, can actually cause digestive problems(based on studies). You don't want a powder, but a coarse grind. You might need to make a mush from it so it's not dusty, though it does have to be made up fresh and not left out too long, so it doesn't develop mold. If you don't have a coffee grinder, you could even chop the hay up by hand. Just takes longer.
 

Kellyann

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So I ordered and received the next day, today, some Timothy hay pellets
Alf wont touch them. We are feeding Sherwood recovery formula. It is a grain free type of critical care. I as hoping he would eat pellets too but he has stopped. Hes getting enough from the Sherwood I guess. His poops are really small but they're coming. I have an appt with a different rabbit only! Vet in Toronto. They had an opening day after tomorrow.
 

JBun

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You could try soaking the hay pellets in warm water to make a mush, then mixing some into the recovery food. Maybe start with a small amount to see if he'll still accept it fine, then if he does, gradually mix more in. This will add more fiber to it, and also help the recovery food last longer. Just note that the hay pellets have larger bits so could clog a syringe unless it has a very wide tip.
 

Kellyann

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You could try soaking the hay pellets in warm water to make a mush, then mixing some into the recovery food. Maybe start with a small amount to see if he'll still accept it fine, then if he does, gradually mix more in. This will add more fiber to it, and also help the recovery food last longer. Just note that the hay pellets have larger bits so could clog a syringe unless it has a very wide tip.
Thankyou great idea. Last night we saw him trying a little bit of hay but he only used his incisors.
You could try soaking the hay pellets in warm water to make a mush, then mixing some into the recovery food. Maybe start with a small amount to see if he'll still accept it fine, then if he does, gradually mix more in. This will add more fiber to it, and also help the recovery food last longer. Just note that the hay pellets have larger bits so could clog a syringe unless it has a very wide tip.
Thanks. That's great help. We saw him try to eat hay. He just used his incisors- clearly a molar issue. Too bad I just had him in for a trim three weeks ago. He never really recovered properly from that. New vet tomorrow.
 

Kellyann

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Update: We went to visit a 100% exotic vet in Toronto. Alf is going to be boarded there next week. Of course he is unwell, we have a vacation planned. First in 3 years. Alf’s usual vet couldn’t see him in spite of his illness being a continuation of the dental work they did that started this all. Many vets are slammed with clients and have staffing shortages but I was hurt that they didn’t want to recheck Alf. He has been going to them since 1year old.
The new vet took 5 dental xrays. I had bloodwork from three weeks ago. They sedated him for an oral exam. Diagnosis is abscesses along his lower molar arcade and an abscess cheek pouch. It was good to find that there is an actual cause to his not eating.
Rx Chloramphenicol antibiotic for two weeks to start then a recheck for further treatment. He will be at their practice for the last few days of treatment being boarded.
He has been on the antibiotic now for three days but he is still not eating hay. Would you expect improvement after three days, I thought we’d see something. I’m still feeding him recovery food plus soaked Timothy hay pellets mixed in, as suggested. He eats a few pellets in the morning but nothing else all day except what I feed him. Does he need Metacam do you think. It’s hard to tell. He has been on it plus Buprenorphine for a week- I think that’s long enough.
We are hoping for some improvement. We are leaving in one week. If he goes to the exotic vet practice for boarding it’s $29/ day, if he needs treatments and nursing it could be $300/day. Also I just want him to be well again, it’s been over a month since he’s eaten hay. He is eating a small amount of pellets.
 

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Glad your new vets found the issue! They sound way better than your old vets who wouldn’t even see him.

If I were you, I’d definitely keep giving him metacam. I have a feeling that abscesses along the molars probably feel like just after you have wisdom teeth pulled and when the holes start to hurt before you take pain medicine. Swollen, uncomfortable, and slightly painful when you make jaw movement.

Out of curiosity, what dosage of metacam is he on? Maybe he needs a slightly higher dosage to help with pain.
 

JBun

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Yeah, these things always seem to happen at the most inconvenient time. But that's really good the new vet found the cause of all this, though not so nice that it ended up being an infection.

I've never used chloramphenicol with my rabbits, so don't know how quickly it works. Many antibiotics can take a week or two before you notice significant improvement, depending on the extent of the infection. But also it will depend if the bacteria is sensitive to this antibiotic. The only antibiotic that I've used with my rabbits, that I've seen immediate improvement in the first few days, was with azithromycin. I would think that you should at least see some improvement by the end of the first week. If not, you may need to reevaluate with your vet, the antibiotic being used. Certainly if there's no change by the end of the second week, that the antibiotic likely isn't effective and needs to be changed.

I didn't know you were giving buprenorphine. That could account for some(or a significant amount) of the reduced eating and smaller poop size. As it's a narcotic pain med, it can cause slower digestive motility, some lethargy, and reduced appetite. If it were me, I would want to phase off of the buprenorphine over the next 2-3 days, and monitor how he does as it's reduced and eventually stopped. You may see his appetite return, at least to eating pellets again, hopefully. Though of course, consult with your vet about this.

But if you're currently giving metacam, I wouldn't stop it. His appetite is being affected by either the pain from the infection, or the buprenorphine, or both. So until he's off of the buprenorphine, I would want to continue giving the metacam, then evaluate if it's still needed once he's off of the narcotic. I don't know what dose your vet has you giving of the metacam, but usually it should be at least 0.3mg/kg, twice a day. Though with his mouth hurting and his lack of appetite, the recommended dose for rabbits can be increased to 0.5-0.6mg/kg, twice a day for up to 5 days(longer if determined as needed by your vet) if it's determined he's still in pain and a higher dose is needed, and as prescribed by your vet.

 

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Thankyou for such great information. We have been supplementing Critical-care for a week. Not fully because Alf eats all the pellets we put in. We do add pellet dust to his hay to encourage eating. He must be getting correct nutrition as he is not losing but gaining weight from all the supplemental feeding. 1 tbsP of critical care is equal in weight to 2 tablespoons of oxbow pellets. We had X-rays of his teeth done a year ago and he had “root issues” on the bottom. They didn’t affect him at that time but were seen on the dental . I’m going to talk to the vet tomrrow and discuss if this may be the issue of not eating hay. It doesn’t explain however, if he is eating twice as much food in the form of pellets and critical care, where are the feces? Like I said he has gained weight. My vet has strictly forbidden any fruit or fruit juice which can cause sugar bacterial gas in the gut. There’s no drooling at all and fairly normal energy. He fought the syringe feeding today, scratching and biting so force feeding is out. I wont put a delicate animal through that. I’m going to ask for repeat X-rays of the teeth and gut tomorrow, then we’ll decide from there. If his poops keep decreasing he will be in g.I.stasis by tomorrow morning. Thanks for your detailed response.
Hope you get this figured out for your baby 🙁
 

Kellyann

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Glad your new vets found the issue! They sound way better than your old vets who wouldn’t even see him.

If I were you, I’d definitely keep giving him metacam. I have a feeling that abscesses along the molars probably feel like just after you have wisdom teeth pulled and when the holes start to hurt before you take pain medicine. Swollen, uncomfortable, and slightly painful when you make jaw movement.

Out of curiosity, what dosage of metacam is he on? Maybe he needs a slightly higher dosage to help with pain.
He is on 0.42 mls q 12
thanks for you inTeresa, it’s hard to see him like this.
 

Kellyann

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Alfie has stopped eating completely. We are discussing euthanasia now. His poops have been like peppercornS for 5 weeks. He hasn’t eaten hay for 5 weeks. He did continue to eat pellets until about four days ago. I’ve been feeding him cc every day. He seems very unhappy and depressed. I’ve taken him to the most exclusive small animal vets in Ontario and they don’t seem to know what’s going on. Except for the abscess which we are treating with Chloropalm And Metacam twice a day. Is this the end or are we giving up too soon.
 

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