Urgent advice please 🐰 poo issues

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DennisGracie

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Sorry if formatting is wrong - this is my first post here.

image.jpg so the last few weeks my rabbit Dennis has been leaving marks behind where he sits and eats his cecotropes (see pics below). We’ve been to the vet 3 times about this (Taylor vets), and saw 3 different vets who have all given different advise. Not really sure what’s going on so wondering if anyone has had a similar experience?

Vet 1: we first went and thought it was diarrhoea, vet said no as he is still producing normal poo, she could feel normal fecal pellets in his stomach, and he is eating & drinking, is a normal weight. Gave fibre past stuff to give if it happened again.

Vet 2: patches of poo (?) still being left. So back to the vet. Next vet wondered if it was bladder related and so we took a urine sample (nightmare to get). Results showed urine as a bit dilute and suspended gravity a bit lower than average. Slightly high in calcium. Colour dark straw like. Said she didn’t want to jump to conclusions as results didn’t fully indicate bladder issue. Gave 7 day course of metacalm for potential pain relief.

Vet 3: metacalm seemed to cause diarrhoea (annoyed we were prescribed this as if there is an issue with him having runny poo, surely metacalm caused further damage?). Asked vet 3 for another opinion RE bladder issue. Vet 3 says that the symptoms and tests don’t clinically support bladder issue and as we haven’t done a previous urine sample this may be how Dennis’s urine always is, but we don’t have a baseline for comparison (at this point I’m quite angry about the previous vet saying it was bladder related if the tests don’t support this). And that she thinks it’s poo related, but as his weight remains (somewhat) the same (there was 0.10kg difference but she said probs due to scale calibration) and he seemed well within himself, there isn’t much to be done, other than stop the metacalm (which I already had done).

All in all nearly £300 spent to have no solution and no clear answer to what is wrong.

Photos below: (last pic with the poo in the litter box was after using metacalm so think this looks the worst but was triggered by the medicine. All other pics are pre treatment)

Thanks x
 

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Preitler

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Welcome :)
I'm not sure I did grasp what the problem is? Just a few dark, liquidy spots?

So, you obviously feed hay, what else? How old is he?

Is there any sign or reason to believe he is in pain? Or is something else off there, like, behaviour?

Are his teeth ok?
 

DennisGracie

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Hi!

Yes he leaves loads of these brown stains when he moves after sitting eating his cecotropes. It started maybe a month ago. We’ve been to vets 3 times and they don’t know what it is. They said clinically the symptoms and tests don’t support bladder issue but aren’t sure what else.

usuallyhe gets a small amount of herbs (such as dill, coriander, parsley, basil etc), a small amount of pellets (mushed with water as we previously had a choking scare with him so I mush the pellets down now), and unlimited Timothy hay (and we also mix in Rye hay).

he gets a probiotic once a day in his water which is approved by our vet.

otherwise seems to be healthy, but these brown strains and worrying me as they are new.

hes about a year and a half old, neutered and bonded to a female rabbit x
 

White Rabbit

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Hi!

Yes he leaves loads of these brown stains when he moves after sitting eating his cecotropes. It started maybe a month ago. We’ve been to vets 3 times and they don’t know what it is. They said clinically the symptoms and tests don’t support bladder issue but aren’t sure what else.

usuallyhe gets a small amount of herbs (such as dill, coriander, parsley, basil etc), a small amount of pellets (mushed with water as we previously had a choking scare with him so I mush the pellets down now), and unlimited Timothy hay (and we also mix in Rye hay).

he gets a probiotic once a day in his water which is approved by our vet.

otherwise seems to be healthy, but these brown strains and worrying me as they are new.

hes about a year and a half old, neutered and bonded to a female rabbit x

Have you added or changed his diet in anyway? Maybe a treat they normally don't get? If so that maybe a cause. Could have just made the cecotropes slightly more wet and could just be run off from the cecotropes. Mine has done this before too(on wood, which is how i noticed, as she normally does it in her litterbox or outside in her playpen when she is allowed out. Ill post a picture below) with no issues. As long as he is eating, drinking, is normal weight and has normal energy I wouldn't be too worried.
rabbit cecotropes.jpg
 

JBun

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Did any of the vets talk to you about your rabbits diet and how it can relate to mushy or improperly formed cecotropes? Dietary issues would certainly be the most common cause for watery or mushy cecals, also called cecal dysbiosis. If this problem starting doesn't seem to coorelate with a new food being introduced into the diet, then it seems likely that he's developed a sensitivity to some of his food and will need his diet adjusted.

The most common culprits are sugary foods like fruit, carrots, and grains. Next would be the pellets because they contain grains and sugars. Occasionally some rabbits will be sensitive to particular veggies/greens, and rarely soft early growth rich grass hay can cause problems for some rabbits.

When a dietary problem is the cause, the recommended way to find the problem food(s) is to cut everything out of the diet except free fed grass hay(ensuring bun is eating hay really well) that is a medium coarse to softer hay(hay that's too coarse doesn't contain enough nutrients to be fed exclusively). I also would offer a salt lick, since dietary sodium won't be provided from the pellets. Then monitor bun to make sure lots of hay is being eaten, and also monitor weight and body condition to make sure bun is staying at a healthy weight. If unhealthy weight loss starts occurring, then this should be stopped and you should consult with an experienced rabbit vet.

This can take several weeks, depending on how severe the microflora imbalance is in the cecum, but usually there will be improvement seen by the second week. After the problem has been cleared up for at least a couple weeks, then other foods can be gradually added back in, one at a time and starting with a small amount before increasing. This way if there is a certain food that's a problem, you'll see a change in the poop and will know you can't feed that particular food any more.



If you can find a knowledgeable rabbit vet that knows about cecal dysbiosis and these types of issues, then this change of diet is best done after first consulting with that vet, if possible


If the problem doesn't clear up with the dietary changes, there are other possible causes other than diet, diet is just the most common. If Dennis is the white and brown bun in your profile pic, megacolon is a possible cause for poop abnormalities, particularly in 'charlie' colored rabbits. Intestinal parasites or coccidiosis(intestinal or hepatic) can cause poop abnormalities. Problems with the liver can as well. Was a fecal float test done to check for parasites, or was a blood test done checking kidney and liver function?

Medirabbit: megacolon in spotted rabbits

(WARNING: LINK CONTAINS GRAPHIC NECROPSY PHOTOS)
Medirabbit: coccidiosis

If you have any concerns or think the problem may be health related and not diet related, please find an experienced rabbit vet to take your rabbit to for a proper diagnosis. If a blood test and fecal test weren't ever done, that's what I would expect to be looked into.
 

DennisGracie

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Our vet is supposed to be one of the RWAF approved vets, however I am never happy when I visit them - however our next closest one is about 40 minutes away and they said they don’t have any space for new clients atm :/

his diet has remained unchanged for all of his life essentially, other than some new pellets we started trying after he developed this issue as I wondered if maybe his current pellets were too low in fibre.

I’ve booked another vet appointment for Tuesday with the vet and will ask for bloods to be done and poo sample.

Dennis is the white and brown rabbit yes, although I think that article said it was likely in rabbits whose bodies are mostly white, whereas Dennis has spots all over his back and looks more like the “normal” coloured rabbit in the example pic, but I will definitely mention to the vet both mega colon (which I desperately hope it isn’t), and cecal dysbiosis.

over the last few days I’ve been reducing herbs and pellets and hope that by Monday I’ll have weaned him off both and he will just eat hay, but I read it’s not good to change their diets too fast so I’ve been trying this since Thursday.

I’m just so worried about him - he was the only thing that got me through lockdown and has in a way, become my emotional support. He’s so loving and sweet and I would be devastated if anything happened to him :( 💔

thank you so so much for your wonderfully detailed responses.
 

DennisGracie

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DCF6765F-B96C-496B-B21A-928CFD705A54.jpeg
This pic better shows Dennis and his colouring - this was just last night, he loves lying like this and getting patted from nose to tail!
 

JBun

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Not changing the diet too quickly mainly has to do with changing pellet types and introducing new foods. With the exception of most grass hays which are usually well tolerated when immediately introduced into a rabbits diet. The reason to make changes gradually, is the gut microflora needs time to adapt to the new foods, to minimize disrupting that delicate balance and resulting in improperly formed cecotropes. Gradual changes can also be for a new rabbit that might have only been fed pellets and not be used to eating hay. So you don't just want to drastically reduce pellet amounts to start them eating hay, only to find out they won't touch the hay and are starving themselves.

When it comes to a rabbit that is used to eating hay and you're trying to correct digestive problems related to diet, it's not usually as necessary to make gradual changes. It's usually not going to cause too much of an issue to immediately remove other foods and only feed hay, except maybe an upset bunny not liking their favorite foods being stopped and only getting hay. Though with some rabbits, it can disrupt their eating to make any changes. So if you do a sudden hay only diet, those first few days it's important to keep an eye on hay consumption and body weight, to make sure hay is being eaten really well and no unhealthy weight loss occurs. But if you feel more comfortable gradually reducing things, that works too.

I just mentioned the other health causes as slight possibilities. Megacolon is a slight possibility, but not as likely as diet or even parasites. 'Charlie' rabbits have less than 10% color on white, so maybe your rabbit is, but still doesn't mean it's megacolon even if a charlie bun. I've had several 'charlie' rabbits that didn't have megacolon, and only a few that did. Though if by some chance it is megacolon, that doesn't necessarily mean a bad prognosis for your rabbit. I've had megacolon rabbits, and as long as it's not really severe, it can be managed pretty well with diet.

If this were my bun, I would start off with reducing pellets quite a bit, or completely removing pellets, and also stop all sugary/starchy foods(fruit, starch veg, grains). Then keep free feeding good grass hay and the usual leafy greens/herbs, and see if there are any positive changes that first week. If there are still some watery cecals, then I would remove pellets completely. If after another week there are still problems, I would start cutting out the veg/greens.

Usually removing sugary treats and reducing pellets, is enough to fix the problem. Sometimes it takes removing pellets completely. Usually leafy greens don't have to be removed, but occasionally some rabbits will be sensitive to certain greens or veg, so it has to be a consideration if removing pellets and high carb treats doesln't work. But I've found in most cases, sugary treats and pellets are the most common culprits.

I've had buns that had to have reduced pellets and no high carb treat diets or they would get mushy cecals. I've also had buns that had to be on pellet free no carb diets, with only grass hay and leafy greens(my megacolon buns), and all of those rabbits did really well on these diets, and it solved their mushy cecal problems. For the megacolon buns it kept their megacolon under control and kept them healthy. So most of the time, cecal imbalance can be managed well with the right diet.

Mushy cecotropes aren't usually going to be a life threatening problem if it's not allowed to become a severe case, and there isn't some serious underlying health issue going on. So you catching it early means that small changes can likely get things under control and back in balance without anything too drastic being needed, usually with just those minimal diet changes.

He looks and sounds like a sweet little guy ♥ Hopefully this can get sorted with just some diet changes.
 

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