GI Stasis: How to prevent a killer problem

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GI Stasis is something that can happen in a blink of an eye, it’s very important to learn about GI Stasis when caring for a rabbit as catching this early can save your rabbit from getting poorly and leading to possible death.

Rabbits are prey animals, as such they will hide any signs of illness or health issues. This is due to predators targeting smaller and weaker animals first.

GI Stasis is short for gastrointestinal stasis (Also known as Gut Stasis), it is a common health issue with most pet rabbits. Whilst it is fairly common, it is a deadly condition and educating yourself is the best way to stop any long term issues.

What is GI Stasis?

GI Stasis is a build up of bad bacteria inside your rabbits intestines, this results in gas being released into their system which can cause bloating. This bloating will make your bunny uncomfortable and stop them wanting to eat or drink.

As a rabbit needs to continually digest and eat food, this can cause blockages in the digestive tract which results in your rabbit becoming dehydrated and starved of nutrients/roughage.

The bacteria that is produced from this process will eventually release toxins which cause the liver to fail.

Signs / Signals your rabbit has GI Stasis

Spotting Gi Stasis is quite difficult, so the best thing to do is to seek attention from your local Vet as soon as possible if you see any of these symptoms:

  • Smaller feces
  • Loss of appetite (Try offering them a treat)
  • Hunched position (Higher than a loafing position)
  • No feces for around 5-6 hours

What are the causes of GI Stasis?

GI Stasis has a multitude of causes, some are easy to manage and others will require more input. The following is potential causes of GI Stasis:

  • Low fiber diet
  • Pain from any other issue (UTI, Gas, Dental related issues)
  • Lack of exercise & high starch diet
  • Recent stress / shock (Change in environment, a recent attack, a loud noise or losing a bonded friend).

How long does GI Stasis last?

There is no set time for GI Stasis to pass, this really depends on the medication your rabbit is on. For example, when using Metaclopramide / cisapride, it may take two weeks for their gut to recover.

Some buns have seen a full recovery within 24 hours, it really depends on how quick it is caught, the age of your rabbit and if they have any other health issues.

How can I prevent GI Stasis?

GI Stasis can easily be prevented by taking the necessary steps to keeping your bunny healthy. The most important step to take is to ensure your rabbit has a consistent and healthy diet. Knowing what to feed your rabbit, type of pellets and hay can be confusing. If you’re looking for advice, check out Links post on What to Feed your Bunny.

Fruit can be extremely useful for Gastrointestinal Stasis as fruit will pass through your rabbitsgut fairly quickly. This should only ever be given in small portions.

Regular checkups at your vet can prevent any underlying issues which may cause Stasis such as tooth pain from molar spurs, UTIs and regular Gas. We suggest taking your rabbit to the vet at a minimum of once every 3 months for regular checkups.

Lastly, make sure your rabbit gets plenty of exercise, they should have at the very least 4 hours of free roaming per day. Link is out from 6am to Midnight every day, now he is in a routine he puts himself to bed or sleeps in our bedroom doorway.

Regardless, your rabbit should have as much exercise as possible during early periods of the morning and late in the evening.

Gi Stasis in Rabbits

How can I treat GI Stasis?

The first step is to take your rabbit to the Vet, do not read any more of this post if you haven’t done this so far. Your vet will be able to to determine the cause of the stasis and if there is an easy solution (Usually a motility drug like cisapride).

Your rabbit may need an X-Ray to asses where the blockage is and if there is any excess gas. This will determine how bad the stasis is and if surgery is required.

Other alternatives and solutions can be:

  • IV fluids – These will help move the digestive system and gut
  • Pain Medication – This will remove discomfort from gas
  • Antibiotics – These will combat the harmful bacteria, this should be discussed with a vet first as this can kill off good bacteria as well.

During this period of time, your rabbit should be surrounded by an unlimited supply of hay and vegetables in the case that they do get hungry. Giving your rabbit a treat based green such as cilantro may give your rabbit the motivation to eat and start the flow of digestion in their gut.