Constipation in rabbits can occur due to an improper diet, ingestion of fur or textiles, and other constipating materials, but also due to lack of exercise.
Caution: If it develops into an intestinal obstruction, a life-threatening condition can occur within a few hours.
So as a rabbit owner, you should definitely recognize the signs of constipation!
How to do this and what you have to do immediately in case of illness, you will learn now.
6 common causes of constipation in rabbits
If your rabbit suffers from constipation, a number of causes may be responsible. Among them:
Ingestion of excessive fur
insufficient fluid intake
too little exercise
dangerous, swelling substances
Tip: These herbs are ideal for constipation!
1: Wrong feeding
Rabbits living in the wild require a lot of roughage, such as grass hay, dried herbs, bark and broadleaf.
They consume few seeds, grains and seeds, additionally feed on fresh food, such as grass and herbs. Vegetables and fruits often make up a vanishingly small portion of the diet.
The situation is different for rabbits kept as pets.
They are usually fed mainly with ready-made grain food or pellets and, if necessary, some vegetables and fruit.
Digestive problems are therefore very common.
These can be flatulence, diarrhea, or even constipation due to lack of fiber and feeding too much starch.
Another possible reason for constipation associated with bloating is inadequate feeding.
Since rabbits have a stuffed stomach, they need to eat numerous small meals throughout the day. The food should have as large a volume as possible so that it pushes out the contents of the stomach and intestines that are already present.
If these requirements are not met, digestion can stall.
2: Ingestion of excessive fur
Especially with long-haired breeds or mixed breeds, grooming can be very strenuous for the rabbit and can lead to ingestion of larger amounts of hair during shedding.
These hairs can form a kind of hairball in the stomach and create a blockage or even an intestinal obstruction.
The same risk exists when several animals are kept together and they groom each other.
The dangerous thing is that the ingestion of fur is usually not noticeable.
It is therefore often surprising when defecation becomes difficult or almost impossible for no apparent reason. As a result, the droppings are often larger and may be coated with transparent to yellowish mucus.
If these are crushed, the large amount of fur hair is noticeable.
3: Eating textiles
Rabbits are curious and gnawing animals from which neither cables nor carpets are safe. Curtains, towels, blankets and other textiles can swell up in the stomach and intestines or the fibers can bunch up.
In both cases, there is a risk of constipation and even intestinal obstruction.
The good thing about this cause of constipation is that gnawing marks are a clear indicator and the risk is comparatively easy to prevent.
4: Insufficient fluid intake
In order for the animal’s feces to be formed and dry but still pass through the intestines without any problems, the rabbit must be supplied with sufficient fluids.
If it drinks poorly and receives little other water-rich food, constipation is therefore a typical consequence.
5: Too little exercise
If your rabbit does not get enough exercise, blood circulation, among other things, will suffer.
Digestion can become sluggish. As a result, feces can still accumulate in the intestines and the droppings become very large.
If this occurs, heeling becomes increasingly difficult and may be associated with pain.
6: Dangerous swelling substances
In addition to textiles and fur, rabbits may ingest substances that swell or clump greatly in the stomach or intestines. These include, for example:
Paper and cardboard
These are indigestible, absorb a lot of liquid and can also lead to intestinal obstruction.
6: Constipation due to diseases
Another possible cause of constipation is hereditary or pathogen-induced diseases, such as megacolon.
This significantly disrupts digestion. Diarrhea, flatulence and constipation are the potential consequences.
If you do not find any other cause for the complaints, a veterinary examination should be carried out urgently. After all, constipation cannot be permanently prevented by proper nutrition and avoidance of other risks alone.
6: Constipation due to sticky fur.
If your rabbit has just had very soft, mushy or even runny droppings, the fur in the anus area may be stuck together.
This may be why it acts as a kind of closure and the animal can no longer defecate. As a result, it accumulates intestines and the feces become larger or even several are compressed.
The longer this condition persists, the more difficult it subsequently becomes to empty the bowel.
Typical signs of constipation in rabbits
Constipation is often not immediately noticeable, especially if you keep several animals together. Possible signs are:
- loss of appetite
- hard belly
- less droppings
- teeth grinding
- significantly increased abdominal girth
- gurgling and gurgling
- decreased activity
Monitor your pet closely and see a veterinarian if it is suffering from constipation and you are unsure how long this condition has been present. If it has just recently become less likely to defecate, you can counteract it with the following tips.
Successfully treat constipation in rabbits
If your rabbit can still defecate, but the amount is reduced, you can first try home remedies and other aids to relieve the constipation.
You should try the following remedies and measures:
Measure 1: Hydration.
Offer plenty of fresh water, chamomile tea and fennel tea.
If your rabbit does not drink on its own, you can give the liquid directly into the mouth with a syringe without a cannula. To do this, push the opening into the side of the mouth and empty it slowly so that only one or two drops come out at a time.
Otherwise, there is a risk that your pet will swallow.
Measure 2: Water-rich food
Offer especially water-rich food, such as cucumber, melon and fennel bulbs. This will soften the feces.
In addition, the mucous membranes are better supplied.
Measure 3; hay and herbs
Hay and herbs, such as fennel, chamomile, lemon balm or parsley, stimulate digestion and can relieve constipation.
Measure 4: Heat
Constipation is often accompanied by cramps and pain. Heat can at least reduce the cramps and thus relieve the discomfort.
Measure 5: Administer oil
High-quality vegetable oil, such as cold-pressed linseed oil or canola oil, acts as a laxative.
Give a few milliliters of it directly into the rabbit’s mouth. This coats the feces, so to speak, and helps it slide through the intestinal passage.
Measure 6: Cream and massage
Use oil or a wound and healing ointment and massage this into the anal area. This increases blood circulation and keeps the skin elastic.
Especially in the case of larger droppings, this can prevent the sensitive skin from tearing.
In addition, the massaging or wiping can remind you of the mother’s brushing, which encourages defecation.
Action 7: Encourage movement
If your rabbit can still be enticed by treats, try to encourage it to exercise. This can be loosening and stimulating.
If your rabbit does not defecate after several hours and despite all attempts, consult a veterinarian immediately. This is because there may be more than one blockage. Intestinal obstruction is also possible. This can lead to death within a very short time if left untreated.
Treatment by the vet
If constipation is present, the veterinarian can use a variety of remedies to relieve the discomfort and help empty the bowels.
The following measures are possible in this regard….
Constipation is often accompanied by cramps and pain.
These can be relieved by appropriate medication. The relaxed tissue may already be enough to empty the bowel.
Laxatives can soften the stool and stimulate bowel activity.
However, never administer remedies designed for humans, as they can poison your rabbit.
If the remedies do not work, a catheter or button cannula and syringe can be used to put liquid or oil into the intestines.
This will soften or lubricate the feces and flush them out.
Clearing the bowel
If all of this is not enough, the bowel must be cleared manually.
In larger animals and in humans, this can be done by inserting fingers or the hand. In contrast, because of the size of rabbits, smaller instruments must be used with them.
Usually, an anesthetic is administered for this purpose to spare your rabbit unnecessary stress and to relax the muscles.
Preventing constipation in rabbits
Preventing constipation or even intestinal obstruction is easy, except for existing hereditary diseases.
Pay attention to a species-appropriate diet with plenty of high-quality hay and green fodder. However, avoid a too fast change, but carry this out gradually. Offer fresh water daily and occasionally tea.
Make sure your rabbit gets plenty of exercise every day.
Free running in the rabbit-safe apartment or in a run in the garden are ideal.
In addition, the cage or the rabbit home should be large enough that your animal can at least run back and forth without problems. However, such an accommodation is not a substitute for daily free running.
Support your animal also with the fur care.
Regular brushing and combing removes loose hairs and prevents them from ending up in the digestive tract. In addition, you can directly check the anal area for dirt and sticky fur and clean it if necessary.
Combined with regular checkups with your veterinarian and removing potentially dangerous materials from the rabbit’s reach, you can significantly reduce the risk of constipation.
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