Bloat in Rabbits


Milo & Me Hoppy Tail Acres
Mar 29, 2015
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somewhere in the Northern region of Minnesota
Rabbit Bloat is a condition which is only too familiar to the breeder. It is a condition where the animal becomes 'blown-up' by the
accumulation of a large amount of gas in the abdomen.

Here is an image of my very first case of Bloat in my barn from back in 2012.
There are undoubtedly a
number of causes which produce this disorder. It may be produced by feeding an excessive amount of fresh young Lucerne or clover, and it has been suggested that young white clover will always produce the condition, although this is not proven. The condition is certainly not infectious, but there appears to be, in some cases, an inherited predisposition.
The rabbit sits huddled in a corner and is very inactive. The coat appears dull and the eye glazed. In some cases the rabbit is exceptionally thirsty and will consume quantities of water, although all food is refused. The abdomen becomes swollen with gas and the animal often grinds its teeth in pain. Death
usually results after a day or two from excessive pressure on the lungs and heart. In some cases the stomach may rupture. A second form of the disorder is known as mucoid enteritis, and in this form a quantity of mucous is produced in the intestines and forms a gelatinous mass. Although a considerable amount of research has been carried out, the causes of the disease have not been traced, and no reliable treatment has been discovered. The rabbit will benefit if made to take exercise, and massage with a good liniment which produces a slight irritation on the belly has been found to help. The most reliable treatment, which has been efficacious in more than half
the cases in which it has been tried, is the use of an enema of soft soap and water. Pure green soap is dissolved in warm water, and the solution injected carefully into the anus with a rubber bulb ear syringe.
The recent use of antibiotics has been found to reduce the amount of bloat greatly, in some cases by as much as 75 percent.
A rare disease, which has as its main symptom, the production of bloat is enterotoxaemia, which is a bacterial disease in which the kidneys become soft and pulpy. This trouble almost always occurs when animals arc being grazed in Morant type hutches and in cold weather. The eating of frozen food appears to cause some damage which enables bacteria to gain entrance into the intestinal wall. No treatment is available for this condition.

bloat (not to be confused with stasis/ileus – reduced motility of the intestine,
or the presence of some gas in the digestive system caused by food) is a dreaded
condition in rabbits, with poor prognosis. True bloat is probably the most
painful disorders that a rabbit can suffer from, and rabbit savvy vets often opt
to humanely put the rabbit to sleep, to spare it more suffering.

is due to an abnormal collection of gas that leads to an extreme distension of
the stomach, and/or or cecum. The stomach feels hard and the rabbit looks like a
“balloon”. It can make noised like a “waterfall”. The rabbit shows signs of
terrible pain and has difficulties to breath properly. When bloat reaches a
certain point in rabbits, it becomes irreversible. This is due to the facts
that the stomach wall of rabbits is not as elastic as in many other animals.
The distended stomach (its volume can double) will compress the main blood
vessels that lead blood to and from the heart. Blood flow becomes irregular,
and rarely blocked, causing disturbances of the cardiac rhythm. At this point,
the condition is fatal.

of bloat remain unknown. It may related to overeating, exercising immediately
after eating are suspected in most animals, lack of fiber in the diet, change of
diet, excessive drinking or stress, or result from a pyloric blockage or other
digestive problems.

fully bloated, most rabbits do not survived longer than a few hours to a day
after diagnosis. Opioid pain drugs, fluids, antibiotics and simethicone bring
little to no relief. Putting the rabbit on its side may help. A handful of
rabbits were saved by intubation with a rubber catheter and aspiration of the
content and gas of the stomach. The majority died within 24 hours after relief
of pressure on the stomach. Rarely, when intubation is difficult, excessive
vagal stimulation caused a rapid death of the rabbit.

in uncertainty about bloat, if the rabbit is hypothermic or not, refrain from
feeding it, to avoid overload an already distended stomach, a compromised
digestive system, and contact your vet asap.

A lot of people I know have been dealing with bloat in their rabbits lately which has inspired me to write another blog about it adding several new items that I have learned since my last post on the subject.

Bloat in rabbits can be caused by a number of things and sadly, no matter how many things you do to prevent it in your rabbits; it can still rear its ugly head. When it hits, whether it be one rabbit or many in your herd, the effects are devastating.

I myself have experienced it from numerous causes from a bad bag of feed to a hairball obstruction. Here are some tips for if you ever suspect bloat in your rabbit. Remember, if bloat is suspected, always seek the professional care of a veterinarian.

Some signs of bloat:

· Going off of their feed

· Little to no poops in the cage/litter pan

· Listlessness

· Not acting themselves

· Belly is hard or distended

· Not accepting treats

· Loss of appetite

· Sitting in a hunched position

· Grinding of teeth in a painful manner

· Acting lethargic

Things to do to help alleviate the symptoms:

· Baby gas drops

· Tummy massages

· Lots of hay

· Plenty of exercise

· Give them any treats they will accept

· Sweetened or flavored water

· A vet prescribed antibiotic

· Hairball relief for cats (non flavored)

· Fresh pineapple juice

· Pumpkin

· Yogurt

· Electrolytes
Sometimes it can be as simple as switching their feed or cutting out a specific treat other times it can be Coccidiosis, a hair blockage, a blockage, rapids change in temperature, a really harsh molt, or maybe something they got into. With Rabbits it can be a lot of different things but one thing is the same for all causes, the sooner it is caught and treatment is started, the better the chance of recovery is.

Some common prevention's among breeders for it are to treat with Corrid twice a year, Pumpkin seeds and grapefruit seed oil twice a year or discuss an antibiotic treatment with your vet.
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Herd Master
Oct 5, 2012
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NW Indiana
@samssimonsays does a rabbit that looks "bloated" after it eats be prone to true bloat?
Sold a couple bunnies and new owner is convinced they are bloated.... but no other signs. Their dam has done this. Never noticed any discomfort