Rabbits usually like to eat whenever they can. They often graze regularly rather than waiting for individual meals. If your rabbit is normally a good eater but suddenly loses all interest in its food, then you'll worry that something is wrong.
How serious is a lack of appetite in a rabbit? Should you take your rabbit to the vet?
What Happens if Your Rabbit Stops Eating?
Like any creatures, rabbits stop eating when they feel ill or stressed. While many pets simply need some rest and time to get their appetites back after feeling off-colour, not eating anything at all can be dangerous for rabbits.
Rabbits need to eat regularly to keep their intestinal system working. If they don't eat, then their intestines don't have anything to process. They effectively work more slowly than they should or shut down completely. This is known as gastro-intestinal (GI) stasis.
How Does GI Stasis Affect Rabbits?
Without treatment, GI stasis can seriously affect your rabbit's health. For example, a slow or idle intestinal system is more likely to develop problems with gut bacteria.
Sometimes, these bacteria give your rabbit painful gas and make it bloated and uncomfortable. However, some strains are more toxic. They can actually damage a rabbit's liver. This damage may be irreversible.
Plus, if your rabbit's intestinal system isn't working, then food and fur may stick in the system. This can create a serious blockage that compromises your pet's health.
Can You Tell if Your Rabbit Has GI Stasis?
Basically, if your rabbit stops eating for a few hours, there is a chance it has, or will develop, GI stasis. The following symptoms are also a sign of intestinal problems:
- Your rabbit isn't producing any pellets.
- Your rabbit produces some pellets, but they aren't normal. For example, they may be harder or smaller than usual.
- Your rabbit looks a bit bloated and doesn't like you touching its stomach.
- Your rabbit is behaving differently than usual. For example, if may be unusually quiet and still or it may appear to be uncomfortable.
Is GI Stasis an Emergency?
Rabbits that have GI stasis can go downhill extremely quickly. If your rabbit hasn't eaten for a few hours, whether it shows other symptoms or not, then you should make an emergency call to your vet. If your vet suspects that your rabbit has GI stasis, they will get you to bring the rabbit to their clinic immediately. It may need treatment or even vet surgery.