Diarrhea in Rabbits

Diarrhea is a serious health condition that should be immediately attended to in rabbits. If you believe your rabbit has diarrhea, make an appointment for them to see a rabbit-savvy vet as soon as possible.

Is it Diarrhea?

Rabbits produce a stool called a cecotrope that can sometimes be confused for diarrhea when squished into a cage floor or stuck to a bum. Cecotropes look like glossy clusters of grapes. They are strong in smell and sticky in texture. While not as dangerous as diarrhea, uneaten cecotropes do require adjustments in lifestyle or diet.

Diarrhea is watery or loose stool. It often has a very strong odor and may soil the rabbits behind and living area.

What Causes Diarrhea?

Diarrhea in rabbits is caused by intestinal disturbance, stress, or an underlying disease.

Diet Related Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be caused by a sudden disturbance in gut flora. A rapid increase in new vegetables, fruits, or treats is the most common reason for a diet induced case of diarrhea. Foods containing large amounts of sugar can also compromise the healthy flora in a rabbit’s gut leading to diarrhea.

Stress-induced Diarrhea

Rabbits are extremely sensitive to stress. This can include a move, new presence in their house, or a sense of unease in their human parents. Rabbits are extremely perceptive and the smallest of changes in their routine can lead them to internal turmoil.

Diseases that Cause Diarrhea

There are a few diseases most notably accompanied by diarrhea. Overgrowth of certain bacteria in a rabbits gastrointestinal tract can lead to diarrhea. Intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, pinworms, and flukes can also cause diarrhea and stasis. Coccidiosis, a protozoa, is most often found in young rabbits suffering from diarrhea.

How is Diarrhea Treated?

The first step to treating diarrhea is diagnosing its cause. This can be done with the help from your rabbit-savvy veterinarian. The following information is not meant to replace a trip to the vet.

Treating the Symptoms

A rabbit with diarrhea quickly becomes dehydrated. Dehydrated rabbits should be administered subcutaneous fluids as directed by your veterinarian. Electrolytes like Pedialyte should be avoided due to their sugar content and the rabbits already compromised gut flora.

Fiber is crucial to a recovering digestive system. A rabbit experiencing intestinal disturbance should be limited to a diet of consisting mostly of hay and a very small amount of forage based pellets. If a rabbit is refusing to eat they should be force fed with a replacement food like Sherwood Forest’s SARx Recovery.

A probiotic, though controversial, can be given to help the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Some vets may prescribe antibiotics to fight the growth of pathogen bacteria.