Monday, October 8, 2012

River's tummy troubles.

We woke up Saturday morning to find River not feeling well.  She just did a dramatic bunny flop when I placed her breakfast in front of her--not a good sign. 

I tried to tempt her with oats and managed to get her to nibble at it a bit, but she kept trying to press her belly into the floor or would sit hunched over in her litter box (both signs of belly pain).  This had all of the hallmarks of colic and GI stasis, which is life-threatening within 12 hours if the bunny doesn't eat (not knowing when she last ate, I was getting desperate). 

I decided to let them both out of their cages to see if getting River to move around would help stimulate her appetite and get her gut active again.  Here, we find them both hanging out in the big cage with Simon trying to comfort River...the box is a bit small for two buns to fit, but he made do.
Simon would hop around the apartment and explore for a bit while I would give River tummy rubs trying to help her colic dissipate.  He'd keep coming back to lick River's face and snuggle.
 Simon kept trying to eat River's breakfast...caught him red-pawed.  I closed her cage after his first attempt at a second breakfast.  Apparently, Simon operates by the principle of waste not, want not. 

By this point, I was trying to think of any way to get liquids into River so she wouldn't dehydrate and came up with the idea of making some peppermint tea and diluting it with cold water.  Her favorite herb is mint, so this was my sneaky way of getting her to drink.
This was when we discovered that River uses Simon as a taste-tester.  We also found out that Simon really, really, really likes mint tea.  Here he is in the process of licking his lips.  He became a little mint tea piggy and kept nudging River's head out of the way when she went to get some too.  I had to relocate the bowl and scoot him away so she could drink.  Simon just kept coming back like a little furry boomerang.  We were thrilled that River was drinking again!
River likes mint tea so much that she didn't even care that her ear was in it.  After her drink, I think the mint helped to stimulate her appetite and she started to nibble on some hay.  Yay, progress!
It took us about 4 hours, but River finally started eating again and going to the litter box.  I don't think there have been two people so happy that their bunny was eating and pooping again.  Hooray for no emergency vet visit!

Now that we know that River is somehow more susceptible to GI stasis and colic, we're going to be watching her like a hawk from now on since we still don't know what precipitated this.  I'm happy to report that she's doing much better now and seems to be back to her old self!  We've been giving her lots of fresh mint and greens with her hay to help prevent a relapse.

9 comments:

  1. mint tea, what a great idea. I've tried doing the same with a little bit of apple juice diluted in water. I give them an hour or two to drink on their own, then it's time to get out the syringe and force feed a bit of water. I've also found that if it's gas, breaking open a gel of simethicone and mixing it with water then force feeding really helps.

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    1. Thanks for the tips! I'll have to try to find some simethicone at the store to have with my bunny emergency kit. I was about 10 minutes away from force feeding her water if she wouldn't drink--I even had the medicine dropper at the ready. I'm soooo glad I didn't have to bunny burrito wrap her and do that!

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    2. Just recently had a bout of GI Stasis with my bun. You can get the baby Gas-X from the drug store and they'll usually have some that's fruit flavored. The vet told me a 2.5 cc dose was safe, and Barney loved the cherry flavor.

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    3. Cool! Now I know what to look for. Thank you! :)

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  2. My on bun gets this a lot when she or her partner start shedding. I give her a bit of pineapple. The acid in the fruit helps break up and pass hair. I don't know if this is true for all buns but my pair molt their coat (they lose tons of hair very quickly as the new coat comes in underneath) which makes grooming a huge task. I sit with my buns for hours taking turns pulling out loose hair clumps so they don't groom themselves or each other and consume it. When you pull out clumps be sure you're just pulling gently or you could leave them with bald spots. Clubs that are ready to go will look extra fluffy and you should see new short hair underneath.

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    1. My first vet told me the same thing about pineapple juice, however I recently had to take my rabbit to a vet an UPenn Vet Hospital, and they said that new research shows that it actually makes things worse. The hair/food mat is actually a normal physiologic process for rabbits, and allows them to slowly break down the bolus to aid fermentation/absorption in the GI tract. By breaking it up with the acidic pineapple/pineapple juice, you may actually predispose them to GI issues.

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    2. Thank you both for the info!

      I've been brushing Simon and River because they're both starting to shed again--I'll need to increase the number of times I brush them a day because it's quite possible that River may have ingested some hair and that started this off.

      I'd read that giving anything high in sugar while a bunny's GI tract is slowed down can actually cause the wrong kind of gut bacteria to overgrow, so I didn't want to give her any fruit for awhile. That, and she's a really picky eater when it comes to anything new. :)

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  3. It's great that you caught this early on! One of my friend's bunnies just passed this past weekend from a fight with GI Stasis. If you ever do get to the syringe feeding desperation level, unflavored pedialyte is also recommended. The liquid simethicone recommendation is spot on though. I've even seen it recommended as treating with infant simethicone as a precautionary measure (if GI Stasis is suspected).

    I never would have even thought of making an herbal tea though. That's a great idea to keep in mind. I'm glad River is feeling better. :)

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    1. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I lost my first bunny, Pip, to GI stasis, which was brought on by him being sold from a pet store too young to have the right kind of adult gut bacteria(I didn't know at that time you could adopt bunnies from the shelter).

      Thank you for the pedialyte suggestion! Another item to add to the bunny emergency care kit!

      Hopefully the mint tea trick will help out some other bunny caretakers. Thanks again! :)

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