Monday, July 1, 2013

More tummy troubles...

I noticed River had eaten less than usual and had started pressing her belly into the ground late on Saturday evening.  She had just started a heavy shed and I suspect that she ingested a bit too much hair while grooming (even after being brushed once a day) and was suffering from early GI stasis because her belly was still soft and doughy feeling.
I had let them both out for yard time to see if she would move about and to see if Simon could lift her spirits a bit.  She immediately made a bee-line for the couch and hopped up on her own, which surprised me. 
Simon kept going over to nuzzle and groom her, but River wouldn't leave her spot on the couch.  I think the cushions felt good on her tummy.  I eventually had to herd Simon away because he wouldn't stop racing back and forth on the couch trying to get River to join him in a game of tag.

Look closely at these pictures.  This is what a bunny with colicky abdominal pain looks like.  Her eyes are a bit squinted, her muzzle is pinched-looking (not the typical rounded shape it should be), and her body is tense and you can see she is pressing her belly into the cushion.  If you ever see your rabbit look like this, you need to act quickly.
Here's what I did:
  • Aspirin to relieve pain (NOT the chewable baby aspirin because it has artificial sweetener that can be bad for rabbits).  This is a weight-dependent dosage.  She weighs 3 pounds and I gave her 1/8 of a 325 mg tablet in 2 ml of mint tea.  Here's a link to the drug calculator for rabbits that I used:  I would err on the side of under-dosing and always check with your veterinarian first about the drug and dosage.
  • Simethicone to relieve pressure and bloating from gas.  I gave her 0.4cc of our store brand version of Myalanta Maximum Strength.  I gave her a second dose about 3 hours later (I waited to see if the first dose had any effect and I didn't want to overcrowd her stomach with medicine--because she's so small--if I wanted her to eat and drink).  Here are some good resources for using simethicone for gas and GI stasis: and
  • Kept tabs on her body temperature.  A rabbit's ears are their way of dissipating heat, so if they feel cooler than normal, it's a sign of shock and you need to get their body temperature back up.  It's also a good idea to have an appropriate thermometer and know how to use it to check their temperature.  I used a warm water bottle and placed it next to her for a half an hour to get her temperature back to normal.  Don't leave them unsupervised if you're using any warming device to avoid the risk of heat stroke if they get too warm!
  • Gentle belly rubs to help break up the gas bubbles in her tummy and help stimulate her GI tract to keep moving.
It was a very long day.  I'm sure a good bit of the aspirin and the first dose of simethicone ended up dribbled down her chin.  I would give her belly rubs a few times an hour for as long as she would stay still.  Poor little one was exhausted and listless for a good bit of the day.  She would constantly change position in her cage and hang out in the litter box (unusual behavior for her) and kept pressing her belly into the floor and grinding her teeth in pain until the aspirin kicked in.

She finally started to feel better after the second dose of simethicone (she got the full dose with none escaping her mouth).  She stopped pressing her belly to the ground and was able to get some sleep.  We were lucky that she started eating hay and drinking on her own again by 5am, which was the cut-off point for me to start force-feeding her.  She started using the litter box again about 5 hours after that.

From now on, both get brushed twice a day during a shed and get their pellet ration reduced slightly to encourage more Timothy hay consumption.  It is ridiculous how quickly they'll go into a shed when the temperature changes!  So, take this post as a helpful PSA on the importance of brushing your bunny's fur frequently during a heavy shed.  Once a day is not enough sometimes.
River is (thankfully) on the mend and binkying up a storm!  I decided to set out some cold, unsweetened mint tea to encourage her to drink more.  Here she is with Simon having a spot of tea.
Simon was being a bit of a piglet about drinking the mint tea and this was his clever way of distracting River from drinking it.  He discovered that if he started grooming her, she would bring her head up and consequently not drink any more tea while he kept at it.  I eventually had to herd him away so River could drink uninterrupted after they got into a shoving match over the tea.  It's good to see that she's back to her old self again!


Kristin said...

Glad to hear she's doing better! She definitely looks unhappy in those first pictures.

Just curious, have you seen any reports on using Myalanta Maximum Strength on rabbits? It has a couple extra ingredients in it that I'm not sure are beneficial (or detrimental). I usually use Gas X which is the infant baby gas medicine and it's straight simethicone. I've also heard that you can get it in gel capsules.

Courtney said...

Thanks! She gave us a scare, but she's back to her adventurous little self now. :)

No, I haven't read any new research suggesting ill effects from the components in the Myalanta. The antacids in it (aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide) are generally added as adjuvants in the medication so the simethicone (or other drugs) can be absorbed better. From the research I've read, the absorption rate for the antacid itself is very low (ex: for a 780 mg/kg dose of aluminum hydroxide, only 0.45% is absorbed--Yokel & McNamara 1988). Granted, the study in this example is pretty old, but I haven't found any new research showing different absorption rates or ill effects.

That aside, I agree that if you don't need extra ingredients, it's best not to have them in the medicine. We couldn't find straight simethicone at the local grocery store, so I'll have to try and get it online. Though, it is good to know that in a pinch, you can use a very small dose of the adult medicine.

Could you send me a link to what you found--maybe my Google-Fu is lacking and I just didn't use the same search string? I'd really appreciate it! The more knowledge and new info the better. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips. My buns usually get over this condition by themselves (less than a day of not eating) but just in case, I'll keep your post/advice in mind.

Courtney said...

You're welcome! I'm glad you haven't had to force-feed your buns and they've bounced back without help. Bunny fur gets everywhere and sometimes you get both pee and whatever it is you're trying to give them all over you. It definitely doesn't hurt to have a large feeding syringe and a small dose marked medicine dropper on hand for emergencies. Glad I could be of some help! :)

Kristin said...

I picked up mine at a local drugstore but amazon also carries a bunch of different ones.

Here's a drugstore branded version:

And here's one in capsule form:

I believe most drugstores carry their own generic versions as well but Gas X is a relatively common branded form.

Best of luck with the rest of the shed! My house is filled with floating clouds of fluff at the moment. XD

Courtney said...

Thanks for the links Kristin! Yeah, our local store is really hit and miss about some of the things you'd expect them to carry. Oh well, hooray internet shopping!

Bunny fur, bunny fur EVERYWHERE! I'm still amazed at how much fur can be brushed and petted off of them and they're still so fluffy (and still have tufts of fur going every which way making them look like they were playing with electricity). Keep fighting the good fight! Lots of luck your way as well! :)

Theda Bara said...

Hi Courtney,
I've been a follower of your blog since I got my own little bun about three years ago. I'm a vet tech student , and was wondering if it would be ok to use some of the photos in this post for a class project I am doing on GI stasis. Full credit will be given, of course. Thank you for your time, and please keep updating with your lovely and whimsical entries!!

Courtney said...

Hi Theda Bara!

I'm so sorry for the late reply--for some reason, my response didn't show up. By all means, please use whatever pictures you think will help. Anything that can help further GI stasis awareness is great! Good luck in your studies and if there's anything you'd like me to try to get a picture of that may help, just let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Aww, thanks so much! I'll give Simon and River a noogie for you if you promise to do the same to your little bun for me! :)