As rabbit owners, we must ensure that our bunnies are healthy and that all of their needs are met. As a result, when our rabbits stop eating, it’s a little concerning.
How long can rabbits go without eating? A rabbit can go no more than 12 hours without eating. Sadly, they are at risk of developing Gastrointestinal Stasis, which can be fatal to your bunny. A rabbit can usually last 3-4 days without eating before dying.
In this article, we look at the reasons why rabbits quit eating. We also discuss gastrointestinal stasis and the symptoms to watch for. We’ll look at the medical reasons that are causing your rabbit to stop eating, as well as what you can do as a pet owner. Finally, we have the answers to your frequently asked queries.
How Long Can a Rabbit Go Without Food?
No rabbit should go more than 12 hours without eating, they are at risk of developing Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis), a potentially fatal disease. A rabbit can survive for 3-4 days without eating before eventually succumbing to the inevitable, death.
However, your rabbit’s age, size, and health may play an active role in how long they can go without eating before dying. An adult rabbit in good health could make it until day 3 or 4. A baby bunny or senior rabbit, on the other hand, may barely make it to the 12-hour mark.
There may also be an underlying medical issue causing your rabbit to refuse to eat. Besides GI stasis, dental issues, stress, and digestive issues could cause your rabbit to stop eating.
What Is Gastrointestinal Stasis?
Gastrointestinal stasis (GI Stasis) is the slowdown of your rabbit’s digestive system, meaning the movement of food through a rabbit’s GI tract either moves slowly or stops. The intestine of a rabbit can become static due to several factors, including dehydration, stress, and pain from an underlying disorder or illness. In most cases, rabbits develop GI Stasis from a lack of dietary fiber.
When the rabbit’s metabolism stops, your bunny loses its appetite, and bacteria can develop and produce painful gas. The slow-moving food can cause an intestinal blockage in your rabbit’s digestive tract.
In rabbits, GI Stasis is a medical emergency and left untreated could be fatal.
What Are the Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Stasis?
The first signs of GI Stasis are not usually obvious, however, the following are some signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Appetite loss
- Fecal pellets that are small, loose, and/or deformed
- Not being able to pass feces
- A hunched-over position indicating pain
While these symptoms may appear trivial, they are actually indicators of a far more serious problem. GI stasis can be prevented and should be treated immediately.
How Often Does a Rabbit Need to Eat?
Your pet rabbits have the ability to graze for up to 6-8 hours every day. Rabbits require an endless supply of fresh, high-quality hay every day, as well as continuous access to clean water. You should feed your rabbits twice a day, in the morning and evening.
What Does a Rabbit Need to Eat?
Clean water and at least one bundle of high-quality hay (80%), should be included in your rabbit’s daily diet. You can also add a smaller portion of leafy greens including pellets on the side.
Depending on your pet’s size, one cup of washed, mixed dark leafy greens and a quarter cup per 5 lbs of pellets each day is plenty. In addition, your rabbits should be able to graze on growing grass. Also, give your pet a treat every now and again!
Baby Rabbits and Senior Rabbit Diet
Baby rabbits’ and senior rabbits’ diets will differ. Baby rabbits aged 7 months to a year can be gradually given vegetables, pellets, and leafy greens, in addition to high-quality hay, after weaned from their mothers.
Give your rabbits smaller portions of new foods and introduce any new food slowly. Keep an eye out for indications of diarrhea. To keep your rabbit’s digestive tract in check, continue feeding your bunny hay. Diarrhea may be fatal to rabbits, especially young ones.
Rabbits above the age of six can continue to consume an adult diet. If they are underweight, however, alfalfa hay should only be added to their diet if their calcium levels are normal.
If you are unsure about your rabbit’s health, see your veterinarian, who will advise you on the best diet for your bun.
Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating?
Here are a few possible reasons why your rabbit is not eating:
Your Rabbit Might Have a Dental Disease
Dental Disease is a common issue with rabbits that is usually caused by a poor diet. Rabbits with overgrown teeth could lead them to avoid eating. There is also the possibility that your rabbit developed an infection at the root of its tooth. This is also known as a tooth root abscess.
Tooth root abscesses are incredibly painful to your rabbit. When chewing, it is also possible for your rabbit to break a tooth or for it to become loose.
Excessive drooling, not eating, weight loss, weepy eyes, and a soft stool are all signs of dental disease in rabbits. Seek the advice of a veterinarian.
Your Rabbit Might Be In Pain
Rabbits may refuse to eat if they are in pain. A rabbit’s appetite can be affected by pain, which might be caused by an underlying disease or a physical cut or scrape.
Pain that is not treated might lead a rabbit to refuse to eat for extended periods of time, resulting in GI Stasis. Pain medication given by your veterinarian can be used to treat conditions that cause pain, such as arthritis or urinary infections.
Your Rabbit Might Be In Stressed
Rabbits can sometimes lose their appetite due to stress. The most prevalent cause of a temporary loss of appetite in rabbits is stress. If you observe them stopping feeding for a brief amount of time, especially if there is a loud noise or a frightening smell in the vicinity, it might be due to stress.
Possible Medical Issues
Some medical issues that prevent your rabbits from eating could also include:
- Uterine Tumors
- Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus
- Trichobezoars – better known as hairballs
- Intestinal Blockages
What Can You Do if Your Rabbit Is Not Eating?
If your rabbit has stopped eating, make sure to take your pet bunny to the veterinarian. While a loss of appetite might only be a temporary situation that can quickly be remedied, it can also be a sign of a severe health concern.
Your veterinarian will be able to examine your rabbit thoroughly to understand why it isn’t eating. They can determine the most suitable treatment for your bunny. At the same time, your vet can provide the care they require to return to their happy bouncing self.
Veterinary care is also required in situations of GI stasis to save your bunny’s life.
How To Encourage Your Rabbit To Eat
If your rabbit has stopped eating for no apparent medical reason, there are a few easy things you may do to encourage it to eat more.
Try switching to hay that your bunny enjoys more. Make sure it’s rabbit-safe and satisfies your pet’s nutritional fiber requirements.
Another alternative is to include some of your bunny’s favorite treats with his hay, such as pellets or fresh veggies, no sugary fruit. If you mix them all together, he’ll probably eat some hay as well as the treats.
Other suggestions that may be useful include:
Reducing stress in your rabbit’s enclosure by making sure your rabbit has enough hiding spots.
Place ample hay in your rabbit’s resting and close to the litterbox area so that they are free to nibble away while doing their business.
Adding hay to your bunny’s toys, or a toilet paper roll should encourage your bunny to take a nibble.
Ensure that your rabbit has enough fresh water at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is My Rabbit Losing Hair and Not Eating?
There might be several medical causes for your rabbit’s hair loss and inability to eat. One of the many reasons might be parasite infection, dental issues, or a hormonal imbalance. It is essential to take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible.
Aside From Not Touching Food, What Are Other Common Signs That My Pet Isn’t Eating Properly?
A reduced amount of stools or a complete lack of stools is one clear indicator that your rabbit isn’t eating correctly. Abnormalities in the texture of feces can also suggest a problem, as can lethargy, behavioral changes, and symptoms of pain.
Keep an eye out for cecotropes in your rabbit. Cecotropes that are distorted or broken are a clear indication that your rabbit is not getting enough nutrients.
How Serious is Gastrointestinal Stasis?
Gastrointestinal stasis is a potentially fatal disease that should be treated as soon as possible.
Bad bacteria grows up in your rabbit’s intestines and pushes gas into their system, causing agonizing bloating and reducing a rabbit’s drive to eat or drink. This worsens the problem by dehydrating the rabbit and depriving it of vital minerals and roughage.
Toxins released by bacteria into the system can overburden your rabbit’s liver and eventually lead it to fail.
Never leave it till the next day to check whether your rabbit feels better. Consult your veterinarian right away.
If your rabbit has stopped eating, do not ignore it and hope for the best. There could be many significant reasons for your bunny’s lack of food, ranging from dental issues, pain to severe issues like GI stasis.
If your rabbit has not eaten for more than 12 hours, take your beloved rabbit to the veterinarian right away. Waiting for your rabbit to “come right” without medical help could cost your bunny its life.