Dealing with a sick rabbit can be a scary situation – especially if diarrhea is present.
Rabbits are very fragile animals who can die from something as minor as a small scare, so taking care of your rabbit is crucial to ensure they live a long, happy life.
Unfortunately, not all pet owners realize the health issues that rabbits go through, especially when it comes to diarrhea.
If your rabbit has diarrhea, take my advice, book an appointment with your vet immediately, and step your game up to help him however you can while you wait.
Diarrhea in Rabbits is 100% an Emergency
Rabbits are fragile animals with a fragile system, especially when diarrhea is present.
The main issue with rabbits and diarrhea is that the condition is primarily linked to a number of diseases.
Because of this, immediate action must be taken straight away, or as soon as you’ve noticed the diarrhea present.
You have very little time to act, considering diarrhea in rabbits is fatal between a 12 to 48-hour time period.
Enteritis – Rabbit Diarrhea
The fancy term for the cluster of diseases responsible for rabbit diarrhea is enteritis, which is very common in rabbits who have a diet consisting of too many sugary and/or sweet treats and not enough fiber compared to the amount of energy in the food source.
The diarrhea comes from way too many carbs that has become concentrated in your rabbit’s tummy, which break down into glucose.
As a result, disease bacteria is born, produces toxins, and brings a disease that depends on the germs causing the diarrhea.
Hopefully this isn’t too confusing – if so, there’s more information below to expand on what I’m saying.
The Symptoms of Enteritis
The following listed below are signs of a rabbit going through enteritis:
- Lack-luster, Rough Fur
- Water-Sloshing Sounds When Picked Up
- Lack of Appetite from Abdominal Pain
- Excessive Thirst – Weakly Hanging Out Near Water Source
- Foul-Smelling Diarrhea on the Feet and Bottom
If you see any of the symptoms listed above, or notice anything usual, in general, call your vet immediately – your rabbit may not have much time left.
The Most Common Causes of Rabbit Diarrhea
Listed below are the most common reasons why your rabbit is experiencing diarrhea:
- Intestinal Inflammation
- Intestinal Parasites
- Poor Diet Management – Overfeeding and Malnutrition
If you put your rabbit through any of this, you need to change what you’re doing so the animal doesn’t suffer under your care.
Diseases Involved in Enteritis
Having the right information can sometimes be your strongest weapon in knowing what is happening with your rabbit, what you can do, and how much time you have to seek help.
First on the list is mucoid enteritis, which is when rabbits have gooey, almost jelly-like diarrhea covering most, if not all, of your rabbit’s rear end.
With mucois enteritis, your rabbit have approximately 3 to 5 days for you to seek medical attention for him. If not, it will become a fatal situation.
Unfortunately, not everything is known about why mucoid enteritis happens, but the leading theories suggest it’s from C. perfringens, C. coli, and other bacterias.
Impacted intestines can cause a nutritional imbalance, whether your rabbit has too much fiber, too little fiber, whatever the case.
Other than for survival purposes, this is why it’s so important to give your rabbit a healthy, balanced diet.
The symptoms that come with mucoid enteritis are the water-sloshing in the gut, unstoppable thirst, and straining to poop.
The next big bad on our list is enterotoxemia, which can kill a rabbit between 12 to 24 hours after first symptoms, which you can find above in the symptom list.
This particular disease is caused by Clostridia spiroforme, which causes a toxin that is much like anthrax and tetanus known as the iota toxin.
Enterotoxemia can be caused by improper sanitation by not cleaning the cage enough or by having your rabbit live in a dirty area. It can also be caused by overcrowding from having more than one rabbit in inadequate space.
Unfortunately, the iota toxin causes cell death within the gut and actually increases cell permeability.
Cells start to die, poison is released into the bloodstream, and death is followed by bad diarrhea than can come on suddenly.
Next up is the dreaded Tyzzer’s Disease, which causes massive amounts of diarrhea and death, much like enterotoxemia.
This rabbit diarrhea disease is caused from Clostridium piliforme, which used to be called Bacillus piliformis.
Unfortunately, this is the most difficult diarrhea disease to detect because the rabbit can die in less than a day.
The liver becomes inflamed, forms white spots, and cells will die.
The result of this particular disease leads to a fatal case of necrotizing hepatitis.
This is a real nasty one – coccidiosis, which comes in liver and intestinal forms.
Both forms depend on what is causing the more massive problem.
The cause of liver coccidiosis is the Eimeria steidae, which damages your rabbit’s bile duct. From there, large, white spots, also known as pustules, will develop in the liver.
From there, acute diarrhea will set in and, if not treated as soon as possible, death.
Intestinal coccidiosis is a life-threatening form of rabbit diarrhea than can be a little confusing. It’s common in rabbit intestines, but only goes out of control when a rabbit has poor health.
This can be from stress and a problem with their immune system, for example.
No matter how it occurs and why, diarrhea quickly sets in.
While you wait for the vet, you must go to town on cleaning and sanitizing everything your rabbit comes into contact with.
Because this type of “germ” is found naturally in all rabbits, it’s not something that can be “cured”.
HOWEVER, the best way to keep it under control and keep your rabbit healthy, is to keep its environment clean and as sterile as possible.
Pour bleach, or something just as strong, over anything your rabbit comes in contact with and scrub it well. Doing so will help to prevent your rabbit from developing the infection again.
While this isn’t exactly a form of a disease, I still felt I should include it.
Young bunnies, or as I like to call them little buns, sort of eat the feces of the mother, which isn’t bad or a big deal.
This is actually important to their intestinal bacteria to ensure a healthy gut growth.
Between 3 to 9 weeks of the bunny’s life is when the intestinal tract is developing to become completely balanced and full of normal, natural bacteria for the purpose of fiber and cellulose processes to ensure the rabbit becomes a healthy lil’ bun.
Bunny diarrhea occurs during this time period if their beneficial bacteria is unbalanced or uneven.
You will notice thin, loose bouts of poop that stick to the rabbit’s rear end.
The best way to address this problem when it comes up is to add more fiber to the diet, which you can do by feeding grass hay.
This type of problem can come from unsanitary living conditions, the weaning method used, and especially the balance and type of feed.
You Need to Act Fast
Regardless of what’s going on, make sure your rabbit sees a vet regularly and you watch for any potential problem, treating it as soon as you spot it.
Go to the vet.