Probably the most serious, immediate problem a rabbit can have, gut stasis is when the rabbit's digestive system literally shuts down...
GI (gastro intestinal) stasis - also known as gut stasis or ileus - occurs when the rabbit's digestive system literally shuts down. It happens when the rabbit has not eaten for a period of time - this could be as little as 10 hours. It is fatal unless treated.
Often called "the silent killer", GI stasis is a common cause of death in domestic rabbits. Although it is usually caused by another underlying illness such as dental disease, the fact that GI stasis can occur so quickly leads to a lot of unnecessary deaths i.e. where the owner has simply not noticed that the rabbit has stopped eating.
- rabbit is not eating
- rabbit is producing no droppings
- rabbit shows no interest in its surroundings
- rabbit may be hunched up and ears feel cold
Prevention / Treatment
GI stasis is most commonly treated by injection of a drug which forces the digestive system to start functioning again. Some rabbits may suffer from recurring bouts of GI stasis and an experienced owner may be able to alleviate symptoms and encourage the rabbit to start eating again, however, any treatment should be undertaken with veterinary supervision.
Consult your vet immediately if your rabbit stops eating. It may be necessary to syringe feed your rabbit liquid food until the underlying problem is resolved and the rabbit starts eating again.
To reduce the risk of GI stasis, have your rabbit checked regularly for teeth problems, minimise stress, maintain a healthy hay based diet and always provide plenty of fresh water.