Bloat In Rabbits: A Guide For Owners

As a rabbit owner, you always hope that nothing bad happens to your pet. But sadly, rabbits are prone to a number of diseases and ailments, one of which is called bloat. Since bloat is a very serious condition, it's important that you know the basics about this issue:

What is bloat?

Bloat is a digestive system ailment in which the stomach fills up with gas, which the rabbit cannot alleviate. The gas accumulation is caused by an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the stomach. Bloat causes an array of symptoms, such as a stomach that feels large and rock-hard to the touch, extreme restlessness, an elevated heart rate, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.

How is bloat treated?

If you believe your rabbit may be suffering from bloat, you must take him or her to the vet ASAP. If it's after hours and your vet's office is closed, head to the nearest veterinary emergency center. If the condition is caught very early, there is a small chance your vet may be able to treat your rabbit with steroid medications and by aspirating the stomach contents. However, you should know that the situation is bleak. Bloat is almost always deadly, and it is very painful. So, in most cases, your vet will recommend humanely putting down your rabbit before he or she has to suffer anymore. 

How can you prevent bloat in rabbits?

The best way to prevent bloat in rabbits is to feed them a consistent diet. Feed them as much hay as they will eat, along with a portion of rabbit pellets and some small portions of fresh food. Too many greens or veggies all at once, especially if your rabbit is not used to such lush foods, can bring on an episode of bloat. If you make changes to your rabbit's diet, such as switching to a new brand of pellets, make those changes slowly over time so you do not shock your rabbit's digestive system. For instance, you can feed half old pellets and half new pellets for a week, then 1/4 old pellets and 3/4 new pellets for another week before switching completely to the new pellets.

Never feed your rabbit grass clippings; this is a common cause of bloat. 

Hopefully, your beloved bunny never develops a case of bloat, but by being armed with the information above, you'll at least be prepared for the possibility. Contact a veterinary clinic near you for more information and assistance.