If you want your rabbit to live a healthy life, it needs food for sustenance. However, have you ever wondered how long they could go without food? What happens when there is a disruption in the rabbit’s diet? This might be your chance to learn about all these and more!
Survival 101: Rabbits Without Food
Rabbits in the wild can figure out ways to feed themselves and survive. However, that’s not the case with domestic rabbits. Owning a domestic rabbit requires time, energy, effort, resources, and a lot more. This includes giving them the right kind of food.
However, there might be moments when you aren’t able to take care of them as much as you can. Rabbits should not go without food and water beyond three days. Ideally they shouldn’t even miss their meals even a day. If you are being careful, you should figure out a way to keep your rabbit fed even if you are not around.
After 72 hours, if the rabbit does not get any food or water, there might be some dire consequences to their health and well-being. If you wish to avoid this from occurring, you should feed the rabbit daily.
There should be no misses or mishaps, especially during their mealtimes. There should be consistency, especially in the number of times they get fed in a day and the amount of food they eat.
Reasons Why Rabbits Won’t Eat
Even when you take care of your rabbits in many different ways, including feeding them healthy meals, there are still times when something unexpected happens. What if your rabbit suddenly stops eating? What do you think is the reason why? If ever you find your rabbit in this situation, it could be due to the following reasons:
Ileus: A GI Tract Condition
If ever your rabbit stops eating, it could be due to a gastrointestinal condition called Ileus. This is one of the major reasons that you should look into. What is this condition exactly? Well, this condition is also known as Gastrointestinal Statis. It’s a common disorder among rabbits. Despite this common health concern, it’s still something life-threatening to rabbits.
Ileus has something to do with food in the rabbit’s intestine not being able to pass through to their colon and rectum. Whenever rabbits eat something, they should be able to digest it and poop after. However, with this condition, that is not the case.
There is excessive gas build-up when food gets stuck in the intestines. It causes pain, discomfort, and so much more in the rabbit. There might be some underlying reasons why the rabbit is suffering from GI. Here are some probable causes:
- Dental issues including overgrown teeth
- Parasitic infections – either internal or external
- Joint disease
- Abscesses or tumors
- Respiratory infection
- Unbalanced or incorrect diet
These are just some common reasons why rabbits develop Ileus. You should seek the help of a professional if you wish to know what’s bothering the rabbit. They would be able to tell you why your rabbit is not eating and what’s bothering your furry pet
What Happens When Rabbits Can’t Eat
There are a lot of manifestations and pieces of evidence that you can check to confirm that the rabbit is not eating. If you see any of this, it’s a sign that you should do something before it’s too late.
- Weight loss
- Little to no food and water intake
- Changes in fecal matter including amount, texture, etc.
These changes, whether brought by Gastrointestinal Statis or any other reason, should be addressed as soon as possible. When left unattended, this can lead to something fatal, including the rabbit’s death. The sooner the rabbit is checked by a veterinarian, the better!
Course Of Action: What Should You Do
If you have noticed that your rabbit has stopped eating, there are some things you can try doing at home. If there are no changes to their condition, then perhaps that’s the time you seek medical attention for the rabbits.
Stimulating Their Intestines
When a rabbit does not eat, more gas will build up in its gastrointestinal system. You can try feeding the rabbit using a dropper or a syringe. You can start by blending or mashing a mix of vegetables. Feed this to the rabbit and see if this helps. After force-feeding the rabbit, try massaging its stomach to help move the muscles of the GI tract.
Increase Water Intake
Keeping your rabbit hydrated is important because it can help with GI tract issues. Make sure there is a bowl of clean water near your rabbit. If they are too weak to drink on their own, you should help them. You can put water in a syringe and use that to hydrate the rabbit.
Take To The Vet
If the rabbit is still not eating, no matter how much you try to feed them, you might want to take them to a veterinary clinic or hospital. The vet would probably connect the rabbit to an IV for hydration. The vet would also use various medications to help relieve and address the GI tract issue that the rabbit has.
While the rabbit is getting medication and hydration, the vet would probably look into the cause of the problem. Depending on the condition of the rabbit, the vet would probably tell you that they need to run several tests to determine what is causing all of this. If this is the case, be prepared for the results.
Knowing what is causing the rabbit’s fasting would make it easier for the vet to figure out how to go about with the treatment plans. The sooner the cause of this health concern is determined, the better. If the rabbit is left untreated, it would be so much harder for them to bounce back.
Feed The Right Food To Make Rabbits Healthier
The inability of a rabbit to eat is sometimes due to the food they eat. If they are not eating the right stuff, it can lead to some GI tract issues and other concerns. So from the get-go, you have to be cautious of the type of stuff you feed your rabbit.
If ever the rabbit has experienced starving themselves but has since recovered from this, you should give even more attention to their diet. You don’t want a repeat of the whole ordeal. It can be very stressful, especially if you have a more mature rabbit.
Daily Hay Intake
If there’s one thing a rabbit should have every single day, it’s hay! It contains a good amount of fiber which is essential in a rabbit’s health. If the rabbit is not getting enough fiber, it affects the functions of their GI tract. And as mentioned before, if any gas obstruction occurs in the digestive, it affects the rabbit’s ability to eat.
Apart from the fiber content from hay, it also helps with the rabbit’s teeth. Even if a rabbit is grown, its teeth keep growing. Eating hay helps with wearing the teeth down. If it becomes too long, it causes discomfort, especially if it leads to a dental problem.
Several types of hay are perfect for a rabbit’s diet. Check out the following varieties safe for the rabbit’s consumption:
- Herbal Hay
- Timothy Hay
- Meadow Hay
- Oat Hay
- Orchard Hay
You can also give Alfalfa Hay to the rabbits. However, it’s more suitable for baby rabbits.
Another essential food for rabbits are pellets. This kind of food contains a lot of nutrients that rabbits, especially the younger ones, need. When choosing pellets, get fresh ones that contain a lot of protein, calcium, and fiber. These are essential in their growth.
While pellets are very nutritious, it should be given in moderation. Pellets have high caloric content. An adult rabbit that eats way too much pellet might gain a lot of weight. Obesity can develop into health conditions.
Green Leafy Vegetables
A rabbit can get its daily nutritional needs from other sources like vegetables. Adding these to their diets can make them healthier. But of course, these should be given in moderation. These green and leafy vegetables also contain calcium and protein. You can try feeding the following vegetables to your rabbit:
It’s ideal to mix these vegetables to get the maximum nutrients. There are also other vegetables that you can give to the rabbit as treats. Some have high sugar and calorie contents which can be bad for the rabbits. They should only be given in moderate amounts.
No To Rabbit Starvation
Even if your rabbits can go without eating any food for days, it should not be something to take lightly. You should let someone feed them if you are going away for a long period. And if ever you sense that the rabbits are not eating and not feeling well, do what is right and necessary before they die from starvation and dehydration.