Oh, no! Suddenly your rabbits seem reluctant or stop eating! It’s very stressful to see our pets show this kind of behavior. Even though we don’t want them to overweight, we surely love to see they’re chubby and healthy. Understanding these 3 common causes of rabbit losing appetite might help you to find out the effective methods to treat the rabbit that won’t eat.
And you gotta be fast! When your rabbit’s not eating, his/her liver will deteriorate fast. You know once it hits the vital organ, such as liver, it will be hard to recover. It’s just the same as human, right?
Pseudo or Real?
This lack of appetite behavior in rabbits also has similar name as in human’s life, which is anorexia. But, meanwhile in human’s world anorexia is more related by psychological issues, in rabbit’s world, it can be a different problems.
First of all, this condition comes with 2 types; pseudo-anorexia or the real anorexia. As you know, pseudo means “fake” or “not real.” It means, your rabbits aren’t totally loss the appetite, only lacking in it. In the pseudo-anorexia, you may find your rabbits still eat the treat foods that they like, even though leave the pellets or hay. The reason is the rabbits actually still have appetite for foods, but chewing them makes your rabbits uncomfortable.
In the other hand, the real anorexia is the condition where your rabbits actually stop eating. If it happens, you need to move fast to find out why. First, you need to observe the additional symptom since it will make your veterinarian more easy to determine the cause. Few symptoms that are vital to check besides refusal to eat is :
- The decreasing of your rabbit’s fecal as well as the size and texture in them
- The decreasing of your rabbit’s weight
- Pain while swallowing (Dysphagia) and eating (Odynophagia)
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Lack of activity
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
Since the condition where rabbits lose their appetite can be varied, you need to check the symptoms that your rabbit is sick. Knowing the underlying cause can help us to get a suitable treatment. As well as help your vet to determine the underlying cause better as an additional information besides the result of diagnostic procedures.
Common Causes of Appetite Loss
There are several things that may underlie this appetite loss in rabbits. It can be diseases, that makes your rabbits hold their pain, and also psychological problems, like stress. Rabbits are prone to get stressed out if the environment isn’t to their convenience. Well, who would?
But, among of those reasons, there are these 3 common causes of rabbit losing appetite.
1. Dental Disease
The most common dental disorder in rabbits is malloclusion, the abnormal growth of rabbit’s incisors that make rabbits hard to chew the foods. There are few reasons this condition happens to your rabbit, includes :
- Congenital (hereditary)
- Traumatic injury
- Change in jaw formation
- Primary malocclusion of the cheek teeth
- Metabolic bone disease
Normally, the incisors in rabbits will always grow for the rest of their life. But, this growth isn’t really fast and they usually grind the teeth with their food or grind it by themselves. This is also one of the reason alfalfa hay that contains a lot of calcium isn’t good for rabbits. The calcium can encourage the growth of their incisors.
If this condition occurs, you can ask your veterinarian to trim and reshape their teeth. But, it can be stressful for your rabbit that the vet might suggest to remove them. Of course, it depends on how the condition of the rabbits. The congenital malocclusion or malocclusion because of hereditary results need even to get trimmed and reshaped for the entire life of rabbits. So, major surgery for removing entire incisors, including the pulp tissue, is recommended.
2. Ileus or Gastrointestinal Statis
Ileus or sometimes called Gastrointestinal Statis (GI Statis) is a condition where rabbit’s intestines stop moving the normal ingested food out through the colon and rectum. Shortly, your rabbit stop pooping. This dump in your rabbit’s body will start attract bacteria then they start producing gas. Just like us, this gas accumulates in rabbit’s stomach. Unfortunately, for rabbits, they can’t vomit, nor their stomach has flexibility to hold all of them. Soon, their stomach will get bloating. It’s extremely painful and make your rabbit lose all the appetite.
If this is happening, the best choice you do is to get your rabbit to the veterinarian as soon as possible because GI Statis is very dangerous situation. Your vet might suggest you to a surgery, because it’s the best option to get rid of obstruction in your rabbit’s stomach. Let’s hope it will never happen to your rabbit.
Since this is dangerous, you might want to prevent it. You can start with paying attention to their nutrition. Like, the fresh hay that has good amount of proper nutrition, like timothy, orchard, bermuda, etc. You better avoid alfalfa hay because it contains too much calcium for your rabbits. And you better avoid the vegetables which produce gas, like broccoli, cauliflower, etc. You can even consider gardening for your rabbits.
I hope I don’t bore you with this statement, but rabbits are easy to get stressed out. That’s why you, as their buddy, need to maintain clean and healthy environment for your beloved pets. The size of the cage must be large enough for rabbits to wander around and overcrowding them in one cage is absolutely no-no. Once in a while, you can even let them wander around your house, but you need to make the environment safe by rabbit-proofing your house.
Another thing that might contribute to your rabbit’s stress is the interaction between the cage mate. Whether they get along to each other will determine your rabbit’s happiness. If your rabbit has an aggressive mate, it may lead to appetite loss. So, you need to observe how your rabbits behave in the cage and how they interact one to another. It also means you need to know the language sign of rabbits.
If one of your rabbits is aggressive, and likes to attack his/her mate, you need to interfere. First of all, you need to understand when they have a tension each other. Usually, aggressive behavior in rabbits shown by how their tails go up, ears back, growling, boxing, circling, chasing, and biting. Well, of course, before your rabbits start chasing or biting, you must take action. Don’t use your hand, they might bite you instantly. Instead, you can spray some water on them or use the towel to separate them, in case the fight is already starting.
Also, you need to bond them to prevent this fighting happen again. Naturally, rabbits are not an aggressive animals, so if they’re aggressive, it might be because something that make them uncomfortable or stress. You must remember that rabbits are territorial animals, so to bond two or more rabbits, you need to do it in the neutral space. Of course, with your gentle guidance, so they will feel calm when interacting.
Once you know about those 3 common causes of rabbit losing appetite I mentioned earlier, you can start to prevent them to happen at all. However, prevention is the best medicine. Do you agree?