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Elderly bun not eating well


Alpha Buck
I wondered if anyone has had a bun with similar issues to our rabbit Daisy? She is around 10 years old and was seemingly in good health in February at her last check up, although she had had a few seizures over the last few years, but these were only 1 or 2 a year.

However since April she hasn’t really being eating well and has been showing signs of stasis intermittently. She weighed 1.4kg in Feb and is down to 1.2kg now, which is a large weight loss.

We’ve been battling for around 10 days this time - we’ve been to the vets four times in this time (2 emergency vet visits + 2 usual vets visits). None of the vets can find anything wrong with her clinically - she even has gut sounds and poos they can feel in her intestines. We have the usual
Meds - Metacam, Emiprid and now paracetamol.
We’ve done the usual treatment - syringe feeding if necessary, encouraging to move around, wetting greens to get more moisture into her etc. but nothing seems to be working consistently.
The weird thing is that every time she goes downhill it is evening time between 5pm and 8pm.
there is nothing obvious in the environment - no loud noises etc that could be disturbing her at these times.

Does anyone have any ideas?

The vet has talked about X-rays (a risk due to anaesthetic) and blood tests, but ultimately there probably isn’t going to be much they can do, as it isn’t teeth or anything obvious, so given her age we’ve decided to not go down that route as the treatment will probably be supportive treatment anyway (pain relief meds).

I know it’s a long shot and it’s possibly cancer , but I just thought it was worth asking in case there is anything else we can try.
Thank you.
How is Daisy now? Is she still not eating/drinking for herself? Is she pooing?

Could you provide a little more background, which would be helpful to understand more of the problem. You say that the stasis seems to always begin at a similar time of day, between 5pm and 8pm. Does it always also develop in the same way i.e. is there a period leading up to it when her poos become smaller and her appetite diminishes, or does it always come on suddenly without much warning?

I'm wondering whether the fact that it always develops at the same time of day would mean that it is a result of the timing of a particular type of food beforehand, which she possibly is now finding difficulty in digesting properly. So just briefly could you list what food she normally has, including quantities and timing?

Sometimes also it's possible for a vet to do a conscious x-ray. It may not provide as clear an image as if she were sedated, but it might indicate anything obvious. Blood tests would also provide a general picture of her system, including her main organs and would not need sedation. I think I would have both the conscious x-ray and blood tests done.
Thanks for the reply.
The stasis seems to come on suddenly. For example, she’s been ok all day - eating every hour when we’ve been out to her and offered her different foods. She’s often taken food out of our hands and not needing persuading to eat at all. At 6:30pm she was hopping around her run but by 7:30pm (an hour after her meds) she was refusing all food. Often she is back to normal again by 11pm - midnight and will eat anything and everything.

We have tried cutting out grass and not letting her go on the grass in her run, as we thought it might be that, but this still happened. We’ve also cut out kale for a few days but no effect.

Normally she has greens in a morning (6am) (basil, kale, parsley, raspberry leaves) and Burgess excel at 4pm. However, she hasn’t eaten her pellets really for the last two nights. She’s never been a great hay eater but is even worse now.
From your description of how each episode develops i.e. suddenly and often spontaneously resolves itself, I would favour it being dietary. I doubt it has anything to do with the vegetables she has at 6am. I would not stop her eating grass, especially as it's presumably something she has always eaten. I think she should still have it, if she will eat it, especially if she doesn't eat much hay. Both are beneficial fibre and would be helpful to her digestion. Is she pooing normally?

How many pellets do you give her at 4pm? I see you have said that for two days she hasn't really eaten her pellets, but I presume that means she still has had some?

I presume that from 6am until 4pm, she is given no food and eats some hay and some grass from her run? I think, if my feeling is correct and it's dietary, trying to establish a cause and also finding something to help will be trial and error.

If it were me, I would try giving her something extra to eat around mid-day and try that for a few days and just see if it makes any difference. It would probably be helpful if you made notes. I would give something that's likely to help with her digestion, so fresh or dried forage or tree leaves.
Re the medication, metaclopromide (Emeprid) is a prokinetic that works on the upper GI tract, increasing the rate at which the stomach empties. Adding a prokinetic drug called Cisapride can be more helpful as it works on the lower GI tract. In gut stasis it can be the hind gut (cecum) that has slowed down.

This might help you understand how the Rabbit GI tract works and why the pain episodes might be occurring at a similar time…ie maybe when the cecum is trying to ‘process’ cecotrophs.

I think getting her to eat more hay is going to be a challenge now as even if the Vet couldn’t see any obvious dental problems it’s impossible to get a 100% view of the mouth when the Rabbit is awake. Age and the fact she’s always been a poor hay eater makes it very likely that her teeth might be very long now and possibly have some sharp points. They could be minor, but still enough to make chewing hay difficult.

Have you tried giving her pellets in the morning and maybe changing the brand ? Or giving half the pellet portion in the morning and the other half in the evening.

Is her water intake OK? Not more or less than normal ?

What is her poo and wee output like ? Any evidence of ‘sludgy wee’ ?