Is there anything that I can do to treat bloat in young rabbits?

  • I am a rabbit breeder and I occasionally sell rabbits to other people. When changing food and often due to extra treats that new rabbits are given, the rabbits will suffer from a condition called bloat (warning: link contains images of dissected rabbits). It is difficult to convince some people to spend $100 or more on a vet visit for an animal they can replace for $50. So, sadly most people will just allow nature to take its course, which is a painful way to die. Is there anything I can do to relieve this condition without having to consult a veterinarian.

    I wish people realized that when taking on a pet, you take on a life, and that has responsibilities associated with it.

  • John Cavan

    John Cavan Correct answer

    8 years ago

    Gastric dilation, also know as bloat, is a veterinary emergency. Rabbits, as you likely know, are not able to vomit and so cannot void the contents of their stomach if the normal outflow is blocked for any reason, which may not always be physical, apparently stress and severe stomach movement can cause this as well.

    Unfortunately, according to Blackwell's Five Minute Veterinary Consult for small mammals (second edition - Section IV, Chapter 186) , the rabbit requires immediate medical therapy involving gastric decompression using intubation and surgery is likely required to treat the condition if intubation efforts fail to relieve the issue. It is also possible that decompression may be required several times depending on the actual causes of the bloat.

    So, unfortunately, the answer to your question is no.

    As an aside, I can't link to the relevant information in the book, but you can try to see if Google books will give it to you or you can buy it (I picked up the Kindle edition, along with the feline/canine one). It's handy to have in order to make immediate decisions, many illness can be treated at home if you know.

    I have a vet friend that says this treatment is successful less than 20% of the time. Even I am loath to put a rabbit through surgery and intubation for a procedure that has a low success rate in the first place.

    @Chad - I can appreciate that, but that was the medical advice I read. I suppose that 20% is better than 0% if it comes to that. The book does cover non-veterinarian options when appropriate, but had none for this.

    I am not certain there is a good fix. My vet friend actually recommended euthanasia to attempted treatment for bloat.

    @Chad - I guess I'm confused about what you're asking then... It seems like euthanasia or treatment, normally either of which would be done by a vet. I suppose you could do the former yourself, but that seems like it would a hard thing for most people to do.

    I am looking for a better solution that may not exist.

    It turns out the fatal part of bloat is that the extreme distention of the stomach causes irreversable damage to the stomach linings. So once a rabbit has bloat it is too late.

    @Chad, During my research I ran across some examples of death from rupture.

    @JamesJenkins - That would qualify as irreversible damage to the stomach lining. But even if the stomach does not rupture by the time it gets to where you can see the bloat it is too late to save the rabbit in most cases it appears. And in the end there is no advice that we can give to treat the condition here. It will take surgical efforts in most cases to provide any hope.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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