What is Gut Stasis?
Gastrointestinal Stasis (gut stasis) is a common dietary issue in pet rabbits. Gut stasis is the slowing or stopping of material movement through the digestive tract. These materials refer to ingested food and drink, which are also known as ingests. The two main places where food digestion delay occurs, are the stomach and caecum (the first section of the large intestine).
When gut stasis occurs, the normal extraction of liquid is still being carried out by the body while the movement of ingesta is slowed down. This means that the ingesta becomes thick and dry, causing discomfort and pain. This discomfort and pain will then cause your rabbit to stop eating and drinking, thus creating a vicious cycle.
What causes Gut Stasis?
The most common cause of gut stasis is diet. A rabbit’s digestive tract needs large amounts of digestible and indigestible fibre, both of which need to have adequate moisture. This means that the ideal diet would mainly consist of grass hay (indigestible) and leafy greens (digestible). Consuming large amounts of high-energy commercial pellets may slow down gut motility due to the high starch content. Instead, rabbits should consume grass-based pellets such as American Pet pellets which are made of more than 50% Timothy Hay.
Other causes of gut stasis include dehydration, stress, pain, inactivity and ingestion of foreign bodies. A little-known fact is that rabbits are unable to vomit and are only able to excrete anything they ingest. Hence, should they swallow something that cannot be digested, it could obstruct their gastrointestinal tract.
What are the symptoms of Gut Stasis
Some of the symptoms include:
- Little to no stool
- Abnormal electrolyte values in blood tests
- Loss of appetite
- Teeth grinding
How to treat Gut Stasis?
While there are several treatment options available, do reach out to your vet if you are unsure:
(1) Fluid therapy for rehydration
Fluid therapy helps to rehydrate the gastrointestinal material. This in turn will help to increase gut motility.
(2) Nutritional support
In order to prevent complications of starvation such as fatty liver disease, it is critical to provide your rabbit with indigestible fibre to drive gut motility and water for rehydration.
(3) Antibiotics (for underlying infections)
Sometimes underlying infections caused by ingesting foreign substances could cause pain in the GI tract, leading to gut stasis. When this happens, it is important to treat the infection immediately with antibiotics.
(4) Motility modifying drugs
Motility modifying drugs are drugs that stimulate the gut to move again.
(5) Pain relievers
As mentioned above, pain can sometimes be the cause of gut stasis, and gut stasis itself is very painful. Hence it is important to relieve the pain in order to help the appetite and reduce stress.
(6) Anti-inflammatory medications
Inflammation in the GI tract can also cause a lot of pain and stress for your rabbit. It could also be a sign of an underlying infection.
brioPets American Pet CBB™ Digestive Health Pellet is an excellent solution for the prevention of gut stasis. Fortified with prebiotics, vitamins, minerals and probiotics, the pellets help stabilise the digestive trace, support better digestion, increase immune function, encourage development of beneficial micro-flora and discourage growth of pathogens.
The Digestive Health Pellet has a healing effect on the distressed digestive system by combining 50% essential dietary fibre of American Pet Timothy hay (fresh + green from AP Farm). These essential fibres (act as prebiotic) help probiotics flourish inside the intestine, thereby increasing nutrients absorption and crowds out pathogenic bacteria.