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The Easter Bunny’s Sore Tummy

By Dr HELEN BURNS BVSc (Hons) | Dated March 26, 2016

Kevin is a much loved 3 year old dwarf lop eared rabbit who has generally been a picture of health. He is a much loved member of his family, and is usually the life of the party! One morning recently his family noted that he didn’t eat his breakfast and was hiding away, not wanting to be part of the action. As vets, we know that when rabbits show any signs of illness, they are much more sick than they appear, so Kevin needed immediate attention.

When we examined Kevin, his stomach was swollen, and when we listened to his intestines with the stethoscope (yes its true, it works for intestines too), there were no squelches or gurgles. Just silence. Nobody knew of any foreign material that Kevin could have eaten, however bunnies are prone to building up trichobezoars, or masses composed of hair, string etc, which block the intestine. Kevin’s owners gave us permission to take some radiographs to ensure that there wasn’t a blockage, and Kevin was a superstar. He lay perfectly still on the x-ray table, and fortunately there was no obstruction.

Kevin Raj

We diagnosed Kevin with gut stasis, a condition in which the stomach and small intestine stop pushing food through the gastrointestinal tract. This leads to gas building up in the intestines, which causes a tummy ache, and a build-up of bacteria which can cross over from the intestines into the blood stream. Before long, it results in a very sick bunny indeed. So, we acted quickly, admitting Kevin to hospital, ensuring that he was nice and warm. He was given pain relief and medication to kick start his intestines so they began to contract again. Kevin was also syringe fed water and a special critical care diet for rabbits every 2 hours. As a final indignity, we started poo patrol! Yes, one of the early signs that the intestines are working again, is the appearance of all that material that had been sitting there previously. So, we watched and we waited.
That evening Kevin ticked all the boxes, he was eating voluntarily and pooping as well. It was a stressful 24 hours for his family, but they certainly did everything for their much loved bunny.

Written by Dr HELEN BURNS BVSc (Hons)

Helen graduated from Sydney Uni in 1997 with First Class Honours and worked in a practice on the Northern Beaches for 16 years. Helen joined the Gordon Vet team early in 2014 and our clients have really enjoyed getting to know her. She loves being a vet and takes a keen interest in all of her patients. Her gentle, friendly nature helps pets to feel relaxed when they visit the vet. Helen lives locally and has 3 children. At least one of her children seems destined to be a vet! When not ferrying her children around, Helen cares for her menagerie of pets. These include Chloe the dog, Obi and Leia the cats, Little Cocky the galah and Rosie the very tame eclectus parrot who all happily coexist at her house. In her spare time, Helen likes to be active outdoors, running, kayaking, camping or playing any manner of sport with her children.

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