We, as humans, can lose our appetite when we aren't feeling well and still relatively healthy. Yet, when your rabbit loses their appetite and doesn't eat it can be a sign of a serious health issue. When you see your rabbit not eating, make sure that you take them to the vet to help diagnose the reason and start to treat the issue.
Here are three common health issues that you should watch out for and can cause your rabbit to not eat.
1. Dental Problems
When rabbits aren’t eating enough of the right hay, they can havedental problems. The hay helps to wear down their constantly growing teeth, keeping them at a healthy length. If your rabbit isn't eating hay every day, you'll end up up finding that your rabbit's teeth are growing too long. This will leave them susceptible and molar spurs can occur making it painful for them to eat.
Molar spurs are a medical condition that form on your rabbit’s teeth that can end up cutting their tongue, cheeks, and other soft mouth tissues. The presence of a molar spur (or spike) will have your rabbit avoiding the use of that particular tooth which causes unnatural pressure on other teeth, making the uneven wear even worse. Not only will it cause discomfort when eating, the misalignment of the jaw can cause other problems with jaw muscles and ligaments.
Hay that is coarse enough to wear down your rabbits teeth are:
If your rabbit likes to eat softer hay we recommend you add and mix in coarser hay to help keep their teeth in good dental health. You can also add Apple Chew Sticksto their daily routine to help them wear down their teeth and keep them entertained!
2. Feeling Pain Somewhere Within
Rabbits will often times avoid eating when they are in pain, especially after a surgery. If your rabbit has just been spayed or neutered and they won't eat, try giving them some leafy green treats that you know they like such as: mint, basil, parsley, or other fragrant.
As these are two very common surgeries that almost all domestic rabbits will undergo your vet should be aware of this as a possible concern. They may recommend hand feeding a product made spefically for recovery. Make sure to ask them about it.
Pain doesn't always show up in an obvious way, such as right after surgery, it can simply come from your rabbit needing to pass gas. Did you know that bunnies can have a difficult time passing gas? Certain vegetables and other foods will cause more gas in your rabbit, causing pain trying to pass it. If your bunny is hunched over and looks like they are trying to press their belly to the floor, it may be a sign that they have gas pains. Experiencing gas pains can also prevent you rabbit from having the urge to eat. Your vet can advise you on the best ways to help your rabbit release the gasand ease their pain.
3. Gastrointestinal Stasis
Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis) is a potentially deadly condition that is the result of your rabbit's digestive system slowing down or stopping completely.
When your rabbit doesn't eat hay with a high enough fiber bad bacteria can build up in their intestines and release gas into their system. As you know from the section above, gas causes them pain that stops them from wanting to eat anything. When your rabbit stops eating it makes the problem even worse because they stop receiving the necessary nutrients that help keep their digestive system healthy.
Therefore, their digestive tract begins to get smaller making it even harder to pass anything through. The bad bacteria, now sitting in their digestive system, can release a toxin that will overwork their liver and cause it fail (which is why this issue is sometimes called the silent killer).
Time is of the essence regarding your rabbit's health, so the sooner you realize your rabbit isn't eating and/or their poop droppings are small or deformed the better. Take them to your vet immediately.
Know what type of hay you want to purchase for your little one? Find it in our store and get it shipped straight to your door! If you still aren't sure what kind of grass hay you want feed your rabbit you can download our Hay is for Rabbits eBook below. You'll learn all about the different types of hay, the health benefits of each, and more!