Gut Stasis in Rabbits/Guinea Pigs
Gut stasis is a common life-threatening syndrome found in Rabbits (and even Guinea Pigs and
Chinchillas) presented for veterinary attention. Gut stasis occurs when there’s reduced to complete
absence of gastro-intestinal tract mobility.
There are variety causes of gut stasis in our little herbivorous pet such as dental disease, gastro-
intestinal obstruction, pain (from underlying disease), stress, changes in environment, low fiber
composition in diet.
Rabbits that suffer from gut stasis can show common signs such as reduced appetite to complete
inappetance, small and irregular stool size or no stool production. They can also show other signs
depending of the trigger of the stasis. For example, teeth grinding (underlying dental disease) and
hunched position (underlying pain, abdominal pain).
So when to seek veterinary attention?
1. Reduced appetite or inappetance
In general, domesticated pet rabbits spend a lot of time eating. Even as little as not eating for 8 hours is
serious and therefore warrant a visit to the vet’s office.
2. Reduced stool size & numbers
Some rabbits with gut stasis may not be completely inappetant. Therefore it is important to assess the
stool size and number daily. By looking at them on a regular basis, it is easier to tell when your rabbit’s
stool size is smaller, irregular in shape or lesser in number.
3. Other symptoms of underlying disease are being noticed / change in behavior
After presenting your rabbit at the vet, the vet will assess your rabbit and attempt to figure out the
trigger of the gut stasis. This may include a complete physical examination which also includes conscious
oral exam, abdominal palpation. In some cases, X-ray may be warranted to investigate further and rule
out gastro-intestinal obstruction.
Treatment of gut stasis usually requires a combination of treatment / addressing the underlying trigger
and supportive treatment. In cases where the underlying trigger is not identified initially, supportive
therapy is usually initiated. This may involve fluid therapy / hydration, pain-relief, supportive feeding
and medication to encourage gut motility.