Rabbits eat a fiber-rich diet, so they can produce about 300 poops a day. That said, while a rabbit not pooping isn’t an immediate cause for concern, it’s a situation that requires your attention.
In some cases, a sudden loud noise or a new smell can stress your bunny enough that it stops pooping for a short period. However, because rabbits have a delicate digestive system, constipation can be a sign of a serious health issue, such as poor diet or GI stasis.
In this post, we’ll lay out the most common causes of rabbit constipation, as well as how to tend to a rabbit that isn’t pooping. We’ll also provide you with a guideline on how to prevent rabbit constipation, so sit tight!
Reasons Your Rabbit Isn’t Pooping
Due to rabbits’ unique digestive system, they poop excessively. Rabbit health, in general, depends on the animal’s continued bowel movement.
As a result, if your bunny stops pooping, it’s at risk of developing intestinal blockage and other gastrointestinal complications.
If you can determine what’s causing your rabbit’s inability to poop, you can quickly resolve the problem and get your bunny’s bowels moving again.
Here are the most common reasons why a rabbit may stop pooping:
1 – Poor Diet
A poor diet is one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal problems in rabbits. If a rabbit doesn’t consume a high-fiber, low-carb diet, its digestive system may have difficulty absorbing proper nutrition, resulting in pooping issues.
Your bunny should eat about 70 to 75% of hay and 20 to 25% of fresh, green, leafy vegetables. You can also include from a quarter to half a cup of pellets, but eating too many pellets can cause digestive issues.
In addition, you shouldn’t give your bunny starchy and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes, which can cause bowel disruption in rabbits.
2 – Dehydration
Water is as essential to rabbit health as a proper diet. If a rabbit doesn’t drink enough water, its gastrointestinal tract may become dry.
A dry tract can cause bowel movements to slow, making it less likely for the rabbit to poop. If the rabbit is left dehydrated for long, its intestines may come to a halt, resulting in GI stasis.
It’s worth noting that dehydration can also cause diarrhea, so here are some other symptoms of dehydration in rabbits:
- Crusty discharge around the eyes
- Decreased appetite
- Wrinkled or tight skin
3 – Excessive Fur Swallowing
Rabbits groom themselves constantly, especially during the shedding season. Unlike cats, rabbits don’t regurgitate the hair they swallow from grooming.
What’s more, their stomachs don’t produce hairballs that are entirely composed of hair. Instead, the hair is mixed with food and ingested, resulting in a mass of food and hair.
If a rabbit swallows too much hair, doesn’t drink enough water, or eats a proper diet, this mass may dehydrate in the stomach. It’ll cause internal blockage and prevent the rabbit from pooping.
4 – Dental Problems
Rabbits are always chewing and nibbling on food. They chew their food thoroughly, breaking it down into tiny bits that their delicate digestive system can digest.
If a rabbit has dental problems, such as overgrown teeth and molar spurs, it may not be able to chew its food properly.
As a result, the rabbit’s digestive system will find it difficult to break down the larger chunks of food, which may lead to pooping issues.
If your bunny has dental problems, you may notice that it only half-chews the food and then drops it out of its mouth rather than swallowing it. Your bunny may also chew on one side or avoid eating altogether.
5 – Stress
Rabbits have a natural stress response to anything, including abrupt changes in their environment. Sometimes, as a result, a rabbit may stop pooping due to a stressful situation.
If stress is the cause of constipation, there’s no need to be alarmed because it’s only a temporary symptom.
Some of the common sources of stress in a rabbit’s environment include:
- Loud noise
- Being in a cramped space
- Being left alone
- New smells and experiences
- Irregular routine and lack of structure
- Sudden changes in temperature or environment
Rabbit Is Eating but Not Pooping
If your bunny is eating but not pooping, a gastrointestinal problem is unlikely. There’s a chance that your bunny is stressed.
Keep a close eye on your bunny and if it’s eating as usual, moving around, and reacting normally to your presence, you shouldn’t worry.
When a rabbit stops pooping due to stress, it’s usually a temporary bout of constipation. As a precaution, remove the pellets and provide your bunny with leafy greens to stimulate its bowel movement.
Peeing and pooping aren’t always linked to the same cause in rabbits. If something stresses out your bunny, it can stop pooping but not peeing.
A good sign is if your bunny drinks water and eats normally. It’s highly unlikely that your bunny will be able to drink or eat if it has a gastrointestinal issue.
If any of those causes are left untreated, they can trigger GI stasis in rabbits. GI stasis, also known as gut stasis or ileus, is the slowdown or the total shutdown of the digestive system.
It’s a life-threatening condition that requires immediate professional help. Stasis doesn’t just prevent a rabbit from pooping. The bacteria and gas clogged inside the rabbit may release toxins that can damage the liver.
GI Stasis Symptoms
Time is of the essence when it comes to GI stasis, so it’s vital to take your bunny to the vet if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Visible fatigue and lack of movement
- Bloated abdomen
- Reduced or complete appetite loss
- Lack of pooping preceded by diarrhea or small, dry fecal pellets
- Teeth grinding
- Hunched posture
How to Know Rabbit Isn’t Pooping
Because rabbits poop frequently, a rabbit not pooping for an extended period of time may indicate a serious problem.
The lack of droppings in your bunny’s hutch is the first red flag that your bunny isn’t pooping. There are other signs that you should look out for, including:
- Refusal to eat completely; this isn’t only a sign of constipation, but it’s also a sign of an internal blockage
- Bloated stomach; as food accumulates in the stomach, it’ll expand visibly while the hours pass.
- Hunched-over posture and teeth grinding; indicates that the rabbit is in discomfort or pain
These symptoms aren’t only similar to GI stasis symptoms, but they can also lead to stasis. So, the sooner you act, the sooner your bunny will recover.
If your bunny hasn’t pooped in 24 hours or you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact your bunny’s veterinarian.
How to Help Your Rabbit Poop
If your bunny’s condition isn’t too severe, you can help it feel better and prevent GI stasis by following the tips below.
Massage Rabbit’s Stomach
Rabbits, just like us, may have upsetting gas or slow bowel movement that can be alleviated with a simple abdomen massage.
Hold your bunny as you would a baby with its head in your elbow and gently massage the belly. The position and rubbing will help your bunny feel secure while stimulating its bowel movement.
Provide High Fiber Foods
Eating hay and fresh leafy greens can kick-start your bunny’s bowel movement. They’re full of nutrients that’ll feed the beneficial bacteria in the rabbit’s gut and get rid of the harmful ones.
Most importantly, your bunny shouldn’t stop eating. If you notice any decreased or total loss of appetite, it can be an early sign of stasis. At this point, you should consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Provide More Water
Slow bowel movement can be caused by dehydration, so you should provide your bunny with fresh water. The water will lubricate your bunny’s gastrointestinal tract and allow it to start moving again.
If your bunny is refusing to drink water from the bowl, you can help it drink with a syringe. Fill the syringe with water and place it in the corner of your bunny’s mouth.
Take the Rabbit to the Vet
If all else fails, it’s crucial to take your bunny to the vet, who will be able to assess the situation and treat your bunny accordingly.
How to Prevent Gastrointestinal Problems in Rabbits
Preventing gastrointestinal problems in your bunny can reduce the likelihood of pooping or lack of pooping issues.
Avoid Foods That Cause Indigestion in Rabbits
The proper diet is an essential part of any rabbit’s gut health and overall well-being. That’s why there are some foods that you should avoid feeding your bunny.
Alfalfa hay is legume-based hay with higher protein and calcium content than grass-based hay. It’s also more palatable to rabbits.
It’s often given to baby rabbits to help them grow healthily. It’s also sometimes recommended for nursing rabbits, picky rabbits, and ill rabbits.
Due to the higher protein content, alfalfa hay can be fattening and hard to digest, which can clog up your bunny’s gastrointestinal tract.
What’s more, alfalfa hay has three times the calcium levels of timothy hay, which is one of the most commonly used to feed rabbits.
Rabbits can metabolize calcium and excrete it. However, if a rabbit consumes too much alfalfa hay, the increased calcium content can result in urinary stones.
Still, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t feed your bunny alfalfa hay altogether. You can incorporate this rich and nutritious hay in your bunny’s usual hay mix every now and then.
Cruciferous Vegetables and Starchy Food
Green, leafy vegetables and herbs are essential components of a rabbit’s diet. Starchy and cruciferous vegetables, on the other hand, are more difficult to digest and can cause gas in the rabbit’s intestines.
Some people recommend feeding rabbits broccoli, potatoes, or other similar vegetables once a week or so. However, it’s best to avoid these foods entirely to avoid any potential digestive issues.
Similarly, you should never give your bunny starchy foods, such as bread. Such foods can cause constipation and gas almost immediately.
Because a rabbit’s digestive system isn’t made to digest starch, eating large quantities of foods high in starch can be life-threatening.
It’s normal for a rabbit to lose most, if not all, of its fur during the shedding season in spring. In fact, a rabbit may try to remove its fur itself to cool off.
While fur isn’t food, rabbits tend to ingest a large amount of hair while grooming.
Even the healthiest rabbit may have adverse effects from ingesting a large amount of hair. That’s why it’s essential to create a grooming routine for your bunny, especially during the shedding season.
In addition, you should dust off and clean your bunny’s hutch regularly.
Keep an Eye Out for Early Indigestion Symptoms
Rabbits’ digestive systems are complex and sensitive, making rabbits prone to gastrointestinal issues. Unfortunately, because rabbits are prey animals, they can conceal their symptoms well, making it difficult to determine whether or not a rabbit is sick.
That said, some signs can help you determine if your bunny is sick or uncomfortable, including:
- Decrease in appetite, even refusing favorite treats
- Overcome with lethargy; sitting with eyes half-closed and preferring to be left alone
- Gurgling noise from the stomach
- Teeth grinding
- Temperature below 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Stomach either extremely hard or soft to the touch
- Laying or standing in uncomfortable positions
If you notice any or a combination of these signs, you should try to work out what exactly is wrong with your bunny. You can even consult with your bunny’s veterinarian to help you diagnose and treat the problem.
If you notice your rabbit not pooping as usual, it could be a short-term symptom of stress due to a change in its environment.
Rabbits are easily stressed, and stress could affect them in a number of ways, including disrupting their gastrointestinal tract.
What’s important is that if your bunny isn’t pooping, you should provide it with fresh water and leafy greens to trigger its bowel movement.
If it’s been 24 hours since the last time your bunny pooped, you should take it to the vet as soon as you can.