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Some rabbits are more prone to gas than others, and if yours is, you need to keep a close eye on what they eat.
A rabbit’s digestive system has to keep working constantly in order to function effectively, and gas can hinder the process. Excess gas can cause GI stasis, which can be fatal, so it’s worth familarising yourself with any foods that cause an issue for your rabbit.
Whilst I can tell you the likely culprits, different rabbits react differently to foods. For example one of my rabbits doesn’t get full blown stasis, but we noticed that if she ate a lot of kale, she’d become a bit quiet and withdrawn.
Kale can cause gas, so I’ve no doubt that it was causing a buildup of gas in her stomach. Luckily we noticed pretty quickly and were able to tell that kale was the culprit. We didn’t stop giving it too her completely, but it was a treat, rather than a staple.
Sugary foods like fruits can cause gas
I do like to give my rabbits fruits from time to time because not only do they love them, but they’re packed full of micronutrients that are beneficial to their health.
BUT omit them entirely if your rabbit is prone to bouts of gas or stasis. Fruit can ferment quickly in the stomach and produce gas.
If your rabbit is in suspected stasis and you’re trying to get medication into them, I wouldn’t recommend using fruit. I’ve found that sandwiching two dandelion leaves together with the meds in between works a charm. Carrot tops are also a pretty good replacement for carrots.
Cruciferous vegetables can cause gas in rabbits
I’ve found that some cruciferous veggies are more prone to cause gas than others BUT it will depend a lot on your rabbit.
For example, kale and broccoli seem to be pretty bad cause producers, as do brussels sprouts, BUT watercress doesn’t seem to have the same effect – probably because it’s less starchy (I assume because it grows quicker and is harvested sooner, but I could be wrong).
I do give my rabbits broccoli, but it’s a weekly treat.
If you’re looking for a vegetable you can give to your rabbit everyday, romaine lettuce is a good choice. It’s nutritious, but not particularly gassy.
Grains cause gas in rabbits
You can buy dried sweetcorn in pet stores that’s designed to be given to rabbits, but actually, they shouldn’t be eating corn.
Actually we used to buy those sweetcorns because one of our rabbits used to love angrily pulling the kernels off, but never ate them. We’d have to collect them up so the others couldn’t nick them.
That being said, it’s unlikely that a small amount of grains will harm your rabbit.
They shouldn’t be a part of their regular diet, BUT if your rabbit thieves toast crumbs off the floor, it’s not a medical emergency.
I mean, my rabbit’s dived on and eaten a single crisp (potato chip) and lived to tell the tale (she was fine and loved it, but we’re more vigilant about fallen food now!) and they’re much worse than bread.
How to tell if your rabbit has gas
If your rabbit is quieter and less active than normal that can be a sign they have gas. They may be less interested in eating food, and sitting in a hunched over position.
Some rabbits try to press their belly to the ground to dislodge the gas, and have a belly that’s hard to the touch.
The most common sign is the reduced appetite, so as soon as you notice, get them to a vet. A vet can give them medications to ease the gas, keep their digestive system going, and work out if there’s a blockage or something.
What to do if your rabbit has gas
These things always happen when the vet is closed, so there are some things you can do if you’re a few hours from a vet.
Gas can go on to cause GI stasis, so it’s important to get to a vet asap, but while you’re waiting:
- Give your rabbit baby gas drops to try to ease it
- Massage their belly to try to get things moving
- Try to tempt them to eat – lettuce and herbs are best
- Keep them warm – if their ears are cold, wrap them in a blanket
- Encourage them to exercise and play
Some rabbits are more prone to gas than others
We’ve had rabbits that could eat ANYTHING in any quantity and not get so much as bubble in their belly.
There’s no rhyme or reason to this. It’s the same in humans – some people are gassy and some aren’t.
That being said, rabbits that don’t eat much hay can be more susceptible to developing gas because their digestive system doesn’t run quite as well.
Do rabbits fart?
Ok, so apparently they do.
I have NEVER heard any of my many rabbits fart. Not in the decades I’ve lived with them.
How to reduce the chance that your bunny gets gas
The biggest thing is to make sure that 85% of their diet is hay, and that they run around a bit.
Some rabbits have delicate digestive systems and get gas whatever you do, but others are sensitive to some foods. If you notice your bunny is acting a bit withdrawn after eating certain foods, make a note, and reduce the amount you give.
You don’t need to cut out foods, but just give small amounts. If your rabbit is sensitive to a favourite food, say kale, you could get a small piece, shred it, and mix it in with their hay to make their hay a bit more fun.