We have recently seen an increase in the number of rabbits and guinea pigs being brought into the practice seriously ill, or have sadly died at home. Gut Stasis or Ileus is a silent killer, and prompt veterinary treatment is vital to improve the prognosis for your small furry.
Gut stasis is a condition where a rabbit or guinea pig’s intestines become slow and sluggish, and sometimes stop moving altogether. These pets, due to their very specialised diet, need their intestines to move constantly to prevent gut stasis and to help prevent obstructions.
What’s so special about rabbit and guinea pig diets?
Rabbits and guinea pigs are “fibrevores”, which means they need to eat food high in fibre such as grass and veggies.
- 80% of the diet should be grasses and hay to help look after the teeth and the digestive tract
- 10% should be fibrous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, carrots and broccoli which also provide good mental stimulation
- 5% should be fibrous fruits and other treats for mental stimulation
- 5% should be good quality pellets
Weighing out pellets is important to prevent obesity, and choosing a good quality “extruded” pellet (i.e. they all look the same) is vital – rabbits and guinea pigs are notorious for picking out their favourite bits of coloured muesli-type mixes, leading to an unbalanced diet.
Please also remember to never feed guinea pigs on rabbit pellets as it is lacking in Vitamin C which needs to be supplemented in guinea pigs’ diets to prevent other issues!
What to look out for in small furries with gut stasis:
The main signs to look out for are reduced appetite and anorexia, lack of droppings and lethargy. This condition is very painful and your pet will stop eating quite quickly, and with a gut transit time of only 4 – 6 hours, you’ll notice a lack of droppings as well. If you notice any of these signs, it is vital that you contact the surgery as quickly as possible. The prognosis for early intervention of gut stasis is generally good, but can be poor in cases of advanced ileus or obstruction.
For further advice, please call the surgery on 01325 380111.