Rabbits have exquisitely sensitive intestinal tracts, and even a slight decrease in appetite or fecal production can be a sign of significant illness. Kathleen Cook monitors her beloved Netherland Dwarf Bunny, Benjamen, very carefully, as he has had numerous bouts of stasis, a condition in which the intestines fail to move properly, and is life-threatening in rabbits.
Stasis can be caused by a variety of factors, most commonly inappropriate diet, but hairballs, dehydration and internal disease can also be factors. In some cases, like Benji, there is no definitive reason. Kathleen has learned to quickly recognize when he is off of his food, or when his feces become scant. He generally responds well to treatment, but usually requires hospitalization with force feedings, medication, and IV fluids. At the end of each episode, he is back to his normal self, resisting his force feedings and thumping at us in his cage, but his recovery is dependent on his astute owner and her quick action. While dogs and cats may miss a meal without causing much concern, a rabbit that is not eating is considered an emergency and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.