Rabbit enteritis refers to intestinal inflammation that results from several kinds of enteric diseases that are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.
However, although several viruses, including coronaviruses, parvovirus, adenovirus, rotavirus, and calicivirus have been associated with this condition, it is not clear if the viruses alone can cause it. 
Also, some environmental factors and well as husbandry (including diet aspects), are known to trigger this gastrointestinal tract disease.
Some of the common forms of enteritis in rabbits include enterotoxemia and mucoid enteritis. Epizootic rabbit enteropathy is not so common. The enterotoxemia in rabbits is mainly caused by Clostridium spiroforme which releases enterotoxins.
On the other hand, mucoid enteritis is a type of fatal enteritis common in young rabbits at the weaning age, which is associated with secretion and accumulation of mucus inside intestines as well as diarrhea.
Note that, the term enterocolitis is used to describe enteritis when it affects both the colon and small intestines.
Some of the symptoms that a rabbit having this enteric disease may slightly vary as it has several causes. The most common symptoms may include:
- Diarrhea characterized by a soft stool covered with mucus as well as the presence of mucus on their hind-end  due to increased intestinal secretion. Profuse diarrhea is also possible.
- Signs of discomfort, including teeth grinding and protruded eyes
- Bloated, and a distended abdomen that may be painful to palpate
- Anorexia or decreased appetite that may alter eating habits
- Weight loss
- Dehydration and polydipsia (great thirst)
- Listlessness, lethargy, and weakness
- Hypothermia or a decrease in their body temperature
- Your vet may also notice a gastrointestinal blockage
- Poor rabbit coat quality
- Peculiar craving for inedibles may also be noted.
Symptoms such as listlessness and hypothermia may indicate real trouble. This condition should not be ignored as it can cause death.
The most frequent causes of enteritis in rabbits are any factors that are likely to affect the bacterial balance in the gut, especially the cecum. Some of these causes include:
It is the most common cause. “Diets low in fiber and high in simple carbohydrates lead to enteritis.” . They are not ideal for a rabbit’s gut and not often recommended.
For instance, those high in carbs lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and to be specific, the pathogenic varieties. This is due to the rapid breakdown of these carbs in the cecum by these bacteria.
Secondly, if you suddenly change the diet of your rabbit, including giving it too little or extremely high amounts of fiber may cause enteritis.
Environmental factors and stress
The stress generated from things such as travel, change in environment, heat stress, is another possible trigger of this condition. Why? These animals are quintessential prey animals whose adrenaline levels spurs if they perceive a threat.
Adrenaline affects gut emptying rate (that can lead to GI stasis) and cecotrophy which is very important for a normal healthy gut. This will affect the cecum including its pH, thus encourages pathogenic bacteria growth. 
Unless you are very keen, enteritis from stress may not be easy to notice as it can take up to a week for the impact to be noticed.
The use of some antibiotics may wipe out the good bacteria or cause an alteration in the normal gut bacteria balance especially in the cecum causing this disease. However, some antibiotics such as the sulfaquinoxaline and lasalocid are safe
Parasites that cause “enteritis include trematodes (flukes), cestodes (tapeworms), nematodes (intestinal worms) and coccidia (protozoa).”  Coccidia is often devastating to young rabbits.
All these factors can cause an overgrowth of various pathogenic microorganisms, including Corynebacteria sp., Clostridia sp., Pasteurella sp. and Escherichia coli which can cause the disease or the symptoms we have looked at.
Treatments of enteritis in symptoms rabbits
Earlier detection can help reduce mortality rates. However, their nature of hiding ailments to avoid attracting predators may make it difficult to notice the problem early.
A proper diagnosis by a rabbit savvy vet is required to pinpoint the exact cause of enteritis. This might include physical examination, palpation, bloodwork, fecal tests, and radiography.
The results will then influence treatment options. Sometimes hospitalization and aggressive treatments might be necessary.
Treatments will include the use of pain killers to relieve pain, some antibiotics such as sulfonamide, IV fluid therapies, medications to kill the various parasites, among others. It all depends on the underlying cause.
Also, syringe feeding with products such as Oxbow Animal Herbivore Critical Care to provide nutrition may be necessary if your bunny does not eat. This product is also high in fiber and it can help remove intestinal obstruction as well as mucus.
Some of the preventive measures to reduce the occurrence of this enteric disease include the following:
Limit stress and disturbance including reducing noise around their environment, access by other animals, removing direct draft, among other factors. Additionally, give your rabbit toys including chew toys at the moments of boredom or stress to help keep it occupied and happy.
Also, minimize stress during weaning. For instance, you can move the mother from its original hutch instead of the kits.
From diet and feeding
Avoid introducing new feeds in large quantities. Instead, gradually introduce the new feed and mix it with the old one over a long period of time, not less than a week, even if it is hay.
Ensure your rabbit’s diet has the recommended fiber amounts as it helps ensure a healthy gut. There should be an unlimited supply of grassy hay. Consider brands like Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting "Perfect Blend" Timothy Hay Pet Food, Kaytee Timothy Hay, Standlee Premium Western Forage Timothy Grass, Oxbow Timothy Hay, Vitakraft Timothy Hay, Premium Sweet Grass Hay, among many others.
Keep fresh foods at 10-15% and high fiber pellets at 5% with brands like Oxbow Animal Health Bunny Basics Essentials Adult Rabbit Pet Food or Small Pet Select Rabbit Food Pellets ab excellent choice
Moreover, you should reduce too many treats and foods or supplements that are high in carbohydrates and sugars such as corn, rice, bread, and so on.
Also, avoid foods with a foul smell, infested by insects, or having molds or those that are musty. DO not forget to inspect and store feeds well.
Let your vet regularly check for any sign of parasites in their feces through fecal exams.
Finally, consider appetite stimulants such as dill, marjoram, parsley, thyme, oregano among others that may stimulate appetite as well as those that might reduce infection and calm the stomach.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.