The dwarf rabbit has a sweet tooth
rabbit has smelly stools for the past two days," said Ms Anderson. "What
caused its diarrhoea?"
I picked up the 30-day-old white dwarf rabbit and there were
faecal stains on the anal area spreading to the lower part of
the body, between the hind legs.
"It just would not eat the dry pellet feed sold to me by the pet
dealer," said Mr Anderson. "It just ate the green hay all the
time. How do I get it to eat the pellets?"
The white dwarf looked healthy and was more active and very
inquisitive than its black and white play mate. It was purchased
seven days ago.
"What could cause diarrhoea in one rabbit and not in the other?"
Both had the same feeding management and the same
corn-based litter and both shared one water bottle. Mr
Anderson had bought the green rabbit hay along. The white
rabbit was not interested in the hay although the black and
white nibbled a bit.
was hard to diagnose what caused diarrhoea in this hyperactive
"Did he eat telephone wires, newspaper, the corn litter or other
things?" I asked.
"No," Mr Anderson replied. "He ate only the hay and pellets
provided by the pet dealer and he was all right when I bought
him. In fact, he does not even look sick."
It was not possible to take the rectal temperature of
this baby rabbit as it was so small. Observations indicated it
was an active rabbit. "Did it eat the pelleted feed while
it was at the pet shop?" I asked Mr Anderson.
"I did not notice what type of feed it was having," replied Mr
Anderson. He was a first-time rabbit pet owner.
A change of feed is a main cause of diarrhoea in a newly
acquired baby rabbit. What was the change in the
management of the dwarf rabbit? It would not eat the
pelleted feed. Most likely, it was too young and not used
to it. The hay from the pet shop looked like it was of a
good quality. Would eating hay cause diarrhoea? When did the
rabbit start eating hay?
"What else did the rabbit eat?" I asked.
"Beats me!" replied Mr Anderson. There were no stool
samples to examine.
There was a green box of "honey stick for rabbits" to improve
their appetite. It looked like an ice-cream stick
glued with seeds.
offered the honey stick to the white cotton ball dwarf rabbit.
It just would not stop eating it. "He ate one whole stick
yesterday morning" Mr Anderson commented.
"Was the rabbit passing smelly stools before you gave it the
honey stick?" I asked.
"No," Mr Anderson replied. This was the clue to its smelly
diarrhoea. Over-eating of a new diet would upset the
bacteria in the rabbit's gut and lead to wet stools.
Mr Anderson was asked to isolate this rabbit and give it plenty
of water, hay and some pelleted feed for the next 7 days.
A 30-day-old rabbit would be weaned off its mother's milk
recently. Young rabbits may take solid food after 21 days.
It was best to introduce new feed like the honey stick gradually
and definitely not a stick a day as the honey stick is more like
a dessert rather than the main course. Definitely, the
bunny would prefer the sweet stick to the pelleted feed and that
was the reason it was not eating the dry feed but it would not
be eating a balanced diet.
"This rabbit looks healthy," said Mr Anderson. "Maybe it does
not need a vet."
"Diarrhoea in baby rabbit is always a serious problem. It
may get worse and die of dehydration in the next few
days." I gave the rabbit dextrose saline and antibiotics by the
subcutaneous route and the owner took the rabbit home to nurse