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What is Loss of Appetite?

Anorexia in rabbits is a symptom of an underlying condition, the most common causes are dental disease and gastrointestinal disorders. As anorexia is often caused by pain you may notice your rabbit showing other signs such as hunching, refusing to move or increased respiration. Anorexia can lead to serious complications in as little as 24 hours so early treatment is key.

Loss of appetite in rabbits, or anorexia, is a common but serious symptom in rabbits. This condition is often brought on by pain or stress and can lead to ketosis and  hepatic lipidosis.

Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 469 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Loss of Appetite in Rabbits

The symptoms your pet experiences will vary depending on the underlying causes. They may include

  • Tooth grinding due to pain
  • Reduced fecal matter or profuse diarrhea 
  • Aggression during handling
  • Firm abdomen 
  • Depression

Types

Pseudo-anorexia

– If your pet is suffering from this form of anorexia he may still have an appetite, however, due to an underlying condition such as dental disease are unable to eat

True anorexia

– If your rabbit is suffering from this form of anorexia, he will lose the desire to eat; this is often due to underlying factors that cause pain or stress

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Causes of Loss of Appetite in Rabbits

There are many different factors causing anorexia in rabbits. These include:

Environment

 

  • Change of environment, or outdoor predators may cause stress in your pet
  • Your pet’s social environment may also contribute, as rabbits are social animals 
  • Lack of companionship has shown to cause anorexia, while unsuitable, aggressive cage mates may also cause stress and reluctance to eat

Hygiene

 

  • Bacterial skin infections are a common underlying cause of anorexia due to discomfort
  • These skin conditions can be caused by parasitic infection, introduction of bacteria, or fungal infections

Nutrition

 

  • An insufficiently balanced diet or selective feeder may cause gastrointestinal stasis and other conditions that may cause anorexia

Other factors that may contribute are toxin ingestion or foreign object ingestion, and chronic health conditions (there are a range of health conditions that can cause your pet to lose their appetite such as arthritis and dental disease).

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Diagnosis of Loss of Appetite in Rabbits

Your veterinarian will perform a full clinical examination on your rabbit and carefully examine him for signs of underlying conditions that may be causing anorexia. The following may indicate the cause:

  • Excessive salivation or malocclusion may be noted which may suggest dental disease to be the cause
  • There may be an abnormal amount of gas or abdominal masses on palpation
  • Signs of respiratory infection on chest auscultation may be evident
  • If your pet is female the vulva should be carefully examined for discharge which may suggest pyometra
  • Your pet’s skin will be examined for signs of infection or dermatitis

Your veterinarian may choose to do following diagnostic tests: 

  • Radiographs to investigate masses, osteoarthritis or other skeletal disorders
  • Blood chemistry which can rule out renal and hepatic disease and provide a health baseline when prescribing analgesia
  • Urine tests to check for urinary tract infections
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Treatment of Loss of Appetite in Rabbits

In order to prevent your pet from developing hepatic lipidosis and to maintain gut peristalsis, your veterinarian will initiate treatment for anorexia immediately. Your rabbit may need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Fluid therapy

Fluid therapy may be given to prevent dehydration and rehydrate gastrointestinal contents. Your pet will be encouraged to have fluids orally but may also be given intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy.

Analgesia

As anorexia is often caused by pain it is vital that your pet is given analgesia to relieve discomfort. Your pet may be given NSAIDs or opioids for relief. 

Diet

Your pet will be offered a selection of foods. If your pet has favorite foods your veterinarian will recommend you bring them to your pet. Fresh fruit and vegetables along with pellets will be offered. Appetite stimulants high in fiber such as parsley, kale, and carrot tops are ideal for your pet. It is likely your pet will require syringe feeding, this will often be performed by a veterinary assistant or nurse. Ideal foods for syringe feeding are pureed pellets with water, pumpkin or banana. 

In some cases, nasogastric tube insertion is necessary to provide nutritional support. The tube is lubricated with anesthetic gel and inserted through the nose into the stomach. Your veterinarian will then check the position of the tube by performing a radiograph. 

The tube can stay in place for several weeks if needed and will be taped in place. It will be flushed with water prior to each feed, providing an excellent source of water. The same mixtures of either ground pellets or pureed vegetables can be fed through this tube.

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Recovery of Loss of Appetite in Rabbits

The prognosis for a pet suffering from loss of appetite can be good to guarded depending on how quickly treatment was sought and the underlying condition involved. If stress was the cause, it is important to adjust your pet’s environment to reduce or completely eliminate the stressor. If your rabbit is suffering from disease such as skin infections or abscess, your pet may need further medication and treatment. For chronic health conditions such as arthritis, it is important that you discuss a long-term pain management plan with your veterinarian to alleviate your pet’s discomfort. Support nutrition will also be beneficial.

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Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 469 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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Loss of Appetite Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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New Zealand Heading

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

Loss of appetite and not drinking water

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Puppies are very prone to parasites and infectious diseases like parvovirus. Sometimes one of the first signs is no loss of appetite or lethargy. It would probably be a good idea, if this continues, to have a veterinarian look at your puppy. They will be able to examine them, see what might be going on, and discuss treatment with you. I hope that everything goes well for your puppy.

Aug. 2, 2020

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rabbit

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating A Lot,

started jumping around then moving his head like he was dizzy and not moving much

July 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, so sorry to hear about your rabbit. If he is not eating, it would be best to see your vet. Rabbits not eating can easily develop GI stasis. This can be a very painful and deadly disease. Your vet can start him on medication to help him feel much better

July 13, 2020

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Huny

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Holland Lop

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lost Appetite

Huny is a hollad loo, 2yr olf rabbit. She loves eating parsely, brocolli and other greeny veggies but it has been 3days since she lost interest. She is not eating any greens now including lettuce, gabbage and spinanch. She still eats her pellets and still eats banana and apple but even hay she lost interest. She is a really picky bunny I had her for almost 3 months now. I know how she loves parsely and losing interest with veggies now concerns me. Thanks for your help!

May 16, 2018

Huny's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Huny, it is difficult to determine the underlying cause of the loss of appetite; dental disorders are always a concern in rabbits for a reduction in food intake and we need to be careful that there isn’t stasis of the gastrointestinal tract. I cannot determine the cause of the loss of appetite without an examination and recommend you visit a Veterinarian as soon as possible. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 17, 2018

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Cleo

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Mini lop

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

Hi. Cleo stopped eating last week and it she seemed to have som stomach pain, I took her to a veterinarian. She had no blockage, and her teeth was fine. She seemed to be in good health. The vet gave her a shot to stimulate digestion, and I have given her critical care a couple of times. After this it doesn't seem that she has any pain, she is a little less active the usual, but active, and she makes the usual cuddle noises. So she seems healthy, but she still eats very little on her own. Could this just be because she is still recovery from some stomach pain, or could it be something else? Any advise would be appreciated.

April 24, 2018

Cleo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Cleo may be recovering from her condition, but if she continues to eat very little, it is going to cause the problem to continue. One thing that helps rabbits move their digestion is exercise and activity, the other is roughage. I'm not sure what food she eats or what her exercise level is like, but both of those things may help her to recover.

April 24, 2018

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Hazel

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Angora

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

Hazel is about 4-5 months old and I have had her almost a month now. She has a large pen she stays in, inside but I walk her outside everyday. She uses a litter box and she usually eats a good amount of food everyday along with a bunny treat or a carrot. Her snacks are her favorite thing and she usually eats them immediately. Today, I noticed she barely has touched her food or used her litter box, I tried giving her both of her favorite snacks and she didn't touch either of them. This is unusual for her, but I do not notice any other signs as far an infection. Just wondering if this could be spontaneous maybe for them or could it be the beginning of a sickness for Hazel. Thank you!

April 11, 2018

Hazel's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

A loss of appetite may be something not to worry about or may be a serious issue in rabbits; you should keep a close eye on Hazel for the time being and encourage her to eat. We always need to ensure that rabbits are eating and are having normal bowel movements since gastrointestinal stasis can be a life threatening condition. If there is no improvement in appetite, I would recommend you visit a Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.bio.miami.edu/hare/ileus.html

April 12, 2018

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max

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dutch rabbit

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling
Lost Of Appetite
Not Pooping

My bunny Has lost appetite and has had a lot of drool coming from his mouth. He's been shedding a lot so I've made sure to clean his cage but he hasn't pooped or ate/drank water since I cleaned it. What do I do???

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Baby Girl

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Lion Head

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3 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite

i have 2 bunnies and i think one got attacked but the other escaped so the one that in think got attacked is gone and the other bunny seems depressed i dont know how to help her

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Oscar

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Mini lop

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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2 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Loss Of Appetite
Loss Of Hair
Decreased Activity

I have had my Mini Lop for almost a year and he has never had any issues. A couple of days ago, I noticed he was losing more fur than normal and head tilting/cleaning, and I was just assuming he was molting. Normally, he is very active and happy, especially when I get his food out. Tonight when feeding him, he showed no interest in food and won't eat. He has been sitting hunched up all night like he's in pain. I also noticed that he's itching his ears quite a bit. Any suggestions?

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Dovah

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Lionhead

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

Hi, Getting a little desperate. This year we have had to put 2 rabbits down, all relating to separate issues. Recently i noticed my 4 year old lion-head was having breathing difficulties & i took him to the vet. She recommended changing his bedding & making a few environmental changes, which i did, & he improved. Since then, its been a month on & his appetite hasnt returned to normal. He weighs 2.1kg's when he initially weighed around 2.8kg's & had a very healthy, un-picky appetite. The medication he's currently on is a honey-smelling pain medication & a peppermint-smelling digestion stimulant to try & increase his appetite. He's seen the vet a further 2 times since he recovered from his breathing issues & she cant seem to find anything wrong. His gut is perfectly fine as well as his teeth/mouth & he is eating, just about a quarter of the amount he should be, sometimes less. He wasn't particularly close to the rabbits that passed away but they did all live in the same bedroom (separated by a metal pen as they liked to fight). I've moved him closer to one of the girls & he seems to spend most of his days lying next to her pen & his energy is great, always running around. Its just his appetite that hasn't returned & its going on the 2nd month now & we're at a loss of what to do. Every day we feed him something different as he seems to go off certain foods daily & not have a taste for them anymore. The only thing he still nibbles on is grass & a selection of herbs like basil, parsley & mint. Please help.. we really cant bare losing a 3rd this year.

Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 469 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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