The human body system can let out excessive food in the stomach through vomit and releasing of gas. Sadly, rabbits cannot do the same. Yes, we might not like letting out excessive food but there are instances when it is a lifesaver.

Rabbit bloat or Gastrointestinal dilation is a condition where the digestion system of the rabbit is filled with excessive gas and fluids. It will be developed to the extent that rabbits can’t let them out. This condition is life-threatening for the animal.

Fortunately, there are treatment and preventive methods for rabbit bloating. Check out this article for the causes and other useful pieces of information.

What is rabbit bloating

Rabbit bloating is a medical condition for any breed of rabbit. The reality, however, is that it is not necessarily a disease. It is a sign that the rabbit is not in perfect health. Gas and other types of fluid are produced in the stomach after digestion. This will increase the number of items in the stomach more than what was initially digested and this process continues.

If there is a blockage and more content, the stomach becomes enlarged. In a situation where gasses and fluids in the rabbit’s stomach cannot get out through natural means. It leads to the compression of some blood vessels.

rabbit bloat
rabbit bloat

Also, the inability of the rabbit to vomit due to the size of the valve proximal is responsible for rabbit bloating. It could also mean the presence of impending sickness. Bloating could make the rabbit’s stomach swell.  

Causes of rabbit bloating

It has been stated earlier that rabbit bloating is not a disease but a sign of disease. In most cases, bloating arises when the rabbit is overfed or when it fails to rest after eating. Also, rabbits produce a lot of saliva in the mouth while moistening their food before digestion. The rabbit’s stomach also produces fluids for the same reason.

In some instances, these fluids will remain in the rabbit’s stomach, especially when there is an obstruction. The stomach becomes filled up and becomes a fertile habitat for bacteria. The result of this will be trapped gas in the rabbit’s stomach. This will also make the stomach bloat.  

Moreover, the presence of foreign objects could also cause blockage in the rabbit’s digestive system. This arises when the rabbit digests materials such as plastic, clothing material, carpet, rubber, and others. The presence of abscesses and tumors could also cause blockage.

Symptoms of rabbit bloating

How to check rabbit bloat

Rabbit bloating can happen anytime without prior notice. It is a complicated issue because it is life-threatening. The rabbit could die within the shortest duration if bloating is not properly managed. It is good to observe them every day. This will help you detect quickly if something is wrong with them. The symptoms of rabbit bloating include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Lying in the stretched posture
  • Lack of response to stimuli
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Teeth grinding  
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Reluctance to move around

How to diagnose rabbit bloating

The rabbit will show signs of imperfect health when there is bloating. But the reality is that some of those signs are also associated with other conditions. It is recommended that you consult a vet. Here are some of the diagnosis processes that will reveal if a rabbit is suffering from rabbit bloating.

Physical examination of the rabbit

If you suspect that the rabbit is not in perfect condition, it is recommended that you take it to a professional for a thorough examination. The physical diagnosis process of rabbit bloating begins with abdomen palpation. The vet would also look at other clinical symptoms that could suggest bloating. However, physical examination of the different parts of the rabbit’s body is possible when the rabbit corporates.


At times, diagnosing rabbit bloating could require an X-ray. This is likely done to determine the severity of the issue. Moreover, blood work could also be required to determine other medical conditions.

Treatment of rabbit bloating

Rabbit bloating is a critical condition that requires urgent medical attention. The possibility of healing without assistance is low. There are several treatment options. But you should first hospitalize the rabbit so that it would be stable before the vet administers any treatment option. The available treatment option includes:

See a vet

Rabbit bloating is a critical situation. Handling it at home will subject the rabbit to further pain and is life-threatening. You need the service of a vet to save the life of the rabbit. Your vet knows what to do and the best way to do it.

Fluid therapy  

There is a high chance of dehydration when a rabbit is suffering from bloating. This is because the rabbit might not eat or drink. Dehydration also decreases the blood supply to some vital organs. Fluid therapy is needed to maintain the fluid level of the rabbit’s body. The vet could suggest alternative methods if your rabbit fails to drink. In some cases, the vet might use the catheter method for fluid therapy.


Massage is an effective treatment if your rabbit corporates. This is also applicable when the bloating is not severe. While it might seem simple, it requires the service of a professional. The massage is done around the anus to check the dilution or dislodge the blockage.

Gastric decompression

This is another treatment method that requires the service of a vet. This method involves the sedation of the rabbit. This will help relieve the pain of bloating. The vet would then apply a tube that will serve as the passage of food directly to the rabbit’s stomach. The challenge to this method is that the rabbit might have hairs and residual food that will block the tube with time. Hiring an experienced vet could help prevent this from happening.


Rabbit bloating causes discomfort. The vet has to be careful before opting for any of the treatment methods. Surgery is possible but the rabbit must be stable before it could be done. Surgery will allow the removal of any blockage in the digestive system. Besides, antibiotic therapy is needed alongside surgical treatment.

Care during treatment

You should not neglect your rabbit during the recovery period. You need to show care until the rabbit recovers fully. The following are some of the ways you can care for your rabbit during recovery.

Monitor the urine production

The rabbit could develop complications after treatment. Kidney failure and gastric rupture is part of the possible complication. You still need the service of a vet during the recovery period. The vet will monitor the progress of the rabbit, urine production, and other risks that could arise.  

Homeopathy therapy

Free movement of the rabbit at home could help the rabbit recover very quickly. This will aid gastric mobility. The rabbit could be weak during recovery and this will hinder its free movement. You need to help your rabbits move freely in the space provided for them. Regular exercise reduces the chances of bloating.

Be mindful of the diet

Rabbits will likely lose appetite during recovery. You should help them have an appetite. You can consult your vet for helpful diets.

Give appropriate medication

The vet will prescribe some medication that would aid the recovery time. Each medication has a scheduled time of use. Make sure you follow the timing properly. There are instances when the rabbit will show signs of recovery before the end of the medication. You should ensure that the rabbit completes the medication.  

How to prevent rabbit bloating

As you can see from this article, bloating could lead to the untimely death of the rabbit. You need to take some preventive measures to reduce the chances of rabbit bloating. The following are some preventive measures you can adopt.

Get rid of ingestible materials

Foreign objects would be ingestible by the rabbit. This would cause a blockage that will result in bloating. To avoid bloating, you should monitor the intake of your rabbit. You should frequently search the shelter of your rabbit and other places they can access. Make sure you get rid of any strange objects in those places.

Get the recommended diet

The type of diet that you feed your rabbits will determine how healthy they will be. To avoid bloating, make sure you feed them the recommended diet. Moreover, make sure you give them enough water. Also, you should gradually introduce new food.

Remove loosed fur

Your rabbit could ingest anything in its space. When loosed fur is ingested, it will cause blockage in the digestive system. To prevent boating, you should regularly use a brush to groom your rabbit. This will make the rabbit look healthy and also reduce the chance of ingestion.

Periodic exercise

Lack of exercise after feeding increases the chance of bloating. You should ensure that your rabbit exercises regularly.

Avoid stress situation

Any form of stress-inducing situation is not good for the rabbit. Loud noise, unfamiliar visitors, and change of cage increase the chance of stress.

How to make your rabbit healthy

Rabbits are intelligent animals. They need attention and care from owners. You can enjoy a lot of activities with your rabbit when they are healthy. Here are some tips on how to raise a healthy rabbit.

Proper diet

Though the breed is important, food is a crucial part of raising a healthy rabbit. So, ensure that you give them a proper diet. This will ensure that they get proper nutrients. The basic component of rabbit diets is water, hay, pellets, and hay.

Moreover, the diet needs of rabbits vary with age. It is recommended that you feed young rabbits with Alfalfa. This is because of the high protein level and other useful nutrients. Also, hay is compulsory for all rabbits. Make sure that you change the hay in the shelter daily. If you notice any foreign objects in the rabbit’s feed, you should stop immediately.

Regular exercise

Exercise is crucial if you want your rabbits to live healthily. You can make them exercise by giving them at least an hour to walk freely indoors. Most rabbits are active in the morning and evening. So, if you want them to move freely, you can schedule it for morning or evening sessions. However, make sure you monitor them when they are exercising. You should allow your rabbits to rest once you notice that they are tired.

Maintain their habitat

Another way to keep your pet healthy is to clean their hutch regularly. Rabbits will consider this as an invasion of their territory but it won’t make them unhappy. Just ensure that particles, dirt, and food residue are removed from their hutch. Rabbits could be stressed if they stay in a dirty cage. Moreover, periodic cleaning of the cage will make you closer to your pet.

Groom your rabbit

The maintenance routine of a rabbit isn’t complete if you do not groom them periodically. The nature of the rabbit will determine how you would groom them. Most breeds of rabbits love how they feel when they are being groomed. For instance, it might be difficult to groom rabbits that are not submissive.

Provide a companion to your rabbit

Rabbits enjoy living in a group. If you want your rabbit to live healthily, you should provide them with a companion. They will be lonely and stressed when left alone. Moreover, rabbits also enjoy a human companion. If you cannot give your rabbit attention and companionship, you should consider getting another rabbit. Before you introduce a rabbit to another, make sure they are bonded together.

Check up

Rabbits are easy to keep but they have their challenges. They are prone to some health concerns. You might not detect when something is wrong with them because they can hide their pains and discomfort. One way to keep them healthy is to ensure periodic vet checkups. This will reveal if there is any underlying health condition and potential risk.


Rabbit bloat could make your rabbit succumb to death if there is no urgent treatment. With periodic checkups, you can detect it before it becomes complicated. The service of a good vet is also needed for immediate treatment.

About the Author

Anoop Nain

I am Anoop Nain, proud father of four rescued dogs and two Flemish giant rabbits. I have a degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare. Besides being a full-time dog father, I am an NGO worker and content writer and an educationist, with more than 6 years of experience. It is while working with the NGO I got an opportunity to educate people on animal rights, pet healthcare, animal welfare and various other issues pertaining to animals.

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