Gut stasis in the rabbit is one of the most common presentations in practice and needs to be both treated as an emergency and prevented through owner education. The vet and nurse have important roles to play in ensuring optimal treatment, nursing care and reducing the likelihood of recurrence. RCVS Recognised Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife medicine and Head of the Exotics Service at Rutland House Veterinary Referrals, Dr Molly Varga, and Jo Hinde RVN, Director of Lagolearn and Outreach Officer for Rabbit Welfare Association, will together be delivering a double session on the topic at BSAVA Congress to show how vets and nurses can work together to deliver better patient outcomes.
Managing the condition
Gut stasis is a condition, not a diagnosis. A healthy rabbit should produce up to 300 large droppings per day. Inappetence or non-production of droppings for 12 hours or longer suggests that there is a risk of stasis and should prompt an assessment of the patient.
Molly will discuss the two-part approach needed to treat gut stasis and then focus on diagnosing the underlying aetiology as the rabbit recovers. In the first instance, a thorough clinical history is essential including a full assessment of husbandry; accommodation, bedding, feeding, other animals and preventative medicine. She will go on to discuss how continued assessment of the rabbit during recovery and indicators from the history may warrant further diagnostic workup.
A common issue is that rabbit owners fail to understand the importance of offering a continuous plentiful supply of good quality long fibre and the vital importance of this to gut health and motility. Jo has a strong belief in the value of good husbandry and teaching owners how to look after their rabbits to prevent disease. Communication and education of owners is key to improving welfare, as rabbits, despite being one of the most common pets, are among the most neglected.*
Claire Hamblion, Marketing Manager at Supreme Petfoods, says the company is delighted to be supporting Molly and Jo’s talk, “The vet and nurse team together can provide not only excellent clinical care for rabbits but also vital owner education and support to reduce recurrence of gut stasis. Previous surveys** we have carried out have shown that over 60 per cent of rabbit owners view their vet or vet nurse as the first point of call for any questions about their rabbit’s feeding and care. We’re proud to play a small part in improving access to high quality rabbit CPD that helps practices improve their husbandry, welfare and clinical care.”
Supreme Petfoods also offers a range of free resources for practices at https://supremepetfoods.com/vet-zone/.
**Survey of rabbit owners, 2013, quoted at http://www.supremepetfoods.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/TR-Manual-2013-amends.pdf