How To Treat Rabbit Constipation?

Is your rabbit having trouble going to the bathroom? Constipation can strike our floppy-eared friends, bringing serious risks if left untreated. See your bunny straining in the litter box, but only producing a few tiny poops? Don’t panic, but take action! Gastrointestinal stasis could be setting in, stopping up your rabbit’s intestines. We’ll explore the causes, symptoms, and emergency treatments to get your rabbit’s bowels moving freely again. Poop problems must be addressed swiftly in rabbits, so be prepared. We cover everything you need to know to diagnose constipation in your rabbit, treat it safely at home, and most importantly, get your rabbit hopping around a happy, pooping machine again. Let’s dig in!

Do Rabbits Get Constipated?

Constipation is a common condition that can affect rabbits just like any other animal. Rabbits can become constipated when their gastrointestinal tract slows down and they are unable to pass stools normally. This happens when the rabbit's colon absorbs too much water from the food waste passing through, resulting in hard, dry stool pellets.

Constipation is more likely to occur when rabbits have a diet that is too low in fiber, which is needed to keep things moving smoothly through the digestive tract. Lack of exercise or mobility, stress, pain from another illness, dehydration, or certain medications are other potential causes of constipation in rabbits. In some cases, an underlying illness may be leading to gut stasis and constipation as well.

Signs that a rabbit is constipated include straining or grunting when trying to defecate, small or no stool at all, loss of appetite, and appearing to be in discomfort. Rabbits may stop eating their normal diet, act lethargic, or press their belly against the floor in an attempt to relieve discomfort from backed up stool. Constipation is not the same as diarrhea, which involves loose watery stools rather than impacted feces.

Fortunately, most cases of constipation in rabbits can be successfully treated or prevented with some adjustments to their care. Paying close attention to your rabbit's eating habits, water intake, and litter box usage makes it easier to identify constipation early. Catching it quickly improves the chances of reversing the issue fast with the right diet or medication from your exotic vet. Left untreated, constipation can quickly become a life-threatening condition for rabbits due to the risk of a dangerous condition called GI stasis.

How Often Should Rabbits Poop?

Rabbits normally pass stool frequently, even up to hundreds of times per day! This is because their digestive system is designed to keep food moving through the gut continuously.

As herbivores, rabbits need to eat frequently, and thus poop often. Their stool is made up of small, pellet-like droppings that are dry and firm when in good health. An average sized adult rabbit may produce around 300-400 of these fecal pellets per day.

Young rabbits under 6 months old may pass stool up to 500 times per day as their digestive system is developing. Larger rabbit breeds also tend to poop more than smaller breeds.

A healthy rabbit should pass stool frequently all throughout the day – usually every few hours. You should notice your rabbit leaving dozens of dry droppings in their litter box and around their living space each time they hop out to play or exercise.

Sudden decreases in fecal production are abnormal and a red flag for potential gastrointestinal issues. If your rabbit has not passed any stool in the last 12 hours, it can indicate the start of GI stasis or constipation. Infrequent defecation or small amounts of stool should always be investigated by an exotic vet.

Monitoring your rabbit's litter box and keeping count of their poop can help you identify irregularities early. Contact your vet if stool production seems decreased, the poop looks abnormally wet or malformed, contains excess cecotropes, or if your rabbit is straining to defecate. Quick action improves the chances of treating the issue.

How Do I Know if My Rabbit's Poop is Healthy?

Checking your rabbit's poop daily offers clues into their health and potential issues like constipation. Here's what to look for to know if your rabbit's poop is normal and healthy:

  • Consistency – Poop should be firm and dry, keeping its pellet shape. It should not be soft, mushy, or irregularly shaped.

  • Color – Normal rabbit poop is brown. Green, black, or bloody poop needs veterinary attention.

  • Quantity – Healthy rabbits produce hundreds of pellets per day. Drastic decreases in poop quantity indicates a problem.

  • Odor – Rabbit poop has a natural hay-like odor. Foul-smelling poop can signal issues.

  • Cecotropes – These are soft, green nutrient pellets rabbits eat directly from their anus. Excess cecotropes in the litter box is abnormal.

  • Urination – Rabbits should urinate frequently. Lack of pee raises alarm for potential urinary blockages.

  • Straining – Any grunting, teeth grinding, or pressing belly against floor to poop is a bad sign.

  • Diet – As long as the rabbit is eating normally, poop consistency reflects their diet. Sudden changes warrant a vet visit.

  • Parasites – Look for signs of worms, like segments or eggs around the anus. Seek deworming from your vet.

When in doubt, collect a fecal sample and book a vet appointment to diagnose the cause. Waiting too long with abnormal poop can have serious consequences. Monitoring litter box habits daily helps identify problems early.

How Long Can a Rabbit Go Without Pooping?

Rabbits cannot go long without passing some stool due to their rapid digestion and need to continually eat. If your rabbit has not pooped in the last 12 hours, it should be considered an emergency.

Rabbits that have gone longer than 12 hours without defecating are at high risk of developing a life-threatening condition called gastrointestinal stasis. This is a dangerous slowing of the intestinal tract that can lead to a bowel obstruction, bacterial overgrowth, and even enterotoxemia. Gastrointestinal stasis can kill a rabbit within 24-48 hours without emergency treatment.

At the first sign your rabbit is having trouble pooping or it has been more than 12 hours since their last stool, call your exotic vet. Bring your rabbit in immediately for evaluation and treatment before GI stasis fully sets in. Your vet will check for underlying illness and may prescribe motility drugs, pain medication, fluids, or other therapies to get the gut moving again.

Never wait and see if a rabbit starts pooping again on their own after a long delay. Lack of defecation for over 12 hours is an emergency requiring veterinary intervention right away.

Monitor your rabbit closely and keep track of their litter box habits. If you notice any decrease in poop production or abnormal stools, contact your vet without delay. Quick action is key to getting ahead of potential GI stasis and other complications.

How To Help a Rabbit with Constipation

If your rabbit is showing signs of constipation like straining to poop, making frequent trips to the litter box, or poop production has decreased, here are some ways you can help relieve their backed up stool:

  • Increase hydration – Make sure your rabbit has unlimited access to clean water at all times. You can also give extra hydration with syringe feeding pedialyte or water.

  • Add moisture to diet – Feed wet leafy greens like romaine lettuce versus dry hay temporarily. Fresh herbs and fruits add moisture too.

  • Increase exercise – Gently encourage your bunny to move around, perhaps placing favorite treats in different spots of their enclosure. The movement can help stimulate gut motility.

  • Belly massages – Use gentle downward strokes along your rabbit's abdomen to help loosen compacted stool. Take care not to press too hard.

  • Probe anus for impaction – You may be able to manually loosen a hard fecal plug blocking the rectum with a lubricated cotton swab. Stop immediately if you meet resistance.

  • Give electrolytes – Oral electrolyte supplements like Pedialyte provide fluids and electrolytes to rehydrate the body and support the intestines.

  • Motility drugs – Your vet may prescribe motility stimulants or laxatives to help the colon push stool through. These provide quick relief.

If these home remedies do not work within 12 hours, get your rabbit to the vet immediately. Prolonged constipation can have fatal consequences. Your exotic vet has medical treatments to relieve stubborn impactions.

Foods That Cause Constipation in Rabbits

Some foods are more likely to cause constipation in rabbits than others. Avoid feeding your rabbit these foods known to lead to digestive slow-down and constipation issues:

  • Pellets – Too many nutrient-dense pellets lead to unhealthy stools. Stick to limited portions based on body weight.

  • Carbohydrates – Breads, pasta, crackers and starchy veggies like carrots can dehydrate the colon.

  • Dairy – Rabbits are lactose intolerant so milk products often cause diarrhea followed by constipation.

  • Meat – Animal proteins are difficult for rabbits to digest so they often create very firm stools.

  • Sugary foods – Candy, fruit juices, jams and sweets promote gut dysbiosis and soft stools that lead to constipation as excess water is absorbed.

  • Fine seeds & nuts – Shells and fibrous skins help push food through a rabbit's gut. Hull-less seeds and nuts remove this benefit.

  • High oxalate greens – Spinach, parsley, kale, chard and beet greens are extremely high in oxalates that bind calcium and lead to stiff dry stools.

  • Dirty greens – Eating greens exposed to dirt, manure, or chemicals presents parasites and gut irritants that cause constipation.

  • Abrupt diet change – Any sudden change in amount or type of food can disrupt healthy gut flora and slow down the colon. Transition diets gradually always.

Feed a consistently balanced diet high in grass hay and leafy greens to prevent constipation. Limit pellets and fruits and avoid unnatural high calorie foods. Gradually transition foods over a week or two to maintain steady poop production.

Conditions That Cause Rabbit Constipation

There are several possible medical conditions that can disrupt healthy digestion in rabbits and lead to constipation problems:

  • Gastrointestinal stasis – Slowdown of gut function and motility. Causes loss of appetite, small stool, constipation.

  • Dehydration – Not getting enough fluid causes excess water reabsorption in the colon and constipation.

  • GI tract infection – Bacterial or parasitic infection causes inflammation that disrupts normal digestion.

  • Dietary imbalance – Too many pellets, carbs, dairy or sugary foods alter gut flora.

  • Dental disease – Pain from tooth roots abscesses or overgrown molars prevent proper chewing and digestion.

  • Uterine cancer – Advanced uterine cancer can compress organs and slow defecation.

  • Neurologic dysfunction – Nerve damage, spine injury or paralysis affects proper muscle contraction in the colon.

  • Side effect of medication – Some pain meds, antibiotics or other drugs lead to constipation as a side effect.

  • Muscular issues – Weakness in abdominal muscles from age, obesity or trauma can impair defecation.

  • Decreased mobility – Lack of movement from arthritis, injury or cage confinement promotes constipation.

If your rabbit is constipated, your exotic vet will perform a full physical exam and diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause. Treating the origin of the problem is key to resolving the constipation and getting stool production normal again.

My Rabbit is Eating But Not Pooping

If your rabbit is continuing to eat normally but has decreased or stopped fecal production, it signals an emergency. Eating without pooping is a red flag for gastrointestinal stasis.

Gastrointestinal stasis, sometimes called GI slowdown, is a dangerous condition where the intestinal tract slows to a crawl. Peristaltic contractions that move food through the gut become sluggish. With food no longer moving at the normal pace, the colon pulls excess water from the waste. This leaves dry, hard stool behind, leading to constipation.

Meanwhile, the slowed motility allows gas, fluid and toxins to accumulate in the intestines. Bacteria proliferate and the intestines become distended. The condition worsens without treatment, often becoming fatal as the intestines shut down entirely.

Rabbits showing signs of gastrointestinal stasis like eating without pooping or producing very small and infrequent stools must receive urgent veterinary care. GI stasis can rapidly lead to bloat, gastric rupture, septicemia, intestinal perforations and death if not reversed quickly.

Bring your rabbit to an emergency exotic vet immediately at the first signs of GI stasis. IV fluids, pain medication, prokinetic drugs, and intestinal lubricants are typically used to reopen the digestive tract before dangerous complications set in.

Never wait and see if your rabbit starts pooping again after eating without defecating for 12 hours or more. The delay can be fatal. Get medical intervention right away.

My Rabbit is Urinating But Not Pooping

If your rabbit is continuing to urinate normally but has stopped pooping, it is considered a medical emergency requiring immediate veterinary care. A rabbit that pees but can't poop risks serious intestinal disease and paralysis.

There are several possible causes for urinating without defecation:

  • Gastrointestinal stasis – Dangerous slowdown in gut function prevents poop from passing.

  • Intestinal blockage – Obstruction like a furball or foreign object halts stool movement.

  • Neurologic issues – Nerve damage or spinal injury affects gut mobility.

  • Rectal prolapse – The rectum loses muscle tone and telescopes out, preventing defecation.

  • Painful condition – Illness causing intense pain prevents normal pooping behavior.

  • Medication side effects – Some drugs like opioids cause severe constipation.

No matter what the underlying cause, lack of stool production while urinating is an emergency. Take your rabbit to your exotic vet or emergency clinic without delay for diagnosis and treatment.

The veterinarian will thoroughly examine your rabbit's abdomen, rectum and spinal alignment. X-rays or other imaging may be used to check for intestinal obstructions. Blood work and fecal analysis help identify systemic issues.

Powerful laxatives, analgesics, and GI motility drugs may be prescribed to restart defecation. Surgery is sometimes needed for impactions or prolapse. Address the problem quickly before the intestines are damaged or paralysis sets in. With rapid treatment, most rabbits recover fully.


Constipation is common but dangerous for rabbits. Look for straining, wet or dusty poop, and sitting hunkered down for prolonged periods as signs. A rabbit going more than 12 hours without pooping is at high risk of GI stasis and must see a vet immediately. Adding hydration, exercise, gentle belly massages can provide temporary relief but medical treatment is often still required. Identify and treat any underlying illness causing the constipation. With quick action, most cases resolve back to normal regular pooping habits. Monitor your rabbit's litter box closely and contact your exotic vet at the first signs of constipation.

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