Choosing and Caring for a New Pet

What to Feed a Rabbit That's Stopped Eating

Rabbits are often kept as family pets, perhaps even given to children to look after. They're seen as pretty simple to care for and are frequently put into the same category as other small, furry creatures like hamsters and gerbils. In reality, however, rabbits have such complex physiology that they're considered by many vets to be more similar to exotic pets.

One of the most common issues with rabbits is that they simply stop eating. With many animals, this wouldn't be an urgent problem, but a bunny is likely suffering from a condition known as ileus, or gastrointestinal stasis. When this happens, the digestive system effectively shuts down, and the rabbit can suffer serious problems like liver damage in as little as a day.

Because of this urgency, you should take your rabbit to a vet emergency office as soon as possible if they start refusing food. In the meantime, and after your appointment, there are some foods that can help your rabbit's digestive system recover.

Pineapple or papaya

Not all bunny owners realise these two fruits are even suitable for their pets, let alone that they're beneficial. Both pineapple and papaya contain enzymes that can help break down blockages in a rabbit's digestive system, which are often the underlying cause — or an additional side-effect — of GI stasis.

An extra benefit of pineapple and papaya, which can be fed dried if you can't get hold of fresh fruit, is that rabbits love them, so they're very tempting even when a bunny doesn't feel like eating. They're high in sugar, though, so don't feed too much.

Fresh mint

Mint tea is often used to settle human stomachs after a big meal, and this herb can be just as settling for a rabbit's digestive system.

Feed a few leaves of fresh mint and, if they're eaten, try getting the rabbit to eat some hay.

Fresh grass

Hay should make up the majority of a rabbit's diet, as its long fibres are exactly what their digestive systems evolved for. As such, it's the most important thing to get your rabbit eating if they have GI stasis.

Unfortunately, it's easier said than done. Try some fresh grass, cut with scissors and not ripped up at the roots, which has a stronger smell and is more tempting. If the rabbit eats it, switch back to hay as soon as possible because rabbits who aren't used to grass can get further digestive problems if they eat too much.

Kale or other leafy greens

If hay or grass isn't an option, try some rabbit-safe greens. Kale is particularly good because it has a lot of fibre, but other veggies are still helpful. As with anything other than hay, be careful not to feed the rabbit too much. Leafy greens can cause gas if they're fed in large quantities, which will make your bunny feel unwell again.