The last two weeks have been kind of crappy. I'm sure you're familiar with life events that somehow all build up and happen at the same time. And then just to put the cherry on top, you get sick with a cold or flu just to make coping and dealing that much more challenging.
So Margarite was sick, I've had a cold, and my Tom Cat is still missing (I should have had children instead of cats, then at least they'd have a cell phone and I could call to ask where they are!).
Margarite, the older angora rabbit stopped eating a couple weeks ago. I had been monitoring her intakes and output and I noticed she was gradually eating less and less and her poops were getting smaller and smaller... and then they stopped--not a good thing for a rabbit.
I brushed her regularly, more often than the once a week that was recommended. The brushing is to remove loose hair so she wouldn't be consuming so much of her own wool when cleaning herself. It seemed all my efforts were in vain.
I had done quite a bit of reading on wool block on the interent and so I followed that advice.
I tempted her with fruits, gave her papaya tablets, which she would barely eat. Then when she stopped eating entirely I was forced to give her eyedroppers of pineapple juice and mineral oil in an attempt to give her fluids to get the blockage moved. And I cut off her wool to prevent her from ingesting more of her own long fibre.
It pains me to remember how much she hated being forced to take these treatments and how much it terrorized her. It was very upsetting for both of us. She pooped a little but her appetite just would not return. I just knew there had to be another solution so I went back to the Internet to find out what more I could do.
Then I came across the Rabbit Society's (http://www.rabbit.org/) web site with information from a veterinarian who also keeps rabbits. It describes the rabbit's digestive system in detail and what the REAL problem is when a rabbit's stomach has wool in it. It's a lack of motility of the GI tract and the digestive system (http://www.rabbit.org/journal/3-7/gi.html) caused by a lack of moisture in her system. The solution was so simple to be ridiculous. HYDRATION through eating greens--VEGETABLES!
The problem isn't that much different than constipation in humans. The rabbit's stomach does fill with hair as it grooms itself and then she starts to feel full and stops eating. The more dehydrated the rabbit becomes from not eating the more tightly packed the hair mass becomes, perpetuating the problem. They need fluids and the best way to get them is through food they are craving - vegetables.
My rabbit, wouldn't eat anything except a couple nibbles on a banana or strawberry. When presented with greens she GOBBLED them. I gave her romaine lettuce, parsley and carrot tops. This was a rabbit who hadn't eaten in a week, who was being force fed! I couldn't believe how she began to eat immediately. Of course the poops followed shortly after she started to eat and her energy came right back and she began to act like a normal rabbit again.
She did have plenty of hay the whole time through this ordeal, but that wasn't what she was naturally craving. She knew what she needed and she had to wait for the dummy (me) to figure it out! She was craving the moisture and fibre that vegetables provide.
I hadn't been feeding them greens. My history with greens is a little scary - years ago we raised a wild baby bunny and when we gave it greens it got diarrhea and then died - so I was very nervous about giving greens. After reading more information on the Rabbit Society web site I relaxed, seeing that the issue of diarrhea is more with baby rabbits, not adults as long as the greens were introduced slowly. I've now turned over a new leaf ;)
If you keep angora rabbits, I highly recommend the Rabbit Society website - and definitely read the article about the lack of motility caused by wool in the stomach. I believe their information saved my rabbit's life and it definitely saved our relationship. I certainly was not popular with her for a few days there but now it looks like I've been forgiven.
I do believe that the eyedropper and mineral oil can be effective if necessary, but try the greens first before you traumatize your bunny.
Both rabbits are now enjoying a veggie diet, along with pellets and hay ... and there's poops a-plenty! And now I find I'm eating more veggies too because they're in the house. I think we're all going to get more healthy. All I need now is for Tom Cat to come home.