Gut stasis is a common condition that rabbits and guinea pigs suffer. This decrease in gut motility results in a reducation/lack of defaecation, distension and pain in the gut, anorexia and dehydration. If left untreated, the rabbit or guinea pig in gut stasis may die.
Gut stasis occurs secondary to pain, medical illness (eg dental disease, liver lobe torsion, arthritis etc) and stress (eg dietary stress, hot weather, hierachy struggles etc). This is because adrenal hormones released due to pain, stress, fright causes inhibition of gastrointestinal motility to which the rabbit is particular susceptible. Thus, it is important to identify the primary cause and treat for it specifically.
Gut motility is also affected by dietary indigestible fibre. Rabbits and guinea pigs fed on a low fibre diet are at a greater risk of developing gastrointestinal stasis. Rabbits and guinea pigs with slow gut motility crave fibre and will often eat hay or grass in preference to other foods. Offering large amounts of good quality hay is important to maintain the motility of the caecum and colon and prevent gut stasis.
Treatment of gut stasis often involves fluid therapy, pain relief, gut motility medication, and nutritional support. In addition, treatment for the underlying condition is often required. Rabbits and guinea pigs that have been anorexic or not defecating for 12 hours are considered an emergency and do require to see a vet for immediate treatment.