Treating Enteritis Symptoms

I can not reiterate enough HOW important it is to prepare your Bunny Medicine Cabinet ahead of time, as time is of the essence when a Bacterial or Protozoal strain hits your rabbitry. The moment Enteritis rears its ugly head, treatment begins. Not a minute later. As mentioned in the previous post, What IS Enteritis?, the instigating organism which produces Mucoid Enteritis symptoms is usually either Bacterial (such as C. Spiroforme or Pastuerella Multocida Bacterin) or Protozoal (which may include various forms of Coccidiosis – one of the 12 species of Eimeria). As you can imagine, it is crucial to treat for both if the instigating organism is not determined. (NOTE: “Intestinal coccidiosis is the most common presentation noted by rabbit breeders and can be diagnosed with fecal flotation at most small animal veterinary clinics” – Dr. Jay Hreiz, ‘Protozoal Pests:  Coccidiosis‘ VMD – Veterinarian and ARBA Judge #789). Many breeders do not have Veterinarians who are familiar with these infections, however, so as a result, breeders choose to treat their herds themselves.

We have had positive results using the following list of treatments. I’m not stating that these are the ONLY remedies, however, we managed to save quite a few lives once we realized how to pinpoint and eliminate certain organisms with certain medications. With Enteritis, I STRONGLY advice AGAINST homeopathic remedies. Mucoid Enteropathy is fast-moving, and the weaker the concoction, the longer it will take to relieve symptoms and kill the organism.

**Toltrazuril 200 mL Baycox – 2.5-5mg/kg for first 3 days. Once 3 days are complete, switch to Albon. horseprerace.com. A coccidiocide.

Sulfamethoxine (Albon) – 0.7 cc/lb 2x/day for 10 days. Must be prescribed by your Veterinarian. A coccidiostat.

Metronidazole – 0.5cc/lb* 1x/day for 10 days. (*Could vary by prescribed strength) Vet prescribed only.

Sub Q Fluids – Hydration varies between case. 2x/day until symptoms subside. Sub Qs must be prescribed/given by your Veterinarian.

Oxbow Critical Care – 1 part Critical Care to 3 parts warm water daily until symptoms subside. Amazon.com

Probios Equine One Gel, 30g (Remember to supplement with Probiotics when administering an Antibiotic). tractorsupplycompany.com

**Only administer Toltrazuril in place of Albon, or another Coccidiostat/cide, as it is unnecessary to treat with 2 Coccidiostats/cides in the presence of an outbreak.

Additional Treatments (should it be difficult to obtain the ones mentioned above):

Neomycin Sulfate – 30mg/kg/day/rabbit until symptoms subside. (Substitute for Metronidazole). This may vary for weanlings. bunnyrabbit.com

Amprolium 9.6% (Corid) – water treatment: 5cc/gallon for 5 days, or 1cc orally per 15lbs for 5 days. (Replaces Albon, but not nearly as strong). Can be found in agricultural stores, AND on Amazon.com and bunnyrabbit.com.

While treating for Enteritis, pull pellets from their diets completely (until symptoms subside), and push extra hay. Fiber is crucial for your rabbits’ weakened gastric tracts. Also, quarantine any infected bunnies until AT LEAST one week after symptoms have subsided entirely.

Baby gas drops can be given for pain (should your bunnies be exhibiting teeth grinding, or any other signs of grave discomfort). Dosages vary depending on brand.

It’s fundamental to treat the rest of your herd for Coccidiosis at the time of an outbreak as well. Dose their water bottles with Corid (5cc/gallon for 5 daysor Sulmet (12.5% Sodium Sulfamethazine) – These recommended dosages came from bunnyrabbit.com. Please Note: Recommended preventative treatments are CoccidioSTATS, not CoccidioCIDES, meaning they do not eliminate the pathogen entirely, rather, inhibit replica while the rabbit gains immunity.

We’ll go into greater detail on prevention options for your herd in future posts: Soluble solutions (Coccidiostats/Coccidiocides), disinfection (products/practices), and quarantine methods.

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What IS Enteritis?

*IMPORTANT: I am summarizing this disease to the BEST of my knowledge and findings. The information below has been gathered through personal experience, countless articles, and conversations/studies via Veterinary Specialists. I am NOT an expert by any means – This article is intended to provide a simplified reference to a disease commonly seen in Lagomorphs.*

What exactly IS Enteritis?

The term Enteritis (also referred to as bloat, Mucoid Enteritis, Mucoid Enteropathy) in itself is a bit vague, literally translating to ‘inflammation of the gut’. It’s a serious condition in which digestive processes have either slowed down greatly, or stopped completely. If it is not taken care of fast, the rabbit’s system will become plagued with Toxemia, and will most likely shut down entirely, resulting in death. Mucoid Enteropathy is bloat coupled with a gelatin-like feces. Those who have experienced this type of Enteritis in their barn can smell it from a mile away. The stench is unimaginable. Because of the excessive diarrhea, it is ESSENTIAL to keep infected rabbits hydrated – Sub Qs are the most efficient way to do this (but we’ll get to that later).

“The mucoid enteropathy is an acute mortal disease of rabbits, characterised by signs of dehydration, bloating of the abdomen, and a gelatin like secretion in the faeces. Rabbits with 3-10 weeks of age are the most frequently affected animals.”

Targeted Ages:

  • Weanlings
  • Juniors under 6 months old
  • Nursing does

 Symptoms:

  • Off feed/water
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Underweight
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Sloshing noises in gut
  • Little/no stools
  • Jelly-like diarrhea or diarrhea in general
  • Grinding teeth (pain)

Causes:

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of a given outbreak. We do know, however, it is USUALLY either Bacterial or Protozoal, so it’s extremely important to treat for both organisms. Potential causes could include (but aren’t limited to) stress (especially in weanlings and nursing does), Bacterial or Protozoal contamination through feed, hay, or other ingested supplements, or airborne pathogens. PLEASE NOTE: Enteritis is contagious to the age groups targeted. It is not unlikely for a rabbit to spread it to cage-mates/stacker-mates. It’s important to practice strict quarantining methods should Enteritis affect ANY rabbit in your herd.

Necropsy Results:

Personal findings (Courtesy of Dr. Joy Lucas, Saratoga Springs, NY):

  • Lesions lining the intestinal tract (Thought to be caused by gelatin like substance intoxicating the intestinal tract – The TOXINS are what kill the rabbit)

Other findings (Courtesy of Dr. Jay Hreiz, ARBA Judge #789):

  • Enlarged Liver
  • Nodules on Liver
  • Enlarged Gallbladder