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
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